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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 1st, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Margo LaZaro posted this message on Basecamp.
Hi Laura, I’m happy to contribute to supporting Basecamp – count me in & thanks for all that you and your group have done t foundation support for our work.  Happy Holidays to you and everyone, Margo

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 19th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


U.S. Bilateral Relations Fact Sheets: Bhutan
07/19/2013

U.S. Relations With Bhutan

Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs
Fact Sheet
July 15, 2013

More information about Bhutan is available on the Bhutan Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.

U.S.-BHUTAN RELATIONS – NO FORMAL RELATIONS BUT CORDIAL NEVERTHELESS!

The US Department of State Press Release says:


Bhutan became a member of the United Nations in 1971. Bhutan does not have diplomatic relations with any of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, including the United States. Although Bhutan and the United States have never established formal diplomatic relations, the two countries maintain warm, informal relations via the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India, and Bhutan’s Mission to the United Nations in New York. The U.S. has no significant trade relations with the country.

Bhutan participates in the South Asia Regional Initiative for Energy Integration (SARI/EI), a program sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) that helps countries increase energy security through cross-border trade, clean energy access, and improved energy market practices.

USAID also funds a new program, implemented by the International Republican Institute (IRI), to strengthen newly elected parliamentarians’ understanding of their roles and responsibilities and help build a culture of civic engagement among Bhutan’s citizens that continues beyond the election cycle.

Bhutan also receives USAID-supported training on a range of disaster management topics. A few Bhutanese military officers have attended courses at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies.

The U.S. Government annually brings several Bhutanese participants to the United States through its International Visitors, Humphrey Fellows, and Fulbright Programs.


Bhutan’s Membership in International Organizations:

Bhutan and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and the Asian Development Bank.


Bilateral Representation:

The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi has consular responsibilities for Bhutan and maintains frequent and friendly communications with the Bhutanese Embassy in New Delhi. A consular officer periodically visits Bhutan to renew passports, provide notarial services, and take applications for Consular Reports of Birth Abroad. The U.S. Ambassador to India is Nancy J. Powell; other principal embassy officials are listed in the Department’s Key Officers List.

More information about Bhutan is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:
 www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/35839.h…

The following links can be found there.

Department of State Bhutan Page
CIA World Factbook Bhutan Page
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
Country Studies
Travel and Business Information

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 29th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Op-Ed Contributor of the New York Times

Bhutan Is No Shangri-La
By VIDHYAPATI MISHRA

Published: June 28, 2013

DAMAK, Nepal — BEFORE my family was expelled from Bhutan, in 1992, I lived with my parents and seven siblings in the south of the country. This region is the most fertile part of that tiny kingdom perched between Tibet and India, a tapestry of mountains, plains and alpine meadows. Our house sat in a small village, on terraced land flourishing with maize, millet and buckwheat, a cardamom garden, beehives and enough pasture for cows, oxen, sheep and buffaloes. That was the only home we had known.

After tightening its citizenship laws in the mid-1980s, Bhutan conducted a special census in the south and then proceeded to cast out nearly 100,000 people — about one-sixth of its population, nearly all of them of Nepalese origin, including my family. It declared us illegal immigrants, even though many of us went back several generations in Bhutan. It hasn’t let any of us move back.

The enormity of this exodus, one of the world’s largest by proportion, given the country’s small population, has been overlooked by an international community that is either indifferent or beguiled by the government-sponsored images of Bhutan as a serene Buddhist Shangri-La, an image advanced by the policy of “gross national happiness,” coined by King Jigme Singye Wangchuck in the 1970s.

Bhutan even helped inspire the United Nations last year to declare March 20 the International Day of Happiness — a cruel irony to those of us who were made stateless by the king, who was an absolute monarch when we were expelled.

Many of our ancestors were recruited from Nepal in the mid-19th century to cultivate the arable land of southern Bhutan. We are known as Lhotshampa — literally, people of the south. The Drukpas, the Buddhist elite, and the Hindu Lhotshampa had coexisted, largely in peace, until 1989, when the king introduced a “One Nation, One People” policy imposing Drukpa social norms on everyone. The edict controlled the smallest details of our public lives: how we ate, dressed and talked. The Nepali language was banned in schools, and Hindu pathshalas, or seminaries, which teach the Sanskrit scriptures, were closed.

Protests demanding an end to the absolute monarchy and persecution of the Lhotshampa beginning in summer 1990 were quashed, and repression — including torture, sexual assault, evictions and discriminatory firing — intensified. As part of the government’s campaign of intimidation in the south, my school was suddenly closed. That day, the headmaster summoned us to an assembly, announced that we were to collect our belongings and told us to go home at once. I passed my final months in Bhutan not completing the fourth grade, but helping to rear our animals.

One winter day in 1991, my mother was in the kitchen, my father was shaving and my siblings and I were gathered for snacks. It must have been noon — I remember the buzzing of bees leaving for their routine forage — when uniformed officers burst into the house and seized our citizenship documents, birth certificates and other papers. They accused my father of waging war against the government. They ordered him to put on his bakkhu, the Drukpa national outfit, which was still wet from the wash that morning, and then dragged him out, kicking him and slapping his face. He was taken with dozens of our neighbors to a high school that had been converted to a military camp.

My father was held for 91 days in a small, dank cell. They pressed him down with heavy logs, pierced his fingers with needles, served him urine instead of water, forced him to chop firewood all day with no food. Sometimes, they burned dried chilies in his cell just to make breathing unbearable. He agreed eventually to sign what were called voluntary migration forms and was given a week to leave the country our family had inhabited for four generations.

Not knowing when we’d be back, we set our animals free and left open the doors and windows of the house. We walked in spring showers to the border with India, through forest and valleys. At the border, the Indians, who wanted nothing to do with us, piled us into trucks and dumped us at the doorstep of Nepal.

We were among the 90,000 Bhutanese refugees who flooded shelters in eastern Nepal at that time. The population grew to more than 115,000, as people kept trickling in and children were born. My parents, a brother and I have called these shelters our home for 21 years.

The original seven refugee camps have shrunk to two, but almost 36,000 people continue to live in misery here. More than 80,000 have been resettled in other countries; 68,000, including my wife, most of my siblings and extended family, have moved to the United States. I expect to be able to join them very soon.

Helping us, though, is not the same as helping our cause: every refugee who is resettled eases the pressure on the Bhutanese government to take responsibility for, and eventually welcome back, the population it displaced.

Bhutan became a constitutional monarchy in 2008, two years after King Jigme Singye Wangchuck abdicated the throne to his eldest son. To live up to its promises of democracy and its reputation as a purveyor of happiness, the government must extend full civil rights — including citizenship and the right to vote — to all of the Lhotshampa still in its borders. It also must allow those Lhotshampa it expelled to return.

Instead, Bhutan has steadfastly ignored our demands; multiple rounds of talks between Bhutan and Nepal over the status of the Lhotshampa have yielded little progress.

The international community can no longer turn a blind eye to this calamity. The United Nations must insist that Bhutan, a member state, honor its convention on refugees, including respecting our right to return.

Other countries bear responsibility, too. Nepal, impoverished and internally divided, is already home to large numbers of Tibetan refugees and other stateless peoples, and has not welcomed the Lhotshampa, even though we share an ancestry. Nor has it adequately sought help from other countries to manage its refugee problem. India should use its influence to pressure Bhutan to do the right thing; it should then reopen the roads it created to accommodate the exodus of refugees — but this time to allow our safe return.

But until the world looks behind the veil of the Shangri-La, I have no hope of retracing my path home.

———————

Vidhyapati Mishra is the managing editor of Bhutan News Service, a news service for Bhutanese refugees. He wrote this essay from the Beldangi II refugee camp.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 14th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

 

Transforming the Global Economic Paradigm ASAP.

 

 

Rachel’s Network “Green Leaves
Spring Newsletter 2013
Advisor Spotlight 

 

We all  know well the challenges facing us. From reversing ecological and economic collapses to meeting the development needs of seven billion (and growing) residents of our planet, we’ve got our work cut out for us.

 

But what can one person—or one organization—do?

 

A lot.

 

Join me on an adventure to transform the global economic paradigm.

 

Nations, companies, and NGOs are all seeking a new global agenda. Many of these groups are now coalescing around the United Nations’ work to replace the Millennium Development Goals—the targets set back in 2004 for poverty reduction—that expire in 2015.

 

I’ve been asked by the King of the tiny Kingdom of Bhutan to help the world shift its development model away from the current approach of increasing the throughput of stuff and money through the economy (as measured by gross national product) to an agenda of increasing human well-being, measured as “gross national happiness.” I’m part of an International Expert Working Group, convened by the King to set forth the intellectual architecture for this new paradigm.

 

Where do you come in? The Expert Group has created the Alliance for Sustainability and Prosperity, or ASAP for short, to convene the expertise needed to bring genuine prosperity and well-being to everyone on the planet.

 

ASAP seeks your ideas. The world needs help and its leaders are asking for your answers.

 

How do we encourage governments, companies, and an economy obsessed with measuring and growing gross national product to shift to maximizing total well-being? For example, a divorcing cancer patient who gets in a car wreck has added to the GNP. Is she any better off? Clearly not. If you stay home to care for your children you add nothing to the GNP, but have contributed significantly of your family’s welfare, and to a healthier society.

 

Humankind has all of the technologies needed to solve the crises facing us.

 

Why aren’t we using them? How do we overcome the gridlock of governments, and inspire the best of the private sector to take more of a leadership role?

 

Explore the ASAP site at www.asap4all.org. The “Articles” section provides pieces written by ASAP members. See, in particular, “Building a Sustainable and Desirable Economy-in-Society-in-Nature,” with lead author Robert Costanza.

 

The “Public Forum” invites your best thinking. ASAP experts have been  working on this for over three decades.

 

But the state of the world today is a testament to the fact that we can’t do it alone. The radical utopian forecast is that we can sustain business as usual. It’s not going to be like that.

 

What sort of future do you want to see for the world? How do you think we can achieve it? What is already working that should be replicated more broadly? That has to be fixed? And what’s the purpose of the economy that we’re all a part of? Do we exist to serve it, or can we transform it, instead, to serve us?

 

If you have a good idea, but no clue how to achieve it, submit it—maybe another of you has the answer you’re seeking.
ALL of us are smarter than any of us.

 

We believe that it is possible to transform the global economy into one that delivers greater human well-being and happiness, while nestling gracefully into the larger ecosystem that sustains all life. Indeed, doing this is key to ending the global economic crisis. We can’t achieve one without doing the other.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 31st, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 
 timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india…

SHIMLA: To study the impact of global warming on melting of glaciers and environment in general, the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) has decided to set up an observatory at Kothi near the 13,050-feet-high Rohtang Pass.

Scientists would be studying the behavior of aerosols, glaciers and back carbon aerosols at the poplar mountain tourist spot. With thousands of vehicles passing through Rohtang, especially during peak tourist season, on a daily basis, the white snow cover turns black due to carbon emission from vehicles. Increased quantity of black carbon aerosols in the atmosphere is absorbing more heat, due to which incoming solar radiation is being absorbed more and not reflected accordingly, resulting into faster melting of glaciers.

J C Kuniyal, senior scientist at G B Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development, Mohal, who is associated with the project, said that setting up of an observatory would help in collecting data that would be helpful for the preservation of glaciers and to know the rise in temperature due to global warming.

Kuniyal said with the setting up of an observatory at Kothing or Gulaba near Rohtang, study would be done to know how fast the glaciers were melting. He said data collected would also be used to study presence of aerosols in the atmosphere and its relative impact on the environment. He added that villagers would be approached to get the required land to set up the observatory in open space as the project would be carried on for a minimum three-year period.

Apart from setting up an Isro observatory, a weather tower would also be set up at Kothi or Gulaba village to have better weather forecasting and to study the presence of aerosols in atmosphere in connection with climate change. Earlier plans to have a tower near Rohtang failed as villagers had refused to part with their land, after which weather tower was set up at Mohal.

Now another tower would be set up near Rohtang under a Union government project to set up weather towers in the Himalayan region of Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand. As these towers would get energy from solar panels, and collection of data from inaccessible areas would become much easier.

Kuniyal said data collected from the centre would also help the Union government frame environment policies accordingly, besides helping local people and other stakeholders including defence personnel.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 5th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Bhutan wants to be the world’s first 100 percent organic country

By Sarah Laskow

If Bhutan were a person, it would be that friend who somehow manages to eat only superfoods, go to yoga at least three times a week, and still be totally fun to hang out with. Best known for its Gross National Happiness model (on which it scores quite high), the tiny Himalayan country now says it wants also to be the first nation to go 100 percent organic.

That means, according to the AFP, that the country will “phase out artificial chemicals in farming in the next 10 years, making its staple foods of wheat and potatoes, as well as its fruits, 100 percent organic.” The policy will only apply to food grown in the country, and NPR reports that Bhutan imports some of its rice from India, so in theory some Bhutanese people could still be eating rice coated with chemicals. But it’s still a pretty lofty goal.

To be fair, Bhutan’s already most of the way there. Without particularly speedy roads, most farmers don’t have easy access to chemical fertilizers and don’t bother using them.

One of the oft-mentioned objections to organic farming, though, is that it’ll require more land than conventional techniques, and Bhutan doesn’t have much to spare, according to AFP:

Overwhelmingly forested, no more than three percent of the country’s land area is used for growing crops, says Gyamtsho, with the majority of farmers already organic and reliant on rotting leaves or compost as a natural fertiliser.

So it remains to be seen whether Bhutan can pull this off, but we’re betting they’ll be happy about it either way.

Sarah Laskow is a reporter based in New York City who covers environment, energy, and sustainability issues, among other things.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 18th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


On this website we had several postings from Rio and we followed closely the preparations for the Conference, but the following was posted in the Society for International Development (SID) e-book. ebookbrowse.com/pincas-jawetz-pdf…

———–

THE POST RIO+20 NEW ERA AT THE UNITED NATIONS starts with a RIO+20 new attempt to develop a practice of sustainability. The next climate and development game will be played September 2012 on the UN General Assembly court.


This article by Pincas Jawetz, based on a posting on www.SustainabiliTank.info, analyzes the preparations to the Conference, Rio at the time of the June 2012 Conference, and further meetings in Vienna held as part of the 54 International Congress of Americanists (ICA) that involved meetings we were not able to attend in Rio.

Vienna, Austria: July 28, 2012

We picked up at Rio a button that said – “STEP UP AGENDA 21 – RIO+21″ (??) and we wondered if those that issued this button were listening to what was being said in the Conference at large. The honest truth was that AGENDA 21 was not in sight. The reality is that a RIO+21 must indeed be the launching pad of what the UN 67th General Assembly opening Statements of September 18th to October 1st 2012 must be ready to divine – and this might be something different from the outcome of the Rio Conference of 1992. It is therefore of real importance for the Heads of Delegations to prepare for the potential offered at the upcoming UN General Assembly. The “FUTURE WE WANT” MANDATES THE UN SECRETARY GENERAL to start the process at UNGA 67 in order to have proposals ready in place for UNGA 68. Interesting, material that reached us from the UN, does not mention the Commission on Sustainable Development, to be closed and lessons from the CSD to be passed to a new element to result from the deliberations of a Universal Membership High Level Political Forum. The fact that it is passed over in silence means to us that forces at the UN may still hope to undo above Rio decision.


