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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 22nd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

U.S. agrees to debt-for-nature swap to preserve Peru rainforests.

In a bid to preserve some of Peru’s biologically diverse rainforests, the United States agreed this week to a $25 million debt-for-nature swap with the country, Peru’s second since 2002. Over the next seven years, in exchange for erasing millions of their debt, Peru will fund local non-governmental organizations dedicated to protecting tropical rain forests of the southwestern Amazon Basin and dry forests of the central Andes.

“This agreement will build on the success of previous U.S. government debt swaps with Peru and will further the cause of environmental conservation in a country with one of the highest levels of biodiversity on the planet,” said Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

Other debt-for-nature agreements have already been brokered with Bangladesh, Belize, Botswana, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Jamaica, Panama, Paraguay, and the Philippines.

This week’s swap makes Peru the largest beneficiary of such deals with the U.S., with more than $35 million dedicated to environmental conservation in the country.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 5th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

IOM Press Briefing Notes
Friday 5 September 2008

INDONESIA – Religious Teachers Carry Ramadan Message of Community Policing to Aceh – IOM is working with the Ar-Raniry State Islamic Institute and the Aceh Provincial Police (Polda NAD) through the Holy month of Ramadhan to promote community policing in the Indonesia’s northernmost province through the use of Islamic cultural values unique to the area.

The 15-day Safari Kemitraan Ramadhan (Ramadhan Partnership Road show), which kicks off today, is funded by the European Commission and the Royal Netherlands Embassy, and aims to inform villagers about the value of community policing using religious messages.

IOM is providing logistical support, transport and printed materials for the team of religious teachers from the Institute and police officers implementing the scheme.

“Communities in Aceh will benefit from all the positive values embodied in community policing. The roadshow will help to endorse the program and will be an effective tool to build partnerships with Acehnese across the province,” says Dr. Abdul Rani, Msi, a professor of Ar-Raniry.

Located at the northernmost tip of the island of Sumatra, Aceh is also known colloquially as Mecca’s Veranda. For hundreds of years it served as the final port of call for pilgrims making the long sea voyage from Indonesia, the most populous Moslem nation on earth, to Mecca. It is the most devout area in Indonesia, and proud of its Islamic heritage.

Aceh Senior Police Commissioner Setyanto says he supports the use of a culturally sensitive approach to informing a public that is deeply suspicious of the police. Aceh was the scene of a violent, decades-long separatist conflict that drew to a close in 2005, with the signing of a peace agreement between rebels and the central government.

{As it happens, Aceh is also home of large oil fields with international oil companies having had involvement here. Aceh once was sponsored from the outside in its attempt of becoming independent from Indonesia – thus the announcement and the backing are quite interesting.}

IOM is in the midst of a two year programme to training more than 7,200 of the roughly 9,200 police officers in Aceh in community policing and human rights. The trainings aim to reduce conflict and underpin a return to peace and security in the province.

For further information, please contact Jihan Labetubun at IOM Jakarta. Tel. +62 8111907028. Email:  jlabetubun at iom.int

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 16th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

WIP on our website means WORK (WRITING) IN PROGRESS – or simply unfinished article. When finished the WIP will be taken off but the article will stay in place without the UPDATED designation. Nevertheless, theses introductory lines will remain as a reminder that the article had a long birth.

***

The meeting, August 15, 2008 was chaired by the Ambassador For Palau. Present were also the Ambassadors from Nauru and from Fiji. Many other Missions were represented – some of these missions have representatives on the working committee. Involved are also some of the active NGOs.

At present the sponsors of a resolution to be brought before the UN General Assembly are 11 from among the 14 Pacific Small Island Developing States – Fiji, Marshall Islands, The Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu; the Maldives and Seychelles from non-Pacific SIDS; Canada, the Philippines from among larger States. But these 15 States will pick up many more co-sponsors. Mentioned were Turkey, the EU, Austria and Iceland that have expressed their eagerness to join. There is no opposition we were told – but only some hesitation because it is seen as a new approach to the problem of the humanitarian impact of climate change that goes on already – this while in major UN institutions the debate has not led yet to action. The inhabitants of the small islands of the Pacific are the first to lose their habitat – and what we see is the eradication of UN Member States by this predictable catastrophe.

On our website we announced this encounter between the proponents of the resolution and the NGOs:

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 15th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)We also pointed out the topically relevant event at the Lincoln Center’s “Mostly Mozart Festival” when Lemi Ponifasio’s REQUIEM had its two evenings before a New York audience.The history of this special effort by the Pacific SIDS started on February 15, 2008, in a speech by Ambassador Stuart Beck of Palau, before the UN General Assembly:www.palauun.org/news_archive.cfm?news_id=189Palau Calls for Security Council Action to Protect Island Nations From Sea-Level Rise.

NEW YORK, NY,  www.islandsfirst.org February 15, 2008 — Addressing the General Assembly of the United Nations at the High Level Debate on Climate Change, H.E. Stuart Beck, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Palau, citing the “life or death” nature of sea-level rise for the world’s island nations, urged the Security Council to utilize its powers under Chapter VII of the UN Charter to address this threat to member states by imposing mandatory greenhouse gas emission standards on all member states, and utilizing the power to sanction, if necessary, to encourage compliance with such standards.

He said:
“The waters continue to rise in Palau, and everywhere else…Though this litany of disasters has become well known in these halls, no action with remedial consequences has been taken…We take this opportunity to respectfully call upon the Security Council to react to the threat which we describe. Would any nation facing an invading army not do the same?”

States reacted swiftly to the statement. This week, Ambassadors are meeting in New York to draft a General Assembly Resolution requesting Security Council intervention to prevent an aggravation of the climate change situation caused by greenhouse gas emissions by states. Pacific Island states will be in the forefront of the effort, since they are both the most vulnerable states, and amongst the least responsible for the problem.

Last year, the Security Council debated the security implications of climate change. Its then President, Foreign Minister Margaret Beckett of the United Kingdom, affirmed that climate change is a threat to “our collective security in a fragile and increasingly interdependent world”. Chapter VII of the UN Charter conveys to the Security Council the necessary tools to address the problem, as it has done so in recent years in connection with terrorism and HIV/AIDS. No other international body has the power to mandate change in an effort to save the threatened island cultures of the world.

The full text of Ambassador Beck’s remarks at the UN Climate Change debate is as follows:

“Mr. President, esteemed colleagues, friends:

The waters continue to rise in Palau, and everywhere else. Salinization of fresh water and formerly productive lands continues apace. The reefs, the foundation of our food chain, experience periodic bleaching and death. Throughout the Pacific, sea level rise has not only generated plans for the relocation of populations, but such relocations are actually in progress. Though this litany of disasters has become well known in these halls, no action with remedial consequences has been taken. Larger countries can build dikes, and move to higher ground. This is not feasible for the small island states who must simply stand by and watch their cultures vanish.

Is the United Nations simply powerless to act in the face of this threat to the very existence of many of its member states? We suggest that it is not.

Last April, under the Presidency of the United Kingdom, the Security Council took up the issue of climate change. At that time, while there were some expressions of discomfort with the venue of the debate, a discomfort which we decidedly did not share, there was general agreement with the notion expressed by the President of the Security Council, UK Foreign Minister Margaret Beckett that climate change is a threat to “our collective security in a fragile and increasingly interdependent world”.

Islands are not the only countries whose existence is threatened. Ambassador Kaire Mbuende of Namibia characterized climate change as a ” a matter of life or death” for his country, observing that ” the developing countries in particular, have been subjected to what could be described as low-intensity biological or chemical warfare. Greenhouse gases are slowly destroying plants, animals and human beings.”

Speaking on behalf of the Pacific Island Forum at last years Security Council debate Ambassador Robert Aisi, of Papua New Guinea observed that climate change is no less a threat to small island states than the dangers of guns and bombs to larger countries. Pacific Island countries are likely to face massive dislocations of people, similar to flows sparked by conflict, and such circumstances will generate as much resentment, hatred and alienation as any refugee crisis.

Ambassador Aisi observed then, and we reiterate now, that it is the Security Council which is charged with protecting human rights and the integrity and security of States. The Security Council is empowered to make decisions on behalf of all States to take action on threats to international peace and security. While we applaud the efforts of the President of the General Assembly and the Secretary General to shine a light on this awful problem, we take this opportunity to respectfully call upon the Security Council to react to the threat which we describe. Would any nation facing an invading army not do the same?

Under Article 39 of the Charter, the Security Council “shall determine the existence of any threat to peace…and shall make recommendations…to maintain or restore international peace or security”. We call upon the Security Council to do this in the context of climate change.

Under Articles 40 and 41 of the Charter, it is the obligation of the Security Council to “prevent an aggravation of the situation” and to devise appropriate measures to be carried out by all States to do this. While we Small Island states do not have all the answers, we are not unmindful of the scientific certainty that excessive greenhouse gas emissions by states are the cause of this threat to international security and the existence of our countries. We therefore suggest that the Security Council should consider the imposition of mandatory emission caps on all states and use its power to sanction in order to encourage compliance.

We further propose that under Article 11 of the Charter, the General Assembly is empowered to call to the attention of the Security Council “situations which are likely to endanger international peace and security” and, at the appropriate time, we will call upon this body to do so. In the event that the General Assembly chooses not to avail itself of this right, then we will call upon the countries whose very existence is threatened to utilize Article 34 of the Charter, which empowers each Member State to bring to the attention of the Security Council any issue which “might lead to international friction”.
I think we can all agree that international friction is a mild term to describe the terrible plight in which the island nations now find themselves.

Our Charter provides a way forward. Our Security Council has the wisdom and the tools to address this situation. And while we debate, the waters are rising.

Thank you.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 16th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 search.japantimes.co.jp/mail/nn20…

Saturday, Aug. 16, 2008

Cabinet trio visit Yasukuni.

By KAZUAKI NAGATA, Staff writer, Japan Times online.

Cabinet ministers and at least 53 Diet members visited Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo on surrender day Friday while Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and two key ministers opted to keep their distance from the contentious landmark, which served as Japan’s spiritual pillar during the war.

Fukuda, Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura and Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura all refrained from visiting the Shinto shrine, conforming with Fukuda’s moderate stance of not antagonizing China and South Korea.


The shrine, which honors Japan’s 2.47 million war dead, as well as Class A war criminals, is regarded by many parts of Asia as a symbol of Japan’s wartime militarism. Friday marked the 63rd anniversary of Japan’s World War II surrender and is an emotional day for many Japanese.

The 63rd anniversary of Japan’s surrender, Former nationalistic Prime Ministers Junichiro Koizumi and Shinzo Abe also paid their respects Friday.

Koizumi was notorious for making annual visits to the shrine while prime minister from 2001 to 2006, including on surrender day in his final year. Each visit provoked harsh outcries from China and South Korea.

Joining them Friday were farm minister Seiichi Ota, Justice Minister Okiharu Yasuoka, consumer affairs minister Seiko Noda and nationalist Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, who went for a ninth year in a row.

Noda, often regarded as having the best chance of becoming Japan’s first female prime minister, previously visited the shrine when she was posts minister.

