links about us archives search home
SustainabiliTankSustainabilitank menu graphic
SustainabiliTank

 
 
Follow us on Twitter

CubaMadagascarNew ZealandSri Lanka
Off AfricaCaribbean Island StatesPacific Island States

 
Islands & SIDS:

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 29th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

Photo

A worker at a hydraulic fracturing operation in Rifle, Colo. Natural gas production releases methane, which contributes to greenhouse gas pollution. Credit Brennan Linsley/Associated Press

 

 

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Friday announced a strategy to start slashing emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas released by landfills, cattle, and leaks from oil and natural gas production.

The methane strategy is the latest step in a series of White House actions aimed at addressing climate change without legislation from Congress. Individually, most of the steps will not be enough to drastically reduce the United States’ contribution to global warming. But the Obama administration hopes that collectively they will build political support for more substantive domestic actions while signaling to other countries that the United States is serious about tackling global warming.

 

In a 2009 United Nations climate change accord, President Obama pledged that by 2020 the United States would lower its greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels. “This methane strategy is one component, one set of actions to get there,” Dan Utech, the president’s special assistant for energy and climate change, said on Friday in a phone call with reporters.

Environmental advocates have long urged the Obama administration to target methane emissions. Most of the planet-warming greenhouse gas pollution in the United States comes from carbon dioxide, which is produced by burning coal, oil and natural gas. Methane accounts for just 9 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas pollution — but the gas is over 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, so even small amounts of it can have a big impact on future global warming.

And methane emissions are projected to increase in the United States, as the nation enjoys a boom in oil and natural gas production, thanks to breakthroughs in hydraulic fracturing technology. A study published in the journal Science last month found that methane is leaking from oil and natural gas drilling sites and pipelines at rates 50 percent higher than previously thought. As he works to tackle climate change, Mr. Obama has generally supported the natural gas production boom, since natural gas, when burned for electricity, produces just half the greenhouse gas pollution of coal-fired electricity.

Environmental groups like the Sierra Club have campaigned against the boom in natural gas production, warning that it could lead to dangerous levels of methane pollution, undercutting the climate benefits of gas. The oil and gas industry has resisted pushes to regulate methane leaks from production, saying it could slow that down.

A White House official said on Friday that this spring, the Environmental Protection Agency would assess several potentially significant sources of methane and other emissions from the oil and gas sector, and that by this fall the agency “will determine how best to pursue further methane reductions from these sources.” If the E.P.A. decides to develop additional regulations, it would complete them by the end of 2016 — just before Mr. Obama leaves office.

 

Among the steps the administration announced on Friday to address methane pollution:

-  The Interior Department will propose updated standards to reduce venting and flaring of methane from oil and gas production on public lands.

-  In April, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management will begin to gather public comment on the development of a program for the capture and sale of methane produced by coal mines on lands leased by the ederal government.

-  This summer, the E.P.A. will propose updated standards to reduce methane emissions from new landfills and take public comment on whether to update standards for existing landfills.

-  In June, the Agriculture Department, the Energy Department and the E.P.A. will release a joint “biogas road map” aimed at accelerating adoption of methane digesters, machines that reduce methane emissions from cattle, in order to cut dairy-sector greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020.

Advocates of climate action generally praised the plan. “Cutting methane emissions will be especially critical to climate protection as the U.S. develops its huge shale gas reserves, gaining the full greenhouse gas benefit from the switch away from coal,” said Paul Bledsoe, a former White House climate change aide under President Bill Clinton, now with the German Marshall Fund.

Howard J. Feldman, director of regulatory and scientific affairs for the American Petroleum Institute, which lobbies for oil and gas companies, said he hoped the steps would not lead to new regulations on his industry. “We think regulation is not necessary at this time,” he said. “People are using a lot more natural gas in the country, and that’s reducing greenhouse gas.”

Since cattle flatulence and manure are a significant source of methane, farmers have long been worried that a federal methane control strategy could place a burden on them. But Andrew Walmsley, director of congressional relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation, said that his group was pleased that, for now, the administration’s proposals to reduce methane from cattle were voluntary.

“All indications are that it’s voluntary,” he said, “but we do see increased potential for scrutiny for us down the line, which would cause concern.”

—————————

Related Coverage:

slideshow

Photographs: Rising Seas,

==============================================================================================—————————————————————————————————————————————————

 

Asia Pacific

Borrowed Time on Disappearing Land:

Facing Rising Seas, Bangladesh Confronts the Consequences of Climate Change

Bangladesh, with its low elevation and severe tropical storms, is among the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, though it has contributed little to the emissions that are driving it. Credit Kadir van Lohuizen for The New York Times

DAKOPE, Bangladesh — When a powerful storm destroyed her riverside home in 2009, Jahanara Khatun lost more than the modest roof over her head. In the aftermath, her husband died and she became so destitute that she sold her son and daughter into bonded servitude. And she may lose yet more.

Ms. Khatun now lives in a bamboo shack that sits below sea level about 50 yards from a sagging berm. She spends her days collecting cow dung for fuel and struggling to grow vegetables in soil poisoned by salt water. Climate scientists predict that this area will be inundated as sea levels rise and storm surges increase, and a cyclone or another disaster could easily wipe away her rebuilt life. But Ms. Khatun is trying to hold out at least for a while — one of millions living on borrowed time in this vast landscape of river islands, bamboo huts, heartbreaking choices and impossible hopes.

Play Video
Video|0:35

Home in the Delta — Like many of her neighbors, Nasrin Khatun, unrelated to Jahanara Khatun, navigates daily life in a disappearing landscape.

As the world’s top scientists meet in Yokohama, Japan, this week, at the top of the agenda is the prediction that global sea levels could rise as much as three feet by 2100. Higher seas and warmer weather will cause profound changes.

Climate scientists have concluded that widespread burning of fossil fuels is releasing heat-trapping gases that are warming the planet. While this will produce a host of effects, the most worrisome may be the melting of much of the earth’s ice, which is likely to raise sea levels and flood coastal regions.