1992 was specially a good year – the break?up of the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, surely to different degrees, and on the other hand, Europe started out on an experiment of unification that emerged from a century of internal warfare, two World Wars, and the Marshall Plan revitalizing its Nation States. UNCED in 1992 seized on the 1987 Brundtland Commission’s Sustainable Development concept, and Maurice Strong, present everywhere, since the 1972 Conference on the Human Environment, was able to maneuver the topic of Sustainability – the concept that bridges between our deeds now, and the needs of future generations, to the point that developing countries
were able to see in their acceptance of the concept a way of obtaining funding for ongoing activities.

All countries never measured up to the responsibility to future generations.

In the US, 1992 was the year of the emergence of strong Democratic leadership in Congress – to the point that Rio saw two separate US delegations – The official delegation, and the Senate delegation with Al Gore and Timothy Wirth holding the reins.

Europe had two delegations ? the one anchored in the freshly signed Maastricht agreement for those countries that will be the first batch of EU member States, and the other group made up of Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Both of these groups were ready to link to the Al Gore US group, and the visions of conference leader Maurice Strong and Minister Klaus Toepfer, working for Germany, in order to shape up at Rio 1992 a UN position on the run.

The BRICS were not yet strongly positioned on the map, and he G77 where ready to accept the idea that money might come their way.

But now in RIO of 2012, Mr. Maurice Strong said that what we need to talk about is DEVELOPING SUSTAINABILITY meaning the understanding that Sustainability is about the future generations rather then development for profit in our times.

There was no RIO+20 Outcome Document. What helped the UN in 2012 was the emergence of UN “TEAM B” – the States of Bhutan and Brazil – to  lead it out of the TOHU VAVOHU in New York and at Rio. The Prime Minister of Bhutan and his aids introduced notions of substance – “Well?Being and Happiness,” while the whole Administration of Brazil, President, Foreign Minister, the Diplomatic frontman and his large staff, taught us the potential of  “Olympic Diplomacy” – a kind of Kissingerian diplomacy to provide something to every participant – so when an agreement is reached pro-forma there was not even a single loser – everyone claimed he had something he won – nobody got in full what he was bargaining for.

The Brazilian “COMMON VISION” when accepted by all UN Member States, was unchanged from the Brazilian paper, then renamed by the UN “The Future We Want” in line of previous releases from the UN. This was not in backing of the “Vision,” but rather in attempt to forget the Vision – and stress from the document the points close to official UN positions. In due time, nevertheless, some Member State will ask the UNSG to act according to the Brazil sponsored Vision, so we do not worry about mailings that we receive and that deviate from above.

In our opinion – it was paragraphs 84-86 of the Brazilian “Our Common Vision” – that became the UN’s “Our Common Future” – that include the essence of the potential of progress starting with the UN General Assembly – September 2012. But it seems that those paragraphs, the reference to Future Generations, and the reevaluation at the UN General Assembly of Sustainable Development, are missing in reporting to home base, in the major Press, and in evaluations by NGOs, as if rewritten from official UN Press releases.

I was at five debriefings held in Vienna – one was “Rio+20: Conference with meaning for Development and Environment?”  The panel included Mr. Werner Raza, Head of the Austrian Research Foundation for International Development OEFSE, Mr. Alexander Egitt, Director of Greenpeace Austria, and Daniel Bacher, Spokesman for the Advocacy for Africa at the DKA – all members of the official Austrian Government delegation to the Rio Conference.

At another debriefing called by Professor Otmar Hoell of the Austrian Institute for International Policy OIIP, Mr. Schoffman, Vienna representative of the Global Compact, and from the floor Dr. Leo Gabriel, an anthropologist and Journalist, added that there was more to Rio then the official meeting. There were agreements in the side events – in the business area and also in the Peoples Sustainability Treaties. Mr. Gabriel spoke of the “La Cupula dos Povos” – the Alternate Meeting at Rio that was apart from the official meeting and involved indigenous people. Then at the other end of the strip, green entrepreneurs displayed sustainable business ideas.

On July 14th there was the last debriefing of this series ? “How do we go on from Rio+20?”? about the campaign against the “Green Economy.”
They pointed at the power of language, and said it needs to be explained  – THE FUTURE WE DO NOT WANT.

These speakers believe that much has happened at RIO+20, but this happened not at the official meeting but at the meetings of the business people. Some of these meetings were neither advertised nor open to non-invited guests.

They believe that a Green Economy is a business concept to give quantified value to nature so it can be monetized and sold as if it were a commodity. They reject the notion that it is supposed to improve human life while achieving an economic shift by resource efficiency and decoupling growth & resource use.

Their argument is that clean air and snow on a mountain are there and must be preserved – period – not because they have a financial value.

They saw in Rio future Commodification of Nature, while on the other hand there were people that came to protest the above. Iara was a coordinator of THE PEOPLE’s SUMMIT – and she told us that the Brazilian government provided some $5 million to help organize their meeting– albeit far away (35 km. away) from the official site of the RioCentro.

Iara Pitricovsky, co-director, the Institute for Socioeconomic Studies in Brazilia, participated in meetings with the UN Secretary-General and told him that it was frustrating to see the limping process. Twenty years ago we were at the top of neo-liberalism and Agenda 21 – we tried to build it and failed. Part of the ideas from the Peoples’ Meeting reached Vienna July 15-20, 2012, with the 54th International Congress of Americanists (ICA) and made it clear – it is more complicated then we are thinking with our old search for development.

At the July 14th debriefing, obviously already part of ICA, Edgardo Lander, Universidad Central de Venezuela and Transnational Institute, Amsterdam, who at the ICA meeting co-chaired with the University of Vienna Ulrich Brand, on Thursday, July 19th the Symposium on Democratization and Transformation Perspectives, spoke on the language issue – new things start with new language. Critical economics started with things that did not take into account externalities, now the issue is this new commodification of nature. We need a defense of the Commons, of Mother Earth ? different from the valorization of everything. Our actions have consequences – the planet has limits – the corporations have concluded that they have to take this into account, translated – green sector will produce greater profits then the brown sector. The World Bank thinks of the value of bees in fertilization of plants to be turned into bonds and sold on the market.

Jutta Kill of Fern UK, picked up at the business meeting she attended the phrase – “WE WILL TREASURE WHAT WE MEASURE” and says that this will be the new mantra of business in the effort to commodify nature. We see also a potential similarity between the Buddhist Bhutan stand and the indigenous people of Latin America. The Prime Minister of Bhutan, Jigmi Yoezer Thinley , with a large entourage of Ministers and Officials held a special meeting with the UNGA, on April 2nd, 2012, on Well Being and Happiness as targets of intent when talking about Sustainability and Sustainable Development.

—–

New alliances are possible – such as between countries, mainly in the poor South, that are already suffering from effects of climate change, and more visionary countries of the North, that have a civil society ready to switch gears in the economy and move to new industries that are less polluting, resources saving and create jobs – a win?win?win situation for all!  But the structure of the UN is itself fossilized, and the RIO+20 Prepcom was frozen.

Led by Foreign Minister Antonio de Aguilar Patriota, a Former Brazil Ambassador to the United States (2007-2009), and chief operational Ambassador Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado, the Undersecretary for Environment, Energy, Science and Technology of the Ministry of External Relations of Brazil – Figueredo Machado with 30 other Ambassadors and Ministers – made sure to speak to everybody who volunteered an opinion, and note the minimums of acceptance in a secret draft.

Brazil, to play it safe, prepared also a second defence-line around the Rio+20 negotiations. I enjoyed in New York the resistance of Ambassador Figueiredo Machado to accept the idea that the meeting should actually be called RIO-20 because of the need, at the end, to come up with a new paradigm to replace the Agenda 21 that nobody was talking about.

BrazilDialogues was the second line of defense organized by Mr. Machado. We have much more on this in our full text. Please read it there. Eventually, a set of recommendations resulted from this second process and they will be attached to the outcome document.

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Repeating what we see as the main point – please follow us to paragraphs 84-86 of the Rio Outcome Document, which have the secondary heading: “HIGH LEVEL POLITICAL FORUM.” We pick only a few most telling points:

# 84. We decide to establish a universal intergovernmental high level political forum, building on the strengths, experiences, resources and inclusive participation modalities of the Commission on Sustainable Development, and subsequently replacing the Commission. The high level political forum shall follow up on the implementation of sustainable development and should avoid overlap with existing structures, bodies and entities in a cost?effective manner.

# 86. We decide to launch an intergovernmental and open, transparent and inclusive negotiation process under the General Assembly to define the high level forum’s format and organizational aspects with the aim of convening the first high level forum at the beginning of the 68th session of the General Assembly. We will also consider the need for promoting intergenerational solidarity for the achievement of sustainable development, taking into account the needs of future generations, including by inviting the Secretary General to present a report on this issue.

What above means is that the UN Secretary Generals is mandated to establish under  UN General Assembly rules, that call for full UN Membership:


(1) a universal inter governmental high level political forum to replace the existing non-functioning Commission on Sustainable Development.

(2) though leaving the term Sustainable Development in place, the above looks at Developing Sustainability instead – this by mandating the UN Secretary General to look at taking into account the needs of future generations — “including by inviting the Secretary General to present a report on this issue.”


The Brazilian Diplomats have accepted the need to consider Sustainability as the bridge to future generations when developing economies for the short sighted benefit of the current generation. Introducing the needs of FUTURE GENERATIONS gives for the first time the UN the sense of ethics required in full understanding of the term SUSTAINABILITY. A “Small Office” of a HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS that could be modeled after the example of the US General Accounting Office (GAO) could answer questions of impact on future generations by any ongoing activity or negotiations at the UN. Other working examples ? Commissioners for future generations were tried by Parliaments of Israel and Hungary.


To summarize – RIO+20 as handled by Brazil – is a door to a new future that is going to rewrite the 1992 decisions that were not followed anyway. As said – it will be rather DEVELOPING SUSTAINABILITY then SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, and in this respect the platform is only being developed, and the eventual funding will be forthcoming with South?South cooperation. We will have to be patient and see the changes taking effect. But this will happen only if governments remind the UN Secretary General of the outcome document’s specific language and ask for his acting accordingly — on he rights of the un-conceived yet — THE FUTURE GENERATIONS.

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Pincas Jawetz is retired from having been an International Consultant on Energy Policy handling Alternate Energy and the NegaWatt. His main residence is now in Vienna Austria. His training was in Chemistry and Physics, International Management, and Business Administration. His experience started from new fossil fuel like oil-shales retorting in Spain (1959) to biofuels in Latin America, the US, and elsewhere as part of agri-policy, later on; then on from solar energy, and efficiency, to issues of Sustainable Development and Climate Change. On those latter topics he was directly involved in the UN International Conferences wearing various hats. As media he reported for Auto Free Times, Culture Change, and at present for www.SustainabiliTank.info

At Rio+20 he headed the delegation of WAFUNIF – The World Association of Former UN Interns and Fellows.

For the Vienna Chapter of the Society for International Development he co?chaired a session on Biomass and Outer Space at the UN Vienna Outer Space Conference UNISPACE-82 ? (a) growth experiments under no gravity conditions and (b) remote sensing for biomass inventory taking. He was also treasurer at the New York section of SID and NGO representative to the UN.

To learn more about SID Vienna activities, how to participate or how to become member of the chapter, please visit the SID Vienna Chapter website at: www.sidvienna.org

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 9th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Woolly mammoths faced extinction between 4,000 and 10,000 years ago. (photo: Unknown)
Woolly mammoths faced extinction between 4,000 and 10,000 years ago. (photo: Unknown)

go to original article

The Sixth Extinction Menaces the Very Foundations of Culture

By Jonathan Jones, Guardian UK

08 September 2012

Human culture is profoundly rooted in nature, yet human activity endangers the survival of entire species of plants and animals.

n a cave in south-west France an extinct animal materialises out of the dark. Drawn in vigorous black lines by an artist in the ice age, a woolly mammoth shakes hairs that hide its face and vaunts slender tusks that reach almost to the ground.

Those tusks were not dangerous enough to save it. As human hunters advanced on its icy haunts, mammoths faced extinction between 4,000 and 10,000 years ago. The end of the ice age did for these shaggy cold-lovers, but humans helped: entire huts built from mammoth tusks and bones have been found.

We didn’t mean to help make the mammoth extinct. The wonderful portrait of a mammoth in Pech Merle cave reveals that early homo sapiens was fascinated by these marvellous creatures. This masterpiece of cave art is as acute as any modern work of naturalist observation. The hunters who painted in caves showed the same passion for the natural world as their descendants do. Their culture must have been bereft when the mammoth vanished – even as they helped it on its way.

In the 21st century the same paradox endures. Human activity endangers entire species, yet human culture is profoundly rooted in nature. The loss of a species is also a loss of the images, stories, symbols and wonders that we live by – to call it a cultural loss may sound too cerebral: what we lose when we lose animals is the very meaning of life. Those first artists in ancient caves portrayed animals far more than they portrayed people. It was in the wild herds around them that the power of the cosmos and the mystery of existence seemed to be located.

No species in modern times embodies that fascination more fully than the tiger, one of today’s most endangered predators. Since the Romantic age tigers have been endowed in art and literature with the marvellous essence of life itself, a primeval power like the enigmatic strangeness the stone age artist saw in a mammoth. “What immortal hand or eye,/ Could frame thy fearful symmetry?” wonders William Blake in his 1794 poem The Tyger. That same childlike awe – Blake’s poem appears in his child’s eye Songs of Innocence and Experience – is shared by Henri Rousseau’s 1891 paintingSurprised! of an archetypal tiger in a fantastic jungle.

These artistic hymns to the tiger are just the noblest expressions of an imagery that pervades modern culture from tigers who come to tea to tigers with neat feet. It just seems unimaginable that a creature so familiar in our shared dreams should vanish from the natural world. Human culture would lose immeasurably from such a disappearance. And what about sharks? More ancient than dinosaurs,under threat for the first time in their mind-bogglingly long history, these creatures feed modern culture some of its darkest folklore. Shark films and scare stories are the modern equivalent of stone age hunters telling tales about bears and wolves around the fire. We fear them, but our culture needs them.

Cute creatures as well as scary ones inspire the stories and myths that humans cannot live without. Amphibians, most threatened animal group of all, are among the most universal stars of culture. While Blake was marvelling at tigers, the Grimms recorded the folk tale of the frog-prince. Long before that Plato said the ancient Greeks were like frogs around a pond. Aristophanes wrote a comedy called The Frogs. American frogs were depicted by the Aztecs as well as providing Amazonian peoples with arrow poison. The very naming of poison dart frogs reveals how deeply they are associated with cultures that are themselves on the brink of extinction.

In Britain too, the amphibious denizens of threatened waterlands have always inspired imaginations. Could our culture survive without Toad of Toad Hall?

Not so long ago British beaches were seasonally covered with “mermaid’s purses”, the eggs of sharks and rays. The name reveals how deeply nature feeds folk culture, in Britain as in the Amazon. Is it possible still to find masses of mermaid’s purses on the Welsh rocks where I used to wonder what they were? I have to look for them with my daughter soon, before it is too late. The range of animals and plants threatened by the sixth extinction - as covered by the Guardian over this fortnight – is such that it menaces the foundations of culture as well as the diversity of nature. We are part of nature and it has always fed our imaginations. We face the bare walls of an empty museum, a gallery of the dead.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 1st, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The original ends with the conventional – Copyright © United Nations 2012, All rights reserved.

WHAT?  NOW THAT IS A STRANGE APPLICATION A COPYRIGHT ATTEMPT!