When asked if she felt awkward about coming to the shrine while Fukuda did not, Noda said his decision was based on his opinion and the Cabinet was not told to refrain.

“People have different religious views, so (going to a shrine) should be freely allowed,” said Lower House member Yoshinobu Shimamura, who heads a nonpartisan group that visits the shrine together. Shimamura led 52 other Diet conservatives on the annual visit.

Despite the scorching weather, the shrine attracted a myriad of visitors, many there to witness the lawmakers’ visit.

The shrine served as the backbone for the Shinto fervor that drove Japan’s war. Dead soldiers were enshrined there as gods who protected the country, and many relatives of the war dead still go to Yasukuni to remember loved ones even 63 years after the end of the war.

A 56-year-old man from Ishikawa Prefecture who requested anonymity said Yasukuni’s supporters and detractors both have their points, and it is difficult to say what’s right regarding the politicians’ visits.

The prime minister and other ministers may need to be careful about expressing their views too much because “it is a fact that visiting Yasukuni has caused problems,” he said.

On the other hand, while asserting an understanding of other countries’ viewpoints, he said they should not be so critical of a “domestic” issue.

————–

Fukuda sticks to neutral venues: Prime minister honors nation’s war dead at nonreligious Budokan, Chidorigafuchi ceremonies.

By MASAMI ITO, Staff writer Japan Times online.
Speaking at the annual ceremony to commemorate Japan’s war dead at Nippon Budokan Hall in Tokyo, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda on Friday touched on the country’s wartime responsibility to its neighbors and renewed the nation’s pledge to never again wage war.

Friday marked the 63rd anniversary of the public radio address made by Emperor Hirohito, posthumously known as Showa, announcing Japan’s surrender, ending World War II.

Fukuda, echoing several of his predecessors, expressed “deep remorse” to all of the war dead, adding that Japan caused “tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations.”

Fukuda, widely known for his relatively dovish stance toward Asia, did not visit the contentious war-linked Yasukuni Shrine, which many parts of Asia in particular regard as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism.

Instead, he attended the war dead commemoration ceremony and visited the religiously unaffiliated Chidorigafuchi war memorial, near Yasukuni, dedicated to unknown Japanese service members.

The national ceremony at Nippon Budokan Hall is held every Aug. 15 in honor of the 2.3 million Japanese service members and 800,000 Japanese civilians who died in the war, including those killed by massive U.S. air raids on major cities and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

“We have not forgotten for even a moment that the peace and prosperity of today was created because of the sacred sacrifices of those who lost their precious lives in the war,” Fukuda said during the ceremony.

Others in attendance included Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, lawmakers from various parties, the speaker of the Lower House and the president of the Upper.

“Looking back on history, I earnestly hope the horrors of war will not be repeated,” the Emperor said.

“Together with the public, I pay a heartfelt tribute to those who lost their lives on the battlefield and fell in the ravages of war, and pray for world peace and further development of our country.”

According to the health ministry, 4,579 relatives of the war dead attended the ceremony. More than 60 years after the war, their numbers are dwindling at the annual ceremony. Nearly half are 64 years old or older.

The oldest living relative is 95 years old but asks that his name be withheld. The youngest are two 9-year-old great-grandchildren of fallen servicemen.

During the ceremony, House of Representatives Speaker Yohei Kono urged the government to build a nonreligious war memorial hall to replace Yasukuni Shrine.

In 2002, Fukuda himself proposed such a hall, while stressing it could coexist with Yasukuni, not replace it.

Fukuda’s proposal, however, was shelved by conservative politicians who feared it would diminish the shrine’s role.

“The government should seriously consider establishing a memorial facility that is not based on a particular religion and one where everyone can unite and pay tribute,” Kono said. “Our nation and our neighboring countries still have unresolved issues related to history that have become a thorn and are causing friction.”

Meanwhile, at a news conference Friday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura said the government “does not need to take action” immediately to push for the alternative memorial facility.

Yasukuni Shrine, located in Chiyoda Ward, has become a cause of strain between Japan and neighboring parts of Asia in part because of the Class-A war criminals enshrined along with Japanese service members who died fighting for Japan.

Every year, the spotlight shines on the shrine and whether the prime minister and any of his Cabinet ministers will pay a visit.

—————-

War widow – now 94-year old –   goes to first ceremony. Her husband was killed   in the Philippines.

Kyodo News, Over the past 63 years, Yotsu Iimura had not joined the annual national memorial ceremony on Aug. 15 to commemorate the war dead.

But this year, the 94-year-old decided to come although she is in a wheelchair, becoming one of the oldest relatives of the war dead attending the ceremony, which is seeing fewer and fewer participants as the survivors pass away with the years.

“My heart is too full to talk. I’m really happy,” she said, entering Tokyo Budokan Hall.

This year, 4,579 surviving kin of deceased Japanese soldiers attended the Budokan ceremony. A decade ago, the number was 5,662.

Iimura had hesitated to attend because “many bereaved families had been attending the ceremony,” she said.

“But not much time is left for me, either. I feel lonely since fewer families are attending,” she said.

Iimura’s husband, Shoji, was killed in action on Luzon Island in the Philippines at age 31. He had been a refrigerator maker before being drafted in 1944. Iimura learned in 1947 that her husband was dead.

———————–
WASHINGTON (Kyodo) –   William Bunce, who helped disestablish Shinto as Japan’s state religion during the Allied Occupation, died of chronic pneumonia in Maryland on July 23, The Washington Post reported Thursday. He was 100.

Bunce served as chief of the Religious and Cultural Resources Division at the general headquarters of the Allied Forces, working to separate militarism and nationalism from Shinto to promote the demilitarization of Japan under orders from the Allied commander in chief, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the paper said.

But Bunce allowed Shinto, stripped of its nationalism, to continue and believers to worship privately, it said.

A native of Ohio, Bunce earned a master’s degree in history from Ohio State University in 1933 and taught English at a Japanese junior college during the 1930s, according to the Washington Post.

After the Occupation, he became a diplomat and served at embassies in India and South Korea before retiring in 1971.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 15th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The 14 UN Member States belonging to the group of PACIFIC SIDS, have really had it with the UN Security Council that just talks about climate change being a security issue in the abstract, while these Island-States are getting lost to the sea-rise effect of global warming. The people of Kiribati are already abandoning their homeland and moving to New Zealand. Many islands are in danger of similar extinction.

The PACIFIC SIDS are appealing now directly to the NGOs and there will be a meeting, at the UN, Friday August 15, 2008 10 am. To be allowed into the UN compound – one can call the Mission of Tonga at 917-369-1025.

The 14 States are: Cook Islands, Federated State of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, The Kingdom of Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.

The 14 States, backed also by Canada, Maldives, Philippines, and Seychelles, have prepared a draft resolution to the UN General Assembly, thus by-passing the UN Security Council.

The title of the resolution is: “THE THREAT OF CLIMATE CHANGE TO INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY.”

Thirteen out of the 14 States are in the following map – missing is Palau, that became independent in a special Compact relationship with the US after this map was prepared. Palau is Located South-West of Micronesia – North of Papua New Guinea – a little off this map.

pacific-sids003.gif

pacific-sids001.gif

pacific-sids002.gif

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 4th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Israeli startup turns Asia’s three-wheelers green.
By Sharon Kanon – www.israel21c.org/bin/en.jsp?enDi…;
July 29, 2008

A snazzy green Yamaha RS100T motorcycle with a sidecar will be the greenest taxi in the Philippines in the near future. The vehicle will be fitted with three compact cylinders of natural gas, using technology developed by Israeli-American company, Energtek.

Energtek’s recent announcement of the first successful conversion of a three-wheeled vehicle to natural gas for commercial purposes created a buzz in motorcycle media, green publications and blogs worldwide.

“Natural Gas is the most practical motor fuel alternative to gasoline,” Lev Zaidenberg, Energtek’s CEO, tells ISRAEL21c. “Extraordinary quantities exist. And, it is cheaper and cleaner than gasoline.”

With oil prices skyrocketing, and increased concern about pollution, Energtek’s proprietary ANG technology is a breakthrough for countries where two and three-wheeled vehicles predominate. During the past year, Energtek has successfully entered three Asian markets – the Philippines, India, and Indonesia.

There are about 300 million two and three wheeled vehicles on the road worldwide – some 25 percent of the world’s automotive market; and nearly 85 percent of them are in Asia.              

Small 2-stroke engines which get a quick surge of power because combustion is completed in only two stokes of the piston, rather than four as in a car, are popular.

* * *

Ban on polluting vehicles

Tricycles or vespas are relatively low-cost to buy, but – and this is a big drawback — they emit high levels of smoky pollution when powered by gasoline. In a drastic measure to try to control pollution, the Philippine government is about to put a ban on the use of highly polluting two-stroke vehicles, powered with gasoline.

“Energtek’s technology provides a solution for two million tricycle drivers to continue to operate their vehicles, preventing them from suffering a significant loss of livelihood…” says Ariel P. Lim, the Philippine President’s Special Advisor for Public Transport Affairs.

Last Wednesday, Energtek signed an agreement with the Philippine National Oil Company to convert half a million three-wheeled vehicles to natural gas within three to four years.

Energtek will buy the gas from stranded wells in the province of Isabela, and use its technology in a multi-phase conversion project, dubbed “the world’s first commercial ANG project.” It hopes to convert 50,000 tricycles within 18 months. This initiative is expected to generated revenues of $20 million in vehicles equipment sales and $40 million in annual gas sales.

***

Inventive contributions:

“Our R&D division (Angstore) spent more than six years on research and development,” says Zaidenberg, a maverick entrepreneur who also founded Mutek, as well as Angstore, and has received awards for his inventive contributions to the Israel Air Force and the Israel Computer Society.

He’s not the only well known name at the company. Prof. Yuri Ginzburg, the company’s CTO, is a world expert in the automotive industry, and a specialist in alternative fuel systems. Eliezer Sandberg, chairman of the board, is a former Israel Minister of National Infrastructure.

Investors in the company include a major Swiss bank, a UK Fund, and an Austrian investment company that specializes in the energy field.

Energtek is the first company to produce a cost-effective Adsorbed Natural Gas (ANG) system. ANG technology is a storage system that adds solid nano-porous activated carbon material (like the kind used as filters in fish tanks) to adsorb (not absorb) natural gas (NG).

Molecules of methane stick close together on the material becoming a dense film. These molecules are then compressed into less space while using a third less pressure than typical Compressed NG systems. With more gas power capacity in each tank, driving ranges are increased. Three cylinders (which look like scuba diving tanks), with eight liters each, contain enough fuel for 100-120 kilometers of driving.

In the past, alternative storage systems have proved more expensive than the vehicles, and Energtek’s unique ANG technology application is the first that has passed road tests in the Philippines and India.

“Natural Gas is abundant but often ‘stranded,’ not easily accessible,” explains Zaidenberg. “Our innovative technology is not dependent on pipelines. Unlike oil, natural gas does not have to be refined.