Such a rise will be uneven because of gravitational effects and human intervention, so predicting its outcome in any one place is difficult. But island nations like the Maldives, Kiribati and Fiji may lose much of their land area, and millions of Bangladeshis will be displaced.

“There are a lot of places in the world at risk from rising sea levels, but Bangladesh is at the top of everybody’s list,” said Rafael Reuveny, a professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University at Bloomington. “And the world is not ready to cope with the problems.”

The effects of climate change have led to a growing sense of outrage in developing nations, many of which have contributed little to the pollution that is linked to rising temperatures and sea levels but will suffer the most from the consequences.

A woman stood where her house was before Cyclone Aila destroyed it in 2009. Scientists expect rising sea levels to submerge 17 percent of Bangladesh’s land and displace 18 million people in the next 40 years. Credit Kadir van Lohuizen for The New York Times

At a climate conference in Warsaw in November, there was an emotional outpouring from countries that face existential threats, among them Bangladesh, which produces just 0.3 percent of the emissions driving climate change. Some leaders have demanded that rich countries compensate poor countries for polluting the atmosphere. A few have even said that developed countries should open their borders to climate migrants.

“It’s a matter of global justice,” said Atiq Rahman, executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Advanced Studies and the nation’s leading climate scientist. “These migrants should have the right to move to the countries from which all these greenhouse gases are coming. Millions should be able to go to the United States.”

River deltas around the globe are particularly vulnerable to the effects of rising seas, and wealthier cities like London, Venice and New Orleans also face uncertain futures. But it is the poorest countries with the biggest populations that will be hit hardest, and none more so than Bangladesh, one of the most densely populated nations in the world. In this delta, made up of 230 major rivers and streams, 160 million people live in a place one-fifth the size of France and as flat as chapati, the bread served at almost every meal.

A Perilous Position

Though Bangladesh has contributed little to industrial air pollution, other kinds of environmental degradation have left it especially vulnerable.

Bangladesh relies almost entirely on groundwater for drinking supplies because the rivers are so polluted. The resultant pumping causes the land to settle. So as sea levels are rising, Bangladesh’s cities are sinking, increasing the risks of flooding. Poorly constructed sea walls compound the problem.

The country’s climate scientists and politicians have come to agree that by 2050, rising sea levels will inundate some 17 percent of the land and displace about 18 million people, Dr. Rahman said.

Bangladeshis have already started to move away from the lowest-lying villages in the river deltas of the Bay of Bengal, scientists in Bangladesh say. People move for many reasons, and urbanization is increasing across South Asia, but rising tides are a big factor. Dr. Rahman’s research group has made a rough estimate from small surveys that as many as 1.5 million of the five million slum inhabitants in Dhaka, the capital, moved from villages near the Bay of Bengal.

The slums that greet them in Dhaka are also built on low-lying land, making them almost as vulnerable to being inundated as the land villagers left behind.

Ms. Khatun and her neighbors have lived through deadly cyclones — a synonym here for hurricane — and have seen the salty rivers chew through villages and poison fields. Rising seas are increasingly intruding into rivers, turning fresh water brackish. Even routine flooding then leaves behind salt deposits that can render land barren.

Making matters worse, much of what the Bangladeshi government is doing to stave off the coming deluge — raising levees, dredging canals, pumping water — deepens the threat of inundation in the long term, said John Pethick, a former professor of coastal science at Newcastle University in England who has spent much of his retirement studying Bangladesh’s predicament. Rich nations are not the only ones to blame, he said.

In an analysis of decades of tidal records published in October, Dr. Pethick found that high tides in Bangladesh were rising 10 times faster than the global average. He predicted that seas in Bangladesh could rise as much as 13 feet by 2100, four times the global average. In an area where land is often a thin brown line between sky and river — nearly a quarter of Bangladesh is less than seven feet above sea level — such an increase would have dire consequences, Dr. Pethick said.

“The reaction among Bangladeshi government officials has been to tell me that I must be wrong,” he said. “That’s completely understandable, but it also means they have no hope of preparing themselves.”

Dr. Rahman said that he did not disagree with Mr. Pethick’s findings, but that no estimate was definitive. Other scientists have predicted more modest rises. For example, Robert E. Kopp, an associate director of the Rutgers Energy Institute at Rutgers University, said that data from nearby Kolkata, India, suggested that seas in the region could rise five to six feet by 2100.

“There is no doubt that preparations within Bangladesh have been utterly inadequate, but any such preparations are bound to fail because the problem is far too big for any single government,” said Tariq A. Karim, Bangladesh’s ambassador to India. “We need a regional and, better yet, a global solution. And if we don’t get one soon, the Bangladeshi people will soon become the world’s problem, because we will not be able to keep them.”

Mr. Karim estimated that as many as 50 million Bangladeshis would flee the country by 2050 if sea levels rose as expected.

Continue reading the main story
Disappearing Land

Losing Everything

Already, signs of erosion are everywhere in the Ganges Delta — the world’s largest delta, which empties much of the water coming from the Himalayas. There are brick foundations torn in half, palm trees growing out of rivers and rangy cattle grazing on island pastures the size of putting greens. Fields are dusted white with salt.

Even without climate change, Bangladesh is among the most vulnerable places in the world to bad weather: The V-shaped Bay of Bengal funnels cyclones straight into the country’s fan-shaped coastline.

Some scientists believe that rising temperatures will lead to more extreme weather worldwide, including stronger and more frequent cyclones in the Bay of Bengal. And rising seas will make any storm more dangerous because flooding will become more likely.

Bangladesh has done much to protect its population by creating an early-warning system and building at least 2,500 concrete storm shelters. The result has been a vast reduction in storm-related deaths. While Cyclone Bhola in 1970 killed as many as 550,000 people, Cyclone Aila in 2009 killed 300. The deadliest part of the storm was the nearly 10-foot wall of water that roared through villages in the middle of the afternoon.