WE THINK THE UN IS PAID TO PROVIDE THE INFORMATION WE RE-POST HERE, AND NOTHING LIKE A COPYRIGHT COULD APPLY TO THE SERVICE YOU ARE COMPELLED TO PROVIDE  THE WORLD AT LARGE AS MANDATED BY THE MEMBER STATES..

WE HOPE SOMEONE AT THE UN READS WHAT WE SAY HERE. WE ARE QUITE UPSET WITH UN OFFICIALS THAT DO NOT REALIZE THAT THEIR APPOINTMENT IS – TO JUST ANSWER A MANDATE THEY GET FROM THE UN MEMBER STATES.

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Further, looking at what was decided at Rio de Janeiro – and mandated to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for his preparation for the UN 67 General Assembly September 2012 – Paragraphs #84-86 0f the text – “THE FUTURE WE WANT” – it is not just about the MDG’s and Development – but rather about SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT in context of  ”PROMOTING INTERGENERATIONAL SOLIDARITY” and we do not find reference to this in the material released now by the UN Secretariat.

The following material talks of two parallel routes – the Millennium Development Goals that stem from poverty, and a Sustainable Development route that is part of Development targets – albeit creating perhaps a route of future Sustainable Development Goals.   It is imperative for the two to meet so that SDGs come in place after the MDG time has expired. But this is not all – the process as mandated, in our opinion, comes under the larger umbrella of SUSTAINABILITY THAT  VIEWS FUTURE GENERATIONS AS A MAIN PARTICIPANT TO BE CONSIDERED IN WHAT THIS GENERATION DOES.

SIMPLY SAID – WE FIND THAT THE UN SECRETARY-GENERAL’S ANNOUNCEMENT, AS PREPARED BY HIS SECRETARIAT, DOES NOT REFLECT IN FULL WHAT WAS DECIDED BY RIO+20 AND WE HOPE THAT AT LEAST SOME GOVERNMENTS WILL POINT THIS OUT. WE IN EFFECT FIND THIS ANNOUNCEMENT MISLEADING WHEN COMPARED TO THE MANDATE.

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


UNITED NATIONS PRESS RELEASE
Embargoed until 4.30pm EST, 31 July 2012

UN SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS HIGH-LEVEL PANEL ON POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA


Civil society, Private sector and Government leaders named to 26-member advisory Panel


United Nations, New York, 31 July 2012 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today announced the members of a High-level Panel to advise on the global development agenda beyond 2015, the target date for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The Secretary-General has appointed three co-chairs: President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia; President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia; and Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom. The full list of Panel members is available below.

“I have asked my High-level Panel to prepare a bold yet practical development vision to present to Member States next year,” said the UN chief. “I look forward to the Panel’s recommendations on a global post-2015 agenda with shared responsibilities for all countries and with the fight against poverty and sustainable development at its core.”

The Panel will hold its first meeting at the end of September (2012 we assume - ST.info editor) in the margins of the annual high-level debate of the UN General Assembly.  It is expected to submit a report to the Secretary-General in the first half of 2013.

The Panel is part of the Secretary-General’s post-2015 initiative mandated by the 2010 MDG Summit. Member States have called for open, inclusive consultations involving civil society, the private sector, academia and research institutions from all regions, in addition to the UN system, to advance the development agenda beyond 2015.

The work of the Panel will reflect new development challenges while also drawing on experience gained in implementing the MDGs, both in terms of results achieved and areas for improvement.

The Panel’s work will be closely coordinated with that of the intergovernmental working group tasked to design Sustainable Development Goals, as agreed at the Rio +20 conference. The reports of both groups will be submitted to Member States for their further deliberations.

The Secretary-General’s High-level Panel of Eminent Persons
on the Post 2015 Development Agenda

H.E. Mr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of Indonesia
Co-Chair

H.E. Ms. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia
Co-Chair

H.E. Mr. David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Co-Chair

Fulbert Gero Amoussouga (Benin)
Mr. Gero Amoussouga heads the Economic Analysis Unit of the President of the Republic of Benin, current chair of the African Union. He is also the Director of the Graduate School of the Faculty of Economics and Management at the University of Abomey, where he specialises in research on African economic development.

Vanessa Petrelli Corrêa (Brazil)
Ms. Petrelli Corrêa is President of Brazil’s Institute for Applied Economic Research, a public federal foundation linked to the Secretariat for Strategic Studies of the Presidency of Brazil. The Institute conducts research to support the design and implementation of governmental policies and development programs in Brazil, and is responsible for technical coordination of Brazil’s follow-up process for the MDGs.

Yingfan Wang (China)
Mr. Yingfan is a current member of the Secretary-General’s MDG Advocacy Group, a group of eminent personalities who have shown outstanding leadership in promoting the implementation of the MDGs. He is a career diplomat. In 1995, he served as Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs until the year 2000, when he became the Permanent Representative of China to the UN in New York. From 2003 to 2008, he served as Vice-Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chinese National People’s Congress.

Maria Angela Holguin (Colombia)
Ms. Holguín is the current Foreign Minister of Colombia. Her career spans two decades of activity in the private and public sectors, including senior positions in the Office of the President of the Republic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Office of the Inspector General of the Nation. She previously served as Permanent Representative of Colombia to the United Nations.

Gisela Alonso (Cuba)
Ms. Alonso is the current President of the Cuban Agency of Environment. Ms. Alonso has been an active advocate for the sustainable development of Small Island Developing States.

Jean-Michel Severino (France)
Mr. Severino was the Director General of the French Development Agency. He worked for the French Ministry of Finance and Economy in several capacities, including adviser of the Minister for Development, leader of the Development Ministry’s geographical coordination, and Director of the Ministry’s Development Programs. In the period 1996 – 2000 he was at the World Bank, first as Director for Central Europe, and then Vice-President for Asia.

Horst Kohler (Germany)
Mr. Kohler is a former President of the Federal Republic of Germany (2004-2010). He previously served as Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, and President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Naoto Kan (Japan)
Mr. Kan is a former Prime Minister of Japan, Minister of Health and Welfare, and Chairman of Japan’s Foreign Affairs Committee. He is currently an advisor on renewable energy for Japan’s Technical Committee on Renewable Energy. As Prime Minister, Mr. Kan lead Japan’s emergency response to the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident.

H.M. Queen Rania of Jordan (Jordan)
Queen Rania Al Abdullah is the wife of H.M. King Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. An advocate and a humanitarian, Queen Rania serves as an Eminent Advocate for UNICEF and Honorary Chairperson for the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI). The Jordan River Foundation (JRF) is Queen Rania’s NGO that focuses on the disadvantaged in Jordan.

Betty Maina (Kenya)
Ms. Maina is the Chief Executive of Kenya’s Association of Manufacturers, one of the country’s leading business associations with some 700 members. Ms. Maina was previously at the Institute of Economic Affairs, the Center for International Private Enterprise, and the Kenya Leadership Institute, among others. She served on Denmark’s Africa Commission and currently sits on various boards in the public sector.

Abhijit Banerjee (India)
Mr. Banerjee is currently the Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2003, he co-founded the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab. Mr. Banerjee is a past president of the Bureau for the Research in the Economic Analysis of Development. His areas of research are development economics and economic theory.

Andris Piebalgs (Latvia)
Mr. Piebalgs is the current Commissioner for Development for the European Commission. He was previously European Commissioner for Energy (2004-2009), Deputy Secretary of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia (2003-2004), Minister of Finance of Latvia (1994-1995) and Minister of Education of Latvia (1990-1993).

Patricia Espinosa (Mexico)
Ms. Espinosa is the current Secretary of Foreign Affairs for Mexico. From June 2001 to 2006, she served as Ambassador to Austria, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Germany, and as Permanent Representative to the International Organizations in Vienna. Previously, she was Director General of Regional Organizations of the Americas at the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs.

Paul Polman (Netherlands)
Mr. Polman is the Chief Executive Officer of Unilever. Prior to joining Unilever, Mr. Polman was Chief Financial Officer of Nestlé S.A.. He serves as President of the Kilimanjaro Blind trust and Chairman of Perkins International Advisory Board. He is also a member of the International Business Council of the World Economic Forum, the Swiss American Chamber of Commerce, and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Nigeria)
Ms. Okonjo-Iweala is the Minister of Finance for the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Prior to this appointment, she was the Managing Director of World Bank and Foreign Minister of Nigeria. Prior to her ministerial career, Ms. Okonjo-Iweala was Vice-President and Corporate Secretary of the World Bank Group.

Elvira Nabiullina (Russian Federation)
Ms. Nabiullina is currently the Economic Adviser to Russian President, Vladimir Putin. She is a former Minister of Economic Development and Trade and Deputy Minister of Economy.

Graça Machel (South Africa)
Ms. Machel is a current member of The Elders, an independent group of global leaders who work together for peace and human rights which she co-founded with her husband, former President Nelson Mandela of South Africa. She is also a UN independent expert on the impact of armed conflict on children, international advocate for women’s and children’s rights, former freedom fighter and Education and Culture Minister of Mozambique.

Sung-Hwan Kim (Republic of Korea)
Mr. Kim is the current Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade for the Republic of Korea. He has held a number of ministerial posts including and senior diplomatic posts representing the Republic of Korea to international organizations, the United States of America, the Russian Federation, Uzbekistan and India.

Gunilla Carlsson (Sweden)
Ms. Carlsson is the current Minister for International Development Cooperation of Sweden. She has held a number of senior posts in the Swedish Government in the areas of foreign affairs, EU affairs and education and is a former member of the European Parliament.

Emilia Pires (Timor-Leste)
Ms. Pires is the Minister of Finance of Timor-Leste. Ms. Pires has a background in development, and senior experience in planning, public finance management, development and aid policies.

Kadir Topbas (Turkey)
Mr. Topbas is the current Mayor of Istanbul and President of United Cities and Local Governments, and an expert in urban rehabilitation, social transformation and the management of the urban challenges faced by fast-growing cities.

John Podesta (United States of America)
Mr. Podesta is Chair of the Center for American Progress. He previously served as Co-Chair of the Obama-Biden Transition and as White House Chief of Staff to President William J. Clinton. He served in the president’s cabinet and as a principal on the National Security Council.

Tawakel Karman (Yemen)
Ms. Karman is a young Yemini journalist, human rights activist and politician who was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize for her role in promoting the “non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work” during the 2011 Yemeni uprising.

Amina J. Mohammed (ex officio)
Ms. Mohammed is the Special Advisor of the Secretary-General on Post-2015 Development Planning.


Terms of Reference for the
High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda

1. The High-level Panel of Eminent Persons will be convened by the UN Secretary-General to advise him on a bold and at the same time practical development agenda beyond 2015.

2. The High-level Panel will consist of 26 Eminent Persons, including representatives of governments, the private sector, academia, civil society and youth, with the appropriate geographical and gender balance. Panelists are members in their personal capacity.

3. The panel should conduct its work on the basis of a rigorous analysis of credible shared evidence. The panel should engage and consult widely with relevant constituencies at national, regional and global levels.

4. The Special Advisor of the Secretary-General for Post-2015 will be an ex-officio member of the HLP and serve as link to the UN system.

5. The output of the Panel will be a report to the Secretary-General which will include:

a) Recommendations regarding the vision and shape of a Post-2015 development agenda that will help respond to the global challenges of the 21st century, building on the MDGs and with a view to ending poverty.

b) Key principles for reshaping the global partnership for development and strengthened accountability mechanisms;

c) Recommendations on how to build and sustain broad political consensus on an ambitious yet achievable Post-2015 development agenda around the three dimensions of economic growth, social equality and environmental sustainability; taking into account the particular challenges of countries in conflict and post-conflict situations.

6. To this end, it would be essential for the work of the HLP and of the intergovernmental Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to inform each other in order to ensure both processes are mutually reinforcing. The HLP should advise the Secretary-General on how the SDGs relate to the broader Post-2015 development agenda.

7. To prepare the report, the Panel will take into consideration:

a) The Millennium Declaration, The Outcome Document of Rio+20;

b) The findings of the Report of the Secretary-General’s UN Task Team for the preparation of the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda; as well as lessons learned and best practices from the MDGs.

c) The findings of the various national and thematic consultations at regional and national levels which are coordinated by the UNDG  as part of the preparations for the Post-2015 Development Agenda;

d) The need to build momentum for a constructive dialogue on the parameters of the Post-2015  Development Agenda, and propose innovative ways for governments, parliaments, civil society organizations, the business sector, academia, local communities to engage continuously in such a dialogue;

e) The ongoing work of the UN Task Team, the Special Advisor to the SG on Post-2015, the report of the Global Sustainability Panel of the
Secretary-General and the findings of the Global Sustainable Development Network Initiative; as well as

f) Any other relevant inputs it may deem appropriate.

8. The HLP will be supported by a dedicated and independent secretariat headed by a senior official (Lead Author of the HLP report). The secretariat will also be able to draw from the wealth of knowledge and expertise made available to it by the UN system.

9. The Deputy Secretary-General will oversee, on behalf of the Secretary-General, the Post-2015 process.

10. The Panel will present its report to the Secretary-General in the second quarter of 2013. The report will serve as a key input to the Secretary-General’s report to the special event to follow up on efforts made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals and to discuss the possible contours of the Post-2015 Development Agenda to be organized by the President of the sixty-eighth session of the General Assembly in September 2013.

***


For more information on the post-2015 process visit:
www.un.org/millenniumgoals/beyond2015.shtml

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 28th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Examining Capitalism Through Quantum Mechanics

Saturday, 28 July 2012 08:42By Michael OrtizTruthout | Op-Ed

As human beings, we don’t just construct social realities and social systems, but we literally help construct the physical universe of which we are a part. Therefore, understanding the relationship between human beings and the quantum reality of the universe becomes paramount if we seek to truly understand and transform the social and structural systems of inequality that we have created for ourselves.

According to quantum mechanics, the subatomic level of reality exists in an undifferentiated state of dynamic flux until a conscious observer measures it (or looks at it), thus, giving that matter a particular form. In other words, an atom is spread out all over the place as a wave of potential until a conscious observer localizes it as an actual particle through that very act of observation.

The famous double-slit experiment actually captured this protean nature of the quantum world. The double-slit experiment essentially launched particles through a single slit, whereby each particle left a residual mark on the back wall where it landed (creating a single band pattern). However, when particles were launched through two slits, they left a residual interference pattern on the back wall (which can only be created by waves that interfere with each other). Even when particles were launched through the two slits one at a time, they still created an interference pattern. (This occurrence is impossible according to classical quantum physics.) So, in order to figure out how this interference pattern was occurring, physicists placed a measuring device by the slits to observe the particles after they were launched. Astonishingly, when the particles were launched with the measuring device in place, they actually created a residual mark of a double band pattern (which was expected in the first place). What physicists determined was that, prior to being observed, each single particle actually existed as a wave of potentials that simultaneously went through both slits at the same time; thus interfering with itself and leaving a residual interference pattern. So in essence, conscious observation then collapses the quantum wave function of particles and thus localizes them at a fixed point.

Moreover, quantum superposition “holds that a physical system – such as an electron – exists partly in all its particular, theoretically possible states (or, configuration of its properties) simultaneously; but, when measured, it gives a result corresponding to only one of the possible configurations (as described in interpretation of quantum mechanics).”

The more we look at elementary particles, the more we realize that there is actually no such thing as one electron or one photon on its own. A particle exists only in relationship to the state that it finds itself in, with no generic or concrete form. So, the more we examine “solid matter” in great detail, the less solid it actually becomes.