The plan in the Philippines pilot project is to compress the Natural Gas on the stranded gas site into small cylinders that will then be shipped to distribution outlets throughout the country.

“The cost of natural gas using our ANG technology and Fast Interchangeable Tanks (FIT) is about half the cost of gasoline,” says Zaidenberg.

Retrofitting vehicles to use natural gas only takes a few hours. “The owner gets back his investment ($250 to $350) in a few months because of huge savings in fuel,” says Zaidenberg. The banks will also offer micro-financing schemes.

An even larger marker is India with 80 million motorcycles and two and three-wheelers. Earlier this year, Energtek signed a joint venture with Confidence Petroleum in India, setting up a subsidiary with exclusive rights to commercialize Energtek’s NG technology across India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.

The $25 million investment/financing deal includes transport of mobile pipes for industrial use of NG, and providing NG for automotive fleets, as well as scooters and motorcycles.

Energtek has also recently announced a similar $25 million joint venture with DML PTE, a prominent Indonesian manufacturer of transportation and energy management systems. In Indonesia, the government is set to cut gasoline subsidies by 35 percent. Low-income owners of 35 million two and three-wheeled vehicles will be hit hard.

The Joint Venture with DML PTE will commercialize Energtek’s technology in Singapore, and Malaysia as well as Indonesia. Revenues are expected to surpass $100 million.

***

Asked about Energtek’s next marketing target, Zaidenberg says: “Our next move will probably be to the US and South America. We are looking for countries that are oil importers, and have natural gas. Look, the price of gasoline is over $4.00 a gallon. The big gap is in our favor.”

What about cars and trucks? “We are developing a storage system for four-wheeled vehicles,” Zaidenberg confirms. “The marine market is also a huge target.”

“We have the right technology at the right time,” adds Zaidenberg. “Just think a short time ago we were just five guys with technology, no business. Now we have a business that is worldwide. Even Iran, the third largest oil producer is converting to gas.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 4th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

UNEP PRESS RELEASE


UNEP Announces Winners of 2008 Sasakawa Prize –
Bringing Renewable Energy to Remote Communities: Projects from Peru and Lao PDR Share Prestigious Environment Award.

NAIROBI/WELLINGTON, 4 June 2008 – Two projects bringing renewable energy to
villages in Peru and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic have been awarded
the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Sasakawa Prize for 2008.

The two winning projects are Sunlabob Rural Energy Ltd (Lao PDR) and
Practical Action (Peru). Both projects are bringing clean power – solar
and hydro – to remote rural communities that do not have access to grid
electricity, on the eastern slopes of the Andes and in the farthest-flung
regions of the Lao PDR.

The UNEP Sasakawa Prize, worth $200,000, is awarded yearly to individuals
or institutions which have made a substantial contribution to the
protection and management of the environment. The winners, who will each
receive $100,000, were chosen by a five-member jury from a shortlist of six
projects at a meeting in Tokyo.

The Prize acts as an incentive for grassroots environmental efforts that
are sustainable and replicable. It recognizes extraordinary initiatives
from around the world that make use of innovation and groundbreaking
research and ideas and empower people at the local level.

This year’s theme for the award was “Moving towards a low carbon economy”,
the theme of World Environment Day 2008. The shortlist included four other
outstanding projects bringing clean energy to thousands of people, from
families in the Philippines to rural households in south India and prisons
in Rwanda.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director,
said: “Addressing the monumental energy challenge of the 21st century
involves practical projects at ground level that bring tangible changes to
the way people live. Sunlabob and Practical Action are showing tremendous
leadership in bringing clean energy to remote communities in Peru and the
Lao PDR, and in doing so they are setting further examples of the energy
alternatives available to the developing but also the developed world.”

The Winners

Sunlabob Rural Energy Ltd., set up in 2001, is bringing energy to remote
rural communities in the Lao PDR, a country where just 48 per cent of the
population has access to grid electricity, mostly in cities and town.
Through Sunlabob, over 1,800 solar-home-systems (SHS) and 500 solar
lanterns are being rented to families in 73 different villages across the
country.

In an area where most people rely on highly polluting kerosene lamps, the
initiative rents out solar lighting at a lower price than kerosene,
providing families with a real incentive to switch to the cleaner energy.
The cheapest solar systems costs 35,000 kip per month ($3.80) to rent,
while households typically spend 36,000 to 60,000 kip per month ($4 to
$6.60) on kerosene for lighting. As well as being far less sustainable
than solar energy, kerosene lamps can be dangerous, causing burns, starting
fires and polluting the air indoors.

The equipment is rented through Village Energy Committees (VEC) selected by
the whole community; this puts the community in control of setting prices,
collecting rents and performing basic maintenance.

The potential for growth in the use of solar PV in the Lao PDR is huge.
Sunlabob is installing systems at a rate of 500 per year, and a new
investment this year will allow it to scale up to 2,500 systems per year,
and 5,000 per year after that.

The project is also highly replicable. Sunlabob is already starting work
in Cambodia and Indonesia, and is exploring possibilities with interested
potential partners in Bhutan, East Timor, Eastern Africa and Latin America.
(See www.sunlabob.com/en/news-2008/ind…, for more information.)

Practical Action, founded in 1966, is working in Peru’s eastern Andes where
68 per cent of the population – around 5 million people – do not have
access to electricity. The project makes use of the region’s vast
potential for hydroelectricity: to date, 47 micro-hydro schemes have been
installed in the area through Practical Action, bringing clean power to
about 30,000 people.

Through this project, Practical Action is also boosting local industry, as
most of the turbines are manufactured by small companies in Peru to
Practical Action designs – with each company making three or four turbines
a year. Practical Action says it sees local manufacture as a key step
towards widespread use of renewable energy.

The electricity supply is boosting the development of the remote
communities. Previously, people moved away to start businesses in places
where the infrastructure was better, but the electricity from the
micro-hydro schemes has brought them back. Some villages have doubled in
size, with people returning and others starting or expanding businesses
including restaurants, bakeries, furniture makers, welders and internet
cafes. (See www.itdg.org.pe/, for more information.)

The UNEP Sasakawa Prize was originally created in 1982 by the late Ryoichi Sasakawa.

The Prize wasre-launched in its current format in 2005, and is currently chaired by Mr.
Sasakawa’s son, Yohei Sasakawa of Japan’s Nippon Foundation.

The five members of the 2008 UNEP Sasakawa Prize jury are UNEP Executive
Director Achim Steiner, Nippon Foundation Chairman Yohei Sasakawa, 2004
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Professor Wangari Maathai, 1995 Nobel Chemistry
Prize Laureate Professor Mario Molina, and Ms Wakako Hironaka, Member of
Japan’s House of Councillors.

As well as the two winning projects, the 2008 shortlist also included four
other projects bringing renewable energy to remote communities in Africa
and Asia.

The Kigali Institute of Science, Technology and Management has
brought biogas power to six prisons in Rwanda, halving the need for
firewood and improving sanitation for 30,000 prisoners.

The AlternativeIndigenous Development Foundation is installing hydro-powered water pumps
for poor communities in the Philippines.

The Mwanza Rural Housing Programme is training villagers in northern Tanzania to make high-quality
bricks from local clay, fired with agricultural residues rather than wood.

And SKG Sangha has set up a biogas programme in southern India to replace
fuelwood with biogas for cooking in rural households, and also to increase
household income by making a saleable fertilizer from biogas residue and
other unmanaged agricultural organic waste.

For more information, please visit the UNEP Sasakawa Prize website at:
 www.unep.org or e-mail:  sasakawaprize at unep.org

To find out more about World Environment Day, go to:
 www.unep.org

————-

Nick Nuttall, Spokesperson/Head of Media, UNEP on Tel: +41-79-596-5737,
E-mail:  nick.nuttall at unep.org
Or Anne-France White, Associate Information Officer, at tel:
+254-20-762-3088, Mobile: +254-728-600-494, or e-mail:
 anne-france.white at unep.org.

***********************************
Jim Sniffen
Information Officer
UN Environment Programme
New York
tel: +1-212-963-8094/8210
 info at nyo.unep.org
 www.nyo.unep.org
********************************

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 20th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Women and environment experts have raised concern over the absence of women in the discourse and debate on climate change, a global mainstream issue that is currently impacting the entire world. The involvement of women in areas of environmental management and governance should not be perceived as an afterthought. Women’s roles are of considerable importance in the promotion of environmental ethics.
The current imperative is for women to understand the phenomenon of climate change and its impacts and implications at the individual, household, community and national levels. Studies show that women have a definite information deficit on climate politics and climate protection. Only with this information can women take their proper, significant and strategic role in the issue of climate change.

Invited to this congress are women parliamentarians, women in decision – making and governance, environment organizations, youth Leaders and Media Practitioners.


The Congress will have the following objectives:
Overall Purpose: To provide a forum for women legislators, and women in decision making and environment organizations at all levels, in formulating gender-responsive legislation and policies.

Specific Objectives:
a) To understand the phenomenon of climate change, its impacts and implications;
b). to review and examine the gender aspects of climate change and formulate appropriate actions to address such;
c). to define the roles women can play in addressing the issues of climate change at the global, national and sub-national levels; and
d). to identify and define the action agenda for parliamentarians, policy advocates and women leaders to support global and national actions to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Congress Proceedings:
The discussion on gender and climate change will be organized around identifying the challenges to action as well as defining the appropriate responses to effectively address the impacts of climate change. Inputs to the discussion will be collected and organized around: 1) geographic location and 2) types of actions: i.e. preparedness, risk reduction: building community resilience; adaptation; and mitigation. Cross cutting these discussions will be the identification of technologies in aid of responding to climate change.
The focus of the discussions will revolve around defining and elaborating actions (i.e. preparedness, disaster risk reduction, adaptation, and mitigation) to cope with climate change and its impacts.
Preparedness and disaster risk reduction is about building individual and community capacities to position themselves and their communities so that the likelihood of climate change-induced disasters is reduced; the intensity or adverse impacts of disasters are cushioned and that inhabitants are able to respond promptly, expeditiously and effectively. Adaptation entails actions that moderate harm, or exploit benefits, of climate change. Mitigation entails actions that minimizes or cushions the adverse impacts of climate change.
In all of these actions, special attention will be given to defining how women and gender could be mainstreamed. In other words, the Congress should define how women can be given the social space to participate, influence, and benefit from global and local responses to climate change.
The registration fee for the four day congress is one hundred eight thousand Philippine Pesos (P108, 000). per person for single room accommodations and Eighty eight thousand Philippine Pesos (P88, 000). per person for twin room sharing accommodations (two persons in one room).
The training will be held on Oct 19-22, 2008. However, the participants will be requested to be in Manila the day before, October 18, 2008 and leave Manila only on October 23, 2008. The overnight hotel accommodation on October 18, 2008 is already included in the fee. Participants will be billeted in the Dusit Hotel, the venue of the congress and hotels near the Dusit Hotel, accessible within walking distance. Room accommodations in the Dusit Hotel, the venue of the Congress will be on a first come – first served basis.