The poverty of people like Ms. Khatun makes them particularly vulnerable to storms. When Aila hit, Ms. Khatun was home with her husband, parents and four children. A nearby berm collapsed, and their mud and bamboo hut washed away in minutes. Unable to save her belongings, Ms. Khatun put her youngest child on her back and, with her husband, fought through surging waters to a high road. Her parents were swept away.

“After about a kilometer, I managed to grab a tree,” said Abddus Satter, Ms. Khatun’s father. “And I was able to help my wife grab on as well. We stayed on that tree for hours.”

The couple eventually shifted to the roof of a nearby hut. The family reunited on the road the next day after the children spent a harrowing night avoiding snakes that had sought higher ground, too. They drank rainwater until rescuers arrived a day or two later with bottled water, food and other supplies.

The ordeal took a severe toll on Ms. Khatun’s husband, whose health soon deteriorated. To pay for his treatment and the cost of rebuilding their hut, the family borrowed money from a loan shark. In return, Ms. Khatun and her three older children, then 10, 12 and 15, promised to work for seven months in a nearby brickmaking factory. She later sold her 11- and 13-year-old children to the owner of another brick factory, this one in Dhaka, for $450 to pay more debts. Her husband died four years after the storm.

In an interview, one of her sons, Mamun Sardar, now 14, said he worked from dawn to dusk carrying newly made bricks to the factory oven.

He said he missed his mother, “but she lives far away.”


Play Video
Video|0:35

A Day’s Work:  At a brickmaking factory in Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital, Mamun Sardar works long hours to pay his family’s debts.

Impossible Hopes

Discussions about the effects of climate change in the Ganges Delta often become community events. In the village of Choto Jaliakhali, where Ms. Khatun lives, dozens of people said they could see that the river was rising. Several said they had been impoverished by erosion, which has cost many villagers their land.

Muhammad Moktar Ali said he could not think about the next storm because all he had in the world was his hut and village. “We don’t know how to support ourselves if we lost this,” he said, gesturing to his gathered neighbors. “It is God who will help us survive.”

Surveys show that residents of the delta do not want to migrate, Dr. Rahman said. Moving to slums in already-crowded cities is their least preferred option.

But cities have become the center of Bangladesh’s textile industry, which is now the source of 80 percent of the country’s exports, 45 percent of its industrial employment and 15 percent of its gross domestic product.

Photographs

Rising Seas

Some areas of the globe are especially vulnerable to rising sea levels and inhabitants are being forced to make stark changes in their lives.

OPEN Photographs

In the weeks after the storm, the women of Dakope found firewood by wading into the raging river and pushing their toes into the muddy bottom. They walked hours to buy drinking water. After rebuilding the village’s berm and their own hut, Shirin Aktar and her husband, Bablu Gazi, managed to get just enough of a harvest to survive from their land, which has become increasingly infertile from salt water. Some plots that once sustained three harvests can now support just one; others are entirely barren.

After two hungry years, the couple gave up on farming and moved to the Chittagong, Bangladesh’s second-largest city, leaving their two children behind with Mr. Gazi’s mother.

Mr. Gazi found work immediately as a day laborer, mostly digging foundations. Ms. Aktar searched for a job as a seamstress, but headaches and other slum-induced health problems have so incapacitated her that the couple is desperate to return to Dakope.

“I don’t want to stay here for too long,” Mr. Gazi said. “If we can save some money, then we’ll go back. I’ll work on a piece of land and try to make it fertile again.”

But the chances of finding fertile land in his home village, where the salty rivers have eaten away acre upon acre, are almost zero.

Dozens of people gathered in the narrow mud alley outside Mr. Gazi’s room as he spoke. Some told similar stories of storms, loss and hope, and many nodded as Mr. Gazi spoke of his dreams of returning to his doomed village.

“All of us came here because of erosions and cyclones,” said Noakhali, a hollow-eyed 30-year-old with a single name who was wearing the traditional skirt of the delta. “Not one of us actually wants to live here.”

——————————————

Produced by Catherine Spangler, David Furst, Hannah Fairfield, Jacqueline Myint, Jeremy White and Shreeya Sinha.

A version of this article appears in print on March 29, 2014, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: As Seas Rise, Millions Cling to Borrowed Time and Dying Land.

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 1st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

FROM COHA – The Washington DC based Council on Hemispheric Affairs.
Photo Source: AP. Photo Source: AP.

NOW IT IS THE TIME FOR A WASHINGTON—CARACAS DIALOG, NOT SANCTIONS.

By: Larry Birns, Director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs; Frederick B. Mills, Senior Research Fellow at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs and Professor of Philosophy at Bowie State University.

At a time when Washington ought to seize upon overtures from Caracas for the re-establishment of full diplomatic relations and direct talks, the champions of the antiquated embargo against Cuba in the Senate are calling for sanctions against Venezuela. Such an approach to diplomacy with Venezuela would be detrimental to the development of a more constructive and mutually respectful US policy towards the region. Now is the time for a Washington—Caracas dialog, not sanctions.

 

Democratic Senator Bob Menéndez and Republican Senator Marco Rubio have introduced a proposed resolution in the Senate that would call on the Obama administration to study sanctions against Venezuela. The sanctions would be aimed at punishing “the violent repression suffered by pacific protesters” by targeting individual Venezuelan government officials. Of course, any state actors responsible for the repression of pacific demonstrations ought to be held accountable not only in Venezuela, but anywhere in the world. Indeed, the Venezuelan government is already taking steps to address this. The problem with the resolution is that it reflects a very myopic view of political violence in that nation. It also reflects an unproductive approach to diplomacy towards Venezuela as well as the region.

 

Not all demonstrations have been pacific. A significant amount of the violent demonstrations are ostensively anti- government.  The “exit” strategy being sought after by the ultra-right in Venezuela has generated violent anti-government demonstrations that have called for regime change through extra constitutional means. In other words, through a coup or by creating the escalating violence on the ground that might provoke a coup or an international intervention.