Earth with cogs and wheels (Photo: Earth with cogs and wheels via Shutterstock)

Now, contradictory to contemporary quantum mechanics is the traditional conception of solid matter as the “substance” of the universe. Why is this important? Because “belief that the substance of the universe is matter (or physical material) sets the precedent for people to accumulate as many material possessions and riches as possible [especially under the system of capitalism],” says UK author David Icke. Most of us in contemporary Western culture have been socialized to view the world through a consumerist lens (among a plethora of other social lenses) which implies that a solid, material realm objectively exists. Furthermore, the system of capitalism creates the conditions necessary for more and more people to actively participate in practices that perpetuate the misconception that a solid, material world inexorably dictates our perceptions and belief systems. Maximized material conquest and material gain becomes the modus operandi of a capitalistic system.

Further illuminating the nature of capitalism, Chris Hedges states:

“The quest by a bankrupt elite in the final days of empire to accumulate greater and greater wealth is modern society’s version of primitive fetishism … When the most basic elements that sustain life are reduced to a cash product, life has no intrinsic value. The extinguishing of ‘primitive’ societies, those that were defined by animism and mysticism, those that celebrated ambiguity and mystery, those that respected the centrality of the human imagination, removed the only ideological counterweight to a self-devouring capitalist ideology.”

Here we see some of the characteristics of neoliberal capitalism which subscribe to the notion that the world be defined in “material” terms. The ruling ideology of capitalism has sought out to extinguish any alternative thought or knowledge that understands the world in immaterial terms and replace it with the narrow ideology of materialism, consumerism, commodification. The more people who are complicit in capitalist ideology (among other forms of dominant ideologies), the stronger the possibilities become to fetishize and develop the concept of “the material.” all while the expropriation of vast forms of land, wealth, resources and capital become normalized and accepted. Furthermore, once all “material” resources have become accessed (or more importantly not accessed by the majority of people), exploited and exhausted, then the majority of people become even more subjected to the harsh and misleading conditions that capitalism inflicts upon them.

So, as far as quantum mechanics is concerned, capitalism is based on the (false) assumption that an absolute “material” world actually exists “out there.” Traditional criticisms of capitalism typically focus on the exploitation of labor and human bodies, as well as massive class inequalities and social injustice; however, they leave out one crucial aspect in it all: that capitalist ideology and capitalist operation mislead us about the nature of the universe (which includes the nature of ourselves since we are part of the universe, as well). With that said, we can actually use our knowledge of quantum mechanics to transform our perceptions about the world around us, thus alleviating some of the conditions that capitalism creates for us. Even Einstein alluded to the idea that we can utilize science to “potentially change the world itself” by using “rational thinking and technology to improve the conditions in which we live.” (1) As Peter Dreier states:

“Einstein criticized capitalism’s ‘economic anarchy’ and the ‘oligarchy of private capital, the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by democratically organized political society.’”

If Einstein could apply his knowledge of science and the quantum reality to social injustice and systemic inequality, then there is no reason that we cannot do the same here and now.

Given the fact that the underlying premise of capitalism acts in opposition to the principles of quantum mechanics and, therefore, the nature of the universe itself (as understood through quantum mechanics), then we should not be confounded in the least when we experience the destructive consequences of a system that is based on prodigious wealth and material accumulation. This systemic discord or imbalance is bound to perpetuate the likes of environmental devastation and vast human suffering. Furthermore, one of the unspoken consequences of capitalistic operation is the alienation from one’s humanity and from nature. Not only are we inundated by a social and economic matrix of domination every single day, but that very matrix detaches us from the universe (or nature) in a sense. So, we should not just look to eradicate the deleterious conditions of capitalism, but rather, we should look to understand and work in accordance with the universe, so that destructive systemic conditions do not even come into existence in the first place.

Consequently, when we look at the world through the lens of quantum mechanics, we see that the economic systems of capitalism, socialism and communism actually have more in common with each other since they all are based on material acquisition and distribution and on the assumption that our world is a fundamentally material realm. However, we can use quantum mechanics to create an entirely new way of viewing and operating inside of the world, which would require a drastic philosophical and ideological change of epic proportion. Epic change, perhaps, is a concept that we may need to start entertaining.

Lastly, as if world hunger, poverty, class inequality, sickness and disease, permanent war and ecological ruination weren’t enough to present a critical case against capitalism, then consider the following. In relative terms to the rest of the entire universe, quantum mechanics shows us just how narrow, constrictive and destructive the system of capitalism actually is.

References:

(1) Dreier, Peter. 2012. “Albert Einstein: Radical Citizen and Scientist.” Truthout, June 25.

This article is a Truthout original.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 11th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Bhutan calls for a mindful revolution at the United Nations.

by  | May 12, 2012
Bhutan’s Prime Minister Jigme Thinley (left) and Costa Rican president Laura Chinchilla at the UN, via AFP.

The monks of South Asia have been chanting on behalf of the happiness and well-being of all creatures for 2,500 years. Now, the spirit of those mantras has marched out of the monastery and into the streets, even into the halls of the United Nations.

Calling for nothing less than nonviolent resistance against the failed global economic system, the tiny Himalayan nation of Bhutan, sandwiched between India and China, took to the world stage last month by leading a “High Level Meeting on Happiness and Well-Being.” Its recommendation: Replace the Bretton Woods economic paradigm, imposed on the world by the United States in the wake of World War II, with an entirely new and inherently more just system.

The prime minister of Bhutan, Jigme Thinley, called on the people of the world to demand a change. Scholars, Nobel laureates, political actors, U.N. officials and staff, and spiritual and civil society leaders, many from the Global South, affirmed that the current system serves neither the human community nor other creatures on the planet.

“The GDP-led development model,” Thinley told the gathering, “compels boundless growth on a planet with limited resources.” Moreover, “it no longer makes economic sense. It is the cause of our irresponsible, immoral and self-destructive actions.” Finally, the prime minister concluded, “The purpose of development must be to create enabling conditions through public policy for the pursuit of the ultimate goal of happiness by all citizens.”

Most of the 600 in attendance shared Bhutan’s vision. Indian activist Vandana Shiva emphasized the importance of such a basic human need as food, the source of profit for a few and misery for many. As she has noted before, “The poor are not those who have been ‘left behind’; they are the ones who have been robbed.” The current paradigm creates a flow of financial, social, human and natural capital to the United States and other rich nations at the expense of everyone else.

Although Bhutan has faced criticism in the past for its treatment of Nepalese immigrants and the jailing of smokers, it has made considerable progress in recent years by establishing a new democracy and implementing creative efforts to measure its citizens’ well-being and happiness. The concept of Gross National Happiness was coined by the former King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, who abdicated in 2006 and set the democratization process in motion. To its credit, Bhutan is setting high standards for itself that may be difficult to reach, but the country is not alone in this endeavor.

Costa Rica’s President Laura Chinchilla gave the keynote address, sharing the experience of her country, noting, “In 1948 we decided to consolidate the best of our civic values, and abolished the army. We chose to solve our disputes through the ballots, not the bullets; we decided to invest in schools and teachers, not garrisons and soldiers.” Rather than decreasing the national security, “This uninterrupted path turned Costa Rica into the most stable and longest living democracy in Latin America.”

Interfaith spiritual leaders at the meeting, including the moderator of the Church of Canada and the Buddhist supreme patriarch of Thailand, as well as representatives from major religious traditions, issued their own statement calling for a new economic paradigm “based upon compassion, altruism, balance, and peace, dedicated to the well-being, happiness, dignity and sacredness of all forms of life.”

Meanwhile, economists John Helliwell, Richard Layard and Jeffrey Sachs distributed copies of the World Happiness Report. They argue, “We live in an age of stark contradictions. The world enjoys technologies of unimaginable sophistication; yet has at least one billion people without enough to eat each day.”

The official statement that came out of the meeting calls for a new paradigm with four pillars: ecological sustainability, happiness and well-being for all, fair distribution, and efficient use of resources. An unexpected 200 participants remained at the U.N. for two additional days to clarify what the new paradigm would look like, to propose new solutions, and to strategize how to mobilize a global movement in civil society to resist the current one and implement the change. Relevant civil society, educational, spiritual and activist organizations worldwide are being informed about the process, with an eye toward a 2014 convention that would replace Bretton Woods.

Widespread civil resistance movements would be a vital component in bringing about a shift toward so radically different a paradigm as this. Yet the meeting suggests that insufficient use has been made of the United Nations as a venue by change activists. Despite the U.N.’s obvious shortcomings — for instance, OWS recently protested the influence of corporations on environmental proceedings— it is nonetheless an infrastructure where every nation has a voice, at least in theory. Paradoxically, Global South elites who are also victims of the current economic paradigm provide an entrée into the system for grassroots activists, and this meeting demonstrates that the U.N. can offer a venue for radical critique. But the U.N. will only work on behalf of the people if the people insist that it does and begin to explore the possibilities that it might offer as a space for challenging injustice at a global level.

Dutch Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp, a long-time veteran of international meetings, observed that this one had “a different spirit” and that the time was ripe for unprecedented change. His call for a 0.01 percent donation of everyone’s income, especially from the rich nations, was received with enthusiasm by the civil society working group, which is creating a World Happiness Bank (a tentative name) that would promote and model the new economic paradigm.

This change will not happen, of course, without the mobilization of a nonviolent resistance movement. That’s where we come in; we have a new opportunity to act against a system that is robbing humanity and its fellow creatures through what the meeting’s statement calls the “private capture of the common wealth.” And we can do so by following the lead of the marginalized.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 10th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

the 2nd international seminar on Happiness in Sète – the South of France.

September 14-15, 2012

International Assizes of Happiness : 7 de Coeur

Assizes 2012 – Program Continue reading ?

Friday 14th september
Morning Afternoon
Saturday 15th september
Morning Afternoon

from:

Yamouna DAVID

Avocat honoraire

Vice Présidente exécutive de l’OIB

Observatoire International du Bonheur

14, rue Marcel de Serres – CS 49503 – 34961 Montpellier Cedex 2

Tel : + 33 (0)4 67 61 72 80 – Fax : : + 33 (0)4 67 52 97 79

Port : + 33 (0)6 73 47 40 60

secretaire@oib-france.comwww.oib-france.com

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

Assizes 2012 – Program

Posted on 10 July 2012 by admin

International Assizes of Happiness : 7 de Coeur
Program

Friday 14th september
Morning Afternoon
Saturday 15th september
Morning Afternoon


Friday 14th september – morning

Roadmaps to global Happiness
Georges-Brassens Hall/ 9h-12h
Chairman : Paul Herman
President of EFACS – Advocate and former President of the Clermont-Ferrand Bar
Moderator : Yamouna David
Director of permanent training of lawyers at EFACS- Vice Presidente of the OIB – Honorary Advocate
Opening adress
Jean-Marie Taillade
Second Deputy Mayor – City Hall of Sète – On behalf of the Mayor
Philippe Cannone
President of OIB – Advocate and Former President at the Aurillac Bar
Supportive economy and sharing Patrick Viveret, philosopher
International organizations, catalyst of global well being? Alisa Clarke, President of Global Vision Institute – New-York
Bénédicte Bury, Advocate at the Paris Bar
Anjani Millet, Director – Gross National Happiness World Project – Australia/USA
Shifting towards global governance : what about UN ? Romain Geoffret, trainee – advocate – EFACS
Forum
led by : Jean-Christophe Barralis, Institut Français d’Appreciative Inquiry

Friday 14 september – afternoon

Sustainable development and social happiness
Georges-Brassens Hall / 14h-19h30
Chairman : José Maria Cueto Alvarez de Sotomayor
Advocate (Spain) – Expert and consultant to the European Union
Moderator : Yann Meric
Member of the Board and Vice-President of OIB – Advocate at the Perpignan Bar
Growth, happiness and obsolescence Jean Gabriel Foucaud, Psychothérapeute – Coach
Environment, development et sustainability Kishor Uprety Advocate (Népal) – Senior Counselor in South an East Asia- World Bank legal Department.
Thierry Salomon,  Energy Ingineer – President of NégaWatt
Participatory democracy and progress Elodie Pourret, Victoria Fromageat, Charlène DherotTrainee Advocates – EFACS
Etienne ChouardResearcher
Forum
Led by : Elodie Pourret, Victoria Fromageat, Charlène Dherot, Elèves-avocats – EFACS
Music : Wild Jazz
Documentary  “Indices”

Saturday 15th september – Morning Session

Social Peace and Sustainable Happiness
Georges-Brassens Hall / 9h30-13h
Chairman : Michèle Tisseyre
Advocate and Presidente of Montpellier Bar Association
Moderator : Philippe Canonne
President of OIB, Advocate and former President of Aurillac Bar Association
Criminal Law and individuals : a short or long term social peace ? Catherine Frayssinet, Marie Bernardin, Ziane Ouali, Trainee Advocates – EFACS
Yvan Gazagnes, Social Integration Trainer, Head of Human Rights League in “nor Bassin de Thau”.
Isabelle Lebourgeois, External supervisor of prisons – Psychanalyst
Forum
Led by : Jean-Christophe Barralis, French Institute of Institut of Appreciative Inquiry
Criminal Law, nations and social peace François Roux, Honorary Advocate, Head defense Office – Speical Tribunal for Lebanon.
Jacques Lecomte, President of the French association of positive psychology.
Forum
Led by : Philippe Canonne, President of OIB, Advocate and former president of Aurillac Bar Association.

Saturday 15th september – Afternoon
Le Grand Débat
Théâtre de la Mer / 15h30-19h
Chairman : Francis Teitgen, Advocate and former president of Paris Bar Association. 
Coordination: Jean-Christophe Barralis, French Institute of Institut of Appreciative Inquiry
Opening adress
Vivian Labrie, Expert at the “Carrefour des Savoirs sur la richesse
et les inégalités” (Saguenay and Lac Saint-Jean, Québec)
WORKSHOPS
• Participatory democracy and collective happiness
• Happiness and contentment at workl
• Happiness and criminal Law
• International organizations and global happiness
• Sustainable development and society happiness
Facilitators
Delphine Andres – Laura Benand – Marie Bernardin – Charlène Dherot – Catherine Frayssinet – Victoria Fromageat – Romain Geoffrey – Amandine Jacinto – Laura Moysan – Ziane Ouali – Elodie Pourret – 
Trainee Advocates- EFACS
Public report from the workshops
Open forum
Crafting happiness Christian Charrière-Bournazel,Advocate and former President of Paris Bar Association, President of the French National Board of Bar Association.
Closing of the conference
Abdullah Cissé,
Academic Professor,
Member of the International Law Institute,
Advocate (Senegal)
19h-20h30
Concert : New Orleans by “Canibal Dandies”
Cocktail

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 8th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

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Network for Integrated Planning and Sustainable Development Strategies-Asia&Pacific (SDplanNet-AP) exists to help professionals involved in development planning share innovative approaches for integrating sustainable development into plans, strategies and budgeting processes at national, sub-national and local levels.

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Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 2nd, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

This is our own first attempt at writing about what went on at the Rio de Janeiro 2012 meeting – the so called RIO+20 event.

I chose to start by displaying  selected events that happened in 1992  - a year which included a review in Rio de Janeiro of  the changes in humans’ behavior required so we achieve management of Planet Earth – after  bringing its human inhabitants to an understanding of sets of actions to be implemented, this if we want  to stop endangering our very existence as voyagers on this planet.

1992 was a specially good year – the break-up of the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, surely to different degrees, but all of this gave the feeling that good things can happen if we only try to make them happen. On the other hand, Europe started out on an experiment of unification that emerged from a century of internal warfare, two World Wars, and the Marshall Plan of revitalizing  its Nation States.

