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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 1st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 

 

Kerala bags an United Nations award for sustainable tourism initiatives.

Published on : Friday, January 24, 2014

Kerala Backwaters      Kerala, God’s own country is recognized for its sustainable tourism policies by the United Nations. Kerala tourism is awarded by the United Nations for creating innovative initiatives in sustainable tourism.

This is the first ever UN award for any state in India.

The coveted award from the United Nations was mostly influenced by the sustainable  development initiative in the world famous backwater resort of Kumarakom. According to a press release from the Kerala tourism, they received the award at the UNWTO Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Tourism held in Madrid, Spain.

 

 

Kerala won the UNWTO Ulysses Award for Innovation in Public Policy and Governance, the highest honour given to the government bodies for shaping global tourism policies through innovative initiatives.

Kerala Tourism was chosen for the honour for its path-breaking ‘Responsible Tourism’ project in Kumarakom, which has successfully linked the local community with the Hospitality industry and government departments, thereby creating a model for empowerment and development of the people in the area while sustaining eco-friendly tourism.

The Kumarakom initiative had earlier won the National Award for Best Rural Tourism Project in March last year and also the PATA Grand Award for Environment.

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Dr. Tej Vir Singh awarded the UNWTO Ulysses Prize for the Creation and Dissemination of Knowledge.

Dr. Tej Vir Singh, professor and Founding Director of the Centre for Tourism Research & Development (CTRD) in India, has been named winner of the 2013 UNWTO Ulysses Prize for Excellence in the Creation and Dissemination of Knowledge. The Award honors outstanding members of the academia for their significant contribution to the development of tourism education and research.

Dr. Singh, the Founding Editor of Tourism Recreation Research, the oldest and highly respected, international tourism journal in Asia, is a pioneer in introducing extensive tourism research in the region. A specialist in Himalayan tourism, Dr. Singh has produced several books on tourism and many papers on tourism development and its impacts.

“I would like to commend Dr. Singh´s lifelong dedication to tourism research and his pioneering the concept and practice of sustainability in the field of tourism. His work has inspired many other academicians to develop their own research in the field, contributing greatly to the advancement of tourism education and of the tourism sector as a whole,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.

As the Founding Director of the Institute of Himalayan Studies and Regional Development at the University of Garhwal, Dr. Singh started the first Himalayan tourism training course. In 1976, he established the CTRD, a non-government organization devoted to the cause of tourism academics and research, with a special focus on India. Under his leadership, the Centre started an outreach programme that included education, training, research guidance, consultancy, curriculum design, and tourism programme initiation to several Indian universities, management institutions and colleges. Today, the CTRD is recognized for the generation and publication of valuable research on recreation and tourism, and is well-known as a leading organization for developing and disseminating scholarships in tourism in India.

The UNWTO Ulysses Prize for Excellence in the Creation and Dissemination of Knowledge will be presented during the UNWTO Awards Ceremony to be held on 22 January 2014, within the framework of the International Tourism Trade Fair (FITUR) in Madrid, Spain.

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Volatile Bangkok turns out positive for Indian tourism.

Published on : Thursday, January 23, 2014

bangkok-shutdown        While Bangkok faces a tourism fall due to the ongoing political crisis, Indian tourism reaps the dividends. Thailand government’s decision to impose emergency in Bangkok is supposed to cause a loss of almost B10 billion for the Thailand tourism industry. On the contrary, foreign tourists are preferring to book a holiday in India.
According to the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), the volatile political condition in Bangkok has spurred a huge interest of international travelers seeking holiday escapades in Indian. Political volatility has been on the rise in Bangkok, especially in the past few days. A couple of bomb blasts took place in the capital amidst wide protests. Protesters have been trying for more than two months to bring down the government. The Indian embassy in Thailand too is continuously tracking the situation and coming up with updates.
The global tourism industry has seen such shift of choices due to political and violent condition in a particular destination. To site an example, Spain tourism had a major share of international travelers last year owing to the political strife in Egypt. While Bangkok is one of the most popular destinations in Asia, India enjoys the advantage of volatile currency and a plethora of destination choices. In fact, domestic tourism also got a boost as many Indians are also going for home holidays rather than opting for Bangkok as every year about 500,000 Indians visit Bangkok.

 

 

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Tourism can foster sustainable development in Central America – UN General Assembly.

 

Published on : Friday, January 24, 2014

 

unwto GNSustainable tourism is an ally of poverty eradication in Central America and the three dimensions of sustainable development – social, economic and environmental – as reflected in the UN resolution on “Sustainable tourism and sustainable development in Central America”.

The 193-member UN General Assembly adopted the resolution unanimously during its 68th session. This represents an important step towards mainstreaming sustainable tourism in the international development agenda and the post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (New York, USA, 22 December 2013).

 

Emphasizing that sustainable tourism in Central America is a cross-cutting activity with close linkages to other sectors and thus generating trade opportunities, the UN General Assembly recognizes tourism as a fundamental pillar of regional integration and an engine of social and economic development, income, investment and hard currency in the region. The resolution further “encourages giving appropriate consideration to the issue of sustainable tourism in the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda”, which will follow the deadline of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Against this backdrop, the UN General Assembly invites States and other stakeholders, as well as the World Tourism Organization, to continue to support the activities undertaken by the Central American countries for the promotion of responsible and sustainable tourism and extend the benefits of tourism to all sectors of society, in particular the most vulnerable and marginalized groups of the population.

 

International tourism in Central America grew significantly in recent years. In 2012, Central America received almost 9 million international tourists who generated US$ 8 billion in revenues, up from, respectively, 4.3 million arrivals and US$ 3 billion in 2000. Today, international tourism accounts for as much as 17% of all Central American exports.

 

The UN resolution was sponsored by 51 Member States: Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Canada, Cape Vert, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Maldives, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, United States of America, Ukraine and Uruguay.

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Central America poised for tourism growth: SITCA

Published on : Sunday, September 15, 2013

centeral America          The Secretariat of Central American Tourism Integration (SITCA), along with the tourism authorities of the seven Central American countries – Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvado r, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama – have conducted a study on the evolution of the tourism sector in the region over the past 12 years and found a positive forecast of expected 6.1 per cent growth for this year.

       In the period between 2000 and 2012, tourism to Central America has grown by 122.8 per cent from 4.23 million visitors in 2000 to 9.39 visitors in 2012, an annual increase of seven per cent on average stated the study.


Domestic tourism from within the region accounts for 40 per cent while North America accounts for between 35 per cent and 40 per cent of visitors.
Costa Rica and Guatemala received the highest number of visitors, but Nicaragua and Panama have registered the biggest growth in the period covered by the study, moving from fifth and sixth position (in terms of the total number of visitors received) to fourth and third respectively.


The average spend by tourists has also grown considerably over the last 12 years, thanks to an increase in the amount of products consumed, moving from an average spend per person of US$700 in 2000 to US$1,016 in 2012.
Based on the results of the study, it is expected that the number of visitors will increase by 6.1 per cent this year compared to last year, with an expected total of 9.96 million visitors.


For 2013, the average spend per tourist is expected to reach US$1,016.63, compared to US$1,016.18 in 2012. Revenue from tourism revenue is expected to be highest in Panama and lowest in Nicaragua.
The data presented by SITCA shows that the tourism sector in Central America is becoming the main source of revenue for all seven countries and a true driver for the economic growth of the region.

 

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International tourism exceeds expectations with arrivals up by 52 million in 2013.

 

International tourist arrivals grew by 5% in 2013, reaching a record 1,087 million arrivals, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. Despite global economic challenges, international tourism results were well above expectations, with an additional 52 million international tourists travelling the world in 2013. For 2014, UNWTO forecasts 4% to 4.5% growth – again, above the long term projections.

Demand for international tourism was strongest for destinations in Asia and the Pacific (+6%), Africa (+6%) and Europe (+5%). The leading sub-regions were South-East Asia (+10%), Central and Eastern Europe (+7%), Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+6%) and North Africa (+6%).

“2013 was an excellent year for international tourism” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. “The tourism sector has shown a remarkable capacity to adjust to the changing market conditions, fuelling growth and job creation around the world, despite the lingering economic and geopolitical challenges. Indeed, tourism has been among the few sectors generating positive news for many economies”, he added.

UNWTO forecasts international arrivals to increase by 4% to 4.5% in 2014, again above its long-term forecast of +3.8% per year between 2010 and 2020. The UNWTO Confidence Index, based on the feedback from over 300 experts worldwide, confirms this outlook with prospects for 2014 higher than in previous years

“The positive results of 2013, and the expected global economic improvement in 2014, set the scene for another positive year for international tourism. Against this backdrop, UNWTO calls upon national governments to increasingly set up national strategies that support the sector and to deliver on their commitment to fair and sustainable growth”, added Mr Rifai.

2014 regional prospects are strongest for Asia and the Pacific (+5% to +6%) and Africa (+4% to +6%), followed by Europe and the Americas (both +3% to +4%). In the Middle East (0% to +5%) prospects are positive yet volatile.

 

Europe welcomes most of the new arrivals

Europe led growth in absolute terms, welcoming an additional 29 million international tourist arrivals in 2013, raising the total to 563 million. Growth (+5%) exceeded the forecast for 2013 and is double the region’s average for the period 2005-2012 (+2.5% a year). This is particularly remarkable in view of the regional economic situation and as it follows an already robust 2011 and 2012. By sub-region, Central and Eastern Europe (+7%) and Southern Mediterranean Europe (+6%) experienced the best results.

In relative terms, growth was strongest in Asia and the Pacific (+6%), where the number of international tourists grew by 14 million to reach 248 million. South-East Asia (+10%) was the best performing sub-region, while growth was comparatively more moderate in South Asia (+5%), Oceania and North-East Asia (+4% each).

The Americas (+4%) saw an increase of six million arrivals, reaching a total of 169 million. Leading growth were destinations in North and Central America (+4% each), while South America (+2%) and the Caribbean (+1%) showed some slowdown as compared to 2012.

Africa (+6%) attracted three million additional arrivals, reaching a new record of 56 million, reflecting the on-going rebound in North Africa (+6%) and the sustained growth of Sub-Saharan destinations (+5%). Results in the Middle East (+0% at 52 million) were rather mixed and volatile.

 

Russia and China – leading in growth in 2013

Among the ten most important source markets in the world, Russia and China clearly stand out. China, which became the largest outbound market in 2012 with an expenditure of US$ 102 billion, saw an increase in expenditure of 28% in the first three quarters of 2013. The Russian Federation, the 5th largest outbound market, reported 26% growth through September.

The performance of key advanced economy source markets was comparatively more modest. France (+6%) recovered from a weak 2012 and the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia all grew at 3%. In contrast, Germany, Japan and Italy reported declines in outbound expenditure.

Emerging markets with substantial growth in outbound expenditure were Turkey (+24%), Qatar (+18%), Philippines (+18%), Kuwait (+15%), Indonesia (+15%), Ukraine (+15%) and Brazil (+14%).

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Source: PATA

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 16th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 

We would like to invite those based in Washington DC to “Mekong Days” –  CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food, IUCN, and the Goethe Institute have jointly organized during 22-27 March, 2013.
 
The week includes a number of panel discussions and talks with a focus on the recently released movie “Mekong” produced and directed by Douglas Varchol with funding support from CPWF, IUCN and Sida. To learn more about the film go to
Please see attached a flyer describing this exciting program of activities.
I would be really grateful if you could share this with your colleagues or those whom you think might be interested to attend.

“Mekong” examines the issues of hydropower development and its impact on Mekong citizens’ lives. Filmed in four countries, and produced in five languages, it includes footage of China’s Mekong [Lancang] dams, as well as on-site footage of the controversial Xayaburi dam in Laos.