You can also download the full information sheet and registration form for this Third Global Congress of Women in Politics and Governance from our website, <www.capwip.org&gt;
Importance of the Congress:

Today, on the average, 1 person out of 19 in a developing country will be hit by a climate disaster, compared to 1 out of 1,500 in an OECD country.

Climate change creates life time traps: in Niger, a child born during a drought is 72 percent more likely to be stunted than a child born during a normal season.

The Theme of “Gender and Climate Change” is the first time this will be discussed in a forum whose objective is to formulate gender responsive legislation and policies for national governments and parliaments.

We hope that environment organizations will find this forum a good opportunity to advocate gender and climate change policies and programs through gender responsive legislation to the women parliamentarians, decision makers, the youth leaders, media and the funding agencies/organizations.

Dr. Jung Sook Kim, President
The theme of the congress is “Gender and Climate Change”.
Center for Asia Pacific Women in Politics (CAPWIP)
YSTAPHIL Building, 4227-4229 Tomas Claudio Street, Baclaran,
Parañaque City, Metro Manila, Philippines
Tel. (632) 8516934 (632) 8516954; Tele Fax: mobile phone +639184596603
E-mail:  globalcongress2008 at gmail.com;  globalcongress2008 at capwip.org <mailto:globalcongress2008@gmail.com;  globalcongress2008 at capwip.org>;  capwip at capwip.org <mailto:capwip@capwip.org> Web: www.capwip.org <www.capwip.org&gt;; www.onlinewomeninpolitics.org <www.onlinewomeninpolitics.org&gt;

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 11th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Kevin Rafferty was editor of “The Universe,” Britain’s Catholic newspaper. He wrote for The Japan Times of February 11, 2008, an article about the election of Adolfo Nicolas, a 71-year-old Spaniard who went to Japan as a young man 46 years ago and never left Asia except for going to Rome for further theological studies, as the new “father general” of the Jesuit order.

His choice is potentially of historic significance. Nicolas takes over as Pope Benedict is getting into his stride in his task of bringing erring priests and people back into line, with the zeal of someone who was the Vatican’s theological watchdog before becoming pope. The Vatican gets more conservative!

In the last few months the Vatican issued a warning against the writings of a Vietnamese-born U.S.-based theologian whose writings have tried to bridge the gap between Catholicism and Asian religions. It also refused to accept a divorced man as Argentina’s ambassador.

Pope Benedict weighed in with specific warnings to the Jesuits, and wrote to Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, the outgoing Dutch father general, who at 80 asked to retire, even though the job is for life. The pope urged the Jesuits to accept “total adhesion to Catholic doctrine.” He singled out “those neuralgic points which today are strongly attacked by secular culture, as for example the relationship between Christ and religions; some aspects of the theology of liberation; and various points of sexual morality, especially as regards the indissolubility of marriage and the pastoral care of homosexual persons.”

Just in case that was not clear enough, Cardinal Franc Rode, who delivered the homily at the opening mass of the Jesuit congregation, expressed “sadness and anxiety” regarding aspects of Jesuit life and urged them to “think with the Church.” The cardinal told the National Catholic Reporter that he showed his text in advance to “superior authority,” a reference to the pope.

But the new father general Nicolas is no lightweight. On the one hand, in a prophetic paper prepared for the Asian Catholic bishops in 1990, he showed he was a man ahead of his time. He lamented secularization and feared the assault on wisdom from “bias, nonsense and the infinite varieties of selfish or group interests.”

But on the other hand, at the time, he also called for “A new justice for all humans regardless of age, race, gender, physical, financial or social capabilities, also a new justice for the Earth and all its living creatures and their habitats. This translates into a new justice for the coming generations of Asian peoples who will want to encounter the living God and his marvelous creation in the glorious beauty he so laboriously elaborated through billions of years: and not to be abandoned to a boring search for him through the devastated and exploited wastelands we are multiplying at present.”
Rafferty remarks that his plea came almost a generation before it became fashionable to be green.

The real importance of Nicolas is that although raised in Europe, his formative years as a man and a Catholic priest were in Japan, which has few Catholics but much experience in religious thinking. Where the pope seems increasingly concentrated on obedience to the Church and toeing the line, Nicolas stresses the importance of listening and learning.

Further, we write about this because of the concluing remarks by Rafferty: Nicolas said that Japan “has changed me and helped me to understand others, to accept what is different and try to understand why it is different, in what lies the difference and how I can learn from that difference.”

Japan, he added, “has taught me to smile at the difficulties, at human imperfection, the human reality. In Spain I was a little intolerant, thinking in terms of order, of commands, because I thought of religion as fidelity to religious practices, and in Japan I learned that true religiosity is more profound, that one must go to the heart of things, to the depths of our humanity, whether we are speaking of God or of ourselves and human life. Human life is this way, we people are this way; imperfections are so natural that it is necessary to accept them from the very beginning.”

Put his way, Nicolas seems more truly Catholic — in its original meaning of “universal.” His election could offer a marriage of black and white made in heaven. But it remains uncertain whether the wholly Roman pope will tolerate such diversity on Earth.

Comparing the above with the positions of the present Pope – the Germanic Benedict XVI – the Pope being considered historically the “white pope” because of his white robes, and the father general being considered the “black pope” because of his traditional simple black garb – one is left wondering about who is more appropriate to our times, and who has learned a thing or two by having been exposed to Eastern (that is now Asian, not Bizantine) cultures.

The reaction to father Nicolas’ elections are telling: Enter Adolfo Nicolas as the new leader. The first amazing thing about his election was the happiness that greeted the news, sheer joy from Rome to Japan and the Philippines. An elector from Europe asked, “Have we elected a saint?” Another described him as “the wise man from the East.” A Hong Kong woman working with the Jesuits in Cambodia exclaimed, “There is hope for the Jesuits!”

In the Philippines, where Nicolas had worked from 2004 as moderator of the Jesuit Conference of East Asia and Oceania, Bishop Francisco Claver said he was at supper with priesthood students and, “When we got the news, everyone cheered like we were winning a basketball game.”

From Japan, where Nicolas spent most of his priestly life, a nun, Sister Filo Hirota praised Nicolas as “almost perfect, a very fine theologian, very human, with a wonderful sense of humor, prophetic in his vision, but he knows how to dialogue.” She added that he does a very fine impression of Charlie Chaplin.

How very different from the pope, almost a difference between black and white. It is hard to see the austere, stern pope gaining such applause or being called affectionately “Father Nico,” as many call the new Jesuit general.

Our question is now – Will father Nicolas follow up by becoming the GREEN POPE?

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 20th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 http://search.japantimes.co.jp/mail/ed20071220a2.html

We were watching Malaysia since our visit there looking into reasons for air pollution and the effects of the fires set in Indonesia by Malaysian companies planting oil-trees. We saw the division between Malay, Chinese, and Indians. We saw in the north Al Qaeda type of Islamics preaching in the open. We saw a future of conflict and heard a Mahatir leadership that spoke about Jews like Ahmadinejad does now. Without its Chinese and Indian middle class the country will suffer serious retreat, but to be in front you had to be Malay. What now?
Thursday, Dec. 20, 2007
EDITORIAL, The Japanese Times online.

STRAINS IN MALAYSIA.

The arrest of leaders of an ethnic Indian rights group shines a spotlight on rising tensions in Malaysia. The government of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi appears unnerved by growing protests; its resort to the Internal Security Act (ISA) is a troubling sign. The focus of complaint is charges of discrimination against Indians, a minority in Malaysia. This sensitive and politically charged issue has to be addressed with subtlety and tact; mere repression will only make things worse.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets in recent weeks in Malaysia. Opposition leaders first led marches demanding electoral reform. They were followed a couple of weeks later by ethnic Indians protesting government policies that institutionalize discrimination in the form of preferences for native Malays. Indians, who make up about 8 percent of the population, have long complained that they miss political, economic and education opportunities.

The government denies charges of discrimination. There are assertions that some Indian protest leaders are linked to terrorist groups. The call by one of the ethnic Indian leaders for India to halt trade with Malaysia opens the door to sedition charges. As the situation intensifies — the government used tear gas and water cannons against marchers last month — five leaders were arrested under the ISA, which allows confinement without trial for up to two years. Other demonstrators have been arrested under less draconian measures.

The ISA has not been used against political opposition since 2001. Mr. Badawi is unapologetic, saying the government must be accountable to the whole. Protest leaders are equally unyielding; they warn that the protest movement has depth and there are ample replacements for any who are locked up.

The unrest is a warning to the Malaysian government that change is a must. While preferences that benefit Malays make some political sense, the program has been exploited; corruption has become endemic and a wide swath of citizens wants accountability. Silencing critics will not solve this problem.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 2nd, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Monday, Dec. 3, 2007

Setting the record straight on Indonesia
Although most of the people are Muslim, don’t call it a ‘Muslim nation’

By CHRISTOPHER LINGLE
Special to The Japan Times
BALI, Indonesia — Japan and India stand as beacons for democracy that surely inspire many of their Asian neighbors. For its part, Indonesia has been struggling with its own experiment with democracy that has enormous implications for the region and the rest of the world.

Unfortunately, the news media has contributed to confusion about the nature of the Indonesian state that clouds interpretations of events unfolding there.

Recent examples of misleading remarks were made by Tom Plate on this page in his Nov. 18 article “Stoking democracy in a Muslim giant” when he described Indonesia as the “largest Islamic country on Earth,” and in his Nov. 26 article “Upbeat band of moderates keep the faith” when he referred to Indonesia as “the most populous Muslim state.”

Such uninformed remarks are all the more egregious violations of reality given the Bali dateline. Anyone visiting the Indonesian Republic should be better informed about political realities there.

In all events, credibility in journalism demands that readers be provided an authoritative and accurate assessment or description of a given topic. Words matter because they influence the way that people form their ideas about the state of the world that is being described.

Unfortunately, when it comes to describing Indonesia, reporters and commentators tend to commit an egregious blunder. Indonesia is often depicted as “the world’s largest Muslim nation” or “the world’s largest Muslim country.” These statements are both wrong and misleading.

Any author penning such statements or editors letting them pass are either uninformed or lazy or both. On various grounds, Indonesia should not be characterized either as a Muslim nation or as an Islamic state.

It is true that Indonesia has the world’s fourth-largest population and the largest Muslim population of any country (170 million out of more than 200 million). It is also true that approximately 88 percent of Indonesia’s population identify themselves as Muslims. But while Indonesia has an overwhelming Muslim majority, it is constitutionally a republic and is not an Islamic state.

As such, it is simply wrong to portray Indonesia as a “Muslim nation” or an Islamic country. The numerical dominance in some category within a country does not necessarily identify it as a “nation.” A rich diversity of language, customs, religion and ethnicity means that Indonesia cannot be considered a Muslim nation in the strict sense of the term.

Some would say the strongest indication of nationhood is a common language. But even this test fails in Indonesia. While Bahasa Indonesia was imposed as a de facto and de jure lingua franca across the archipelago, it is the second language for most citizens.

As it is, Indonesia’s Constitution states that the country is a secular republic. Indonesia’s Constitution specifies that all persons have the right to worship according to their own religion or belief.