UNCED seized on the 1987 Brundtland Commission’s Sustainable Development concept, and Maurice Strong, present everywhere, since the 1972 Conference on the Human Environment,  was able to maneuver the topic of Sustainability – the concept that bridges between our deeds now, and the needs of future generations, to the point that developing countries were able to see in their acceptance of the concept a way of obtaining funding for ongoing activities. But to be frank about it – they never measured up to the responsibility to future generations, as the developed and old industrialized States did not do in their own development either.

In the US, 1992 was the year of the emergence of strong Democratic leadership in Congress – specially in the Senate – to the point that Rio saw two separate US delegations – The official delegation, and the Senate delegation with Al Gore and Timothy Wirth holding the reins.

Europe also had two favorable delegations. The one anchored in the freshly signed Maastricht agreement for those countries that will be the first batch of EU member States, and the other group made up of Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Both of these groups were ready to link to the Al Gore US group, and the visions of conference leader Maurice Strong and Minister Klaus Toepfer, working for Germany, in order to shape up at Rio 1992 a UN position on the run.

Those days the BRICS were not yet strongly positioned on the map, and the G77 where ready to accept the idea that money might come their way.  In the following list I marked the Rio chain of events with color green.

A separate chain of events was happening in Europe – and that chain I marked in gold. That chain led from Maastricht to the creation of the EU, to the enlargement of the EU, and eventually to major miscalculations in the maturing process in terms of finances of EU States that were united only in name.  This, while the US and the EU exported their jobs, and their polluting industries,  to developing countries,  with the best of these countries becoming the BRICS on whom everything depends now.

While the global track has led twenty years later to this RIO+20 event that was allowed freely to show the bankruptcy of the UN process, the people at the helm of the EU are still trying to bamboozle themselves into believing that their problem can be healed without resorting to main restructuring the flawed original structure – so they did not call for a Maastricht+20 meeting – only for Internal Summits.  This means the EU is far from reform, while as we shall see, my belief is that the Brazilian hosts – with supreme talent of diplomacy – where able to redirect the future of the Rio process to new avenues at the just concluded RIO+20 bazaar.

I purport to try to show that without the EU looking into the mirror in order to restructure itself in a Maastricht+20 event, it will not be able to work with the UN reformers that are ready to talk Sustainability as a bridge between well-being in our society and full consideration of rights of future generations. This involves getting us to consider using less natural capital and finding a new yardstick for measuring growth that replaces the outdated GDP meter.

The industrialized Nations, the Emerging Nations, and the genuine laggards, will all have to cooperate to create and sustain this new paradigm – and realizing that you cannot be helpful by finger pointing at Greece as a substitute for a MAASTRICHT+20.

The last comment in this introductory section is our attention to what we call “TEAM B” – the States of Bhutan and Brazil – the States that led to positive results at the TOHU VAVOHU of the UN Preparatory meetings – in New York and at Rio.

The Prime Minister of Bhutan and his aids introduced notions of substance – “Well-Being and Happiness,” while the  whole Administration of Brazil, President, Foreign Minister, the Diplomatic front man and his large staff, taught  us the potential of “Olympic Diplomacy” – the kind of Kissingerian diplomacy that can provide something to brag about to every participant in negotiations – so when an agreement is reached there was not even a single loser – everyone claimed he had something to win in the final document.

The Brazilians titled their document “OUR COMMON VISION” and the Europeans at their just concluded Summit at Heads of State level (June 28/29, 2012, are still at the stage, as the “Wiener Zeitung”  of  30 June/1 July ” put it – “A ‘YES, MAYBE’ for a Europe-Vision.”

To be fair, I think it important to say right here – the Brazilian “COMMON VISION” when accepted by the UN, was unchanged but was renamed “The Future We Want” in line of previous releases from the UN. This was not in backing of the Vision, but rather in attempt to forget the Vision – and stress from the document the points close to official UN positions – as if the vision just never happened. We do not expect that the UN  bodies will get away with this, as it is rather hard to subdue visions.  In due time, some Member State will ask the UNSG to act according to the Brazil sponsored Vision, so we do not worry about mailings that we receive and that deviate from the agreed upon vision.

My choice of 1992 events follows:

January 1 – Europe breaks down trade barriers

January 1Boutros Boutros-Ghali of Egypt becomes United Nations Secretary-General.

January 15 – The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia begins to break up. Slovenia and Croatia gain independence and international recognition in some Western countries.

February 6th - The Saami people of the Nordic countries have an official day celebrating their existence.

January 26 – Boris Yeltsin announces that Russia will stop targeting cities of the United States and her allies with Nuclear Weapons.
In return George H. W. Bush announces that the United States and her allies will stop targeting Russia and the remaining communist states with Nuclear Weapons.

February 7 – The  Maastricht Treaty is signed, founding the European Union.

February 26 – The Supreme Court of Ireland rules that a 14-year-old rape victim may travel to England to have an abortion.

March 9 – The People’s Republic of China ratifies the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

March  17 - Russian manned space craft TM-14, launches into orbit

March 18 – White South Africans vote in favour of political reforms which will end the apartheid regime and create a power-sharing multi-racial government.

June 3 - World’s Summit opens (Rio De Janeiro Brazil) - THE UN CONFERENCE ON THE ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT – UNCED.

June 8 – The first World Ocean Day is celebrated, coinciding with the Earth Summit held in Rio de JaneiroBrazil.

June 8 – Thomas Klestil succeeds Waldheim as president of Austria.

July 13 – Yitzhak Rabin becomes prime minister of Israel

July 20 – Václav Havel resigns as president of Czechoslovakia.

July 31 - The ex-Soviet Republic of Georgia becomes the 179th member of the United Nations.

September 16 – Black Wednesday: The pound sterling and the Italian lira are forced out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism.

October 12 – In the Dominican RepublicPope John Paul II celebrates the “500th anniversary of the meeting of 2 cultures,”
or was this rather the belated recognition of the subjugation of the Western Hemisphere to Christianity?

October 25 – Lithuania holds a referendum on its first constitution after declaring independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

October 31 – Pope John Paul II issues an apology, and lifts the edict of the Inquisition against Galileo Galilei.

November 3 – United States presidential election, 1992Bill Clinton is elected the 42nd President of the United States.

November 11 – The Church of England votes to allow women to become priests.

November 25 – The Czechoslovakia Federal Assembly votes to split the country into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, starting on January 1, 1993

December 22 – Archives of Terror discovered by Dr. Martín Almada detailing the fates of thousands of Latin Americans who had been secretly kidnapped, tortured, and killed by the security services of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay. This was known as Operation Condor. The Involvement of the CIA is obvious.

December 29 – Brazil‘s president Fernando Collor de Mello is found guilty on charges that he stole more than $32 million from the government, preventing him from holding any elected office for 8 years.

—————————————————————————–

The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the Earth Summit, took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from June 2-14, 1992. It was held twenty years after the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (UNCHE) took place in Stockholm, Sweden.

Government officials from 178 countries and between 20,000 and 30,000 individuals from governments, non-governmental organizations, and the media participated in this event to discuss solutions for global problems such as poverty, war, and the growing gap between industrialized and developing countries. The central focus was the question of how to relieve the global environmental system through the introduction to the paradigm of sustainable development. This concept emphasizes that economic and social progress depend critically on the preservation of the natural resource base with effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.

Held to mark the twentieth anniversary of the Stockholm Conference, the Rio Earth Summit became everything that an earlier ‘Stockholm plus ten’ conference, held in Nairobi, Kenya in 1982, could not. Indeed, it became more than even its proponents had hoped for.

Instead of being the ‘second’ United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, Rio was the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development; putting those two terms together, which had been so much at odds at Stockholm, might itself have been Rio’s most important achievement. In particular, it broadened the scope of global environmental diplomacy by adopting the notion of sustainable development, which had been advocated 5 years earlier in by the World Commission on Environment and Development as one of its key policy frameworks.

The world at Rio was, of course, very different from the world at Stockholm. In the intervening two decades, the Cold War (the defining political framework at UNCHE) had disappeared, the level of public interest in the environment was greatly increased, environmental issues such as stratospheric ozone depletion and global climate change were now squarely on the global policy map, and energy had become a major concern for economic security in  aftermath of the oil price shocks of 1973–74 and 1980–81.

The results of the UNCED included the Rio Declaration enunciating 27 principles of environment and development, Agenda 21, and a Statement of principles for the Sustainable Management of Forests, which were all adopted by consensus (without vote) by the conference.

The institutional innovation resulting from the conference included an agreement on the operating rules for the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, and the establishment of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) on the basis of an Agenda 21 recommendation. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity were products of independent, but concurrent, negotiating processes that were opened for signatures at UNCED.

The problem we are facing twenty years later is that despite the high aspirations, the clear potential, and the basic correctness of the UNCED results, in practical terms, only little is there to show in terms of implementation, after these 20 years, of what was suggested in those UNCED results.

So, when the UN decided to have a meeting 20 years later in order to find out what should be done with those unattained goals of the famed, and now forgotten, Agenda 21, it found out very fast that a majority of UN Member States were not ready to talk of Sustainable Development period. Agenda 21 was hardly being mentioned by the discussants, the scene was back about money – many speakers from the South were observing that the North  did not provide the funds for development of the South that it promised.

At the Informal-Informal meetings of the Prepcom in New York, part of the RIO+20 Preparatory route, I sat in disbelief watching the Algerian Ambassador, spokesman for the G77, putting brackets on the word “Sustainable” when written next to Development – as in Sustainable Development – the official name of the RIO+20 Conference – UNCSD or the UN Conference on Sustainable Development. Did the gentleman know where he was going and what he was doing?

Clearly I must answer with a YES. He was there to get money from the North in order to “DEVELOP” the South – so it looks like the North. Sustainability had no place in his outlook. According to him, twenty years after UNCED, he still thinks in terms of the new Nations being entitled to repeat all the mistakes done previously by the old industrialized Nations of Europe and North America.

I posted from New York articles about this, and kept remarking that the G77 are falling apart. In effect – countries like Bangladesh, and many of the Small Island Independent States  already spoke up for themselves realizing that they are already suffering from the effects of Climate Change, and that the political grandstanding does not do them any good.

Mexico, the host for the 2012 G20 meeting, as well as Colombia, took positions to avoid this sort of useless confrontation, and countries of the South that do not belong to OPEC, had also  clear vision that supporting the Saudi Arabian claim for financial compensation for its loss of a market for the petroleum commodity has no place in their own National Interest in a world relying more on Renewable Energy.   Some countries, led by a man from Fiji, Vice President of the UN General Assembly, were ready to introduce to the UNGA the request to investigate the possibility to take the interest of future generations – yes, the yet unborn – to the International Court of Justice, as we are leaving the Future Generations with a spoiled environment depleted of Natural Resources.

The Prime Minister of Bhutan, Jigmi Yoezer Thinley , with a large entourage of Ministers and Officials, came to New York, and as mandated by the UNGA, held a special meeting on April 2nd, 2012 on Well Being and Happiness as targets of intent when talking about Sustainability and Sustainable Development. The Bhutanese were active in New York for a full week and economists were helping them by showing that there is a basic – fundamental misconception, when measuring growth by the GDP yard-stick.

Growth measured this way, not only that it does not increase happiness, but it actually causes losses to future generations by misusing natural resources. WARS ARE THE ULTIMATE MOVERS IN GROWTH WHEN GROWTH IS MEASURED BY GDP,  AS THE REBUILDING PROCESS USES UP RESOURCES SUCH AS NATURAL CAPITAL, AND HUMAN CAPITAL, WITHOUT NOTING THE EFFECTS ON THEIR AVAILABILITY FOR THE FUTURE (NATURAL RESOURCES) OR FOR ALTERNATE USES (LABOR).

Here for our sanity, come in the notions of Well-Being and Happiness. The GDP yard stick does not measure these objectives. So what was the G77 leadership standing for?  Is this not a fair question? Would it not make more sense to come up with a joint effort that looks not only at the present imbalance between industrialization levels of  Nations, but also on the rights of Future Generations? This introduces a notion of ethics that was not introduced to the UN previously.  All this at a time that there is a clear lack of understanding between various groups of Nations in the UN.

New alliances are possible – such as between the countries, mainly in the poor South,  that are already suffering from effects of climate change, and more visionary countries of the North, that have a civil society ready to switch gears in the economy and move to new industries that are less polluting, resources saving and create jobs – a win-win-win situation for all! But the structure of the UN is itself fossilized, and the RIO+20 Prepcom was frozen.  No outcome document could be hammered out. That is how it looked when the Informal-Informal meetings were moved to Rio, the Prepcom resumed, and the Brazilian platform accepted by acclamation as the conference outcome.

We will not rehash the unsuccessful part of the event – but follow from here the Brazilian prepared options and the outcome document to show that it in effect changes the direction of the Sustainability Bridge from the 1992 construct to a new option that turns OUR COMMON VISION to the UN language operative THE FUTURE WE WANT.

—-

The Brazilians, hosts of 1992 and 2012, decided that their own good name is at stake, and descended on New York in full force.

Led by Foreign Minister Antonio de Aguilar Patriota, a Former Brazil Ambassador to the United States (2007-2009), and chief operational Ambassador Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado, the Undersecretary for Environment, Energy, Science and Technology of the Ministry of External Relations of Brazil – Figueredo Machado, was surrounded by a total of 30 other Ambassadors and Ministers – made sure to speak to everybody who volunteered an opinion, and note the minimums of acceptance in a secret draft they kept revising

Foreign Minister, Ambassador Patriota, is  graduate in philosophy from the University of Geneva and later international relations at he Rio Branco Institute – Brazil’s Diplomatic Academy;  he was also Deputy Secretary General for Political Affairs of the Ministry of External Relations, and Secretary General of the Ministry and Cabinet Chief of Foreign Minister  Celso Amorim,  now Minister of Defence (whom I also spotted at the RioCentro conference Center), his predecessor from whom he took over in 2011.

Ambassador Figueiredo Machado has a Law degree from the State University of Rio de Janeiro, and subsequently graduated in 1980 from Instituto Rio Branco. Mister Figueiredo Machado has taught Constitutional Law at Rio Branco.  His postgraduate thesis for the Advanced Studies Course at the Rio Branco Institute was published in 2000 under the title The Brazilian Continental Shelf and the Law of the Sea. Considerations for a political action.

As a diplomat, Mister Figueiredo Machado has held overseas positions in the Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York where we met him, in the Embassies in Santiago, Washington and Ottawa, as well as Deputy Chief of Mission at the Mission to UNESCO, in Paris. Figueiredo Machado has also held numerous positions in the Ministry, handling multilateral issues, such as disarmament, oceans, Antarctica, space, health, and the environment.

Ambassador Figueiredo Machado served as Director of the Department of the Environment and Special Affairs from 2005 to 2010. Promoted to the rank of Ambassador in 2009, he got his present position in 2011 to oversee all Brazilian Government negotiations on environmental, technology, energy, science, ocean and space issues. Ambassador Figueiredo Machado served as well, since 2005, as Brazils lead negotiator in the climate change regime process.

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Brazil, to play it safe, prepared a two parts defense-line around the Rio+20 negotiations. I enjoyed in New York the resistance of Ambassador Figueiredo Machado to accept the idea that the meeting should actually be called RIO-20 because of the need, at the end, to come up with a new paradigm to replace the Agenda 21 that nobody was actually talking about.  Ambassador Machado seemed self confident  - in the face of negotiations that seemed clearly bound in a direction of  - “NO CONCLUDING DOCUMENT”.  He once told me that this will not be the case and “don’t talk yet of a failed meeting.”