The Mekong Region is a massive ecosystem that is the lifeline for more than 60 million people across six countries: Cambodia, China, Laos, Burma/Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

For the people in the Lower Mekong Basin, it provides more fish to more people than any other river in the world. With an estimated commercial value exceeding US$2 billion per year, it is the world’s most valuable inland fishery. At the same time, more than 140 dams are currently planned, under construction or commissioned for different rivers in the basin. If constructed, this will radically alter the basin’s hydrology, its ecology and, consequently, the lives of millions who depend upon it.

How can two seemingly opposite demands be met – sustainable development of a region and the rising demands for energy and economic growth?

The purpose of this project is to open up the debate on hydropower development in the region through the use of innovative communication tools.

The film examines the issues of hydropower development and its impact on Mekong citizens’ lives. It features stories of Mekong citizens up and down the river, from fishers on the Tonle Sap, activists still fighting at the Pak Mun dam in Thailand, to a vice minister from Laos convinced he can build the region’s most “river-transparent” dam. Filmed in four countries, and four languages, it includes footage of China’s Mekong [Lancang] dams, as well as on-site footage of the controversial Xayaburi dam in Laos.

This independent film was produced and directed by Douglas Varchol and funded by CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food, IUCN’s Mekong Water Dialogues, and Sida.

Michael Victor Communication Coordinator

CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food
Mobile International :  +94 773 950 713 (Sri Lanka)    M (Laos): +856-20-5552-6693
E : m.victor@cgiar.org  S : michaelpenvictor
P.O. Box 2075, Colombo, Sri Lanka
www.waterandfood.org
=============================

Mekong Days March 22 – 26, 2013 in Washington DC:

Friday, March 22, 5:30 pm | Goethe-Institut, 812 7th St. NW

Opening ceremony for Mekong Days

Art works by Phan Thao Ngyuen (Vietnam), Lim Sokchanlina (Cambodia), Piyaporn Wongruang (Thailand). The US premiere of Mekong (director: Douglas Varchol) captures footage of China’s Mekong (Lancang) dams, as well as the controversial Xayaburi Dam in Laos. Followed by a reception hosted by the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Devel- opment, and a screening of Mekong, the Mother (director: Peter Degen) Tickets: $7

Sunday, March 24, 2 – 5 pm | Goethe-Institut

artists Give a Voice to Nature

Sound installation by Phan Thao Ngyuen (Vietnam).
Southeast Asian Student Documentary Film Award presentation with films by Panida Sanatem, Maiphone Phommachan (Laos), Narong Srisopap (Thailand), Chum Sophea (Cambodia) and more.
Followed by a discussion of the role of the arts in the perception of social and environ- mental issues.
rSVP:  rsvp at washington.goethe.org

Monday, March 25, 2 – 3:30 pm | Woodrow Wilson center, 1300 Pennsylvania ave. NW, 5th floor

Balancing act on the Mekong: Building Linkages for More

Sustainable hydropower Development

Film clips and panel discussion hosted by Jennifer L. Turner, Woodrow Wilson Center Panelists: Douglas Varchol, film director, Mekong
Robert Mather, International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN); Michael Victor, CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food

rSVP:  cef at wilsoncenter.org

Monday, March 25, 6:30 pm | Goethe-Institut
Whose river, Whose choice? hydropower, Governance and environment in the Mekong

Screening of the film Mekong, followed by a discussion.
Participants: Asterio Takesy, Ambassador from Micronesia; Felix Leinemann EU Delega- tion; Erik Stokstad, AAAS; Robert Mather, IUCN; Michael Victor.
rSVP:  rsvp at washington.goethe.org

Tuesday, March 26, 6:30 pm | goethe-Institut

Up the Yangtze

Screening of this film from China conveying the human dimension of the wrenching changes facing the world at large. Tickets: $7

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 19th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

President Obama’s First Stop in Asia Is in Thailand
The first nation on the itinerary for President Obama’s Asia trip is Thailand — America’s oldest friend on the continent, with diplomatic ties stretching back nearly 180 years.

President Obama arrives in Rangoon and becomes the first sitting president ever to visit Burma.

Today’s Schedule
All times are Eastern Standard Time (EST).

12:35 AM: The President meets with Aung San Suu Kyi, Chairman and General Secretary of the National League of Democracy

1:05 AM: The President and Aung San Suu Kyi deliver remarks

1:35 AM: The President meets and greets with United States Embassy personnel

2:45 AM: The President delivers remarks at the University of Yangon

3:50 AM: The President departs Rangoon, Burma en route Phnom Penh, Cambodia

5:40 AM: The President arrives Phnom Penh, Cambodia

5:45 AM: The President is welcomed by Prime Minister Han Sen of Cambodia

6:05 AM: The President meets with Prime Minister Han Sen of Cambodia

6:35 AM: The President is welcomed to the US-ASEAN leaders meeting

6:40 AM: The President attends the ASEAN-U.S. leaders meeting

8:30 AM: The President arrives at Diamond Island Convention Center and is welcomed to the East Asia Summit Dinner

8:35 AM: The President participates in the East Asia Summit Dinner

1:00 PM: Dr. Jill Biden joins Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus at the Pentagon to announce the naming of the Navy’s newest submarine

2:30 PM: The First Lady hosts the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards WhiteHouse.gov/live

5:00 PM: The Vice President and Dr. Biden host their annual Early Thanksgiving Dinner for Wounded Warriors and their families

9:00 PM: The President participates in the Trans-Pacific Partnership meeting

10:45 PM: The President meets with Prime Minister Noda of Japan on the margins of the East Asia Summit

11:45 PM: The President meets with Premier Wen Jiabao of China on the margins of the East Asia Summit

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 23rd, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

There is no sugar versus ethanol competition in Brazil – the production of ethanol from sugar cane reduces the amount of sugar available in order to support the price of sugar. Brazil clearly does not want to see a drop in price in the global sugar market.

Those that talk about a food vs. fuel competition in Brazilian sugar agriculture that increases the price of sugar, must thus  be part of the global oil interests that hate ethanol participation in what they think is their oil-tank.

But Bloomberg knows to tell us that Brazil had harvesting delays in its sugar cane industry this year. This may lead that country to lose its Chinese market share to Thailand.

Chinese sugar imports should climb by 1 million tons this year, with Thai sugar making up the majority of it. “Brazilian producers are having to discount their sugar to be competitive,” one financial analyst told the newswire.

So, we may see here a timing problem in  harvesting sugar cane, and Brazil is ready to look at increasing its production of ETHANOL by enlisting technologies developed in Italy that can use the cellulosic material left in the Sugar Cane Bagasse.    This is called “SECOND GENERATION ETHANOL.”

Lots of doctorates were awarded in the US, and lots of basic chemistry studies performed, but US agriculture seemingly had very little interest in seeking true results from cellulosic materials digestion and fermentation to ethanol.

The Financial Times writes now that Brazil is ready to push the commercialization of such a technology in cooperation with second-generation ethanol on a commercial scale.

“Brazil’s full commercialization of cellulosic ethanol promises to double the productivity of the country’s sugar cane ethanol producers,” says the blog. This without impacting sugar production and create a reserve of ethanol for its fuel market.

Why does US agriculture not hire the Italians as well? The answer must be in the US agriculture big corporations that insist in making their ethanol from corn in order to insure higher costs to global  corn consumers. Here will come no change unless the corn equivalent of Thailand’s sugar comes into play.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 16th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Vienna is no Backwater and no UN Backwater anymore – I arrived from New York on May 8-th, and immediately – that is starting Wednesday the 9-th – I already started to run to meetings and presentations/discussions with  top-global thinkers who presented the latest ideas about the true state of the planet. Actually I must confess that more and better value I encountered in this first week in Vienna then I experienced in New York City. I would suggest that it is possibly a result from being less of an interests driven pressure cooker, people tend to speak up more, and discussions evolve with less impediments that one experiences in New York.

From running to so many activities, I found that I do not report on them and this is a pity –
I will thus do a very skimpy review now and hope to do some more justice in the future.

Take for instance the global economy and much of what impacted the negotiations in New York, around the UN, on the run up to RIO+2o.

On Wednesday I started by participating in a meeting at the Austrian Association for the UN, with Professor Ian Goldin, who was Vice President of the World Bank (2003-2006) and prior to that the Bank’s Director of Development Policy (2001-2003) representing the bank at the UN. He left The Washington position to become the first head of The James Martin 21st Century School at Oxford University. From him, in the discussion, we heard that the problem that caused our economic crises comes from the simple truth that all top economists have studied from the same book Economics 101 – and were unable to see that the World was behaving differently. He honestly confessed that he also did not see the crisis coming – but he made it clear that he looks now at ideas of fundamental change. I will not enlarge here as I do have a draft article were I will try to pick up my notes. I will only say that he was born in South Africa to Jewish refugees from Vienna, and by now is a World citizen with experiences all over.

The following day it was someone with a very different background – coming from the Philippines he is also by now a World citizen with Experiences all over but seemingly his real base is still in the south. Professor Walden Bello was educated at Princeton with a doctorate in Sociology, and taught at Berkeley and Binghampton. Then he became executive director of  the Institute for Food and Development Policy (Food First) in OaklandCalifornia and founding director of Focus on the Global South, a policy research institute based in Bangkok.

In 2003, Bello was awarded the Right Livelihood Award, whose website describes him as “one of the leading critics of the current model of economic globalization – combining the roles of intellectual and activist.” But then he also entered politics in order to work against President Ferdinand Marcos. He is now also a member of the Philippine Parliament.

Bello spoke at a panel organized by the Vienna Institute for Development Cooperation VJDC in the compound of the Diplomatic Academy. He stated that Consumption should no longer be considered the key to economic stability and added that this is the reason that the US continues to be a renegade. Space must be reserved for development of the developing counties.

Talking about the financial crises he blamed the Thatcher-Reagan liberation of the Financial Sector and the export of its problems by the US. On the other hand he looks at China being led by technocrats and the immense increase in China’s production capacity.

Asked about the Bhutan idea of well being and happiness, he thought that Bhutan is very much behind in development so it cannot be a model – but he accepted the notion that there is the need for different ways of measuring development then the GDP. He even volunteered that some of what is called growth is in effect negative growth.

Bello clearly, even as acknowledged spokesman for the South, he does not see development as the south copying the North. He is posed to look for novel ways and in this he speaks of accommodation to replace conflict. A question  he entered only reluctantly was the issue  of national economies that do not have a National Currency, like Greece, while the US and others have the luxury of printing their currency. Then what is if more interesting, China and Brazil, having excess reserves of global currency printed by others, have also their own National Currency used mainly inside the country, while using the excess of US dollars or Euro, in financial dealings outside their own countries. This insulates them from outside intervention like in the case of Greece that has no  independent internal currency. To this he said that by now China and Brazil have started to use their own currencies also for international trade. Clearly – this is something that ought to be looked at more seriously by the EU.

“To this series of talks I would include the Wednesday May 16-th presentation of the Master thesis by Ms. Elisabeth Schmid on THE GOOD LIFE – BUT WHICH?” – “Das Gute Leben – Aber Welches?” that looked at the Pacha Mama Andean American-Indian indigenous concept of not harm nature more then what is absolutely necessary and which allowed me to try to negotiate these concepts in relation to the Himalayan Budhist concept of Happiness.

Following the initial days that centered on above economic aspects, followed a meeting at the Amerika Haus of the American Embassy in Vienna, dealing with energy policy of the State of California, and energy policy of the US in general – the place of renewable energy in the future of the United States and the World and what can and cannot be expected from RIO+20 a meeting that he considered as if it were a direct follow up to the series of meetings on climate change. The speaker was Professor Gerald W. Braun, the associate Director of the University of California at Davis Energy Institute.