 

No doubt opposition demonstrators are not a homogeneous group and many prescribe to non-violent means of protesting. Yet it is indisputable that elements of anti-government protests, using the slogans of “exit,” have deployed incendiary bombs, rocks, guns, barricades, wire, and other instruments of violence against government and public property as well as people, resulting in injuries and death. But those who have resorted to violence are most often portrayed in the press as responding to repression, as if the government has no legitimate recourse in response to violent attacks on persons and property. To be sure, violence is generally condemned by the State Department, but accountability is selectively applied predominantly to government actors.

 

The Council on Hemispheric Affairs has been calling for a change of course in US policy towards Venezuela and the rest of the region based on mutual respect and dialog, not imperial intervention and subordination.

It was Caracas that instigated the tit for tat after the expulsion of consular officials, and COHA called the expulsion of US consular officials into question at the time. But now President Maduro has proposed a new ambassador to the US and direct talks with the Obama administration. The State Department has also, on occasion, expressed an openness to rapprochement, so now is the time to seize the moment, not wait to see which way the political winds will blow in Venezuela.

 

There is obviously a great ideological divide between nations that prescribe to some version of neoliberalism and those engaging in various experiments in 21st century socialism. Yet such differences need not translate into either hard or soft wars. At the January CELAC meeting in Cuba, the member states, despite their political differences, figured out a way to declare all of Latin America a region of peace and mutual respect. Meanwhile, there is a national peace conference underway in Caracas, called by the government, that commenced two days ago and includes an increasingly broad spectrum of opinion in the opposition, and seeks to overcome the boycott of the MUD.  This will take a pull back against war and for political competition through the ballot box.

 

Surely, in this context, there is room for Washington-Caracas diplomacy. Rather than impose sanctions on Venezuela, Washington ought to accept the proposed Venezuelan ambassador and enter into a dialog with Caracas based on mutual respect and the common goal of regional peace and human development.

Please accept this article as a free contribution from COHA, but if re-posting, please afford authorial and institutional attribution.

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 1st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

CIFNews
Administrative Unit,
Climate Investment Funds

T: 1.202.458.1801 | F: 1.202.522.2937 |
 cifnews@worldbank.org
1818 H St. NW, Washington D.C. 20433

www.climateinvestmentfunds.org | Follow us on @CIF_Action

Recent updates to the CIF Voices (blogs), videos  and news articles on CIF projects:

Snakes, Tomatoes, and Other Take Aways from the Asia-Pacific Dialogue on the GCF
Martha Stein-Sochas, CIF AU, Feb 26
Last week at the Asia-Pacific Dialogue on the Green Climate Fund (GCF), I heard many helpful suggestions and ideas from private sector participants on the GCF’s future Private Sector Facility, which aims to provide financing for climate action in the private sector.  But no advice was more powerful than that of Paul Needham, President and Co-founder of Simpa Networks, who related to us the need to move quickly, take risks, and be catalytic.

Lessons from the field on CIF results monitoring and reporting
Emmanuel Kouadio, CIF AU, Feb 14
For the Climate Investment Funds (CIF), understanding the tangible results of its funding is essential to learning and accountability. It has been no small task to make monitoring and reporting (M&R) a reality across the four programs and 48 countries that comprise the CIF. But this year, 2014, all CIF pilot countries will report on results and annually thereafter.

——————————-
World Bank, Government of Samoa Launch Climate Resilience Program
World Bank, February 6
“The World Bank is committed to helping small island states manage pressing risks from natural disasters and climate change,” said Drees-Gross. “Through the Climate Investment Funds, we are proud to support Samoa in critical efforts to increase the resilience of coastal communities and infrastructure, which could help protect their very survival as well as long-term development.”
Keeping Partnership Strong as PPCR Planning Turns to Action in Samoa
Litara Taulealo, Ministry of Finance, Samoa, Feb 18
Last week the government of Samoa and the World Bank announced the launch of a new project to support climate change adaptation measures for coastal communities. Our Enhancing the Climate Resilience of Coastal Resources and Communities Project, supported by $14.6 million from the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR), will assist 45,000 Samoans in coastal communities in adapting to climate change and climate variability, protect coastal infrastructure, and increase awareness about climate change impacts and adaptation activities among communities, civil society, and government entities.

——————————-

Drawing lessons from Turkey’s energy use, emissions and fuel mix
Sandy Ferguson, EBRD, Feb 5
One thing jumps out when looking at the Turkish Sustainable Energy Financing Facility (TurSEFF) report: with the right combination of financing, one can achieve substantial changes in energy use, emissions, and fuel mix in middle income countries.

Transforming Waste to Energy in Nepal
Nepal is part of the larger effort to expand energy access and markets for renewable energy in the world’s poorest countries. Today, Nepal is using SREP to develop large-scale commercial, institutional, and municipal bioenergy projects

Menengai Geothermal Power Plant in Kenya
Africa Express stopped in Kenya to learn more about geothermal power development at Menengai. SREP $25 million is supporting development of Menengai which envisions 120 wells injecting 400 megawatts of electricity into the national grid

AfDB facilitates private sector finance for climate-readiness in Niger, Mozambique and Zambia
AfDB, February 26
Over US $30 million in concessional funds has been made available for innovative private sector projects that seek to improve climate change adaptation or readiness in Niger, Mozambique and Zambia. This financing is part of the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR), a financing window of the Climate Investment Funds (CIF)

Open Call to Private Sector
CIF AU, Feb 20
Access over $65 million in concessional financing set aside for innovative private sector projects in PPCR and SREP pilot countries. Proposals being accepted until March 31 (SREP) and April 30 (PPCR). Read more.

Rooted in Learning, Growing with Results
CIF AU, February 17
2013 was a year of growth for the CIF. The 2013 CIF Annual Report highlights emerging results, key lessons learned, and the momentum we are building for climate-smart development.

USELF Boosts Ukraine’s Renewable Energy Sector
EBRD, February 14
The first phase of the EBRD’s Ukraine Sustainable Energy Lending Facility (USELF) will deliver 200 GWh of renewable energy through an innovative combination of EBRD commercial financing, dedicated technical assistance support and

AfDB affirms its support for Power Africa, with a commitment of more than US $600 million
AfDB, February 13
In addition, under the aegis of the Climate Investment Funds, the Bank has led work on the Scaling-up Renewable Energy Program (SREP) Investment Plan for Tanzania and prepared jointly with the World Bank the Scaling-up Renewable Energy Program (SREP) Investment Plan for Liberia. This will lead to projects in both countries.