And so it is that religious groups other than Islam constitute a majority on many islands. The most obvious is Bali, where most inhabitants are Hindu. Some smaller islands have Christian-majority populations.

Despite attempts by Islamic groups to establish an Islamic state, the mainstream Muslim community has rejected the idea. Aceh is the only part of the country where the central government specifically has authorized Shariah (Islamic law) and where Shariah courts are established.

On many islands, other religious groups constitute a majority. The most obvious is Bali, where most inhabitants are Hindu. And some of the smaller islands have Christian-majority populations.

Erroneous characterizations about Indonesia are counterproductive to a country where multicultural forces seek to have their voices heard and to protect or promote their own interests. Such errors also play into the hands of radical Islamic elements within Indonesia and their allies elsewhere that seek to establish a new “

” from Spain through North Africa and the Middle East across Indonesia and the Philippines.

This incorrect depiction also legitimizes attempts to introduce conservative Muslim morality into Indonesia’s civil code as a stealth movement toward countrywide application of Shariah law. In turn, this works against pluralist forces that are struggling to maintain balance within the state.

Economy in the use of words is imposed by the strictures of space on editorial pages, but this should not lead to qualitative lapses.

It may seem more cumbersome, but a more accurate statement is that Indonesia is the “most populous Muslim-majority country in the world.”

Christopher Lingle is a research scholar at the Center for Civil Society, New Delhi, and professor of economics at Universidad Francisco Marroquin, Guatemala.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 10th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 search.japantimes.co.jp/mail/nn20…

Sixteen Asia-Pacific countries will seek to expand their forests by a combined 15 million hectares by 2020 to help fight global warming, according to the draft of a special statement expected to be adopted at their Nov. 21 summit in Singapore.

Kyodo News, Japan Times on line, Sunday, November 11, 2007.


The draft, a copy of which was obtained by Kyodo News, calls for “encouraging environmentally sustainable planning and management of the region’s forests while strengthening forest law enforcement and governance to combat illegal logging and other harmful practices.”

It also stipulates that the 16 countries set voluntary energy-saving targets and compile action plans by 2009.

The draft calls on the countries to participate actively in a process for developing an international climate change arrangement after the 1997 Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. The Kyoto pact aims to cut developed countries’ emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by imposing binding reduction targets.

Forests are major absorbers of carbon dioxide.

The draft, titled “Singapore Declaration on Climate Change, Energy and the Environment,” will be the first of its kind to be adopted at the East Asian Summit.

It throws support behind a long-term goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050 and calls for promoting the use of nuclear energy and biofuels.

The draft also says the 16 should work toward achieving a regional goal of reducing “energy intensity” by at least 25 percent by 2030.

Energy intensity is a figure used to gauge an economy’s energy efficiency. It is defined as energy consumption divided by GDP. The lower the number the better.

But it is uncertain whether this will enter the final statement. India, which lags the others in energy conservation, strongly opposes such a target, a Japanese official said.

The East Asia Summit features the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations — Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam — plus Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 14th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

www.iom.int
 unobserver at iom.int

IOM is The International Organization on Migration. It has 120 UN Member States in its membership – in this sense it is an Intergovernmental organization. Other 20 UN Member States are Observers. A further list of 71 Observers are IGOs (Inter-Governmental Organizations) or NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations). They are active in more than 320 Field Locations, with about 5,500 staff working on over 1,600 projects.   Detailed information you can find at : www.iom.int/jahia/jsp/index.jsp

IOM is not a UN affiliate – this because it allows equal status to other organizations besides the Member States. We shall see how NOT being under full control of the UN makes IOM into a really effective organization.

We bring up here the example of a IOM activity involving Honduras – a country suffering from unemployment and poverty – and countries in need of people in the agricultural sector. IOM works with the people themselves and NOT their governments – in doing so the people are the main beneficiaries of this IOM intervention. The information is from the July 13, 2007 Briefing to the Press from IOM    unobserver at IOM.int   www.IOM.int

“HONDURAS – Temporary Labour Migration to Canada – A first group of 10 Honduran migrants are today traveling to Canada to participate in a six-month temporary labour migration project.

The group was hired to perform seasonal agricultural work at the El Dorado Farm in the province of Alberta.

The migrants will earn a salary seven to eight times greater than the minimum wage in their country.

Following an agreement signed between IOM and the Honduran government, IOM is identifying employment opportunities in North America and Europe to help alleviate high unemployment and poverty affecting a wide sector of the population.   The agreement specifies that priority is given to those living in extreme poverty.

IOM provides technical assistance in the selection and recruitment stages, support in obtaining travel documents and visas, makes all the travel arrangements and accompanies the migrants to Canada.

According to the US Department of State Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, Honduras is one of the poorest and least developed countries in Latin America, with nearly two-thirds of Hondurans living in poverty.   Although historically dependent on exports of coffee and bananas, the economy has diversified over the past 20 years with the development of non-traditional exports such as oriental vegetables, cultivated shrimp, melons, and the tourism industry as well as the establishment of a growing maquila industry (assembly plants for export), which employs approximately 130,000 Hondurans.

Remittances from Hondurans living abroad, the vast majority of whom reside in the United States, amounted to US$2.3 billion in 2006, which represents 15 per cent of the country’s foreign exchange earnings and over 20 per cent of its GDP.

For more information contact Evelyn Andino at IOM Tegucigalpa, Tel: + 504 220 11 00, Email:  eandino at iom.int”

We read the above after I returned from a meeting at the Carnegie Council For Ethics In International Affairs, Merrill House, 170 East 64th Street, New York, NY 10021, tel: (1-212) 838-4120

The 3-5 PM meeting, organized by Devin Stewart, Director, Global Policy Innovations   www.policyInnovations.org, being developed into “The Central Address For A Fairer Globalization.”

The speaker was Dr. Federico Macaranas, the Executive Director of the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) think tank, Manila, The Philippines, that provides input also to the World Bank, whose topics was:

ETHICS OF THE BRAIN DRAIN IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD: THE CASE OF PHILIPPINE HEALTH PROFESSIONALS.

It was announced that he will discuss how poor nations cope with the challenges of globalization using their comparative advantage in human resources to serve the needs of the developed industrial world. For him the case of the Philippine health professionals (nurses, doctors, hospital managers) is just an example of the problem.

We were told that AIM will be looking into many topics including questions about the China ethics in trade. The example he will be talking here deals with the global shortage in human health professionals to care for the aging Western population while it leaves behind despoiled health systems in the developing world that are now   at risk.

His hour long presentation was followed by a very interesting Q&A period and all of this led me to realize that in effect the government of the developing country has turned the human resources into a commodity that it mines, and exports, like others do with their country’s oil or iron ores.

In this particular case, the Philippine government has taken no steps to figure ways that can allow this freedom of movement of its people and institute programs that create the needed educational-institutional frames to make this without harming the people that move to other countries and the people left behind. The remittance of earnings becomes a target that makes for the government not taken practical steps to streamline this movement. Instead we were told of closing of needed hospitals because of depletion of good personnel – be these nurses, doctors or management. The best moved on, and those that were left are unable to continue running the facility.

In the Globalization of Trade and Services we expected also Incentives the speaker said. “We originally expected movement of goods, but we got also movement of humans. When you take out talent from a poor country, this is like Sharks in the water of talent.”

AIM was founded with Harvard University in 1960 to develop case material for management courses. Dr. Macaranas’ analysis concluded that it would take $3 billion to replace the Philippine nurses in the US. In effect this is the cost to the Philippine economy. Because of loss of personnel at least 200 hospitals have closed in the Philippines and in another 800 hospitals at least one wing was closed. Often these are in the poorest districts. So the hospital crisis in the Philippines now, shows the failure of the Philippine government to act in the face of this brain drain. He wants a pro-active solution that makes possible such a movement without harming the Philippine people under conditions when in remunerative terms it is more convenient for a Philippine doctor to work as a nurse in the US. Also, many doctors have obtained also MBAs – to be able to act as hospital managers. Remember the power of the US Medical Association – these new migrants can be anything in the US except be actual doctors! This migration is not just a national scandal at both ends – it is in effect a global scandal.

Dr. Macaranas wants to reach a balanced situation when:

1. Migration should be out of choice rather then some financial push.

2. Some sort of a 2 year obligatory service for having obtained all that free education in the Philippines.

3. A taxing system on the recruiters who make tremendous profits from providing this human cargo for the upkeep of older people in the US, and other countries as well.

4. Codes of Conduct for recruiters.

With the problem having become also a problem of instructors and directors for the schools in the Philippines, because of this completely unrestricted migration, there is now a shortage of trainers to provide this human cargo!                   It has become a case when success has shot its own feet. The idea is that the nurse is trained in a hospital and in the US she has only to be retooled to IT medicine. But the exit of the hospital trainers is now shotcomming both – the local population and the industry that works for this human export. A UK-South African bilateral agreement is setting now the standard and has become a model. The migration is helped by this program and it has a training aspect to it – the results – 2/3 of emigrees to the UK are now in the health profession. The Philippines wants to hold a health migration meeting next year with the participation of the World Migration Organization (the IOM), World investors, and people sponsoring a future World Migration Foundation.

This is something Dr. Macaranas would like to see to develop into a private – public partnership that creates conditions that can continue to allow the free movement of the people, but also see that this does not leave behind harm to the developing country. These health workers are needed all   over, and even in a country like Japan that tries to remain a homogeneous society, its aging population must allow the coming in of these health workers – so, their preparation must be done in a cross borders kind of public-private partnership.

The IOM has already a Global Commission on Nurses, but the governments do not yet talk to each other. This – to be created – facility that is a public-private-partnership (PPP) has to be outside the UN proper. This because the best that can be expected at the UN is that governments will talk to each other, but this is a problem of the people first. All stake-holders must be part of the process-building of a solution. And let us not forget, we really do not want to bring about restriction to human movement that is based on fre will.

Ms. Phillips, a strong backer of the Carnegie Council, put this in blunt terms: This is an issue of Sovereignty vs. the Global Humanitarian Issue.

Other questions brought out the Thai Medical Tourism issue where it is cheaper to come to Thailand for certain medical procedures. Similarly Europeans flock to Eastern European countries. Medicare remains a problem because they do not pay for treatment abroad – but the Japanese already allow older people to reside, and be covered, when living in tropical countries abroad. So part of this issue will involve also putting limits on the American Medical Association’s privileges to dictate US health-care conditions.

Further, the international reaches of Philippine medical schooling is a growing potential for the Philippines – this also will have to be dealt with. Already nurses from other 9 ASEAN countries are allowed into the Philippines. There are several Catholic Schools that bring in Chinese students. In those cases, the foreign country has to finance an equal number of rooms and lab spaces for Philippine students. So this is a start idea for these larger multi-stakeholder partnerships. The Chinese investors are already looking to establish hospital schools in Cebu. Dr. Macaranas suggested that the Libyans, interested in developing Muslim nurses, could do the same in Mindanao.