The America House  meeting was on Wednesday night, but then on the three week-end days – Friday to Sunday, May 11-13, there was the Green World Forum on the side of the Imperial Hofburg Palace, that included exhibits and a series of talks  and Dr. Braun was the speaker for the Friday Energy Session – his topic was THE END OF THE OIL AGE – THE GREEN ENERGY REVOLUTION. Then the last event I am touching about is the EUROSOLAR monthly Stammtisch that dealt with solar programs in Bavaria. While the first group of talks in this section dealt with what we really need and how we satisfy these needs as a community. this last evening was pure alternate sources. Obviously – both lines present progress in their own ways.

Monday,  Tuesday, and Wednesday I picked seeing Sustainable Development inspired movies. To be more accurate – films that tell us – go for sustainability or else we have no future. These events were the first for me to tackle on this website. Please look at the two postings we have on the films.

As said – there was so much more going on – but I could not take it all in.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 19th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The papers wrote today, November 18th, on the small Asian Scene but missed the much bigger significance. After years of playing big power economic politics on the side of China and a mumbling and stumbling EU – the US did a reset, as per the following and most recent, news.

“BALI, Indonesia — Hours before Daw Aung San Suu Kyi Myanmar’s most prominent democracy campaigner, announced her return to formal politics on Friday, President Obama disclosed that he was sending Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on a visit there next month, the first by a secretary of state in more than 50 years.

The twin events underscored the remarkable and sudden pace of change in Myanmar, which has stunned observers inside and outside the country, analysts said.”

Actually what happened these last three weeks is that Obama’s Administration is distancing itself from the troubles of the EU and in an effort to decrease its dependence on China financing, the US has moved to use the Asian-Pacific region minus China, but in  in alliance with Australia, to forge a new FREE MARKET from an enlarged NAFTA (Canada, Mexico, Columbia) to embrace some of the countries of the old APEC. This market is 1.6 times larger then the EU and will have a military base in Darwin, Australia, so China takes notice of a massive new US interest in Asia.

This is just a small reaction to the news and we intend to return to this new and intriguing situation that is clearly intended as well to show the American people that this Administration is still capable of doing great novel things. We say BRAVO.

Europe will take advantage of this RESET by trying to increase its activities in the Arab World – i.e. Austria readies a new mission to Qatar where it will open December 11-12, 2011 a new Embassy in Doha with a visit by Austria’s Federal President Dr. Heinz Fischer who travels at the head of a business delegation as it was done these weeks as well by Austrian interests going to Iraq, Libya and Turkmenistan. Please note that the new Embassy in Doha is being opened while Austria is busy saving money by closing up to 30 Consulates and Embassies elsewhere i.e. in Chicago!

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We posted the above on November 18th, then on November 19th we found on the CNN/GPS the following, and we realize that our AMERICA IN A NEW ASIA RESET editorial note was our correct reading of the news. Again – we expect to enlarge on this very soon.

Listen Up! What the world thinks of ‘America’s Pacific Century.’

Editor’s Note: Every week, the Global Public Square brings you some must-read editorials from around the world addressed to America and Americans. The series is called Listen up, America!

President Obama is focused on East Asia and the Pacific this week. After attending the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Hawaii last weekend, Obama traveled to Australia where, on Thursday, he addressed the parliament. His message: “In the Asia Pacific in the 21st century, the United States of America is all in.”

Later that day, President Obama traveled to the city of Darwin along the northern coast, where the U.S. announced it will station 2,500 Marines. The summit and travel, which also include a stop in Indonesia, are seen as the U.S. shifting attention to the Pacific – and to a rising China – as troops withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan. Here are some of the international responses to what Secretary of State Clinton recently dubbed “America’s Pacific Century.”

Australia – “Despite the rising economic, diplomatic and military reach of China, U.S. supremacy is the bedrock of security in the region,” says an editorial in the Sydney-based Australian.

“[The United States] underwrites the security of South Korea and Japan, it quells the tensions across the Taiwan Straits, it keeps the seaways open, bolsters the counter-terrorism operations of countries such as Indonesia, and even, in a less direct fashion, has added ballast to Australia’s life-saving interventions in East Timor and the Solomon Islands. And when natural disasters, such as the Boxing Day tsunami strike, the region looks automatically to Washington, not Beijing, for assistance.”

Indonesia – NIMBY, or “not in my backyard,” says an editorial in the Jakarta Postof stationing U.S. troops in northern Australia.

“The presence of the U.S. base just south of Indonesia is simply too close for comfort. … there are many fruitful and less threatening ways of increasing U.S. engagement other than building a greater military presence.”

China – “Is there any country in the region that wants the United States to be its leader?” asks Wei Jianhua in China’s state-run Xinhua news. The provided answer: “No.”

“It’s hard to envision what kind of ‘leadership’ the United States aspires to have in the region. What the region really needs – right now – is a strong and reliable partner that can help the region stave off the current financial crisis and seek balanced and sustained growth.”

Japan – “Tokyo and Washington are concerned about how to respond to Beijing,” says an editorial in the Tokyo-based Yomiuri Shimbun.

“China has been rapidly enhancing its influence and becoming more assertive, increasing frictions with other countries in the South China Sea. To lead China in the direction of complying with international rules and working together with its neighbors in the medium and long term, Japan and the United States must closely cooperate with South Korea, Australia and Southeast Asian countries.”

Saudi Arabia — “Really?” asks an editorial in the Jeddah-based Arab News of President Obama saying the Pacific is the top priority.

“The Asia Pacific region is more important than the Middle East with all its crises? More important than solving the Palestinian-Israeli issue? More important than famine and political instability in the Horn of Africa and the dangers of it becoming a hub of international terrorism? More important than the nuclear ambitions that the U.S. is convinced Iran harbors?”

Australia –Sydney Morning Herald editorial says stationing U.S. Marines in Australia is “a significant turn in the direction of Australia’s foreign policy.” While Australia “had been negotiating a potentially tricky course part-way between” the U.S. and China, the “helm has now been turned decisively to one side.”

“Australia would have had much to gain from keeping to its middle course between two great powers. Having taken sides early, though, we have taken a risk. We will find out in coming years how much was at stake in that premature decision.”

China— “Americans should realize that neither side would win in a trade war and must prevent the Obama administration from taking any rash decision,” writes Deng Yuwen in the China Daily.  President Obama, the U.S. Congress and Republican Presidential candidates have in recent weeks sought to pressure China over its currency policy, claiming the yuan is undervalued.

“Many of the goods China exports to the U.S. are inexpensive daily necessities and favored by Americans because of their low prices. Therefore, if the yuan’s value increases by 30 percent, the majority of Americans’ cost of living could go up by a similar percentage.”

Posted by:  
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Early in his term, President Obama was too deferential to China. On his Asia trip last week, he sent a clear message that this country is not ceding anything in the Pacific. That is good news.

www.nytimes.com/2011/11/20/opinion/sunday/president-obama-in-asia.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha211

New York Times EDITORIAL Published November 19th, printed in the November 20, 2011, paper.

President Obama in Asia.

Like President George W. Bush, Mr. Obama’s preference is to engage Beijing in international organizations and agreements in hopes that will encourage China’s leaders to behave more responsibly. It is a sound long-range strategy. But China has made clear that without serious and sustained push-back, it will use its economic and military clout to bully and intimidate its neighbors.

The most brazen example is its broad claim to energy reserves in the South China Sea that are also claimed by five other countries. On Friday, Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, said at an Asian summit meeting that “outside forces” had no right to get involved in the dispute.

On his trip, Mr. Obama insisted he would “seek more opportunities for cooperation with Beijing.” But he also made clear that his patience has limits, at one point saying that China has now “grown up” and should act responsibly in its trade and currency practices.

In Australia, he announced an agreement to deploy 2,500 Marines plus naval ships and aircraft to a base in Darwin starting next year. That is not a huge number, but it is a pointed symbol of America’s interest.

At the same time, we were concerned by Mr. Obama’s declaration to Australia’s Parliament that budget reductions “will not — I repeat, will not — come at the expense of the Asia-Pacific.” Allies, of course, need to hear that. But any new mission in Asia cannot become another excuse for Pentagon planners to avoid making needed cuts.

On his trip, the president also rightly championed the benefits of freer trade — a position made more credible after Congress finally passed the trade deal with South Korea. His push to negotiate a trade deal with eight other Pacific Rim countries is important. He must keep reminding Beijing that it is welcome to join if it makes the necessary economic reforms.

What the United States should not do is overreach. Beijing already suspects that the real American goal is to “contain” its power. Washington must be transparent about its dealings and consult and include China when possible. American and Chinese political leaders have a regular dialogue. The Pentagon needs to do more to cultivate relationships with its resistant counterparts.

Dealing with a rising China requires a deft hand and a willingness to push back when Beijing oversteps. Being there is a big part of it.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 24th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Thailand, two third of its land flooded because of the worst Monsoon since 1942, is now a country ripped apart because of what we think as part of Global  Climate Change effects. We spoke on the phone with someone in Bangkok and learned that local people do not make this connection, but a journalist based in Thailand tells us of people turning against their government as they see that all what the government worried about are the residences of Inner City Bangkok. People started dismantle dams that protect some areas while sending the water in their direction.

CLIMATE CHANGE WILL CAUSE DISASTERS THAT WILL ACCENTUATE SOCIAL INEQUALITIES AND LEAD TO SOCIAL UNREST AND  CHAOS. That is what we say for years –  CLIMATE CHANGE IS ABOVE ALL A SECURITY PROBLEM – THE ONLY WAY LEADERS WILL FINALLY PAY ATTENTION TO THIS SELF INFLICTED PHENOMENON – we say.

Das Wasser des Chao Praya-Flusses hat am Samstag neue Bezirke der thailändischen Hauptstadt überflutet. Wenn das Krisenmanagement weiter so chaotisch ist, stehen dem Land auch politisch schwierige Zeiten bevor.

Indes regt sich auch in Thailands Provinzen Unmut über die Strategie der Behörden. Die Hauptstadt schützen bis zuletzt, lautete ja deren bisherige Devise, die die Landbevölkerung nun als Ursache des eigenen Leids betrachtet. In Summe steht ein Drittel des gesamten Landes unter Wasser, die größten Verwüstungen gibt es abseits der Städte. Das wochenlange Aufstauen des Wassers hat dieses daran gehindert in den Süden und ins Meer abzufließen. So stehen die Industriebauten und die historische Tempelanlage der Stadt Ayutthaya immer noch unter Wasser.

Doch nicht nur Stadt und Land macht die thailändische Naturkatastrophe zu Gegnern, auch Städter untereinander. Nach Berichten der „Bangkok Post“ hatten am Donnerstag wütende Bewohner die Kontrolle über einen Bagger der Stadtverwaltung erlangt. Mit diesem sollte ein neuer Damm gebaut werden – wenig später war das Gerät dazu im Einsatz, den Damm zu beschädigen. Die Bewohner auf der einen Seite des Walls wollten steigende Wasserstände zum Vorteil der anderen Seite schlicht nicht mehr erdulden. Jeder gegen jeden, vor dem Hintergrund der typisch thailändischen Hilfsbereitschaft sind derartige Vorfälle ein deutliches Indiz für die prekäre Lage der thailändischen Hauptstadt.

Please read:   diepresse.com/home/panorama/welt/…

Bangkok: Eine Millionenstadt geht unter.

22.10.2011 | 18:25 |  von Magdalena Klemun (Bangkok) (Die Presse)

Das Wasser des Chao Praya-Flusses hat am Samstag neue Bezirke der thailändischen Hauptstadt überflutet. Wenn das Krisenmanagement weiter so chaotisch ist, stehen dem Land auch politisch schwierige Zeiten bevor.