AfDB supports Ghana local communities with $14.55 million to reduce deforestation
AfDB, February 4
The project, called Engaging Local Communities in Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) /Enhancement of Carbon Stocks, benefits from the support from the Climate Investment Funds’ (CIF) Forest Investment Program (FIP).  It will directly benefit 12,000 people, half of them women, by providing capacity building, seeds and equipment, and financial incentives through benefit-sharing agreements to develop forestry, agroforestry and alternative livelihoods. The project will also indirectly benefit 175,000 people in the two regions.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 28th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

United Nations Press Release
 
Small Island Developing States Call for Global Partnerships to Take  Urgent Action on Climate Change.
(New York, 24 February) – Small Island Developing States called for global support for partnerships to take actions that would assist them in building resilience against climate change impacts and achieve sustainable development.
 
Representatives from small islands told  the first preparatory committee for the third United Nations Conference on Small Island Developing States that just concluded that global action on climate change is essential not only for their sustainable development but also for their survival.
 
“A reality that can no longer be ignored in this process is climate change. The crisis has made realizing our sustainable development more difficult,” said Ambassador of Nauru Marlene Moses, who currently chairs the Alliance of Small Island States.
 
“Extreme weather and ecological degradation erode the economies we depend on for food and survival. In other words, we cannot develop sustainably if we fail to act on climate change and we cannot act on climate change without effective sustainable development. These issues are inextricably linked.”
 
The series of meetings at UN headquarters discussed the main objectives of the Conference, whose theme this year is “sustainable development of small island States through genuine and durable partnerships.”
 
Representatives from small island developing states also emphasized that the Conference, which will be held in Apia, Samoa, in September 2014 {during the UN year of special attention to the SIDS}, should result in a concrete and focused document that could not only benefit small islands, but also inform other processes such as the climate negotiations in Paris in 2015 as well as the UN’s post-2015 development agenda.
 
For their part, China, the European Union, and the United States reaffirmed their commitment to support small island developing states at a regional and national level, as well as develop new partnerships that could evolve into more comprehensive cooperation on global challenges.
 
“The recognition of the extreme vulnerabilities of small island developing states should propel us urgently towards clarity of collective vision and concrete actions,” said the UN High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States Gyan Chandra Acharya. “In doing so, we will be rendering a great service to the global community as whole.
 
“The situation in islands should be an eye-opener for all of us given the severity and multiplicity of the challenges this should lead us to urgent action.”
 
 Conference Secretary-General, Wu Hongbo, encouraged small island developing States to take advantage of this “historic year” for them. In addition to the Conference, 2014 has also been declared the International year of Small Island Developing States with the objective of highlighting these countries’ economic, social and cultural contributions.
 
“The Conference will be a major milestone for small island developing states,” Mr. Wu said. “It will make an important contribution to the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda. It will also result in tangible outcomes through strengthened and collaborative partnerships between small island developing states and the international community.”
 
For more information on the Conference and the preparatory committee see: sids2014.org
For information on the International Year and ways to get involved visit: www.un.org/islands2014
 
Media contacts: Florencia Soto Nino, sotonino@un.org, 917-367-4833; Melanie Prudhomme, prudhommem@un.org, 917-367-3541, UN Department of Public Information

What is missing from this UN PRESS RELEASE IS THE REALIZATION THAT THE PLIGHT OF THE SIDS IS NOT A MATTER FOR THE SIDS ALONE, BUT IN EFFECT THEY ARE THE PROVERBIAL CANARY IN THE ROOM THAT ITS CONDITION TELLS US ABOUT OUR OWN PLIGHT.

CLIMATE CHANGE DOES NOT ENDANGER JUST THE ISLANDS BUT ALSO THE MOUNTAINS AND HIGHLANDS – THE SHORES AND PLAINS – AND THE SIDS’ PROBLEMS WERE NOT CAUSED BY THEM,  BUT BY US – THOSE UNSCRUPULOUS EMITTERS OF FOSSIL CARBON FROM CHINA,  THE US,  THE EU, and other big-shots called now to participate in “PARTNERSHIPS” without any mention of the need for changes in production and consumption ways of the gluttonous Industrialized – old and new – States.Yes, we were there and attest that speakers did address these issues, but the PRESS RELEASE does not mention those criticisms. Giving money as aid has not washed clean the emitters in the past, and will not do so in the future – only a combined program that reduces emissions by those others – that is the mitigation work on climate change – linked with direct work with the Inhabitants of the SIDS – to help in their Adaptation to the misery that was created already,  can do.

The best we can say about the just concluded preparatory meeting for the Conference that will eventually be held in Apia, Samoa, is that it was a celebration of what those Island States contribute to the World Population at large – so it really is not only their loss from what goes on by our direct loss – beyond the Canary role – that should concern us.

That is why we find those meetings very important and we will continue to watch for signs that the UN talking about SIDS does not come instead of REAL ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE BY ALL.

ON THE OTHER HAND – with the UN General Assembly meeting in New York 16-29 September 2014, this means the UN schedule for the second half of September is already taken – the Arctic Circle meeting is scheduled for September 5-7, 2014,  so the Apia , Samoa meeting was set for 1-4 September or as we found in a Samoa posting - ” title=”http://www.sids2014.org” target=”_blank”>, Reporting From the UN Headquarters in New York, Samoa

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 21st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

Global launch of the International Year of Small Island Developing States
 
Monday, 24 February
UN Headquarters, Trusteeship Council
10:00 am

The United Nations will launch the International Year of Small Islands Developing States to celebrate the economic, social and cultural contributions that this group of countries has made to the world, as well as raise awareness of the challenges they face such as climate change and rising sea levels. The Year will highlight the common links between small islands developing States and other countries, and encourage new partnerships to achieve a sustainable future for generations to come.
 