We did not exactly like these last suggestions, even though we understand the positive and practical side of these suggestions. To us this is really the further commoditization of people – with a less kind view – one could even think of the mining of these poorer countries for human resources like it was done not in the colonial times, but rather in the days of the trade of slaves. OK – this time it might be sometimes a more benevolent condition – but – is it really substantially different?

When the meeting was over we continued to talk with the speaker, and we realized that he is completely aware of all these implications and thus the importance for the Carnegie Council For Ethics in International Affairs to continue to dig into this subject.

Will it be possible to turn the highly tooted “Free Trade” subject, into an honest “Fair Trade” subject?                                                     How will this connect to Sustainable Development?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Is there any hope for States that have no mineral resources? Will they be able to develop their human resources without delving into mining them for export, for the sake of their “remittances.”

Personally, I am aware of Philippines in New York that left children back home in the care of mother or an older aunt. Also, I have seen the Sunday “Meet” of the Philippine nurses in Hong Kong, Tel Aviv, and other places. That is when they have a chance to get advice for troubles that they may have in their employment. But can you imagine such a meeting in Riyadh? What about the human rights of these semi-slaves, or sometimes really enslaved women?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 4th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

ADB Annual Meeting In Manila will now Promote Environmental Projects. Question – what are environmental projects?
Article based on HANS GREIMEL reporting for Associated Press from Manila, May 4, 2007.
The Asian Development Bank opened its annual meeting Friday with its president pledging to pursue environmental friendly policies amid criticism from activists who claim its economic growth strategies fuel global warming and degrade the environment.

As a greener energy alternative to the coal that is widely used today, the bank may even end its long-standing rejection of nuclear energy and embrace it as a power source for the rapidly expanding region, the ADB’s energy chief said.

The rethinking at the bank, which was chartered four decades ago to fight poverty through economic growth, comes as the ADB struggles to counter a mentality that poor nations must sacrifice the environment to the march of progress. Activists have increasingly criticized the bank for funding such development.

The environmental group Greenpeace led the attack Friday, urging the ADB to spend more on promoting clean energy technologies, instead of supporting the use of coal, the burning of which fuels global warming.

“The ADB is claiming it supports clean energy,” Greenpeace spokeswoman Athena Ballesteros said in a statement. “If this is more than empty rhetoric, the Bank must announce it will increase the $1 billion it has committed to spend on clean energy annually by 10 percent each year over the next decade.”

ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda cited increased pressure on the environment as one of the emerging challenges facing Asia, and said it was important to have a special focus on energy and the environment, particularly in relation to climate change.

“Not only are we following more stringent safeguard policies, we are now promoting various projects which will positively improve the environment,” he said at a news conference.

A decade after the 1997 Asian financial crisis, Asia is standing on its own feet. But its rapidly increasing wealth is posing it with new issues.

The breakneck economic development that the bank helped spur with its loans has unleashed a wave of environmental woes the bank is now trying to reverse. It has also lifted millions from poverty, which is forcing the bank to update its primary focus from poverty alleviation to sustainable development.

In Kyoto, some 3,000 delegates from the ADB’s 67 member governments will debate plans to make the bank more responsive to environmental woes. The bank currently spends $1 billion a year on clean energy, but has no immediate plans to phase out funding for coal projects, which are seen as more economical for the region.

Activists acknowledge the bank is doing more to counter environmental problems but argue that more action is needed. Too much ADB money is still channeled toward fossil fuel energy, according to Greenpeace.

Japan, which has the second-highest voting power in the ADB after the United States, was expected to contribute $100 million to set up a special environmental fund at the bank.

WooChong Um, the ADB’s director on energy policy, said secure, affordable energy sources are key to the bank’s mandate of ending poverty in Asia. But it is also important to get a balance of difference kinds of energy sources, so poor countries aren’t overly reliant on one, he said.

“We try to push the choices toward clean energy, renewable energy, wind power, solar power,” Um said. “But we also have to help them if they have to resort to fossil fuel.”

The Manila, Philippines-based ADB has a standing policy of not advocating atomic power out of concerns of safety and possible conversion to weapons use. But that too is being reconsidered under a new energy policy to soon be adopted.

“Now we have an environment were a lot of climate change issues are becoming a significant and nuclear power is quite positive in that context,” Um said. “So we are actually debating it internally.”

The ADB is reviewing three options. One is maintaining the no-nukes policy. The other is to promote full use of nuclear power. The third would be to let countries themselves or the private sector build and operate nuclear plants and position the ADB as a financial backer of waste collection, environmental protection and security matters.

“We’ll decide in the next three months or so which way we’ll go,” Um said.

Organizers were hoping the ADB’s environmental agenda gets a boost from the host city, Kyoto, where an international protocol to fight global warming was born 10 years ago.

The Japanese environmental grant is expected be announced at the ADB’s annual meeting.

The fund will promote renewable energy resources, such as solar power, and encourage nations to build environmentally friendly infrastructure, the reports said. The move comes as a quickly growing Asia grapples with how to balance industrial development with environmental preservation.

Delegates at the conference will also review a set of recommendations issued earlier in early April by a blue-ribbon panel of experts on how to update the ADB’s basic mission from poverty alleviation – given that about 90 percent of the region’s people will be “middle income” by 2020.

The ADB was established in 1966 with 31 members and gets most of its funding from issuing bonds and from contributions of its members governments.

Major borrowers include China, Indonesia, Pakistan and Vietnam, with most of the money traditionally going toward agriculture and rural development.

The ADB approved some $7.4 billion in loans in 2006, up 28 percent from the year before.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 19th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

UNEP PRESS RELEASE

2007 UNEP Champions of the Earth Awards Make Big ‘Splash’                                                               at Gala Ceremony in Singapore.

Inspirational Winners from Algeria, Brazil and Jordan to the Philippines,
Sweden and the United States Lauded for ‘Extraordinary’ Leadership   In
Environment and Sustainable Development

SINGAPORE, 19 April 2007—Hollywood star and environmental campaigner Daryl
Hannah was among the high and the humble in Singapore last night to honour
the 2007 Champions of the Earth.

Ms Hannah, famous for films like “Splash” and her support for renewable
energies, received the trophy on behalf of Al Gore—the former US
Vice-President and climate change campaigner was awarded the regional                                             North America Champions prize.

The awards, presented at a gala ceremony in Singapore, recognize
individuals whose extraordinary action and personal commitment to the
environment are deemed outstanding and exceptional by the United Nations
Environment Programme (UNEP).

The other winners are His Excellency Mr. Cherif Rahmani of Algeria;                                                             Elisea ‘Bebet’ Gillera Gozun of the Philippines;                                                                                                                                                                 Viveka Bohn of Sweden;                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Her Excellency Ms. Marina Silva of Brazil;                                                                                                                                                                                         His Royal Highness Prince Hassan Bin Talal of Jordan;                                                                                                                               and Jacques Rogge and the International Olympic Committee.

The seven trophies, made by the Kenyan artist Kiko from recycled metal,
were presented to the winners and their representatives by Achim Steiner,
UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director. He was assisted by
Ms Shn Juay Shi Yan, the current Miss Earth Singapore.

Mr. Steiner said: “If we are to shape a new partnership between human-kind
and the natural environment upon which all life ultimately depends then we
need leaders, we need champions—champions in public life, champions in
business and champions in our communities.”

“The seven winners honoured this evening are from different corners of the
planet and drawn from different backgrounds and experiences. But they share
a common sense of purpose and of values: namely, to reject the status quo,
to persist when others may have failed and faltered and to deliberately
seize the opportunities to promote more intelligent ways of managing
development that balances the economic, social and environmental realities
of the 21st century “, he said.

The gala event was hosted by UNEP; Ms Hil Hernanez Escobar of Chile, the
international Miss Earth 2006; the Singapore Ministry of the Environment
and Water Resources (MEWR) and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) with the
support of various sponsors and partners including Asia Pacific Resources
International Holdings (APRIL).

Mr. Rahmani of Algeria was honoured for advancing environmental law and for
addressing the issues of deserts and desertification.

“Dotted with wisdom and grandeur, deserts embody solitude—a solitude upon
which silence sows the seeds of culture. It is indeed the solitude and
silence of the desert that fostered the cultures that make up much of our
universal heritage”, he said.

“But today the Earth is subject to abuse in multiple and ever expanding
ways—and that abuse even reaches the deserts. I hope I have contributed in
my own modest way to building a society in harmony with nature—‘this
visible part of God’s garden'”, said Mr. Rahmani.

Elisea Bebet Gillera Gozun was honoured for pushing forward the
environmental agenda by winning trust across all sectors of Philippine
society.

“Air quality in most of our urban areas now exceeds health guidelines.
Fifteen of our rivers are considered biologically dead during the dry
months. Solid waste continues to accumulate and 30 per cent of our people
live below the poverty line”, she said.

“Societies resemble ecosystems. I thus believe that localized,
community-based, multi-sectoral action is the response needed to save and
rehabilitate the environment”, said Ms Gozun.

Viveka Bohn of Sweden was honoured for playing her leadership in global
efforts to ensure chemical safety, especially through the successful
Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) process.

In a statement read by her daughter Maria, Mrs Bohn said: “I am deeply
honoured and truly grateful for this award. It is an appreciation of my
contribution to green multilateral diplomacy.”

She defined three lessons for successful green diplomacy:   “Do your
homework!; Do your housework and above all Never Give Up!.”

Her Excellency Ms. Marina Silva of Brazil was honoured for her tireless
fight to protect the Amazon rainforest while balancing the needs of people.
Official deforestation rates have been cut by around 50 per cent in the
past three years.

In her video statement, she said: “It is the thought of one day being able
to substitute predatory development models for sustainable ones;
deforestation for conservation and competition for solidarity that I join
in along this path with UNEP and my awarded colleagues.”

His Royal Highness Prince Hassan Bin Talal of Jordan was honoured for his
belief in transboundary collaboration to protect the environment.

In a video statement he recalled working with farmers in the region
following the six-day war: “I remember spending a night in 1977 with an
older boy and when he saw electricity and clean water he said to me ‘this
is the night of destiny’. Thus it is the need of human dignity that
motivates me. We, as Arabs or as Muslims, are no different to anyone else.
Given a chance we can excel.”

Mr. Gore, whose trophy was collected by Ms Hannah, said in a statement:
“Let me thank UNEP for their years of global leadership. My continuing
efforts to communicate to audiences about the climate crisis have prevented
me from joining you here today—but do not think it lessens the honour that
I feel upon accepting the Champions of the Earth award.”

“I have every confidence that when the nations of the world come together
to the common good, we will regain our moral authority to tackle the
climate crisis and the environmental threats we face today”, he added.

Jacques Rogge and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) were honoured
for introducing stringent environmental requirements for cities bidding to
host Olympic Games.

The trophy was received by senior IOC officials Pal Schmitt and Ser Miang
Ng.

In a video statement Mr Rogge, the IOC President, said: “The IOC started to
be environmentally-conscious at the Olympic Games in Lillehammer in 1994.
They were called the Green Games. And this is something not only for the 14
days of the Games but will leave a legacy for the future of a city and a
region.”