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AND SOUTHERN FLORIDA IS CONDEMNED BY MOTHER NATURE BECAUSE OF OUR SINS TO HER!

Please read:   www.miamiherald.com/2011/10/22/24…

In My Opinion

Sea levels will rise, washing away climate deniers.

Read more: www.miamiherald.com/2011/10/22/2467017/sea-levels-will-rise-washing-away.html#ixzz1bgnGHyWC

BY FRED GRIMM

FGRIMM@MIAMIHERALD.COM

The rising sea will wash across great swaths of South Florida. Salt water will contaminate the well fields. Roads and farmland and low-lying neighborhoods will be inundated. The soil will no longer absorb the kind of heavy rainfalls that drenched South Florida last weekend. Septic tanks will fail. Drainage canals won’t drain. Sewers will back up. Intense storms will pummel the beachfront. Mighty rainfalls, in between droughts, will bring more floods.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 11th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) says it has a membership of 57 States on four continents with a total population of 1.3 billion people. Having seen its map we realize it has also at least three “blocked States” – India, Thailand, and The Philippines  though it has the Moro National Liberation Front as an observer State, a withdrawn State – Zimbabwe, and at least one non-State – Israel that was replaced by Palestine as a member State. Cote d’Ivoire was the last member to enter – it joined in 2001. Russia became an Observer in 2005.

Afghanistan was suspended during the years of Soviet occupation 1980 – March 1989 and Egypt, the fifth largest Islamic population, was suspended May 1979 – March 1984 when it tried for peace in the Middle East.

The organisation attempts to be the collective voice of the Muslim world (Ummah) and the official languages of the organisation are ArabicEnglish, and French.

The flag of the OIC has an overall green background (symbolic of Islam). In the centre, there is an upward-facing red crescent enveloped in a white disc. On the disc the words “Allahu Akbar” (Arabic for “The Almighty God”) are written in Arabic calligraphy.

 

The OIC attracted attention at the opening session of the meeting in Putrajaya, Malaysia, on 16 October 2003, where Prime MinisterMahathir Mohamad of Malaysia in his speech argued that the Jews control the world: “They invented socialismcommunismhuman rights, and democracy, so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong, so that they can enjoy equal rights with others. With these they have gained control of the most powerful countries and they, this tiny community, have become a world power.” He also said that “the Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million, but today the Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them.” The speech was very well received by the delegates, including many high ranking politicians, who responded with standing ovations.”

India, a country that has 161 million Muslim, only Indonesia with 203 million and Pakistan with 174 million have larger Muslim populations then India, was not welcome even as an observer to OIC – this because of its conflict with Pakistan where India would like to have a referendum of the local population as a means to decide the future of Kashmir.

Most OIC member countries are non-democratic. There are no OIC countries which are rated as a “Full Democracy” under the Democracy Index guidelines, and only 3 of the 57 members are rated as high as a “Flawed Democracy.” The rest are rated either an “Authoritarian Regime” or a “Hybrid Regime.”

Only 3 OIC member states were rated as Free in the Freedom in the World report in 2010 based on Political Rights and Civil Liberties in the member countries.

Reporters Without Borders in its 2011 Press Freedom Index rated only Mali and Suriname among the OIC members as having a Satisfactory Situation. All other members had worse ratings ranging from Noticeable Problems to Very Serious Situation.

Freedom of religion is severely restricted in most OIC member states. In 2009, the US Department of State cited OIC members Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan as being Countries of Particular Concern, where religious freedom is severely violated.

On August 5, 1990, 45 foreign ministers of the OIC adopted the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam to serve as a guidance for the member states in the matters of human rights in as much as they are compatible with the Sharia, or Quranic Law  www1.umn.edu/humanrts/instree/cai… )

OIC created the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam. While proponents claim it is not an alternative to the UDHR, but rather complementary, Article 24 states, “All the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic Shari’ah.” and Article 25 follows that with “The Islamic Shari’ah is the only source of reference for the explanation or clarification of any of the articles of this Declaration.” Attempts to have it adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council have met increasing criticism, because of its contradiction of the UDHR, including from liberal Muslim groups.  Critics of the CDHR state bluntly that it is “manipulation and hypocrisy,” “designed to dilute, if not altogether eliminate, civil and political rights protected by international law” and attempts to “circumvent these principles [of freedom and equality].”

Human Rights Watch says that OIC has “fought doggedly” and successfully within the United Nations Human Rights Council to shield states from criticism, except when it comes to criticism of Israel. For example, when independent experts reported violations of human rights in the 2006 Lebanon War, “state after state from the OIC took the floor to denounce the experts for daring to look beyond Israeli violations to discuss Hezbollah’s as well.” OIC demands that the council “should work cooperatively with abusive governments rather than condemn them.” HRW responds that this works only with those who are willing to cooperate; others exploit the passivity.

The OIC has been criticised for diverting its activities solely on Muslim minorities within majority non-Muslim countries but putting a taboo on the plight, the treatment of ethnic minorities within Muslim-majority countries, such as the oppression of the Kurds in Syria, the Ahwaz inIran, the Hazars in Afghanistan, the Baluchis in Pakistan, the ‘Al-Akhdam‘ in Yemen, or the Berbers in Algeria.

The formation of the OIC happened shortly after the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. Leaders of Muslim nations met in Rabat to establish the OIC on September 25, 1969.

OIC is run out of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, its first Secretary General was Tunku Abdul Ramman of Malaysia (1971-1973) and its current Secretary General, since 2005, is Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu of Turkey.

 en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organisatio…

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_Muslim_population

We found the following map of substantial interest for understanding if there is a realistic chance for change in the Arab world and in the Islamic world at large.

Much of the attention of observers of UN debates on terrorism was on how Contradictions between OIC’s and other U.N. member’s understanding of terrorism has stymied efforts at the U.N. to produce a comprehensive convention on international terrorism. The world must be reassured that new leaderships of Islamic States will not equivocate on terrorism – whatever true sentiments they may harbor – it is important to agree that terrorism is not an acceptable tool for attainment of political goals.

 upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/64/OIC_map.png

The list of OIC Member States: Afghanistan · Albania · Algeria · Azerbaijan · Bahrain · Bangladesh · Benin · Burkina Faso · Brunei ·

 Cameroon · Chad · Comoros · Côted’ Ivoire · Djibouti · Egypt · Gabon · Gambia · Guinea · 
Guinea Bissau · Guyana · Indonesia · Iran · Iraq ·
 Jordan · Kuwait ·Kazakhstan · Kyrgyzstan · Lebanon · Libya · 

Maldives · Malaysia · Mali · Mauritania · Morocco · Mozambique · Niger · Nigeria ·Oman · Pakistan · 

Palestine · Qatar · Saudi Arabia · Senegal · SierraLeone ·

 Somalia · Sudan · Suriname · Syria · Tajikistan ·Turkey · Tunisia · Togo · Turkmenistan · Uganda · 

Uzbekistan · United Arab Emirates · Yemen

The Observers are: Bosnia and Herzegovina · Central African Republic · Russia · Thailand · Northern Cyprus (asTurkish Cypriot State), Moro National Liberation Front, Russia.



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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 10th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) is an effort to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development. “REDD+” goes beyond deforestation and forest degradation, and includes the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.

It is predicted that financial flows for greenhouse gas emission reductions from REDD+ could reach up to US$30 billion a year. This significant North-South flow of funds could reward a meaningful reduction of carbon emissions and could also support new, pro-poor development, help conserve biodiversity and secure vital ecosystem services.

At the occasion of the 14th International Anti-Corruption Conference in Bangkok, GTZ and UNDP will convene a workshop on 13 November, titled “Opportunities and threats in REDD+ – Why we need an active anti-corruption community when 15-30 billion US$ might be invested to mitigate global warming” to facilitate mutual learning between experts and practitioners from the forest & REDD+ and anti-corruption communities in an open discussion. The ideas, inputs, and networks developed during the workshop will inform follow-up activities to help shape corruption prevention mechanisms in REDD+.

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About REDD+

Deforestation and forest degradation, through agricultural expansion, conversion to pastureland, infrastructure development, destructive logging, fires etc., account for nearly 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than the entire global transportation sector and second only to the energy sector. It is now clear that in order to constrain the impacts of climate change within limits that society will reasonably be able to tolerate, the global average temperatures must be stabilized within two degrees Celsius. This will be practically impossible to achieve without reducing emissions from the forest sector, in addition to other mitigation actions.

  • 14th IACC conference in Bangkok, Thailand
  • 14th IACC conference in Bangkok, Thailand

Global Challenges

Workshop: “Opportunities and threats of REDD+ – Why we need an active anti-corruption community when 15-30 bn. US$ might be invested to mitigate global warming

A substantial amount of financial resources are likely to be invested for mitigating Climate Change through REDD+. The workshop will facilitate mutual learning between experts and practitioners from the forest & climate and anti-corruption communities to strengthen corruption prevention mechanisms in this area.

The objective is to harness the potential of integrating preventive anti-corruption measures in designing a successful implementation of REDD+. The workshop should enhance a substantive anti-corruption perspective to the debate around REDD+ at an early stage.

Therefore, there will be three inputs and substantive discussion with the objective to reach a common understanding of REDD+ within the audience, provide an overview on corruption risks being discussed at both international and country level and how they have been addressed so far, and identify further corruption risks areas and possible fields of future action and cooperation.

Moderation and key note: Veerle Vandeweerd, Director, Environment and Energy group, UNDP

Panelists:

Tim Clairs, Senior Technical Advisor, UNDP, UN-REDD Programme
Mr. Clairs will introduce the general aspects of the REDD+ mechanism; including REDD, REDD+ and REDD readiness
Reference level (baseline) of historic/future emissions from deforestation
Engagement of stakeholders
Measuring, Reporting, Verifying of emission reductions and safeguards
Nationally-owned REDD strategies
Performance-based payments and benefit distribution

Aled Williams, U4, UK. Coordinator of study “REDD and Corruption”
Mr. Williams will give an overview of corruption risks and initiatives dealing with corruption and forestry, especially REDD+. The presentation is based on publications by U4 and UNDP and will include:
Overview of potential corruption challenges related to REDD+, at the global, regional, national, local and community levels
Discussing applicability of existing analytical and assessment tools for mapping corruption risks in REDD programmes
Discussing means to enhance monitoring of REDD performance from an anti-corruption viewpoint, with a particular focus on assessment and monitoring of specific corruption risks through multi-stakeholder processes

Grizelda “Gerthie” Mayo-Anda, Environmental lawyer, Philippines, Founder of the “Environmental Legal Assistance Center – ELAC and board member of a variety of other NGOs
Mrs. Mayo-Anda will speak about the practical implications of corruption for different activities in the forest sector (e.g. development projects, distribution of user rights or the implications for people employed in the sector).

Output:

Structured discussion to exchange ideas and identify opportunities for cooperation.
The main results of the workshop will be obtained through the discussion, a structured collection of insights and recommendations as well as resource persons and institutions for future cooperation. Scope of the discussion: what needs to be done and who can do what to integrate preventive anti-corruption measures in REDD+ development and implementation.

The discussion will be guided along 4 prepared questions.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 12th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

from emma lisa freja schipper <elfs75@gmail.com>
date Mon, Jul 12, 2010
subject:

SEI-ISDR Asia Regional Writeshop to Support Developing Country Publications on Disaster Risk Reduction and Adaptation to Climate Change

Call for Applications

Asia Regional Writeshop to Support Developing Country Publications on Disaster Risk Reduction and Adaptation to Climate Change: 20-24 September 2010, Bangkok, Thailand.

The Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) are calling for applications from young scholars, practitioners, policymakers, and others from Asia who are working in the field of climate change and disaster risk reduction to participate in a writeshop from 20-24 September 2010 in Bangkok, Thailand.  Through the writeshop, participants will produce a peer-review quality publishable article and they will gain enhanced awareness of the process of writing papers for academic journals.  These skills will allow their work to be incorporated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other high-level scientific bodies and consequently inform policy making on key issues of disaster risk and climate change adaptation.

The writeshop will involve one-on-one work with facilitators to provide supplemental training on academic writing and argumentation, in order to help new authors reach a standard of writing suitable for publication in peer-reviewed journals.

How it works

Participants’ papers are selected based on quality and relevance to the writeshop’s chosen focus areas.  After having been selected, participants are paired up with a facilitator with whom they will work to improve the paper.  Prior to the writeshop, there will be some communication between the participant and the facilitators to ensure that each participant is at a good stage in the writing of the paper before coming to the writeshop.  At the writeshop, the participants will work closely on various aspects of the paper. Finally, some follow-up work between the participants and mentors will be necessary to get the paper finalised.

Writeshops run for 5 days.  This includes plenary sessions on the first day, and small group discussions and independent work on the second day.  The third day is only half a day to give participants time to refresh their minds and take a break.  On the fourth and fifth day, new versions of the papers are drafted in collaboration with facilitators and during plenary and independent sessions.

Participation requirements

Participants must be committed to completing the paper.  For this reason, the organisers will require the participants to sign an agreement at the beginning stating their intent to fulfil this requirement.  If mentors do not consider the paper to be of sufficient quality to be submitted to a peer-review journal, they will assist participants in ensuring that the output is at least at a level where it can be submitted to a magazine or a non-peer review publication.  Participants must also recognise that involvement in the programme does not guarantee publication – this will be determined by the peer-review process, which can sometimes be harsh.

Selection Criteria and Applications

Applications should be emailed to Nipa Laithong (nipa.laithong@sei.se) by 31 July 2010.  Please read the selection criteria carefully.  All travel costs and lodging will be covered by the organisers.

Participants will be selected based on the following criteria:

Ø   They have carried out action research or project implementation that has provided them with new insights on one of the topics covered in Annex I.

Ø   They qualify as ‘young professionals’ and are building their careers as academics, policy makers or practitioners in the fields of disaster risk reduction, climate change or other relevant topic.

Ø   They live and work in the region of the writeshop or are from Asia.

Ø   They speak sufficient English to be able to write a first draft of a paper in English.

Ø   They commit to working with a mentor before and after the writeshop, to completing a paper,  and to seeing it through the publication process.

The application should include:

Ø   A brief biographical statement, explaining the candidate’s background, current career hopes and rationale for wanting to be part of the programme, maximum 500 words.

Ø   An extended abstract or summary of their paper, including a brief description of the methodologies applied, the results of the work, whether the work was the result of research or project implementation, maximum 2 pages.

Writeshop themes

The writeshop will address topics that are relevant to climate change adaptation and the 2011 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction (GAR).  Papers selected for the writeshop can therefore focus on any of the following themes:

Enabling Environments

–        How can policies in trade and productive sector development increase resilience and adaptive capacity, particularly for small and vulnerable economies, such as SIDS and land-locked countries?

–        How can trade and productive sector development policies increase these countries’ resilience to disasters and the harmful impacts of climate change?

–        How can existing social assistance and poverty alleviation programmes be improved to increase poor communities to disaster loss?

–        How can employment policy and programmes, such as rural employment guarantee programmes, increase communities’ resilience to disaster loss?

–        What are the mechanisms and enabling conditions that allow innovative practices at the community and local levels to be scaled up to district and national level implementation?

–        How can investment of large quantities of adaptation and risk reduction funding respond to local needs and mobilizes local resources?

Governance

–        How do decentralisation processes empower local and city governments and facilitate local risk reduction and community-based adaptation?

–        How can innovative institutional and legislative arrangements for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation can facilitate implementation? How have some governments succeeded in integrating the arrangements for climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction and in moving the centre of gravity from traditional emergency management organizations to central ministries for planning and finance, including the integration of risk reduction into national development plans and budgets?

–        How have risk reduction considerations been incorporated into planning and regulation, for example using cost-benefit analysis? What regulatory frameworks (e.g., building codes and land use planning policies) have been used and how effective have they been at reducing disaster risk?

–       How have market-based mechanisms, such as parametric insurance, catastrophe bonds, micro-finance and others increased resilience and adaptive capacity at the national, local and household levels?  How have risk-reduction incentives been successfully integrated into market-based mechanisms? What are the practical steps and economic and social considerations required to develop targeted and transparent instruments? What institutional and governance arrangements required?

Ecosystem services

–        What are the benefits of different approaches to managing, enhancing, protecting and restoring ecosystem services as a strategy for reducing disaster risk and strengthening adaptive capacity? Where have these approaches been employed most effectively? And what are the factors (political, economic, regulatory, etc.) that allow for these approaches to be implemented?

For any questions, email lisa.schipper@sei.se


——————————
Dr. Lisa Schipper

Senior Research Fellow
Stockholm Environment Institute

15 Floor, Witthyakit Building
254, Chulalongkorn University
Chulalongkorn Soi 64 Phyathai Road
Bangkok 10330 Thailand
Tel: +66 2 251 4415 x107
Fax: +66 2 251 4419

email: lisa.schipper@sei.se

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 29th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Thailand Fights Addiction to Plastic Bags.
Lynette Lee Corporal

 ipsterraviva.net/UN/currentNew.as…

BANGKOK, June 28 (IPS) – Buy a hairpin and the sales clerk has a microscopic plastic bag for it. A soda purchase from a corner store may end up having the liquid poured into a plastic bag, and then topped off with a plastic straw. There is no plastic bag yet that could fit a car, but if there was one country that could come up with one, Thailand would probably be it.

But here in the capital, local authorities have restarted a campaign to wean the residents of the Thai capital from their plastic bag ‘addiction’. For the second year in a row, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) is holding its 45-day ‘No Bag, No Baht’ project, which offers consumers a one-baht (three U.S. cents) discount for every 100 baht (nearly three dollars) purchase if they use their own cloth bags when shopping in several local markets. Meanwhile, each plastic bag will cost them one baht.

This year’s BMA campaign was launched on Jun. 5, World Environment Day. Last year, the campaign targeted a cutback of 4.4 million plastic bags among Bangkok consumers. This year, BMA authorities want a cutback that is three times that figure. BMA figures show that every day, more than 600,000 plastic bags are used in this city of nine million people.

Their annual disposal cost reaches more than 600 million baht (18.4 million dollars), city officials have said. Local media have quoted BMA deputy governor Porntep Techapaibul as saying that of the city’s daily 10,000 tonnes of trash, about 1,800 tonnes are plastic bags, a number projected to increase by about 20 percent each year.

By now, many Bangkok residents have heard of the health and environmental hazards posed by plastic bags. Made from a non-renewable natural resource, petroleum, the bags have for their main ingredient polyethylene – or polythene – which is said to take 1,000 years to decompose on land and 450 years in water.

But even green-minded residents have problems avoiding the use of plastic bags. Thai Fund Foundation coordinator Chomphu Rammuang says that although she brings a big cloth bag to the supermarket and a lunch pack to work, she can still wind up with a plastic bag in hand by day’s end.

Thailand, after all, is a major manufacturer of plastic. That could help explain why even micro-entrepreneurs here think nothing of shoving their merchandise in plastic bags.

For instance, Yakult health drink vendor Suprathit says that a 100-piece pack of small plastic bags costs her only five baht (15 cents). Pusadee, who sells office lunches in clear plastic bags, also says she buys a kilo of these for 70 baht (two dollars). She says a kilo’s supply lasts her two days.

Thailand produces other plastic products. According to Greenpeace South- east Asia-Thailand country representative Tara Buakamsri, the country is among South-east Asia’s biggest manufacturers of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is the third most widely produced plastic after polythylene and polypropylene.

Cheap, durable and easy to assemble, it is often used to make pipes, water bottles, credit cards. It is also non-biodegradable.

In April, the English-language daily ‘Bangkok Post’ reported that domestic demand for PVC is about 450,000 tonnes per year.

A study presented in 2009 by Wuthichai Wongthatsanekorn at the World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology in Dubai, says that the recovery rate of plastic waste in Thailand in 2000 was only 23 percent.

It also says that only about 35 percent of the solid wastes collected from parts of Thailand outside of Bangkok are properly managed, while the rest of the waste products are “piled up in open dumping areas waiting to be dissolved.”

For a campaign to be effective, Tara says, consumers have to be aware of the importance and the long-term effect of the scheme.

“We need to study what economic mechanism will work if plastic bags are banned in Thailand,” he says. “What would be the reaction of the huge plastic industry in the country? What will be the economic incentive for people to follow this campaign?”

The good news, though, is that many establishments like supermarket chain Tesco Lotus and furniture store Home Pro are open to taking part in the BMA project. In fact, even before the ‘No Bag, No Baht’ project was relaunched, Tesco Lotus already had its very own ‘Green Bag Green Point’ campaign. For each bag saved, a customer can earn one Green Clubcard point.

Tesco Lotus senior corporate affairs manager Saofang Ekaluckrujee told IPS in an email interview, “We are very pleased to see policymakers such as the BMA making this issue a national priority. Our Green Bag Green Point scheme’s initial target is to reduce plastic bag usage by 9.8 million bags in 2010.” Other huge shopping malls like Siam Paragon and Central also give incentives like bonus shopper points for not using their bags – plastic or paper ones for that matter – or a 5 percent discount at certain times of the month.

Even small businesses are joining in. During the BMA campaign’s soft relaunch in May, than 5,000 stores in Bangkok’s famous Chatuchak weekend market participated.

Chomphu also reports that her monthly visits to the Chatuchak weekend market have become a pleasant experience, plastic bag-wise. “The vegetarian store near Chatuchak that I go to is actively participating in the project,” she says. “Buyers are encouraged to bring their own bags.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 23rd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The SEE Forum is an Asia-Pacific academic, scientific and technological network that brings forward the dialogue on global issues of common concern.

The overall goal of the SEE Forum is to promote “New Energy Initiatives” and to seek academic, scientific and technological cooperation that will contribute to the global climate and energy security issues.

In this context, the Joint International Conference on “Innovations for Renewable Energy: How Science can help” (IRE) that combines “Innovations for Environmental Actions” Symposium and “7th SEE Forum” Meeting will be held at Hanoi University of Science (HUS), Vietnam during 20th – 23rd September 2010.

This Joint International Conference will bring a sound effect towards the entire framework of the SEE Forum (www.seeforum.net).

Please send your abstract as an extended abstract containing about 2,000 characters. For further obligatory details see web pages: hus.edu.vn

Important dates

15th June 2010: Deadline for submission of abstract

30th June 2010:   Acceptance of abstract

31st July 2010:   Deadline for submission of full papers

15th August 2010: Early Bird Registration

20th -23rd September 2010: IRE 2010 Conference

International Advisory Board

Prof. Nguyen Hoang Luong, HUS, VNU Hanoi, Vietnam

Prof. Susumu Yoshikawa, Kyoto University, Japan

Prof. Bundit Fungtammasan, JGSEE, KMUTT, Thailand

Prof. Takeshi Yao, Kyoto University, Japan

Prof. H. P. Garg, BLS Group of Institutions, India

Prof. Sudharto P. Hadi, Diponegoro University, Indonesia

Prof. Luu Duc Hai, HUS, VNU Hanoi, Vietnam

Please find in the attachment our first circular call for papers.