The Brazilian diplomats, as said above, keeping their fingers on the pulse of the debate – and being present everywhere – had by the end of the New York meeting – that clearly had only a huge compendium of text and bracketed versions within other brackets with up to a dozen versions to a topic. At this stage I will not analyse the situation – it is all on the record and clearly that material did not amount to a statement that governments could have agreed upon as a final document. BUT a draft document on the ready was already in Amb. Figuereido Machado’s briefcase.

The Brazilians, who were totally committed “not to see a Doha in Rio” – a failed meeting in their home, and the cadaver of their darling of 1992, laid down at their feet – not trusting completely the above first line of defense – set up very early a second defense line, which they called the RioDialogues, and which we described already in our posting -

 www.sustainabilitank.info/categor…  (see another link bellow)

That was an innovation at the UN.  Seeing that it was hard to work with governments, the Brazilians decided, within what the General Assembly allowed them to do, to offer as  well an alternative to the government process by creating a Civil Society process based on the UN Member States system, but using an internet voting method, and an illusion of real democracy.

Our posting of June 7th saw these possibilities, but then the Brazilians were  afraid that the UN will not allow enough freedom of action to  their innovative scheme, and wedge in so that the UN mechanism directs the details of the Brazilian effort.

Let’s see – Brazil picks ten topics and allows via the internet an inflow of free suggested recommendations to each one of these topics. Each topic is handled by a team of 100 appointed people managed by three scientists – one from Brazil, one from the North and one from the South. Internet backing allows in each topic an interplay with those recommendations, and eventually the 100 people pick out from the many recommendations ten that will be pushed forward to a two stage voting. After the second stage voting only three recommendations per topic survive.

This total of 3 recommendations times 10 topics, that is 30 recommendations, then move on to four High Level Panels –  and it was expected that the outcome from this discussion among the high level panelists can then lead to a second document that could be viewed as a “New UN Age” outcome – very appropriate if the  Brazilian first line of defense fails – so this second line of defense produces a document nevertheless.

The first stage via the internet, and the second stage during the RioDialogues days in Rio proper, are voting stages. These were the June 16-19, 2010 days that came in between the June 13-15, 2012 days left open to the government delegates to have another attempt at informal-informal culminating in a renewed short Prepcom meeting - that was the actual original route of RIO+20, before the RioDialogues start – and are then followed by the Conference proper scheduled just for three days June 20-22, 2012. Final meeting and concluding decisions-taking were planned for Friday June 22, 2012.

At the RioDialogues, the chosen ten recommendations from each one of those 10 topics were presented by their designed teams and voted upon by the people allowed into the room. This particular issue, the UN mechanism intended to stymie in UN fashion and make it difficult for free participation. That old system that allows only to insiders to get a pass under rules that say half men – half women – half North – Half South and if you are genuinely proponent of UN change you find that you do not belong to any half – you are just the outside whole. Oh Well! But here we saw a clear rebellion by Brazil, they took back the initiative and shoved aside the notion that the UN Secretariat is responsible for dishing out Secondary Passes to those interested to participate in those meetings – including the voting.  They simply declared “THERE IS ENOUGH SPACE IN THOSE ROOMS AND ANYONE WHO WANTS TO COME SHOULD BE LET IN” – BRAVO BRAZIL!

For instance, with my interest in the Energy panel, and my interest to participate in the Energy RioDialogue, I found that I would not get access if the NGO office of the Major Group office, had its way – then the Brazilians told me not to worry – that room will not be closed to anyone expressing an interest in the topic.  I eventually understood how the UN Secretariat framed the subject as the NGO spokesperson on the platform was not a climate related person, but a lady involved with business interests that would rather talk of cooking stoves then energy emissions in general.  The lady was also close to the organizers of the Major Groups structure that dominates the NGO office.  Nevertheless, I had no problem speaking up from the floor, and stressing that all energy with very few exceptions like geothermal, was energy that comes from the sun, and the recommendations do not go far enough to stress this point. Using Fossil Fuels is like living from the savings account and by definition non-sustainable.  Kerosene and LPG are not an acceptable way to dispense Energy for All. My comments were answered from the podium – so clearly the Brazilians were not losers in their effort to develop this second line of defense, though clearly the UN is yet far from opening up to the real issues at stake.

Eventually, as said, the recommendations from the Dialogues moved up to the four Round Table Panels, and much more will have to be reviewed in what went on in this Brazilian second line.

Ending this section with this “Much more” comment, I will just say that there was no need for this second document as the first Brazilian document “Our Common Vision” was eventually accepted by acclamation on June 22nd – leaving open the question how Brazil will now include the the outcome from the High Level Panel discussions as an appendix to the official outcome of the Conference.

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In my last part I will thus try to pick up only the most important lines of thought from the UN official THE FUTURE WE WANT -  as per the RIO+20 Outcome Document based on Brazil’s OUR COMMON VISION:

www.scribd.com/doc/97715740/Our-Common-Vision

Going directly to the main point – please follow us to paragraphs 84-86 which have the secondary heading:

“HIGH LEVEL POLITICAL FORUM.”

and to make it even easier I marked red the most important operative lines. Most of the remaining lines are plain UN “boiler plate important to this or other Rio negotiators and show the all inclusiveness of the Brazilian diplomats.

84. We decide to establish a universal intergovernmental high level political forum, building on the strengths, experiences, resources and inclusive participation modalities of the Commission on Sustainable Development, and subsequently replacing the Commission. The high level political forum shall follow up on the implementation of sustainable developmentand should avoid overlap with existing structures, bodies and entities in a cost-effective manner.

85. The high level forum could:

(a) provide political leadership, guidance, and recommendations for sustainable development;
(b) enhance integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development in a holistic and cross-sectoral manner at all levels;
(c) provide a dynamic platform for regular dialogue, and stocktaking and agendasetting to advance sustainable development;
(d) have a focused, dynamic and action-oriented agenda, ensuring the appropriate consideration of new and emerging sustainable development challenges;
(e) follow up and review progress in the implementation of sustainable development commitments contained in Agenda 21, Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, Barbados Programme of Action, Mauritius Strategy for Implementation and the outcome of this Conference and, as appropriate, relevant outcomes of other UN summits and conferences, including the outcome of the Fourth United NationsConference on the Least Developed Countries, as well as their respective means of  implementation;
(f) encourage high-level system-wide participation of UN Agencies, funds andprogrammes and invite to participate, as appropriate, other relevant multilateral financial and trade institutions, treaty bodies, within their respective mandates andin accordance with UN rules and provisions;
(g) improve cooperation and coordination within the UN system on sustainable development programmes and policies;
(h) promote transparency and implementation through further enhancing the consultative role and participation of Major Groups and other relevant stakeholders at the international level in order to better make use of their expertise, while retaining the intergovernmental nature of discussions;
(i) promote the sharing of best practices and experiences relating to theimplementation of sustainable development, and on a voluntary basis, facilitate sharing of experiences, including successes, challenges, and lessons learnt;
(j) promote system-wide coherence and coordination of sustainable development policies;
(k) strengthen the science-policy interface through review of documentation bringing together dispersed information and assessments, including in the form of a global sustainable development report, building on existing assessments;
(l) enhance evidence-based decision-making at all levels and contribute to strengthen ongoing efforts of capacity building for data collection and analysis in developing countries.
86. We decide to launch an intergovernmental and open, transparent and inclusive negotiation process under the General Assembly to define the high level forum’s format and organizational aspects with the aim of convening the first high level forum at the beginning of the 68th session of the General Assembly. We will also consider the need for promoting intergenerational solidarity for the achievement of sustainable development, taking into account the needs of future generations, including by inviting the Secretary General to present a report on this issue.
* * * * *
What above means is that the UN Secretary General is mandated to establish under UN General Assembly rules, that call for full UN Membership:

(1) a universal inter governmental high level political forum to replace the existing non-functioning Commission on Sustainable Development.

(2) though leaving the term Sustainable Development in place, the above looks at Developing Sustainability instead – this by mandating the UN Secretary General to look at taking into account the needs of future generations - “including by inviting the Secretary General to present a report on this issue.”

We say therefore that the concept of Sustainable Development introduced to the UN lingo by the 1992 meeting by Mr. Maurice Strong, a Canadian with strong ties to the US, but who lives now in Beijing, is effectively being replaced by “Developing Sustainability” as he pronounced it on June 21, 2012, at the official ceremony of celebration of the passing of 20 years between RIO UNCED and RIO+20.

The Brazilian Diplomats have accepted the need to consider Sustainability as the bridge to future generations when developing economies for the short sighted benefit of the current generation. This is in effect a negation of the common resources-grabbing
reality by the 1% of the population in North and South, while the remaining 99% of the population remains in effect in relative poverty – as described by the evolving Global Occupy movements.

Introducing the needs of FUTURE GENERATIONS does for the first time give the UN the needed sense of ethics required in full understanding of the term SUSTAINABILITY, that is intruding into the ongoing negotiations via a request to establish at the UN a “Small Office” of a HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS that we understand could  be modeled after the United States example of the US General Accounting Office.  The GAO  can be called by any Member of US Congress – House or Senate – to make public an evaluation of true facts regarding an issue that is in dispute. In the UN case, such a small office could answer questions of impact on future generations by any ongoing activity or negotiations at the UN.

This idea has already working examples.

Commissioners for future generations were tried by Parliaments of Israel and Hungary.

The Israeli Knesset Commissioner,  a retired Judge, had the right to review impacts of all legislation. The experiment eventually was ended as political forces found this cumbersome. In the Hungarian Parliament case the experiment that could have an impact in all EU States, continues and was the base for the introduction of the subject to the negotiations of the run-up to RIO+20. Professor Sándor Fülöp is since 2008 the Hungarian Parliament’s Commissioner on Future Generations. We applaud the Brazilians for seizing up on this very important point.

In effect we find this and the efforts by Bhutan to focus us on Well-Being and Happiness, the two most important driving forces that surfaced at the UN informal-informal negotiations.  They sum up the Ethics, and it is now up to representatives of the World Religions to seize the opportunity to enter UN negotiations. The rights of the yet to be born generations and the happiness of the present generations are not just Buddhist concepts – these are fundamentals to be found in any religious scriptures as evidenced by the religious leaders that the Prime Minister of Bhutan assembled at his most effective day at the UN in New York – April 2, 2012.

Getting back to  the Brazilian drafted text, in the opening paragraph, it also says that Sustainable Development Goals, protecting and managing natural resources and ecosystems for present and future generations, are to be formulated by the UN in order to follow in 2015 from the Millennium Development Goals.

Paragraphs 56-74 deal with rules and regulations of a Green Economy as needed for Sustainability and Justice for the people.

Paragraphs 87-90 deal with strengthening the Environmental pillar of the three legged concept of Sustainable Development, by making UNEP all inclusive with Universal Membership in its Governing Council.

We find that this section would benefit immensely had there been a UN Commissioner for Future Generations as UNEP has not enough of a handle on sovereign States to force them to take full responsibility over the environment in their own territory, but it could become possible to hold them responsible for damages to extraterritorial regions – specially those that are not covered by National Sovereignty claims, and belong thus to everyone as represented by the yet to be born in Future Generations.  In our opinion this facet of International Law has yet to be written with the establishing of a legal persona for the unborn – surely more important then the Corporate legal persona.

Paragraphs 224-226  deal with Sustainable Consumption and Production. These reiterate past commitments, including the elimination of subsidies to fossil fuels, but are clearly short of recommendations for true evaluation of the effects of ongoing production and consumption patterns. We believe that a handle on this could eventually be formed when the impact on future generations is considered.

Last Section – VI. Means of Implementation – including Finance, Technology, Capacity Building, Trade, and Registry of Commitments, is the obvious target of those that say the meeting came out empty handed. This, because if you were expecting a continuous flow of money from the North to the South, you simply did not look out your cell-window lately.

The money is no more with the States of the North – it is rather to be found in the Southern New Emerging economies, so there is no real promises of money to be found except in the registry of free commitments – mainly by private enterprise and all sorts of partnerships.   This last part is a success story, but not what some pundits were fighting for.  We do not think that this should be viewed separately from the call for change.

To summarize – RIO+20 as handled by Brazil – is a door to a new future that is going to rewrite the 1992 decisions that were not followed anyway.     As said – it will be rather DEVELOPING SUSTAINABILITY then SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, and in this respect the platform is only being developed and the eventual funding will be coming in major part from South-South cooperation. We will have to be patient and see the changes taking effect.

Learning from the above, we hope for a MAASTRICHT+20 to replace the EU Summits that talk of a “Montillande” wrestling Merkel as replacement to “Merkozy” – we think this sort of talk does not fit the reality, and is no way to crawl out from under the avalanche that was caused by the lack of real growth following that good year of 1992. So let me repeat – if Europe cannot do it alone – it ought to invite the UN “B-Team” – Bhutan and Brazil – and ask them to rewrite the rules.



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Following is the link to our posting of the RioDialogues and on Judge Shlomo Shoham of the Commission for Future Generations in the Knesset .

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 7th, 2012

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 27th, 2010

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To look further at the Hungarian example of  Professor Sándor Fülöp,  presently the only ongoing Parliament appointed Commissioner for Future Generations, please go to   www.jno.hu  and see also the involvement on this subject of the Hamburg based World Future Council.   [Mr Sándor Fülöp was elected to become Hungary’s first Parliamentary Commissioner for Future Generations in 2008. He holds a degree in law from the Eötvös Loránd University of Sciences (1982) and a degree in psychology (1987). Between 1984 and 1991 he has worked as a public prosecutor at the Metropolitan and the National Chief Prosecutor’s Office. Following a short period of private legal practice,  Mr Fülöp was also until his election as Commissioner, the director of Hungary’s principal non-profit environmental law firm: the Environmental Management and Law Association (EMLA).  During that time he has  held a number of international positions.  He participated in the drafting of the 1998 UN ECE Convention on Access to Information, Access to Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (the Aarhus Convention). Between 2002 and 2008 he was a member of the Compliance Committee of the Aarhus Convention.  Mr Fülöp has been a university lecturer on environmental law since 1997.]

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 13th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Rio Events being hosted by the Green Economy Coalition and partners. Space is limited so do let us know if you would like to attend.(We’ve attached a one-page timetable of GEC events and member highlights).  For those not travelling to Rio we will be blogging, tweeting and commenting throughout the conference so do keep an eye on our website: www.greeneconomycoaltion.

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Principles of a green economy: Making it happen (Fair Ideas; 16 June; 18:00 – 19:30)

Over 250 organisations and individuals from around the world have helped to draft the 9 principles of a green economy and they are now being cited by governments in the Rio+20 preparations. The next question is how we move from principle to practice. In this session we will be joined by a panel of experts to find out how we can implement and measure a new social contract for a green economy. Do join us there.

Dr. Youba Sokona, Coordinator, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Ethiopia
Richard Howitt, Member of the European Parliament
Professor Ladislau Dowbor, Professor of Economics, Catholic University of São Paulo
Olajobi Makinwa, Head, Transparency & Anti-Corruption Initiatives, Global Compact
Dr. Steven Stone, Chief, Economics and Trade Branch, UNEP

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Banking because the future Matters: Building a Financial System to Support a Green, Fair and Inclusive Economy (Rio Centro; 17 June; 11.30 – 13:00, P3-6)

The sad truth is that unless we see a fundamental shift in the way that our financial systems are organised, many of the conversations at Rio+20 will have limited impact. The reform of our finance system needs to be our top priority if we are to create more inclusive and green economies. With our partners the Global Alliance for Banking on Values and ForUM, we will be presenting four practical policies for how we catalyse that transformation. This is a really important conversation – do come along.