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will open the ceremony along with the President of the General Assembly, John W. Ashe. A promotional video for the Year will be showcased followed by statements from senior representatives of small island developing States. The ceremony will close with cultural performances from each of the three small island regions.
 
WHO:            
Mr. Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General
Mr. John W. Ashe, General Assembly President
Mr. Wu Hongbo, Secretary-General of the Third International Conference on the Small Islands Developing States
Mr. Baron Divavesi Waqa, President of Nauru
Mr. Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa
Ms. Maxine Pamela Ometa McClean, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Barbados
Mr. Devanand Virahsawmy, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development of Mauritius
Mr. Warren Chanansigh, Major Groups Representative

Master of Ceremonies: Mr. Ronald Jumeau, Ambassador of Climate Change and Small Island Developing States, Seychelles
 
The event will be webcast live on UN Web TV. webtv.un.org/
For more information see: www.un.org/islands2014
 Hashtag: #islands2014

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

THIS IS A VERY UNUSUAL EVENT AT THE UN – A CELEBRATION OF LIFE FOR DIEING STATES – STATES IN DANGER OF SINKING INTO THE RISING SEAS CAUSED BY THE INCOMPREHENSIBLE GLUTTONY FOR FOSSIL FUELS BY OTHER STATES – WE WILL BE THERE TO REPORT ON THIS AND TO WATCH IF THE OTHERS DO SHOW UP AT THE CELEBRATION. 

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 21st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Feb 18. 2014

agri-climatmadagascar.blogspot.com/

 

Family farming and climate change

Drought a river in southern Madagascar
According to the FAO, “The family farming protects traditional foods, while contributing to a healthy and balanced diet, the conservation of the world’s agricultural biodiversity and the sustainable use of natural resources.”
For Madagascar, agriculture is the mainstay of the economy. However, this sector is now in danger. But often, rural households face the new challenges made by climate change, lack of technical expertise and funds, a particularly important level of isolation, etc.. But the most important remaining exposure to climatic and environmental shocks, against which their resilience is very low. The problems of food insecurity are the most immediate consequence of this poverty.
Flooding of rice fields after passing a downpour

However, Madagascar is a country with high rates of endemic biodiversity and rich natural resources. Of those, family farming is very promising because this practice contributes to the management and sustainable use of these resources. Small farmers become key players in the preservation of the environment and the fight against climate change. Of those, sustainable family farming helps fight climate change.



Renewable energy for agriculture: An asset for the Indian Ocean

 

 

IOC, a vast untapped energy potential
Victoria Harbour Wind Farm, Seychelles
Member countries of the Indian Ocean Commission and IOC (Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Reunion and Seychelles) are highly dependent on fossil fuels at least 81% primary is imported (oil and coal) . 

In Madagascar, in particular, wood is the main source of household energy. 

Visit one of the turbines

Now the entire region has a vast potential for renewable energies (hydro, solar, wind, geothermal, wave energy etc.).

Underutilized.

Regarding solar energy, for example, the region of the IOC has a tropical climate where all countries in the region are quite sunny throughout the year. About wind energy or energy waves, the majority of countries of the Commission of the Indian Ocean islands are composed of small islands. Seychelles as currently they are developing the field of wind energy. Since 2013, eight turbines (Wind Farm Port Victoria) have been established to contribute up to 12% of all electricity in the Seychelles.
Where is Madagascar?
River Namorona feeding a hydroelectric plant
Madagascar is the largest island among the members of the IOC (5000km range). However, access to electricity is very limited, especially in rural areas. However, 80% of the Malagasy are living in rural areas. Hence, rural electrification through renewable energy is an important measure to promote sustainable development in Madagascar. It is also a key technology in the fight against climate change, which could have a material adverse impact on ecosystems

Visit the River Namorona

fragile Madagascar. Balanced combination of renewable energy, sustainable agriculture helps preserve rainforests. On hydropower, for example, only 1.3% of 7800MW are being exploited.


###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 21st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Today Is My Last Day at Rolling Stone.

By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

20 February 14

 

oday is my last day at Rolling Stone. As of this week, I’m leaving to work for First Look Media, the new organization that’s already home to reporters like Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill and Laura Poitras.

I’ll have plenty of time to talk about the new job elsewhere. But in this space, I just want to talk about Rolling Stone, and express my thanks. Today is a very bittersweet day for me. As excited as I am about the new opportunity, I’m sad to be leaving this company.

More than 15 years ago, Rolling Stone sent a reporter, Brian Preston, to do a story on the eXile, the biweekly English-language newspaper I was editing in Moscow at the time with Mark Ames. We abused the polite Canadian Preston terribly – I think we thought we were being hospitable – and he promptly went home and wrote a story about us that was painful, funny and somewhat embarrassingly accurate. Looking back at that story now, in fact, I’m surprised that Rolling Stone managing editor Will Dana gave me a call years later, after I’d returned to the States.

I remember when Will called, because it was such an important moment in my life. I was on the American side of Niagara Falls, walking with friends, when my cell phone rang. Night had just fallen and when Will invited me to write a few things in advance of the 2004 presidential election, I nearly walked into the river just above the Falls.

At the time, I was having a hard time re-acclimating to life in America and was a mess personally. I was broke and having anxiety attacks. I specifically remember buying three cans of corned beef hash with the last dollars of available credit on my last credit card somewhere during that period. Anyway I botched several early assignments for the magazine, but Will was patient and eventually brought me on to write on a regular basis.

It was my first real job and it changed my life. Had Rolling Stone not given me a chance that year, God knows where I’d be – one of the ideas I was considering most seriously at the time was going to Ukraine to enroll in medical school, of all things.

In the years that followed, both Will and editor/publisher Jann S. Wenner were incredibly encouraging and taught me most of what I now know about this business. It’s been an amazing experience. I’ve had a front-row seat for some of the strangest and most interesting episodes of our recent history. At various times, thanks to this magazine, I’ve spent days hiding in a cell at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, gone undercover in an apocalyptic church in Texas (where I learned to vomit my demons into a paper bag), and even helped run a campaign office for George W. Bush along the I-4 corridor in Florida, getting so into the assignment that I was involuntarily happy when Bush won.