N. Agya Utama, PhD

Programme Coordinator

Japan Science and Technology (JST)

Graduate School Energy Science

Kyoto University

Yoshida-honmachi, Sakyo-ku

Kyoto 606-8501

Japan

o. +81-75-753-4750

m. +81-80-6103-5071

e. agyautama@energy.kyoto-u.ac.jp

alt.e. agya.utama@gmail.com

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 12th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Close to the departure of President Obama on his all-important trip to Asia with stops in Tokyo November 12th, Singapore November 13-15, Shanghai November 15th, Beijing November 16-18, and Seoul November 18-19, the Japan Society has planned co-incidentally the event we are reporting about here.

Japan is the only original OECD member in Asia, as such Japan clearly feels justifiably it is a US prime partner in Asia. It also was clearly instrumental in nailing down the 1987 Kyoto Protocol to The Framework Convention on Climate Change, and hopes that this material will continue to be the base for future climate negotiations. That was the basis for having co-organized and hosted  the following meeting – November 10th.

————-

Copenhagen & Beyond: A Multilateral Debate about Climate Change Policy.
Green Japan Series
Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at the Japan Society, New York.

The positions and participation of Japan, China and the United States in any successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol will help determine its success or failure. In a Tuesday November 10, 2009 panel, at the Japan Society, New York, Masayoshi Arai, Director, JETRO New York, Special Advisor, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI); The Honorable Zhenmin Liu, Ambassador Extraordinary and Deputy Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations; Elliot Diringer, Vice President, International Strategies, Pew Center on Global Climate Change; and Takao Shibata, chair of the working group that drafted the Kyoto Protocol, debated the direction of international climate change policy.

It was Moderated by Jim Efstathiou, Correspondent, Bloomberg News, and co-organized by the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs

————–

Takao Shibata, who is now a Chancellor Lecturer at the University of Kansas and Japan Consul General in Kansas City,mentioed that Japan is ready to commit to a 2020 reduction of 25% in emissions provided that there is FAIR and EFFECTIVE agreement with a VIGUROUS COMPLIANCE agreement as part of it. He stressed that the problem with Kyoto was that there was no compliance paragraph in the Protocol. All it said was that we postpone decision.

The OBJECTIVE must be: THE STABILIZATION OF CO2 CONCENTRATION IN THE ATMOSPHERE rather then fighting over figures of temperature increase or concentrations in parts per milion numbers. We have already a Framework he said – the Copenhagen process should be about STABILIZATION. Later he added that we must at least agree to a 2050 position.

Mr. Masayoshi Arai, who is in New York since June 2009, with The Japaese External Trade Organization (JETRO), after having held 16 positions within Japan Government, includingthe Prime Minister’s task force that created the Japan Consumer Protection Agency, and with The Fair Trade Commission and Agency for Natural Resouces and Energy and its Research Institute, Supervised manufacturing industries in their CO2 emissions reduction, and has also an MBA from Wharton, probably because of his present government trade position, was rather careful in what he said. He said that we ned something “meaningful”  for global warming  and left the Japanese point of view to Professor Shibata.

————-

Eliot Diringer whose organization, the Washington based Pew Center, is a link between Environmentalism, industry and government made it clear that what is lacking is a legal architecture in place to deal with the problems created by climate change to which now Professor Shibata answered on the spot that the history is such that already in Berlin, later in Kyoto, the US was against a legal concept – that is a clear 15 year old problem. In Kyoto, the US Vice President came to seal the Protocol in full knowledge that it is unratifiable in Washington. Shibata does not want a repeat of this with a US that is in no position to ratify an agreement.

Diringer came back with the suggestion that he can see that Developing countries will accept self prescribed domestic reductions and will request an agreement that makes this possible for them to do so. That means a new FRAMEWORK that is more flexible then the original.

—————

Ambassador Zhenmin Liu, Deputy Permanent Representative of China to the UN in New York since 2006, in charge of China’s participation on the Second Committee at the UN, with prior experience at the UN in Geneva and as Director-General of the Treaty and Law Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been involved in Climate Change negotiations for China. He was actually the only member of the panel entitled to express a national negotiating position, and he did indeed come through.

Ambassador Liu said that he cannot have now a document to replace Kyoto – this lines him up with what might be a Japanese interest, but clearly is no answer to the problems that were pointed out at why Kyoto was a failure.

But then he also said that you need a GLOBAL CAP for the GHG emissions that must then take into account, when talking about individual nations, their level of industrialization.

A certain raport evolved between him and Washingtonian Diringer.

It was agreed that there is the need for Technology Innovation, Technology Cooperation, and Technology Transfer.

Diringer said that China is very well positioning itself for the green technology economy. People in the US start to understand that the US will lose the competition for future technology and there must be a start for support in US Congress for energy action right now.

These exchanges gave me an opening to ask mty question about what goes on right now – the days that President Obama plans for his trip to Asia with a long stopover in China.

I started my question to ambassador Liu by saying that on the internet there is a lot of talk about a G-2 US-China agreement needed to jump start the Copenhagen negotiations, and I saw visually the Ambassador cringe.  to this idea of a G-2. I continued by asking that what can we expect as an outcome from the meetings in Beijing if there is anything he could tell us as we believe that some concluding material was negotiated prior to the deision for this trip considering tha this is in effect the second meeting between the leaders?

I was honored with a long answer that included several main points.

The first point is that the US has accepted Kyoto and I guess China does not want to renegotiate Kyoto.

Then, China has 20% of the world population the US only 5%, but China has only a fraction of the GDP per capita then the US, so there is no G-2 situation here. That must have been the reason for the cringing – China does not want to lose its place as leader of the underdeveloped nations.

Secondly – this is not a US – China negotiation but a negotiation for all groups.

Thirdly, there is place for clean energy cooperation, bilateral programs and projects – to jointly use clean technology.

——-

Professor Shibata added that we talk of the atmosphere where there are no national boundaries. We talk of sovereign areas only on the surface of the earth – and we must realize that the effects turn up in the air and we have no national control of the air.

Further, he said that in the west when something bad happens, the first thing we do is we sue the polluter – ask him to pay. He continued saying “I would encourage everyone to think about that.”

Mr. Diringer added that the CDM was introduced to harness market forces to get reduction of CO2 emissions at lowes cost.

——-

To summarize – it was nice for Japan to try to host a US-China debate before moves that will inevitably have to bring the US and China closer together. To follow up – let us look at President Obama’s itinerary to get further in depth to what a reorientation of the US towards Asia could mean.

Japan, South Korea, and China are trying to form an East Asia Trilateral grouping with a Free Trade Agreement among the three countries. Obviously, this will open the Chinese market to Japan and Korea and there is no way for the US, with its own effective NAFTA agreement with Canada and Mexico. Japan wants thus perhaps more then just be a pivot in US – Chiba negotiations, it rather has also to make sure that it can hold on to its own agreements with both main countries. President Obama has thus quite a few non-climate topics to talk about in his Yokyo and Seoul stops.

The second big stop is in Singapore where he will meet the 21 members of APEC: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong (part of China), Indonesia, Japan,  Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, The Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), Thailand, The United States, and Viet Nam. This will be the reintroduction of the US to the Pacific region in general – an area that the locals contend was totally neglected by the US in the eight years of the Bush administration. A main point in this meeting will be to help redirect the participating economies from export to the US to supply to their local populations – this so that they help both areas – their own and the US economy as well.

Will they also consult on whom to back for the job of UN Secretary-General in 2010? That is about the time to start this sort of negotiations, and Singapore seems to be the right place to look for the best viable candidate.

Eventually, the Third leg of the trip – the stops  in China – will have to be the clear main target of the trip – as said here by Ambassador Liu, the business deals in clean energy that can underpin both economies  (US and China) so they become an example for cooperation on climate change that presents direct benefits to economies looking for sustainable growth, that is a match to the needs of the people and the climate as well –  this is what we call Sustainable Development that is mutual – for the newly industrializing nation and for the phasing out of the old polluting industries of the past.

——————

for information from President Obama’s Asian trip we recommend:

www.ft.com/obamainasia 

www.ft.com/rachmanblog

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 24th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Friends,

I can hardly believe my eyes.

16 hours ago, citizens in New Zealand gathered before dawn next to a wind turbine on a mountaintop. As local elders said prayers to bless the global event, banners and signs were held high to to greet the planet’s first rays of sunlight on this most incredible of days. 

As the sun continues across the planet we’ve been receiving photos and video of rallies in Ethiopia, bike rides in Wellington, SCUBA divers in Australia, organizers planting 350 trees in Thailand, hundreds of students marching in India and Nepal and Mongolia. And we’re getting reports from 350.org offices around the world that the phones are ringing off the hook with calls from the media who want to cover the story.

The day is just beginning and already it’s larger, more powerful, and so much more beautiful than I ever could have imagined. I’ve been a writer my entire life and yet words truly cannot describe what you have accomplished already. To truly grasp today, please stay tuned to our website as more and more photos come in from across the planet, and especially our evolving photo slideshow.

And the best news of all? The day has just begun!

Bill

P.S. Have a photo to contribute?  Just send a decent-quality picture to  photos@350.organd make the subject “City, Country” and make sure that the body of the e-mail contains a description of the photo, any necessary photographer credits, and any other information you think we’ll need. So many thanks.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 12th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

From:  jaiganesh09 at gmail.com
Subject: 2nd Regional Training Course on Climate Risk Management: Science, Institutions, and Society
Date: September 9, 2008

2nd Regional Training Course on Climate Risk Management: Science, Institutions, and Society.

Greetings from ADPC!

The Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) will offer the Second Regional Training Course on Climate Risk Management: Science, Institutions, and Society from 17 to 28 November 2008 in Bangkok, Thailand. The course aims to build the capacity of professionals to manage risks associated with climate variability, change, and extremes. It builds upon ADPC’s two decades of experience in disaster management, facilitating regional cooperation and building capacities of disaster management institutions, disaster management practitioners, and communities, and a decade of experience in institutionalizing climate information applications for disaster mitigation. It incorporates case studies and sectoral examples from climate risk management programs and projects all over Asia.

Upon completing the course, participants will be able to:

1) design early warning systems for climate-related risks;

2) design climate risk management, climate forecast applications, and climate change adaptation projects, and

3) develop tools to integrate climate risk management practices into development programs and policies.

The first CRM course offering was completed in May 2008 with 27 participants from 14 countries. For more details, please check out the course brochure at www.adpc.net/v2007/Downloads/2008…. Please contact me ( jaiganeshm at adpc.net) or my colleague Ms.Kareff Rafisura ( kareff at adpc.net) if you have any questions.

Jaiganesh Murugesan
Disaster Reduction Specialist
Climate Risk Management / Early Warning Systems
Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC)
979/66-70, 24th Floor
SM Tower, Paholyothin Road , Samsen Nai, Phayathai,
Bangkok, 10400
Thailand
Tel : (66-2) 298 0682-92 (Ext-205 )
Fax : (66-2) 298 0012-13
URL: www.adpc.net

Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning Center
P.O. Box 4, Klong Luang,
Pathumthani, 12120
Thailand
Tel : 02-5165900-03
Fax : 02-5245350,60

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 30th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

From:  UNDP-newsroom at undp.org

Corruption Hits Poor the Hardest.

UNDP Report Examines Priority Areas for Tackling Corruption in Asia-Pacific

Jakarta, Indonesia, 12 June 2008—Cleaning up the police, health, education and environment sectors should be a top political priority in the Asia-Pacific region, in order to loosen the stranglehold of corruption on the lives of the poor, according to a new United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report released here today.

The Report, entitled Tackling Corruption, Transforming Lives, vividly illustrates how the region’s pervasive ‘petty’ corruption smothers opportunities for the most vulnerable people, limiting their access to education and compromising basic health services. It also provides innovative ways in which communities and governments are striving to fight corruption in Asia, including Indonesia.