Ida Auken, Danish Minister for the Environment
Lars Pehrson, CEO, Merkur Cooperative Bank, and founding member of Global Alliance for Banking on Values 
Pavan Sukhdev,
Founder-CEO of GIST Advisory and study leader of TEEB
Nick Robins, Head of the Climate Change Centre of Excellence, HSBC
Ladislau Dowbor, Professor of Economics, Catholic University of São Paulo
Andrew P. Kroglund, Director of Information and Policy, The Development Fund
Oliver Greenfield, Convenor, Green Economy Coalition

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Measure What Matters: Aligning performance indicators for global sustainable development, national Beyond GDP metrics and improved corporate reporting (Rio Centro, 20 June, 9:00 – 10:30, T 4)

If there is one thing that will definitely come out of Rio+20 – it will involve metrics. The call for more coherent corporate reporting, the support for ‘beyond GDP’ and the momentum for global SDGs are all still high on the agenda. Our proposition is that in order for these metrics to be transformational, they need to be aligned against the same broad objectives such that they work together to drive change. We will be hearing from some eminent speakers to find out how we can move the proposal forward.

His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales (via video message)
Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister, UK (TBC)
H.H. Sheikh Abdallah Bin Zayid Al Nahayan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates (TBC)
His Excellency Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, President of the Republic of Botswana (TBC)
Paula Caballero, Director for Economic and Environmental Affairs for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of the Republic of Colombia
Dasho Karma Tshiteem, The Secretary of the Gross National Happiness Commission of the Royal Government of Bhutan
Paul Druckman, Chief Executive Officer of the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC)
Ernst Ligteringen – Chief Executive Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)
Paul Polman, CEO Unliever

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Green Economy Coalition

Join the debate at www.greeneconomycoalition.org

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 28th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Address at Rio Earth Summit of 1992.

I am extremely happy and feel great honor to be with you here. My basic belief is that the purpose of our life is happiness, and happiness depends on its own basis. I believe the basic base, or the cause of happiness and satisfaction, is material and spiritual development.

Then again, human beings irrespective of our ability, knowledge, technology are basically a product of nature. So therefore, ultimately, our fate very much depends on nature.

In ancient times I think, when human ability was limited, we were very aware of the importance of nature; and so we respected nature. Then the time came when we developed through science and technology; and we had more ability. Now sometimes it seems people forget about the importance of nature. Sometimes we get some kind of wrong belief that we human beings can control nature with the help of technology. Of course, in certain limited areas we can to a certain extent. But with the globe as a whole it is impossible. Therefore now the time has come to be aware of the importance of nature, the importance of our globe. You see, one day we might find all living things on this planet- including human beings-are doomed.

I think one danger is that things like nuclear war are an immediate cause of concern so everybody realizes something is horrible. But damage to the environment happens gradually without much awareness. Once we realize something very obvious to everybody it may be too late. So therefore I think we must realize in time our responsibility to take care of our own world.

I often tell people that the moon and stars when remaining high in the sky look very beautiful, like an ornament. But if we really try to go and settle there on the moon, perhaps a few days may be very nice and some new experience may be very nice and some new experience may be very exciting. But, if we really remain there, I think within a few days we would get very homesick for our small planet. So this is our only home. Therefore, I think this kind of gathering concerning our environment and the planet is very useful, very important ‘and timely.

And of course things are not easy, so I don’t think all problems could be solved at once through such meetings. However, this kind of meeting is very helpful to open eyes.

So, once the human mind wakes up humans such intelligence, that we may find certain ways and means to solve problems. But sometimes we just take everything for granted and don’t care, and this kind of negligence is also a danger. So, such meetings on a critical situation, if approached with an open human mind and eyes, are important and useful. These are my feelings.

Thank you!

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 27th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

His Holiness Meets the Austrian Chancellor, attends a Science Symposium and the European Rally for Tibet.

May 27th 2012     –     from   www.dalailama.com

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The 14th Dalai Lama mid-May 2012 Europe-trip took him to the UK (where he received The Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities – in front of 2000 people at the St. Paul Cathedral in London and met in private with the Prime Minister and his Deputy), Slovenia, Belgium, and Austria (where he was received by two States – Koernten and Salzberg, and in private by the Federal Chancellor and the Vice Chancellor).

* * * *  This was added by Pincas Jawetz

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Vienna, Austria, 26 May 2012 – The sun shone and a small crowd of well-wishers smiled warmly as His Holiness arrived opposite St Stephen’s Cathedral to be met by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the Archbishop of Vienna. They were almost immediately joined by the Austrian Chancellor, Werner Faymann and the three went into a meeting together.

Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn in Vienna, Austria, on May 26, 2012. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHD

Standing at a balcony window nearby, Cardinal Schönborn took the opportunity to explain some of the restoration work that has been taking place at St Stephen’s, the most important religious building in Vienna, before the bells rang out calling him back to the cathedral. His Holiness and the Chancellor continued to discuss matters of mutual concern.

Next, His Holiness drove to the University of Vienna to attend a symposium on Buddhism and Science: Mind & Matter – New Models of Reality, where he was welcomed by the Rector of the University, Heinz Engl.

Describing it as a great honour for him to participate in the discussions, His Holiness noted that towards the end of the last century, scientists had begun to take a serious interest in the workings of our minds and emotions. He said he had been fascinated by how things work since he was a child and learned a great deal about how electricity functions from investigating the movie projector and generator that had belonged to the 13th Dalai Lama.

About 40 years ago he began to learn about cosmology, neuropsychology and quantum physics and for nearly 30 years has been conducting regular dialogues with scientists. The purpose of these dialogues is, firstly, to extend human knowledge, not only in the material field, but also the inner space of our minds, and, secondly, through exploring such phenomena as a calm mind, to promote human happiness.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama and fellow panelists during the symposium on Buddhism and science “Mind and Matter – New Models of Reality” at the University of Vienna, in Vienna, Austria, on May 26, 2012. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
With Mr Gert Scobel moderating, Prof Dr Anton Zeilinger, Prof Dr Klaus-Dieter Mathes, Dr Patrizia Giampieri-Deutsch made their presentations, which explored aspects of quantum physics, Madhyamaka philosophy and psychoanalysis.

His Holiness hosted a lunch at his hotel for all the speakers that was also attended by Kalon Tripa, Dr Lobsang Sangay, social and human rights activist Bianca Jagger, former French Foreign Minister and co-founder of Médecins Sans Frontières, Bernard Kouchner and other friends who were in Vienna to attend the European Rally for Tibet. In the afternoon session of the Science symposium, Prof Dr Michael von Brück and Prof Dr Wolf Singer gave informative presentations on how the mind understands the structure of reality and the search for neuronal correlates of consciousness.

As the symposium came to an end, His Holiness expressed his appreciation, “Over the 30 or 40 years that I have been acquainted with scientists, I have noticed how many of them are acutely aware of the limitations of their knowledge. It is a good quality to recognise that our scope for learning is vast. They display an open-mindedness that is really admirable.”

A memorandum of co-operation was signed between Prof Geshe Ngawang Samten, Director and Vice Chancellor of the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies in Sarnath, Varanasi, India and the Rector of Vienna University, Heinz Engl, providing for an exchange of students and scholars of the two institutions. Geshe Tenzin Dhargye, Director of the Tibet Center that has organized the various functions His Holiness has attended in Austria on this visit, offered his thanks to His Holiness and everyone who has participated.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama greeting the crowd of over 10,000 at the European Solidarity Rally for Tibet at the Vienna Heldenplatz in Vienna, Austria, on May 26, 2012. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
In the warm, late afternoon, His Holiness drove to Vienna’s Heldenplatz where 10,000 people had assembled for the European Solidarity Rally for Tibet. Addressing his dear brothers and sisters in the crowd, he told them how happy he was to be there and that he would like to first say a few words in Tibetan to the Tibetans present.

“Our culture is under threat of destruction, therefore I want to take this opportunity to speak my own language. Archaeological findings indicate that Tibetan history dates back 3-4000 years. We Tibetans must not forget our identity, for our blood, flesh and bones come from Tibet. Since the 7th century we have employed the Tibetan written language in which the most complete and thorough translations have been made of Buddhist knowledge from the original Sanskrit. This is a treasure for the world, not only for Tibetans. And when we talk about preserving Tibetan Buddhist culture, I don’t mean just paying respects before a Buddhist image, but putting the teachings into practice and trying to live as good human beings.”

He talked about the urgent need to protect the Tibetan environment, which because it is the source of many of the rivers that run through Asia is of value not only to Tibetans but millions of others too. He expressed the fear that once environmental damage has taken place it will take a great deal of time to recover. Distinguishing Buddhist religion, which is the business of Buddhist practitioners, from Buddhist culture, which, as a culture of peace, honesty and compassion, is worth preserving for the good of the world.

Meanwhile, millions of Chinese are already showing interest in Tibetan Buddhist culture. His Holiness stressed that the damage and destruction of Tibetan Buddhist culture that has taken place was not because Tibetans were not interested, but because of the difficult political circumstances in which they find themselves.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking at the European Solidarity Rally for Tibet at the Vienna Heldenplatz in Vienna, Austria, on May 26, 2012. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

“Because of our Buddhist culture we are committed to the principle of non-violence. We are an example of a small community who have remained dedicated to pursuing our struggle through non-violent means, which is why your support is so extremely valuable and I want to tell you how much I appreciate it.

“Finally, I see how many of you are waving the Tibetan flag. Chinese hard-liners often refer to our flag as a symbol of splittist tendencies, but I want to tell you that when I was in China 1954-55, I met Chairman Mao Zedong and other leaders on several occasions. Once, Chairman Mao asked me, ‘Do you have a flag?’ I hesitantly answered, ‘Yes,’ and his reply was to say, ‘Good, it is important that you keep this flag and fly it next to the red flag of China. So I feel I received permission then to fly this flag from Chairman Mao himself.”

Tomorrow afternoon, following a meeting with the press to highlight inter-religious harmony and several private meetings during the morning, His Holiness will board a flight from Vienna to return to India.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 26th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

For almost half a century the Dalai Lama has been a headache for China’s communist leaders. Beijing regularly denounces the Tibetan spiritual leader as a traitor and a “splittist.”

Since fleeing to India in 1959, the Dalai Lama has brought world attention to the struggle to free Tibet from China’s grasp, winning the Nobel Peace Prize and international recognition in the process.

The Dalai Lama recognizes the Sovereignty of China and wants a peaceful resolution.

Tibetans Fear for Their Future after the Dalai Lama.

While Tibetans revere him, some worry that they have come to rely too heavily on the 66-year-old leader and that his death would deeply harm their cause. ”The institution of the Dalai Lama, it’s one of Tibet’s great strengths –  At the same time, it’s one of our weaknesses, because all of us are dependent on him,” said Thubten Samphel, information secretary for the exiled Tibetan government.

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The Dalai Lama (Ocean of Wisdom) is in Europe for a campaign of  TIBET NEEDS YOU NOW.  He speaks to the Tibetan diaspora but also to many local friends. Former High government officials have no problem being seen on stage with him and current Heads of State meet him in private so they do not infuriate the China government. The topic is – “Occupation is Unacceptable and Oppression is Unbearable.” The events got enhanced by the fact that 35 people did self-immolate in Tibet recently – this as all form of protest of the occupation by China is forbidden and facing  jail people rather would die and sacrifice themselves to the cause. The Dalai Lama believes in peaceful resolution but as religious person will pray for the dead. Nevertheless he mentions the start of the Arab Spring with the self immolation of a man in Tunisia – and he also said that hundreds of thousands of Muslims in China have accepted the Buddhist culture and are on the side of the Tibetans.

I saw his large indoor appearance in Klagenfurt together with former Chancellor Gussenbauer, and was present at his big outdoor event at the Heldenplatz with very recent French Foreign Minister Kouchner. I read in the papers that Chancellor Faymann, Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Spindellegger, and the Head Of the Catholic Church in Austria, Kardinal Schoenborn, will meet him in private. President Heinz Fischer on the other hand seems to have decided that the ONE-CHINA policy and the fact that he is here as the Head of a Religion, does not allow him to receive the Dalai Lama. In effect,  Mr. Spindelegger, the Foreign Minister, came to the indoor meeting the Dalai Lama had with 8,000 believers at the City Hall, where the topic was “Ethics in the Modern Society.” The Dalai Lama is no more the Head of  Tibet – that position was passed on to the DHARAMSALA, India, seated Prime Minister in Exile Lobsang Sangay who moved there from his Harvard Law School position.  The Dalai Lama sees himself now only as Religious leader and warden of Tibetan culture. He recognizes the Chinese Sovereignty and hopes for a peaceful resolution. On the flag the Tibetans are displaying he said that in 1954-1955 he stayed in Peking and Chairman Mao told him that preserving the flag next to the China red flag is important. He feels thus that displaying the flag is not an anti-China move and he denies the term “splittist.” The Dalai Lama even said that who loves Tibet has to love also China – that is the right way – he said – but it still did not insure him and austria from China Government wrath.

At the Heldenplatz the signs read The People Demand the safe return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet and the event is titled – EUROPEAN RALLY FOR TIBET – to be followed on www.EuropeforTibet.com and  present on the lawn were people from all over Europe – Buddhists and non-Buddhists.

Tibet is not a theocracy – it rather is a democracy that has now a parliament and a secular Prime Minister, and Mr. Bernard Kouchner suggested a EU Special Coordinator be established and an EU delegation sent to Tibet. It is ridiculous that China with 1.3 billion people is afraid of  6 million Tibetans, he said.

Barbara Stoeckl, a TV Personality did the introductions, Bianca Jagger and Francesca von Habsburg, and a young Tibetan woman from Switzerland were on stage at the outdoor event. The young Buddhist said that starting in her baby carriage, she is part of this Buddhist of Tibet rallying for Tibet culture.

Actor Maximillian Schell read at the Heldenplatz the Hermann Hesse writing appropriate to the history of these grounds in the days of Nazism, outside the Austrian Presidential Palace – “Rather be killed by the fascists then be one myself – rather be killed by the communists then be one myself.”

Professor Nusbaumer, for nearly 20 years he had been Editor-in-Chief of the influential Austrian newspaper Kurier. In 1990-1999, he held the post of Press Secretary of the President of Austria. Since 2003, Heinz Nussbaumer has been issuing the religion Die Furche magazine, a backer of Tibet and  a friend of Heinrich Harrer (Seven Years in Tibet – 1952, Lost Lhasa – 1953, ” Wherever I live, I shall feel homesick for Tibet.”) is the contact of the Tibetan soft advances and the Press.

The Dalai Lama made some further points with high relevance to our media:

Many rivers in Asia start in the Tibet snow mountains of the Himalaya – life in Asia depends on these waters. So, it is not only 6 million people’s interest, but of humanity in general. Tibetan’s involvement is important to China and India and many others. Damage to the ecology will take  a long period to recover, he said.

He went out of his way to distinguish between religion and culture. The Tibetan Culture of Peace and compassion – this is also not only a Buddhist interest – but of the whole world.

The world experiences hypocrisy and division into rich and poverty – the culture of Buddhism is one of honesty and peace and compassion – worthwhile to preserve.