I was at the Michael Jackson trial, so close to the defendant I could see the outlines of his original nose. I met past and future presidents. I shared Udon noodles with Dennis Kucinich in a van on a highway in Maine. And I paddled down the streets of Katrina-ravaged New Orleans, so deep into the disaster zone that a soldier in a rescue copter above mistook me for a victim and threw a Meal Ready to Eat off my head. I still have that MRE, it has some kind of pop tart in it – I’m going to give it to my son someday.

To be able to say you work for Rolling Stone, it’s a feeling any journalist in his right mind should want to experience. The magazine’s very name is like a magic word. I noticed it from the very first assignment. Even people who know they probably shouldn’t talk to you, do, once they hear you’re from the magazine Dr. Hook sang about. And if they actually see the business card, forget it. People will do anything to get into the magazine, to have some of that iconic cool rub off on them.

There were times when I would think about the great reporters and writers who’ve had the same job I was so lucky to have, and it would be almost overwhelming – it was like being the Dread Pirate Roberts. It was a true honor and I’ll eternally be in the debt of Will and Jann, and Sean Woods and Coco McPherson and Victor Juhasz and Alison Weinflash and so many others with whom it was my privilege to work. I wish there was something I could say that is stronger than Thank You.

No journalist has ever been luckier than me. Thank you, Rolling Stone.

 

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

On Sri Lanka, Tamils “Shame Ban Ki-moon” at UN As Pillay Report Leaks.

 

By Matthew Russell Lee (Inner City Press) from the UN Headquarters in New York.

 

Photo: Tamil demonstration in front of Feb 12, 2014, they chant “shame on

—————————————————-

 

UNITED NATIONS, February 15 — As the Sri Lanka resolution at the UN Human Rights Council in March grows closer, the Sunday Times has excerpted High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay’s report, see below.  Meanwhile on February 12 Tamils protested in front of the UN in New York, chanting “Ban Ki-moon, shame on you,” under the watchful eye of a Sinhalese UN Security officer known to report to the Sri Lanka mission to the UN (he asked a photograph for his photos of the protest — he refused). This is the UN.

 

   The same United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA) which screened the Rajapaksa government’s denial of war crimes, “Lies Agreed To” complete with speech by Shavendra Silva (here recounted in Italian along with Reuters’ censorship) is set for another in its propaganda film series.

 

  Now, however, after UNCA tried to get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN, it is confronted by the new Free UN Coalition of Access (FUNCA), of which “the photographer who refused” is a member.

 

 

  The Sunday Times quotes Pillay:

 

“new evidence — including witness testimony, video and photographic material — continues to emerge on what took place in the final stages of the armed conflict. Human remains also continue to be discovered, for instance in Matale in November 2012 and Mannar in December 2013. As the emblematic cases highlighted above show, national mechanisms have consistently failed to establish the truth and achieve justice. The High Commissioner believes this can no longer be explained as a function of time or technical capacity, but that it is fundamentally a question of political will… The High Commissioner remains convinced that an independent, international inquiry would play a positive role in eliciting new information and establishing the truth where domestic inquiry mechanisms have failed. In the absence of a credible national process, she believes the international community has a duty to take further steps which will advance the right to truth for all in Sri Lanka and create further opportunities for justice, accountability and redress. The High Commissioner reiterates concern about the continuing trend of attacks on freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, particularly against human rights defenders, journalists and families of victims; the rising levels of religious intolerance; and continued militarization which continues to undermine the environment where accountability and reconciliation can be achieved. She therefore reiterates and updates the recommendations made in her previous report to the Human Rights Council, most of which remain unimplemented.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 13th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Mr. Robert Orr is Assistant Secretary-General for Strategic Planning with the Executive Office of the Secretary General.

Mr. Orr pointed out that the September 23 date was carved out by moving back by one day the UN General Assembly which makes for great timing because on the day of September 22 there are two additional High Level meetings at the UN – so it is convenient for having the largest number of Heads of State present.

The three hours briefing to the Missions to the UN was held Monday February 10, 2014 10:00 -13:00 by Mr. Orr flanked by principals from UNISDR (International Strategy for Disaster Reduction), UN Habitat, UNEP, UNDP, and the World Bank.

ISDR was created in December 1999 as part of the UN Secretariat with the purpose of ensuring the implementation of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction. We assume that finding ways to avoid the effects of Climate Change because of Global Warming ought to be one of their main concerns. Among the topics they seem to focus on at this time are: Climate Resilient Cities (partnering with Habitat); Worldwide Initiative for Safe Schools and Health Facilities; and Innovations in Finance for Resilience – “Public and Private Finance Sector Tools and Instruments that Promote Resilience to Disasters.” Their office in New York will collect ideas about innovations in the Financial System, in Accounting, in microfinancing – here specially in helping governments work with their farmers with an eye on food and hunger. They want to have partnerships already in preparatory meetings.
Their point man is Mr. Glenn Dolcemascolo and he can be reached at  UN.org

I start my reporting with ISDR first, not because they were the first to speak – no they were not – but because I felt that they showed best the intent of the September Summit. They were all business – making it clear that to attack the subject of “risk” this is a private business issue and will have to be tackled with partnerships. They work with Insurance companies, investment funds and the UN affiliated global compact.

Mr. Orr kept stressing that the Summit will be a solutions-focused Summit. It will not have a negotiated outcome but it will be an enabling tool on the UNFCCC negotiating process.

Amazingly – he expects to fit into this single day four different components:

(1) A Plenary where Heads of State can put forward bold programs they intend for their States or for groups of States.  As there are 193 Heads of State and not much time available – it seems the organizers hope for Groups of State Spokesmen and only short announcements from those that have action examples to report on.

(2) Action Platforms for government, finance, business, and civil society announcements. It seems he hopes to have here technical people announcing “concrete” multi-lateral initiatives.