The Report was launched by the President of Indonesia, His Excellency Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP Director of the Bureau for Policy Development, Olav Kjørven, and the Minister of Development Planning, His Excellency Paskah Suzetta.

The publication quotes President Yudhoyono shortly after his election in 2004: “The eradication of corruption will be my priority over the next five years. We have to eradicate it structurally and culturally…This country will be destroyed if we do not stop the growth of corruption. There needs to be some shock therapy so that the people know that this government is serious about corruption.”

Tackling Corruption, Transforming Lives stresses that while anti-corruption efforts too often focus on exposing the ‘big fish’, it is ‘small fry’ corruption —from the salaries of fictitious ‘ghost teachers’ funnelled into the pockets of corrupt officials, to doctors demanding cash payments from poor, pregnant women to deliver their babies, which causes more day-to-day suffering and could severely hamper the Region’s goal of achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)— the eight internationally-agreed targets aimed at halving poverty by 2015.

“Hauling the rich and powerful before the courts may grab the headlines, but the poor will benefit more from efforts to eliminate the corruption that plagues their everyday lives,” says Anuradha Rajivan, Head of the UNDP Regional Human Development Report Unit. “Petty corruption is a misnomer. Dollar amounts may be relatively small but the demands are incessant, the number of people affected is enormous and the share of poor people’s income diverted to corruption is high,” she said.

“Corruption does not grease the wheels; it is a spanner in the works,” says Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, the Head of the Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Agency for Aceh and Nias, Indonesia in the Report. Teten Masduki, the head of Indonesia Corruption Watch calls “for a grand coalition between government and non-government reform forces” to fight corruption in bureaucracy and formal politics in his contribution to the publication.

The Report stresses that combating corruption makes more political sense now than ever before, especially in sectors like water and electricity, health and education, as it “not only confers credibility to the government, it also greatly promotes everyday citizen satisfaction.” With that in mind, the Report proposes a menu of options for political leaders in the Region to consider.

Justice for sale

In Asia-Pacific, politicians are seen as the most corrupt group in government followed by the police, with the judiciary running a close third. Nearly one in five people claim to have paid a bribe to police during the previous year in the Asia-Pacific region. Only a quarter of crimes are ever reported in Asia, according to Tackling Corruption, Transforming Lives. In various Asia-Pacific countries, when victims were asked why they did not report a crime, between one third and three quarters cited lack of trust in the police as a reason. Justice too has a price, and two-thirds of the Asian population considers the courts to be corrupt, note the authors.

Greed vs. need in social services
Putting greed over need in corrupt health care systems diverts funds from immunization programmes, and adds to the millions of children who die in the region each year as a result of diarrhoea and disease caused by unclean water and poor sanitation.

Giving bribes for admission to a hospital —or for new mothers even to see their babies in a maternity ward— is common in South Asia. “One survey of Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka found that health workers often demanded bribes for admission to hospital, to provide a bed, or to give subsidized medications,” says the Report.

At the same time, up to one-third of drugs supplied in some countries of the region may be expired or counterfeit and the poor often shoulder a significant burden to buy bandages or syringes when hospitals run short of supplies.

“Some cross-national studies have indeed suggested that in countries where levels of corruption are higher, some health inputs such as immunization are lower,” says the Report. According to a global study, child mortality could be halved with a two-point increase in the World Bank’s Control of Corruption Index.

In education, the Report shows that higher levels of corruption are correlated with fewer children attending schools and higher dropout and illiteracy rates, blocking key routes out of poverty. An extreme type of education corruption is found in ‘ghost teachers’ who may be on a payroll but never set foot in a classroom. Even ‘ghost schools’ exist.

Meanwhile, extending water, sanitation and electricity coverage is expensive, requiring large-scale investments in infrastructure —yet up to 40 percent of this is being dissipated through bid rigging and other corruption, the Report said. The poor have no choice but to pay ‘speed money’ just to get a utility connection. One survey in Bangladesh found that 60 percent of urban households either paid money or exerted influence to get water connections.

Natural resources up for grabs
The vast tropical forests, extensive mineral deposits and fertile agricultural lands of many Asian-Pacific countries should serve as a firm basis for economic and human development, says Tackling Corruption, Transforming Lives, but too often their potential is drained away through corruption. The sheer volume of profit to be made through shady or illegal handling of natural resources means that corruption in this field often amounts to ‘state capture,’ where private companies pay public officials to shape laws, policies and regulations to their advantage.

In Indonesia, less than one-fourth of total logging operations, estimated at US$6.6 billion, is legal. Informal payments and bribes related to logging are estimated at over $1 billion annually.

Illegal logging, like other corrupt natural resources management practices, is particularly damaging for the poorest communities, explains the Report. For example, small farmers and indigenous people are driven into poverty as a result of illegal land expropriations and the exhaustion of natural resources, and local communities are left to suffer the health effects of toxic waste from mining illegally dumped into nearby rivers.

Keeping them honest
Innovative communities are now hitting back at corruption levels in the region, shows the Report. For example, in some schools in Indonesia, corruption in the management of funds has been minimized by involving parent’s associations, which decide on the use of these funds and monitor them to ensure they reach their intended destination. School officials meet with representatives of the parents’ association at the beginning of the school year to agree on an annual plan. During the year they provide them with detailed accounting of expenditures.

In the rural, one-teacher schools of the region of Rajasthan, India, where teacher absentee rates have topped 40 percent, a local non-governmental organization came up with a novel solution that required teachers to take a photo of themselves with the students at the beginning and end of each day using cameras with tamper-proof date and time functions in order to get their maximum salary. As a result, the number of days that children were actually taught each month increased by one third.

In Cambodia, the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority made the decision to become transparent and to pay its staff based on their performance. Between 1999 and 2006, access to water in the city was transformed, jumping from 25 percent to 90 percent, while the number of household connections for the poorest people in the city rose from 100 to more than 13,000, the Report said.

At the national level, putting the right anti-corruption legislation in place —and enforcing it— has also produced success stories. In China, for example, a law was introduced in 2006 stipulating that staff members of schools and hospitals would face criminal penalties for seeking bribes or receiving kickbacks. The former Commissioner of the State Food and Drug Administration was subsequently convicted on charges of accepting more than $850,000 in bribes.

Call to an Agenda for Action
The Report argues that no single answer to the problem of corruption exists, but that a number of options are common across most countries in the region:

· Raising salaries for doctors, teachers and other civil servants so they do not have to rely on bribes to make a living; making civil service posts more merit-based; and strengthening oversight mechanisms by local governments (bureaucracy reform)
· Encouraging business codes of conduct that fit international standards
· Enacting and implementing the right to information laws
· Using information technology and e-governance to make administration more transparent
· Supporting citizen action to combat corruption by mandating that local governments publish basic information on contracts to facilitate citizen auditing

Since 2006, Asia-Pacific Human Development Reports have evolved into a regular series. Reports provide continuing analyses of critical development issues relevant at both the regional and country levels. The Asia-Pacific Human Development Report Series offers the region a forum for furthering dialogues and structuring debates to support a pro-poor agenda.

For further information, please contact:

Jakarta:
Surekha Subarwal, email:  surekha.subarwal at undp.org; mobile: (91 98) 1015 3924

Nina Doyle, email:  nina.doyle at undp.org; mobile: +62 (0)812 105 2796

Regi Wahono, email:  regi.wahono at undp.org; mobile: +62 (0)817 9900712

New York:
Cassandra Waldon; email:  cassandra.waldon at undp.org; telephone: +1 212 906 6499, or UNDP Newsroom; email:  undp-newsroom at undp.org; telephone: +1 212 906 5382.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is the UN’s global development network, advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build better lives. UNDP works in 37 countries in Asia-Pacific. For more information, please visit www.undp.org

—————–
The UNDP Washington Bulletin is a regular update of UNDP activities and events by the Washington Office.     June 2008 issue.

Tackling Corruption in the Asia-Pacific region:
New UNDP report examines priority areas, shares innovations, makes recommendations

A regional UNDP Human Development Report released this month argues that cleaning up the police, health, education and environment sectors should be a top political priority in the Asia-Pacific region in order to loosen the stranglehold of corruption on the lives of the poor.

The report was launched on June 12th in Jakarta by the President of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono; UN Assistant Secretary General and UNDP Director of the Bureau for Policy Development, Olav Kjørvan; and the Indonesian Minister of Development Planning, Paskah Suzetta.

Tackling Corruption, Transforming Lives illustrates how the region’s pervasive petty corruption smothers opportunities for the most vulnerable people, limiting their access to education and compromising basic health services. The report stresses that while anti-corruption efforts too often focus on exposing the ‘big fish’, it is ‘small fry’ corruption—from the salaries of fictitious ‘ghost teachers’ funneled into the pockets of corrupt officials, to doctors demanding cash payments from poor, pregnant women to deliver their babies—which causes more day-to-day suffering and could severely hamper the region’s development.

Agenda for action:
The report argues that no single answer to the problem of corruption exists, but that a number of options are common across most countries in the region:
·                 Raising salaries for doctors, teachers and other civil servants so they do not have to rely on bribes to make a living; making civil service posts more merit-based; and strengthening oversight mechanisms by local governments
·                 Encouraging business codes of conduct that fit international standards
·                 Enacting and implementing the right to information laws
·                 Using information technology and e-governance to make administration more transparent
·                 Supporting citizen action to combat corruption by mandating that local governments publish basic information on contracts to facilitate citizen auditing.

To download the report, click here.   www.undprcc.lk/ext/crhdr/Download…

UNDP Anti-Corruption Public Service Announcements:

The UNDP Regional Centre in Bangkok has produced a 30-second Public Service Announcement on anti-corruption, called Vanishing. It was produced for television broadcast on national, regional and international networks. Its simple message illustrates how corruption affects everyone – local communities, schools, hospitals, villages.

Another 30-second Public Service Announcement, also on corruption, is an animation called Cutting Corruption. This UNDP Regional Centre in Bangkok TV production shows that corruption eats away at your future and warns its audience not to be a part of it.

 regionalcentrebangkok.undp.or.th/…

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

World Economic Forum: “Dire Situations Call for Bold Measures.”

The World Economic Forum on East Asia wrapped up this week with Ahn Ho-Young, South Korea’s Deput   Minister for Trade, saying it was dominated by “the three F’s”: food, fuel and finance.

A forum survey of the 55 business leaders who attended the two-day meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, showed that an overwhelming 81% voted for “addressing growing global concern over environmental challenges such as climate change and water” as the top issue facing Asia.

Also of concern were “preventing political and economic instability linked to rising food and energy prices” and “managing the social, environmental and infrastructural implications of rapid urbanization.”
The survey also revealed that the price of rice had more than tripled in Thailand since January. During the same time, diesel prices have risen over 26% in Vietnam.
Water is another issue rising to the fore, with Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, Chairman of the Board, Nestle, Switzerland, repeating his dire warning: “We will be running out of water long before we run out of oil.”

He lamented that more of the world’s GDP was not being allocated to water: “One out of every five children is dying every 20 seconds because we haven’t been able to solve the problem of clean water today.”


Mr. Ho-Young (South Korea)   urged Asia to do three things: “First, it is important for Asian countries to maintain their open market policies which will enable us to maintain the momentum of economic growth,” he said. Second, he urged Asian countries to pay more attention to the economic and social impacts imposed by the global economic uncertainties. Third, “Asian countries should and must play a more active role in solving global issues,” he said (Xinhua).

In his opening remarks, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah bin Ahmad Badawi referred to fundamental questions, primary assumptions, and revered assumptions, that had to be reviewed and re-evaluated. “Unless we are prepared to address these questions sincerely and take necessary remedial measures,” he said, “our economies and the livelihood of hundreds of millions of people will continue to be vulnerable. Dire situations call for bold measures” (The Toronto Star).