Now we have it – it is about:  Positioned between two giants – India and China - PRESERVATION OF CULTURE, ENVIRONMENT AND POLITICAL RIGHTS – THIS IS THE ESSENCE OF THE PUSH OF TIBETAN BUDDHIST CULTURE.  A SMALL COMMUNITY OF 6 MILLION PEOPLE SHOWING AN EXAMPLE OF PEACE TO THE WORLD.

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UDATES:

I found out that the 14th Dalai Lama arrived to Vienna on Friday evening after trips to Klagenfurt and Salzeberg.

Saturday morning he had breakfast with Chancellor Faymann and Kardinal Schoenborn at the Do&Co Restaurant across from the Cathedral,  then he met with 8,000 Tibetan Buddhists and European Friends where he spoke about Ethics and Mr. Spindelegger was there also – these two events, with the Kardinal present in the first event, and the address to his people of faith on ethics, turn his visit as a representation of him being a religious and cultural leader – not a Head of State, so it does not give the Chinese government clear reason to complain. Nevertheless, complain they did!

The reaction of Austria was just as swift – all Sunday newspapers lauded the Chancellor and the Vice-Chancellor for not having given in to the China-threat and the way it was done taking all levels of diplomacy in account.

The Oesterreich writes about the Joy that Surrounded the Dalai Lama.

Die Presse starts with half of its front page saying that Austria is proud for standing up to China. The paper applauds the Chancellor and the Vice Chancellor and points a finger at the hesitancy of the President. I rather feel that these were not individual decisions – but a collective decision so built that the China protest will look ridiculous – and the Chinese obliged. By now protesting the Dalai lama has become a Chinese ritual and they seem to be stuck in their policy. The paper points at the China Tibet policy as a Nationalistic tool with which they stoke up the Han Nationalism fire – but then there is a danger that this same fire will also someday sweep out the Chinese leadership like in similar conditions it worked against Arab established governments.

The Kronen Zeitung points out the playfulness of the Dalai Lama that is contagious. The fact that at 4 years of age it was decided that he is a reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama his name changed to Tendzin Gyatsho, and he was physically moved to the Palace in Lhasa, and at age 15 declared Head of Tibet. At age 24 he had to escape to India and since then – to his present age of 66, he is fighting  against the oppression of his people.

And this is a Symbol as well, today is Pentcostal Sunday Pfingsten in German and Shawuot in Hebrew. This is Pentecost means “fiftieth day” since the Jewish Passover – or the Holiday of Freedom – the day Judaism celebrates the receiving of the laws and the covenant with God. Christianity changed this to 50 days from Easter and the arrival of the Holly Ghost. The Holly Spirit is also understood by buddhists and this law based spiritual behavior is what can link all three into a joint effort – to which the Dalai Lama insists at bringing in also the Koran obeying Muslims in which he sees allies in his homeland of Tibet as well as in the rest of the Muslim World.

The Kurrier did cover in several lines the fact that the Austrian President contended that it is his right to not be pushed into a China policy set by others. He rather wants the right to take his own correct decisions.

Tomorrow is Pentecostal Monday and we are not sure that there will be newspapers, so by Tuesday the comments about China objections may be forgotten. So might be what was said at the Sunday meeting at the Hilton hotel where The Dalai Lama and Kardinal Scoenborn discussed basically bridging-matters arising of religion. The third person at the table was moderator Professor Nusbaumer and as well an interpreter who mainly changed the English into German.

The discussion between the two star participants was mainly on personal experiences of  both being monastic monks dedicated to improving themselves and radiating these changes to the world, and help their coreligionists as well as others. The four or five questions from the audience were also about matters of faith, even if dealing with unemployed youth, the expectation of keeping a body in limbo before leaving it soul-less, the possibility of having the Buddhist Lama believe in Christ  (on this he answered that though this being a question of faith – he fully accepts the validity of the teachings of Christ) – in fairness – not my kind of questions.

Nevertheless, I had my chance, after the official meeting to ask His Highness the Dalai Lama about material relating to his statement of yesterday when he spoke about ecology, the importance of Tibet Water to the region and the whole of humanity,    and the divide between a few rich and much poverty?  I said I am asking this in context of the upcoming Rio+20 Conference and  I was promised that Mr. Tenzin Taklha, from the Office of his Holiness the Dalai Lama, will provide me the requested information. I hope to be able to present this in my next Update.

Following the Press Conference, The Dalai Lama was taken to the Vienna St.Stephen’s Cathedral – The Stephansdom. Then he was going to be returned to the Hilton hotel for two additional meetings – first for a reception with “Save the Children of Tibet” and after that to a closed meeting with the families of Mongolian Buddhists.

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europefortibet.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Press_Release_21_May_EN.pdf

journalism.berkeley.edu/projects/greaterchina/story-tibetans.html


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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 15th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

ALL photos CREDITS: “Sabrina Cecconi -WHCA”

The Gathering in the Low Library Rotunda at Columbia University for Purpose of the Workshop on Happiness.

CREDITS: “Sabrina Cecconi -WHCA”

CREDITS: “Sabrina Cecconi -WHCA”

CREDITS: Sabrina Cecconi -WHCA

The Bhutan Prime Minister backed up by the facilitator of the Communications Group

CREDITS: “Sabrina Cecconi -WHCA”

Nobel Prize winning economist Professor Joeseph Stieglitz makes a presentation at Columbia U.

CREDITS: “Sabrina Cecconi -WHCA”

Professor Jeffrey Sachs is the Columbia University host to the Prime Minister and to the Happiness Concept.

CREDITS: “Sabrina Cecconi -WHCA”

The President of Costa Rica gives the Keynote presentation for the Monday, April 2, 2012, UN General Assembly mandated  meetings at the UN.

CREDITS: “Sabrina Cecconi -WHCA”

Ron Colman of the Secretariat of Happiness speaks at the Communications Strategy Session April 3, 2010 in the building of the Bhutan Mission to the UN.

CREDITS: “Sabrina Cecconi -WHCA”

Hunter Lovins makes the case for positive business

CREDITS: “Sabrina Cecconi -WHCA”

Comments from the floor and people that would like to see a strong media effort.

CREDITS: “Sabrina Cecconi -WHCA”

Comments from the floor and people of 9-11 religious attitudes – the spiritual/moral backing of Happiness.

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United Nations Conference on Well-being and Happiness
New York City, April 2-4, 2012

CREDITS: “Sabrina Cecconi -WHCA”

WHCA (The World Happiness Communication Associates)  - www.whcaonline.org/ - partcipated in the planning and communications group charged with creating an overall road map and action plan for forward movement towards the new economy, including a special event at Rio + 20, plans to communicate the vision of the new economy widely, and development of short and medium-term policies that governments can be urged to adopt to make concrete moves towards the new economy.
[read more]
Statement of spiritual leaders
Plenary presentation, communication group
Pictures of the meetings

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 15th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


PRESS - www.maryjuddcommunications.com/Ma…

Mary Judd works out of Albany, the Capital City of the State of New York.


UN Meeting on Happiness & Well-Being that was held in New York City – April 2-4, 2012:

Developing a New Economic Paradigm

and as well the movie HAPPY by award winning director Roko Belic

that had its own Global Discussion about Happiness with HAPPY Worldwide Movie Premiere

of Feb. 11, 2012  -  that was organized as a “World Happy Day”

——-

The film HAPPY was inspired by a challenge. Executive producer Tom Shadyac (Bruce Almighty, Liar, Liar, Patch Adams) read a New York Times article ranking the U.S. 23rd in happiness. He asked Belic to find out why.

Belic investigated questions like,

•What is happiness and where does it come from?

•How do we balance the allure for money, power and social status with our need for strong social relationships, health and personal fulfillment?

Viewers are treated to a global cinematic quest that travels from the bayous of Louisiana to the deserts of Namibia, from the beaches of Brazil to the mountains of Bhutan and beyond. Stories of joy, connection, adversity and courage are interspersed with interviews of several of the world’s leading experts in the science of happiness and well-being.

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The PRESS release for the UN-sponsored Bhutan-led events – New York City – April 2 – 4, 2012:

The high-level meeting on “Happiness and Well Being: Defining A New Economic Paradigm” convened by the Royal Government of Bhutan on April 2 at United Nations headquarters in New York City took a major step towards a sustainable, holistic, inclusive, and equitable new economic development paradigm for the global community.

The conference was attended by about 700 political and government leaders, scholars, economists, philosophers, scientists, media, civil society, UN officials, entrepreneurs, and spiritual leaders from the world’s major faiths. Two hundred participants continued intensive discussions on April 3 and 4 to work out details of the goals of the conference: to submit a report  to the Secretary General of the United Nations for distribution to all UN member states; to distribute a set of recommendations for national economic policies, based on happiness and well beingWell-being, to all heads of government around the world; to draft a new development paradigm to be submitted to the UN General Assembly next year; and to build a global movement and design a communications strategy to enhance the global understanding of well-being and happiness and advance the new economic paradigm.

The conference proposed that the Bhutanese Prime Minister, Jigmi Yoezer Thinley, convene a commission of experts to expand on the dimensions of the new economy. The Prime Minister will also present the report of the conference at the Rio+20 United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, to be held in Brazil in June of this year.

“A great beginning has been made but it is the end that we must strive for,” Prime Minister Jigmi Thinley said at the conclusion of the three-day discussions. “I hope that by 2015 the international community will have adopted a sustainability-based economic paradigm committed to promoting true human well-being and happiness, and ensuring, at the same time,, the survival of all species with  which we share this planet.”

Inspired by the Bhutanese development philosophy of Gross National Happiness, the April 2 conference was a follow up to the 2011 United Nations Resolution that invited member countries “to pursue the elaboration of additional measures that better capture the importance of the pursuit of happiness and well-being in development with a view to guiding their public policies”.  The resolution was co-sponsored by 68 countries and endorsed by all the member nations of the United Nations.

“Gross National Product has long been the yardstick by which economies and politicians have been measured,” said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, when he inaugurated the conference. “Yet it fails to take into account the social and environmental costs of so-called progress. Bhutan recognized the supremacy of national happiness over national income in the early 1970s.”

Among the U.N. leadership and representatives of governments were the President of the 66th Session of the UN General Assembly, Mr. Nassir Abdul Aziz Al-Nasser; President of the Economic and Social Council, Mr. Miloš Koterec ; and the UNDP Administrator, Ms. Helen Clark, who chaired the opening session. High-level representatives of governments around the world addressed the conference, with the keynote address given by Ms. Laura Chinchilla, President of the Republic of Costa Rica, a country which is universally recognized for its outstanding achievements in environmental conservation and its exemplary sustainable development record.

Ms. Chinchilla said that there were many paths to happiness. “Human history, as well as current realities, teaches us that the paths to well-being are deeply connected to the respect for dignity, and the creation of opportunities to freely pursue our full and harmonious realization as part of the natural and social milieu,” she said. “But the more global initiative, unanimously embraced by the United Nations, is the one launched by Bhutan. It is thanks to this initiative that we have met today, in this house of all the people of the United Nations, and from now on we will be players in its evolution.””

Representing the Prime Minister of India, the Minister of State for Environment and Forests, Mrs. Jayanthi Natarajan, thanked Bhutan for bringing happiness to the discourse on sustainable development. “We share your belief that human development should be based in equal measure on material progress, social inclusion, cultural life and living in harmony with nature,” she said. “Our religious traditions,traditions and philosophies have all taught us to look for inner peace and happiness as the ultimate objective.”

The conference focused on a new economic paradigm in a perspective of four dimensions with well-being and happiness as the accepted purpose of development. “I believe that the majority of people around the world today are contemplating the issue of the soundness of the present way of life and the need for a different way of life,” said Prime Minister Jigmi Thinley. “They are seeking a way of life that is more meaningful, sustainable, just and equitable, a way of life that will lead each of us to an ultimate goal,goal, and that is happiness.”

Expert panelists spoke on strategies to reach this goal. Professor Robert Costanza, Distinguished University Professor of Sustainability at Portland State University, and Editor-in-Chief of Solutions magazine, pointed out that there had been dramatic changes in the world. “We no longer live in a relatively empty world,” he said. “We live in a whole new geologic era. We’ve also framed this issue in a very negative way. We need a better way of integrating these different perspectives. We’re also learning that complex systems behave in complex ways. We can’t expect things to behave smoothly… And the basic point here is that sustainable human happiness requires a healthy ecological life system, so I think that’s one of the primary building blocks of a sustainable and desirable future.”

Ms. Michelle Bachelet, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, and the Former President of the Republic of Chile, said that the goal of human well-being must include all of humanity – women and men, girls and boys. “When I’m talking about inclusiveness, I’m talking about what is the kind of world we are dealing with today where, out of seven billion people 5.1 billion, or 75% of the world, are not covered with any minimal social security – a world that is so high in inequalities,” she said. “We need ethical leadership that can ensure fair distribution that is demanded everywhere, by those who are crying and asking for freedom and social justice in their world… so we need leadership to uproot greed, corruption, and repression.”

Professor Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate and Professor of Economics, Columbia University, said that efficient use of resources was critical. “What we measure affects what we do, and the reason for creating better metrics is to affect our policy, and that’s why it’s so important what Bhutan has done – Gross National Happiness – it really does change policy frameworks,” he said. “We have to be very conscious that people in our society, different people are experiencing different things, and our commitment to equitable development means that we have to focus on the experiences not of the average but on what’s happening to all of our citizens, including those at the bottom and middle.”

While panelists focused on the dimensions of the new economic paradigm, the conference heard impassioned statements by personalities known for seminal academic work and thinking on happiness, well-being, sustainability, the economy and spiritual traditions. The Venerable Matthieu Ricard, Buddhist scholar, of the Shechen Monastery, Nepal, emphasized the importance of mind training and interpretation of happiness as a skill. “In the end, it is our mind that translates the outer conditions into either genuine happiness or misery,” he explained. “It is our mind that we deal with from morning till evening. It is our minds that can be our best friends, our worst enemy. So we should not underestimate the power of mind to conjour happiness or suffering. Happiness is a way of being that comes with genuine altruistic love and, serenity, which, that can be cultivated as a skill day after day, month after month.”

On April 1, 2012, one A day before the conference the Earth Institute at Columbia University hosted a meeting of about 100 academics, scientists, and philosophers, including four Nobel Laureates, and unveiled the “World Happiness Report”. The report presents methodological tools, assessment procedures, and scientific support for the measurement of happiness as a development indicator and also grades the countries of the world on these new dimensions.

According to Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, large-scale collection of happiness data will improve macroeconomic policy-making and can inform service delivery. “Four steps to improve policy-making are the measurement of happiness, explanation of happiness, putting happiness at the centre of analysis, and translation of well-being research into design and delivery of services,” he said.

Among the distinguished spiritual leaders were Abbot Roshi Joan Halifax, Venerable Matthieu Ricard, Swami Atmapriyananda, Rabbi Awarham Soetendorp, Kalsang Gyaltsen, Jane Carpenter, Ken Kitatani, and others, who addressed the conference on the importance of well-being and happiness from spiritual perspectives, and led the gathering in silent meditation and prayer.

The United Nations Conference on Well-being and Happiness was watched by several million people through conventional and social media that allowed both images and sounds of the visibly enthusiastic media to be picked up by the digital world..

The Bhutanese delegates at the conference said that the global response was overwhelming and that the expectations of the global community were somewhat intimidating and also inspiring for Bhutan.

For Further Details, Please Contact:

Sonam Tobgay

The Permanent Mission of Bhutan

Tel: 1-646-705-2313

sonamtobs@gmail.com

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