“We have the mentality of athletes: we are ambitious people. So for the
environment and sustainability we want to use the IOC motto of ‘higher,
stronger, faster!”, he added.
The full achievements of the 2007 Champions of the Earth and their
citations can be found at www.unep.org/champions/

The event was hosted in conjunction with the Business for the Environment
(B4E) Summit details of which can also be found at the same web site.

For more information,   please contact:   Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson, on
Tel: +254-20-7623084, Mobile: +254-733-632755, E-mail:
 nick.nuttall at unep.org

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 16th, 2007

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PRESS RELEASE
March 16, 2007

UN Rights Council Must Recognize Darfur Report.
New Body’s Credibility Is At Stake

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Media Relations
Tel: +41-22-734-1472

Geneva, March 16, 2007     —   UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer delivered the following statement today before the plenary of the UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva:

Mr. President,

The Darfur Mission asks the council to recognize what every ordinary citizen already knows:   that Sudan bears responsibility for innocents being killed and driven from their homes, villages destroyed, and rape used as a weapon on a massive scale.

The report urges condemnation of Sudan for these war crimes, and a monitoring mechanism to ensure its implementation of international obligations.   It pleads for humanitarian assistance, the safe return of refugees and victim compensation, and publishing a list of companies whose dealings enable the abuses to continue.

Mr. President,

The world now looks to Geneva, to this assembly. The credibility of this Council is at stake.   Will it do its duty and implement this report?

Several statements this morning were encouraging and showed compassion for Darfur’s victims, including those by Ghana, Senegal, Nigeria, Zambia, Canada, the EU, Switzerland, Japan, South Korea, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay.

However, we are deeply disappointed by the many statements challenging the legitimacy of the mission and treating its work as a “non-report,” expressed by Sudan, the Arab League, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, China, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Morocco, Pakistan, the Philippines, the Russian Federation, and others.   UN Watch calls on these parties to recognize that this Mission and report are eminently credible, and urges them not to ignore the following basic facts:

  • First, that the mandate of this Mission respected the principles of due process.   It did not prejudge. It did not presume violations.   The Mission was instructed “to assess the human rights situation in Darfur and the needs of the Sudan in this regard.”   Unlike the three Council missions this year against Israel, this one did not begin backwards, by starting with the verdict and then seeking facts to support it.   It proceeded forwards, facts first.
  • Second, that the mandate respected the principles of objectivity and non-selectivity.   Unlike the inquiries against Israel, this one was not limited to examining the violations of only one actor in the region of concern.   Its scope covered the actions of all parties.   Indeed, the team noted violations on all sides.
  • Third, that Sudan participated in the mandate’s negotiation, together with the groups of which it is a member.   This privilege was not afforded to Israel in the council’s previous special sessions.   Instead Sudan was given fair treatment, even deference.   The team was instructed to consult with the Khartoum government, and it repeatedly attempted to do so.   Sudan promised cooperation, and was even praised for cooperation in the resolution.   But it has not cooperated.
  • Fourth, that Sudan and its allies participated in negotiating the team’s composition.   As a result, unlike the Council missions on Israel, this one saw the appointment of ambassadors from governments who often voted with the country concerned, one of whom had defended and praised Sudan at the December session.
  • Fifth, that Sudan and its allies joined consensus on the resolution creating the mission.   Israel was never consulted or engaged on the special sessions condemning it and these texts were opposed by the major democracies.

Mr. President,

The government of Sudan and its supporters have no claim against this mandate or this team.   It has been judged by an eminently fair proceeding, and it must respect that judgment.

Thank you.

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UN BRIEFING
News and Analysis from UN Watch in Geneva
March 16, 2007          

UN Watch in the News

This past week, the world’s leading newspapers continued to turn to UN Watch for authoritative comment on the UN and human rights:

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March 10, 2007 (also published March 11, 2007 in the New York Times)
“…Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based organization that follows United Nations human rights activities, said, ‘The situation is grim, and one example is that the one aspect that has always been thought of as a bright spot — the experts — may be eliminated…’ ” more

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March 13, 2007 (also published March 13, 2007 in the International Herald Tribune)
“…Human rights advocates welcomed the unusually tough tone of the [Darfur] report and its recommendations, but they warned that steps were already under way to block its effect when the report comes up for adoption on Friday in Geneva. . . ‘This report   is Jody Williams and her team members, and this is definitely not the council,’ said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based organization that monitors United Nations human rights activities. ‘The council will probably throw this report into Lake Geneva…'” more

MiaFarrow.org

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3/13/2007
NEW YORK CITY, USA:
This is in my view a very sensible and accurate analysis on why the Human Rights Council has failed to condemn Sudan for its violations,” actress and Darfur activist Mia Farrow, about a UN Watch background paper prepared for her website.   more

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March 13, 2007
“…The United Nation’s Human Rights Council will place Israel under permanent investigation for its ‘violations’ of international law in the territories—until such time as it withdraws to the pre-1967 border— according to Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch….”   more

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March 13, 2007

“…Hillel Neuer of UN Watch Geneva says it’s time for the Council to do what it’s supposed to do: ‘The situation is grim.   In the past 9 months 191 countries have been ignored…Only one country has been condemned in a one-sided fashion, being Israel.   It’s time for the Council to heed Kofi Annan’s words, which is to create something that is credible…'”   more

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March 13, 2007
“…The director of UN Watch, Hillel Neuer, denounced the council’s record, but he said that rather than rejecting the council, America should fight it from within…”   more

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March 12, 2007
“…El contenido del informe fue recibido calurosamente por Hillel C. Neuer, director ejecutivo de la organización no gubernamental United Nations Watch (observatorio de las Naciones Unidas), quien estimó que debería haberse producido mucho antes pues su aparición demandó nueve meses al Consejo. ‘Pero finalmente tenemos la verdad’, dijo Neuer a IPS…”   more

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March 12, 2007
“…Una veintena de ONG pidieron hoy a los nueve países europeos que participan en la inauguración de la cuarta sesión del Consejo de Derechos Humanos (CDH) de la ONU que, durante sus intervenciones, condenen firmemente la represión que ejerce Irán hacia las mujeres, disidentes y etnias minoritarias. Las distintas organizaciones no gubernamentales, entre ellas UN Watch, han dirigido una carta conjunta a los responsables de Exteriores de Suiza, Alemania, Luxemburgo, Países Bajos, Suecia, Francia, Liechtenstein, Noruega y España en la que les insta a protestar ante su homólogo iraní, Manoucher Mottaki, que también está previsto que participe hoy en la primera jornada del CDH…”   more

Activist Summit on Darfur

Please join us for the Activist Summit on Darfur to be held in Geneva at the current session of the UN Human Rights Council, on March 28, 2007. Panelists include UN human rights experts, ambassadors, NGO activists and Darfuris. more

 Richard and Rhoda Goldman Graduate Fellowship

UN Watch is currently accepting applications for the one-year Richard and Rhoda Goldman Graduate Fellowship, to begin on September 1, 2007 at our Geneva headquarters. The Fellowship is designed to train recent university graduates as they begin their future career.   Candidates with experience at think tanks or human rights organizations are encouraged to apply. Deadline: April 15, 2007.   more

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Latest from the UN Human Rights Council

Following are highlights from the first week of the current session now underway in Geneva, to conclude on March 30.

Debating Darfur

  • Battle to Block New Report:   On Monday an assessment mission created by the Council in December released a report finding “large-scale international crimes”   in Darfur.   Sudan and the powerful Organization of the Islamic Conference   (OIC) immediately rejected the report—which was authored by Nobel Laureate Jody Williams and four others—and they are fighting hard to prevent it from being officially adopted.   The outcome of this struggle—which hinges on whether the Council’s non-OIC African, Asian and Latin American members will side with Sudan and the OIC or with the West—will be a make or break moment for the Council’s credibility.   The Council will decide how to handle the report within the next two weeks.
  • UN Watch addressed the full plentary of the Council this afternoon: “If the Council cannot endorse the recommendations of this report, it will cast a shadow upon the reputation of the UN as a whole…”   Read our UN speech .   We commend the Council’s European democracies, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Ghana,   Nigeria, Senegal, Zambia, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay for their statements at today’s session in support of the Williams team’s report.

Singling Out Israel:

  • Special Agenda Item Returning:   The committee preparing the Council’s new agenda is proposing to reinstitute the special agenda item to condemn Israel.   Four possible formulations   are presented, each of which would single out Israel alone out of 192 states for scrutiny under its own permanent agenda item.   This was the mark of shame of the discredited Commission on Human Rights, and proponents of last year’s creation of the Council—whose principles are “universality, impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity”—had promised that the reform would have it removed.
  • More One-Sided Resolutions: The Council’s Arab Group and OIC members introduced three resolutions criticizing Israel.   The Council will discuss these drafts over the next two weeks and members will vote on them by Friday, March 30.   In its nine months of existence, the Council has adopted 8 resolutions condemning Israel for human rights violations-and none against any other country.   The three additional   resolutions would:
  • entrench a 1993 mandate on Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories that would place the Jewish state under permanent investigation; presume the Jewish state to be guilty of “violations of the principles and bases of international law”; and ignore abuses against Palestinians committed by the Palestinian Authority;
  • criticize Israel for failing to cooperate with two investigatory missions into its recent military actions that began by prejudging its guilt; and
  • condemn “Israeli violations of religious and cultural rights” in regard to archaeological excavations, even though international investigators already debunked Islamic claims of a conspiracy to harm its holy shrine.
  • Condemnatory Speeches:   At the Council’s two and a half day “High Level Segment,” in which government ministers and other dignitaries addressed the body, many speakers urged the Council to maintain its focus on Israeli violations:
    • The Secretary-General of the OIC stressed that “the deteriorating human rights situation in Palestine must be addressed;” the Vice Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia   that “this Council must consider the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory;” and the Foreign Minister of Malaysia   that “concrete steps must be taken to address the gross and systematic violations of the rights of the Palestinians.” As it happens, the Council has spoken of little else, with three special sessions and eight resolutions targeted against Israel alone in the past nine months.
    • The Foreign Minister of Iran   urged the Council to “continue to be seized with” the “gross and systematic violations of human rights” of the Palestinians by Israel “till the end of occupation.”   How this squares with his view, also frequently advanced by other repressive regimes, that the Council should “discard a confrontational approach [of] targeting countries” is unclear.
    • The Foreign Minister of Cuba   asserted that “[a]s long as the Palestinian people is prevented from its right to establish its own State and the Israeli occupiers continue to engage in the serious harassment of the civilian population in the occupied territories, this Council will not be able to do without the relevant issue on its agenda, or without the work of the Rapporteur following this situation.”   He was referring to proposals that the Council’s agenda include a special item dedicated solely to examining Israel, and that the mandate of the Council’s investigator into the human rights situation in Palestine, who can consider only actions by Israel, be made permanent.