East Asia (generally consisting of Japan, North and South Korea, China, Taiwan, with Vietnam and Singapore) has come to the realization that it is now in a position to react positively, with the best interests of the region in mind, to the world’s economic challenges.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 23rd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

UN MEETING EXPLORES HOW TO BOOST ECONOMIES OF LANDLOCKED DEVELOPED COUNTRIES

Experts from Asia and Europe have gathered at a United Nations-backed meeting which opened today in Bangkok to discuss progress made in efforts to link landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) in the Asia-Pacific region to sea ports.

The two-day talks will centre around assessing developments since the adoption of the UN’s Almaty Programme of Action in 2003, which is the first global action plan negotiated at the ministerial level that provides a framework for cooperation between landlocked and the transit access developing countries, promising reductions in red tape and transportation costs and time.

The meeting has been organized by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), along with the UN Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) and the UN Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS).

Presentations will be made by LLDC Member States of ESCAP – Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bhutan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Mongolia, Nepal, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – and by transit countries, including China, Iran and Russia.



Also kicking off in Bangkok today is a meeting of 40 representatives from the Asia-Pacific region to confer on how to boost employment in the Pacific islands.

The Special Body on Pacific Island Developing Countries of ESCAP meets every two years, and the current gathering will take place from 22-23 April.

Participants will talk about policies – including transport infrastructure and promoting entrepreneurship and private sector growth – to spur economic growth, which is key in creating jobs.

They will also discuss how the UN can support efforts towards sustainable development in the region.

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POOREST COUNTRIES HAVE YET TO BENEFIT FROM TRADE LIBERALIZATION – UN OFFICIAL

Landlocked and least developed countries (LDCs) have been further marginalized as a result of trade liberalization, which has led to increased growth in many parts of the world, a senior United Nations official has said.

Addressing the 12th UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), taking place in Accra, Ghana, Cheick Sidi Diarra lamented the fact that many of these countries have experienced a further loss of their market share as a result of trade liberalization.

Mr. Diarra, the UN’s High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, noted that globalization, which is supposed to lead to economic growth and reduce poverty, has served to deepen the disparities between and within countries.

To further integrate LDCs into the world economy, he called for domestic policies that support technological progress and innovation, as well as employment creation and upgrading of physical infrastructure. This must be accompanied by the creation of an enabling global environment, he added.

Landlocked developing countries are particularly marginalized in the international trading system, Mr. Diarra pointed out, owing to their remoteness from major world markets and excessive transit transport costs.

The High Representative said that addressing this situation requires the establishment of viable transit transport systems and the building up of export capacity.

He also expressed support for the Aid-for-Trade (AFT) initiative – launched at the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) 2005 Hong Kong Ministerial Conference – which aims to scale up international financial assistance for building up trade capacity in developing countries.

Mr. Diarra hoped the Accra gathering would help focus attention on the urgent need for greater support for the LDCs and landlocked developing countries in the area of international trade.


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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 21st, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The Ohel Ayalah Community led by conservative Rabbi Judith Hauptman, a Professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, held this year’s Passover Seder in the Banquet Hall of the First Presbyterian Church in the Village -on Fifth Avenue at West 12t Street.       The Haggadah that was used was “The Lively Seder Haggadah” by Dr. David Arnow that combines the traditional text with a look at our world today. The real world intruded into the deliberations at this Seder more then at the UN. Participation was by tables. There were 17 tables with the full house I estimated at over 150 people.

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BUT SLAVERY IS STILL A REALITY TODAY:

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And Just Look At a Story out of Sudan:

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FOR THE THE PART OF THIS SEDER THAT TOUCHED UPON CLIMATE CHANGE – AN INSERT THAT WENT BEYOND THE ARNOW HAGGADAH   – AND SPILLED OVER INTO THE SERVING CUPS AND PLATES –
WE ARE RESERVING   A SEPARATE POSTING.

But, nevertheless, let us point out here that as per added material to the Arnow Haggadah, there were two pages written by Rabbi Jeff Sultar and Julia Porper, that point out that PASSOVER IS ABOUT RENEWAL OF EARTH-LIFE IN THE SPRING – something that in Hebrew is expressed as THE FESTIVAL OF SPRING – CHAG HAAVIV – as well as about the renewing of our freedom from oppression – OPPRESIVE TOP_DOWN POWER (as the insert says).

BOTH ABOVE ISSUES ARE RAISED IN THE DANGERS ENHANCED BY THE GLOBAL CLIMATE CRISIS.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 12th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The Face of a Prophet. Corrected twice by the NYT)

By LOUISE STORY, Published: April 11, 2008.

George Soros will not go quietly. George Soros wants to make a lasting contribution to economic understanding.

Robert Soros, right, never shared the enthusiasm of his father George, for following the markets. Robert is one of five Soros children

At the age of 77, Mr. Soros, one the world’s most successful investors and richest men, leapt out of retirement last summer to safeguard his fortune and legacy. Alarmed by the unfolding crisis in the financial markets, he once again began trading for his giant hedge fund — and won big while so many others lost.

Mr. Soros has always been a controversial figure. But he is becoming more so with a new, dire forecast for the world economy. Last week he rushed out a book, his 10th, warning that the financial pain has only just begun. { There is no book out yet but the electronic version is available and www.SustainabiliTank.info wrote about this as reseived from George Soros see under April 4, 2008 www.sustainabilitank.info/2008/04…}

(this just shows that non conventional media gets the news out – sometimes – well ahead of the need-your-agreement-first old style media}
“I consider this the biggest financial crisis of my lifetime,” Mr. Soros said during an interview Monday in his office overlooking Central Park. A “superbubble” that has been swelling for a quarter of a century is finally bursting, he said.

{and above we had already from his first “coming out” this year –         www.sustainabilitank.info/2008/01….

Soros, whose daring, controversial trades came to symbolize global capitalism in the 1990s, is now busy promoting his book, “The New Paradigm for Financial Markets,” which goes on sale mid-May. An electronic version is already available online.

And yet this is not the first time that Mr. Soros has prophesied doom. In 1998, he published a book predicting a global economic collapse that never came.

Mr. Soros thinks that this time he is right. Now in his eighth decade, he yearns to be remembered not only as a great trader but also as a great thinker. The market theory he has promoted for two decades and espoused most of his life — something he calls “reflexivity” — is still dismissed by many economists. The idea is that people’s biases and actions can affect the direction of the underlying economy, undermining the conventional theory that markets tend toward some sort of equilibrium.

Mr. Soros said all aspects of his life — finance, philanthropy, even politics — are driven by reflexivity, which has to do with the feedback loop between people’s understanding of reality and their own actions. Society as a whole could learn from his theory, he said. “To make a contribution to our understanding of reality would be my greatest accomplishment,” he said.

Mr. Soros has been worrying about the fragile state of the markets for years. But last summer, at a luncheon at his home in Southampton with 20 prominent financiers, he struck an unusually bearish note.

“The mood of the group was generally gloomy, but George said we were going into a serious recession,” said Byron Wien, the chief investment strategist of Pequot Capital, a hedge fund.

Mr. Soros was one of only two people there who predicted the American economy was headed for a recession, he said.

Shortly after that luncheon Mr. Soros began meeting with hedge fund managers like John Paulson, who was early to predict a crisis in the housing market. He interrogated his portfolio managers and external hedge funds that manage his fund’s money, and he took on new positions to hedge where they might have gone wrong. His last-minute strategies contributed to a 32 percent return — or roughly $4 billion for the year.

The more Mr. Soros learned about the crisis, the more certain he became that he should rebroadcast his theories. In the book, Mr. Soros, a fierce critic of the Bush administration, faults regulators for allowing the buildup of the housing and mortgage bubbles. He envisions a time, not so distant, when the dollar is no longer the world’s main currency and people will have a harder time borrowing money.

Mr. Soros hopes his theories will finally win the respect he craves. But, ever the trader, he hedges his bets. “I may well be proven wrong,” he said. “I would say that I’m the boy who cried wolf three times.”

Many of the people Mr. Soros wants to influence may view him with skepticism, in part because of how he made his fortune. In 1992, his fund famously bet against the British pound and helped force the British government to devalue the currency. Five years later, he bet — correctly — that Thailand would be forced to devalue its currency, the baht. The resulting bitterness toward him among Thais was such that Mr. Soros canceled a trip to the country in 2001, fearing for his safety.

Asked if it bothers him that people accuse him of causing economic pain, his blue eyes dart around the room. “Yes, it does, actually yes,” he said.

Asked if those people are right to blame him, he says, “Well no, not entirely.”

No single investor can move a currency, he said. “Markets move currencies, so what happened with the British pound would have happened whether I was born or not, so therefore I take no responsibility.”

Mr. Soros, came of age in Nazi-occupied Hungary and has for decades longed to write a masterpiece that might put him among thinkers like Hegel or Keynes, said Michael T. Kaufman, who wrote a book about Mr. Soros. “He spent years writing papers and letters to people, but everyone ignored him,” Mr. Kaufman said.

But when Mr. Soros became rich, people began listening. He also started giving large sums to charities, and in Eastern Europe, as the Soviet Union crumbled, he distributed copy machines to encourage free speech in his native Hungary. So generous was Mr. Soros with his money that “Sorosovat” became a new verb in Russian, loosely meaning to apply for a grant.

He continues to be one of the top givers to charities around the world, and has given more than $5 billion away through his foundations.

Yet even Mr. Soros acknowledges that many economists still slight his theories.

“I am known as a hedge fund manager and I am known as a philanthropist, and it’s very hard for, say, academics to accept that a hedge fund manager may actually have something to say about economics,” Mr. Soros said. “So that has been difficult for me to overcome.”

But Joseph E. Stiglitz, a professor at Columbia who won the Nobel for economics in 2001, said Mr. Soros might still meet success. “With a slightly different vocabulary these ideas, I think, are going to become more and more part of the center,” said Mr. Stiglitz, a longtime friend of Mr. Soros.

Mr. Soros’s firm, Soros Fund Management, has been through several turbulent years. Stanley Druckenmiller, his longtime No. 2, left in 2000, in part because he was tired of the constant media attention Mr. Soros attracted. (Mr. Soros credits Mr. Druckenmiller for the winning gamble on the British pound, saying he added the encouragement to bet more money on the trade.)

Several outside investors also left, and Mr. Soros overhauled the company as more of a wealth management tool for his own family and related charities. Mr. Soros said in 2000 that he no longer desired returns like the 30.5 percent his fund returned on average, after management fees, from 1969 to 2000.



In 2004, Mr. Soros tapped his oldest son, Robert, to become the chief investment officer, despite Robert’s reluctance.

At that time, Mr. Soros, was busy trying to turn public opinion against President Bush. He donated $27 million to anti-Bush organizations and traveled the country speaking out against the president. This time around, he is less involved. He endorsed Senator Barack Obama but kept his distance from the campaign trail.

Robert Soros, 44, who once claimed his father based his trades not on grand theories like reflexivity but rather on his back pain, never shared his father’s enthusiasm for the markets. “When you’re a billionaire’s son, you’re less hungry than when you’re a Hungarian immigrant,” one former Soros Fund Management executive said.
Even so, the Soros fund performed well under the younger Soros, and as recently as last June, it was up 10 percent for the year, according to a letter to investors. At the end of July, Robert stepped down from his head investment role, just before his father returned to trading. Robert and his brother Jonathan remain deputy co-chairmen, under their father, the chairman of the fund.

This week, Mr. Wien illustrated the knack of Mr. Soros for timing with an old story. In 1995, Mr. Soros asked Mr. Wien why he bothered going to work every day. Why not go to work only on days when there is something to do?

“I said, ‘George, one of the differences between you and me is you know when those days are, and I don’t,'” Mr. Wien said.

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