Speaking out on World’s Worst Abuses

  • No Resolutions:   A number of democracies tried to draw attention—in speeches but regrettably not in resolutions—to many serious human rights problems around the world that the Council has not yet addressed, including those in Belarus, Burma, Cuba, Iran, and North Korea.   The abuser countries responded with baseless accusations against the democracies that dared to mention them.   Cuba , for example, accused Sweden of “carry[ing] out ethnic cleansing that only allows those whose skin and hair color fit with the racial patterns of former Viking conquerors to remain in the country.”   Iran called France’s statement mentioning it a “manifestation of Islamophobia.”
  • Zimbabwe:   Democracies condemned the Zimbabwean government’s recent arrests and brutal beatings of opposition party leaders and members for attempting to assemble peacefully.   Zimbabwe reacted by accusing these governments of being “colonial slave-masters” seeking to take over the country.

Establishing the Council’s Mechanisms and Procedures

  • The new Council is still working on establishing its mechanisms, agenda, and rules of procedure.   These topics are being discussed at this session, but decisions will not be made until the Council’s next session in mid-June.   Some proposals under consideration pose threats to the Council’s future credibility and effectiveness, including the following:
    • Universal Review:     The Council is supposed to create a system of universal periodic review to examine the human rights records of all countries equally, but Islamic and developing countries are demanding that the review vary based on each country’s “level of development” and “cultural and religious specificities.”
    • Eliminating Experts:   The Council is supposed to maintain and improve the existing system of independent human rights experts that investigate and report on human rights issues generally or in specific countries.   But repressive regimes are seeking more member state control over the selection and conduct of these experts.   These regimes also are trying to eliminate all the experts that address, and often criticize, individual countries—except for the one investigating Israel.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 14th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

“Brazil Calls for Ethanol Production by Others” reports Reuters, March 15, 2007, from Tokyo.

Ethanol must be produced by a number of countries if it is to be internationally accepted as a commodity, a development that Brazil hopes will be achieved, Brazil Agriculture Minister Luis Carlos Guedes Pintowas quoted as having said on March 14, 2007. “Brazil has absolutely no interest in monopolising the production of ethanol,” he said.

Guedes said it was important to establish a common standard for ethanol if the renewable fuel is to become an international commodity.

Brazil and the United States are the two largest producers of ethanol, accounting for about 70 percent of world output. Guedes told a news conference that Brazil was prepared to share its experience and technology on ethanol built over the years with countries around the globe including in Africa and Asia.

Brazil, a pioneer of sugarcane-based biofuels, exported 3.43 billion litres (3.4 million kl) of ethanol in 2006, up 350 percent from 2004. Its exports in 2005 totalled 2.59 billion litres.

Guedes said he had met officials in Japan from both the government and private sector, including Japan’s top trading firm Mitsubishi Corp. and third-ranked Itochu Corp., during his visit this week, which ends on Wednesday.

During his talks with Japanese government officials, he said, he suggested the joint establishment of an ethanol production base in Southeast Asia, such as in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia or Indonesia, although no decision had been made. Japan is trying to step up the use of biomass in motor fuels in line with a pledge by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last September.

Japan, the world’s third-largest oil consumer, lags behind many other parts of the world in that in Japan there are practically no users of ethanol-blended gasoline.

Brazil exports about 300 million litres of ethanol a year to Japan for industrial and other purposes, but not for fuel, Guedes said. He said Brazil did not have a target for ethanol exports to Japan.

“We have not received any request from Japan about how much it would like buy or by when,” Guedes said.

Japan’s oil distributors are allowed to sell gasoline blended with a maximum of 3 percent of biomass ethanol, called E3.

Guedes estimated Japan’s ethanol demand at 1.8 billion litres if E3 becomes firmly established in Japan, adding the amount would be well within Brazil’s export capability.
He said he understood that Japan wished to cover some of that demand through domestic production.

“I would like to say that Brazil will have no problems supplying the needed volume when a contract is signed with a Japanese firm,” Guedes said.

——————

Is this Brazilian outing to Japan an effort to bypass the US tariff problems, but still work with an agreable US Administration that promisses not to compete in the global marketplace with US produced ethanol from corn? Brazil may have a free hand in promoting cheaper sugar-cane produced ethanol.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 5th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Bolivia Blames Rich World Pollution for Floods That Batter The Country From The Andes To The Amazon Lowlands.

TRINIDAD, Bolivia, March 5, 2007, by Eduardo Garcia for Reuters – As poor people from Bolivia’s Andes to its Amazon lowlands are battered by devastating floods, President Evo Morales is blaming pollution from wealthy nations, and some experts say he has a point.

The floods, droughts and hailstorms that have pounded South America’s poorest country for three months were triggered by El Nino, a weather phenomenon believed to be aggravated by global warming, climate experts say.
Bolivia’s worst flooding in 25 years has killed 35 people and affected 350,000, dissolving mud-brick homes and washing away the meager belongings of people who were already desperately poor.

Morales declared a national disaster this week after touring the hard-hit northeastern Beni region, in a drainage basin for rivers from all over the country.

He has blamed the floods on industrialized nations “that pollute the environment and change the weather.”

Spencer Wear, author of “The Discovery of Global Warming,” said poor countries are more susceptible to the damage caused by climate change. – “Nobody can say (El Nino) is caused by global warming, but we can say for sure that global warming makes this kind of event more likely,” Wear told Reuters.
POOR SUFFER THE MOST.

Last month, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the world’s poor, who are the least responsible for global warming, suffer the most from climate change.

Poor countries are the lowest emitters of the greenhouse gases blamed for extreme weather, but they have the most to lose under predicted changes in weather patterns, experts say.

The United States produces 25 percent of global greenhouse gases but has not signed the Kyoto Protocol, by which countries agreed to curb carbon dioxide emissions.

In Bolivia, the governor of Beni, Ernesto Suarez, says he is worried about food supplies after floods killed 22,000 heads of cattle and wiped out an estimated US$115 million worth of livestock, crops and infrastructure.

Around Beni’s capital, Trinidad, 19,000 evacuees from flooded shantytowns are living in temporary shelters vulnerable to dengue and dysentery outbreaks.

In the highlands, El Nino weather destroyed staple crops of Aymara Indians and in the agricultural heartland of Santa Cruz, it annihilated huge swaths of soy, Bolivia’s main export crop.

Extreme weather has also caused chaos in poor countries like Mozambique and the Philippines in recent months.

Wear says some big corporations and industrialized nations have started taking steps against global warming because of the threat of legal action.

In a hearing on Thursday in Washington, the Inter-American Human Rights Commission heard a claim from Inuits of northern Canada that their way of life is in peril because global warming has reduced sea ice, killing off animals they hunt.

Lauren Baker, a scientist for the Center for International Environmental Law, which is advising the Inuit on their legal action, says the case could inspire other nations to sue against greenhouse gas emitters.

“Global warming is not only affecting the Inuit or Bolivia, it’s also affecting other countries across the Americas with hurricanes, sea level rising, shortage of drinking water, displacement of people,” she said.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 17th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

“Co-benefits” refers to multiple benefits in different fields resulting from one policy, strategy or action plan. Co-beneficial approaches to climate change mitigation / GHG reduction, in particular, are those that also promote positive outcomes in other areas such as concerns relating to the environment (e.g. air quality management, health, agriculture, forestry and biodiversity), energy (e.g. renewable energy, alternative fuels and energy efficiency) and economics (e.g. long-term economic sustainability, industry competitiveness, income distribution).

The Co-Benefits Hub ASIA, as part of the EPA-funded project “Co-Benefits of Climate Change Mitigation: Coordinator in Asia”, aims to consolidate and disseminate resources pertaining to co-benefits for the use of practitioners, researchers, scientists, policy-makers in order to promote this approach to action-planning and decision-making.

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The Manila Observatory (MO) through the funding support of the United States-Environmental Protection Agency (US-EPA) and in cooperation with the Clean Air Initiatives for Asia (CAI-Asia) is currently implementing the Co-Benefits Asia Project, which aims to consolidate resources
and disseminate information related to co-benefits of climate change mitigation in Asia. The project website can be found at www.observatory.ph/co-benefits_asia .

This website is intended as a “hub” of information which stores or points to relevant materials on the web.  cobenefits.asia at gmail.com writes us: “Please feel free to send us your comments! We are continuously uploading studies and materials we have collected and we would welcome your
contributions.”

Part of the project is the profiling study of various research and other initiatives on the co-benefits of climate change mitigation/GHG reduction in   Asia. To build the information base for this project, the Manila Observatory is conducting an online survey in February 2007 of various institutions in Asia that undertake projects in this area. The survey can be downloaded through the website and is also attached to this email.

The results will be incorporated in a concept paper that will discuss the current status of co-benefits and suggest avenues for collaboration among different institutions. The paper will be made available through the   website in June 2007.   Information gathered from this survey shall also be included in the inventory of co-benefits materials that Manila Observatory is hosting on the co-benefits project website for the access of multi-sectors engaged or interested in your co-benefits work.

A draft report on co-benefits discussions at the BAQ 2006 can also be downloaded through the website. Please feel free to send us your comments/suggestions/recommendations.

Contact email addresses are:  co-benefits_asia at observatory.ph and  cobenefits.asia at gmail.com .

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SustainabiliTank.info considers this an interesting study of what could become action programs – whenever the decision is taken by the US to do something finally about the Global Warming/Climate Change problem that US produced CO2 is causing to the rest of the world, including Asia.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 27th, 2006
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)


The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is recruiting two international consultants to provide CDM technical assistance to clean energy projects suitable for ADB-financing support among its developing member countries. The Team Leader is a mid/senior-level position to coordinate the national CDM consultants and lead the Technical Support Facility under ADB’s new Carbon Market Initiative (CMI); the Project Specialist is a mid-level position to develop PDDs and new methodologies while providing technical backstop to the national consultants.

Please see attached outline terms of reference for more detail.

The two consultancy positions will be based in ADB headquarters in Manila, Philippines. Initial engagement periods are expected to be 11 months and 9 months for the Team Leader and Project Specialist, respectively, with possible extension of up to three years for both positions.

Successful candidates are expected to start immediately.

ADB offers internationally competitive rates paid in US dollars. Remuneration is generally free of tax except for citizens of some countries, primarily the USA and the Philippines, whose incomes are taxed by their respective governments. Applicants must be nationals of one of ADB’s member countries.

Please apply electronically, quoting consultancy title on subject line and attaching updated curriculum vitae (CV) using ADB template (attached) to email address  adbcdm at adb.org no later than Wednesday, 10 January 2007, 5:00 p.m., Manila time. Due to the volume of submissions, ADB will not be able to respond to individual inquiries (no phone calls, please) and will only contact short-listed candidates.

Successful candidates for both positions shall have advanced university degree or equivalent in energy/environmental engineering, economics, policy or other relevant fields; extensive experience of at least 7 years in the areas of clean energy and CDM; and excellent oral and written communication skills in English. Candidates with international working experience in the Asia-Pacific region and with international organizations will have an advantage.

Thank you and we look forward to hearing from you. We wish you all a Happy New Year from Manila, Philippines.

Attachments:
1) Outline terms of reference for CMI Technical Support Facility consultants

2) ADB CV standard format

Received from    adbcdm at adb.org December 27, 2006.

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