(3) Thematic Sessions to enable the sharing of innovative practice and policy on CLIMATE.

(4) An Outreach and Engagement Platform for “Communications and Networking” – this in order to reach “Beyond the UN walls.”

The Summit will pay attention to geography and will provide balance between mitigation and adaptation drawn from the “potential announcements available.”

The criteria for inclusion are:

(i) contributes to new, substantive, scalable and/or replicable actions to reduce emissions or strengthen resiliency;

(ii) drives to a low-carbon economy, reduces economic risks, advances economic opportunities;

(iii) takes a multi-stakeholder approach, engages governments, finance, business, and civil society

(iv) builds on existing efforts, initiatives, programmes.

 

The participant for UNDP Development Policy, the first to speak after Mr. Orr,  spoke mainly on the Forest Fund and their attention is on Land Use and Forests. The target being changing effects of deforestation with the help of private forestry and enhanced pledges to avoid deforestation.  Their point man in the process towards the September Summit is our old friend Mr. Charles McNeill  UNDP.org

 

They were followed by UNEP’s New York Representative who started by saying that CH4 is 84 times more potent then CO2 – so their focus for September is on Methane and black carbon from gas operations and motor-vehicle tail-pipes. They have already three oil companies, and others  committed and he mentioned also the Royal Bank of Sweden. They stressed the importance of working with the Oil & Gas industry and kept mentioning that some of the companies start to cooperate. This was a very unusual UNEP. Nevertheless, they also spoke of Green Trade Global System to reduce trade of Black Carbon with industry targets.

Also – a second topic for UNEP is Energy Efficiency and the vision that it has a positive economic impact. With existing technologies – lighting, buildings, transportation, made more efficient, can save a lot of oil – and figures were mentioned. This was closer to the old UNEP. The point person for September at UNEP is Ms. Merlyn Van Voore Merlyn,VanVoore@UNEP.org

 

Now spoke UNISDR – then followed by UN HABITAT.       Yamina Djacta, Deputy Director General and Officer in Charge of the HABITAT New York Office, started by mentioning Mayor Bloomberg’s visit recently, on behalf of the UN, at the meeting of local governments that was held in Johannesburg and said that the centrality of business is being recognized now in cities. Local authorities in cities can contribute to National targets she said – and also to save resources. Cities plan to decrease emissions and we will see Climate Action commitments prepared for September. Habitat is calling for low carbon targets reporting by local/subnational authorities. This in itself is quite revolutionary at the UN.

Also, with ISDR, Habitat works on 500 Climate Resilient Species to help build resilient cities she said.
The point person for UN HABITAT for September isMr. Robert Kehew  unhabitat.org

Next, and last was the World Bank. The spokesperson was Jane Olga Ebinger, an Energy Specialist – Health, Safety and Environment – and now manager for the Climate Policy and Finance Team of the Bank. She was the only one that is not a New York City resident and in effect also not a direct UN person. This was made clear several times.

The Bank’s interest is in “Public-Private partnerships and innovative market mechanisms to unlock climate finance.” The bank will try to focus the minds of finance ministers and of private financial institutions – via the economic “drivers” for climate finance.

She wants to build country coalitions to make climate smart economic and business decisions – To help evaluate climate favorable stock, she said. Potential partners are the insurance companies and financial investors. Her horizon includes Incentives for Green Investments, Efficiency, Environmental Stability – Sustainability. She talks of Green Funds and of having met recently at Davos with peers at the World Economic Forum to get low Carbon Funds on country level. The Bank initiated at Davos conversations with a number of governments.
The point person for the World Bank is: Mr. Patrick Verkooijen  pverkooijen at worldbank.org

Mr. Orr added here an additional announcement – this that in addition to the route to the September 23, 2014 meeting we heard up to now, that the UN Secretary-General has accepted the offer from the U.A.E. to have an Abu-Dhabi May 4-5, 2014 meeting as well – the ABU DHABI ASCENT – a high-level meeting to generate momentum for the 23 September Climate Summit being convened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The two-day meeting will bring together ministers, as well as leaders from business, finance and civil society, to develop proposals for action and determine how their countries, businesses and organizations can increase their participation in initiatives that broaden and deepen partnerships, in order to deliver concrete action at the September Summit.  

We looked this up in “Green Prophet” and found – “Albeit one of the world’s largest oil producers, which also had the highest environmental footprint per capita for three years in a row, the Emirate continues to assert itself as a leading voice for dramatic environmental change.” – See more at: www.greenprophet.com/2014/02/oil-…

Yes, we know that the UN event is being planned with conventional energy industry at heart – but these added news, which we had in effect already February 5th, quite bother us. We know that without getting on board the oil producers there will be no UN agreement on substance – but placing the design of energy policy in the hands of oil producers doe not promise meaningful achievements on decarbonizing energy. So, let us make it clear – the September event is good public relations that will at best achieve a strengthening of the Natural gas market – in the sense that we will convince that it makes sense to oil producers to monetize their gas rather then flaring it or venting it to the atmosphere. We doubt that this will excite the environmentalists among us – who though glad with a reduction of the release of cH4, still want to see a decrease in CO2.

The UN has already witnessed the placement of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in Abu Dhabi and it held  this year  – the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, 19-22 January 2014,   and the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) hosted by MASDAR, that was described as the largest gathering on sustainability in the Middle East, and a significant platform for international dialogue and cooperation  – January 18-25, 2014 – but we never could warm up to these events as more then the study of potential investments for the oil money – we just cannot dance around this in a Halleluiah dance.

The policy reason for IRENA’s involvement is given in the provided material as: “RENEWABLE READINESS ASSESSMENT NETWORK: Assessment of country renewable energy potential and securing deployment.”
The point person for the UNSG effort at IRENA is Ms. Elisabeth Press   irena.org

 

1. A Commission on Economic Action;

2. The benefit of Climate Change Action on specific areas like health;
3. Science via the IPCCC new report to come out before the meeting in september;
4.Innovation announcements;
5. Sustainable Life Cycles and Livelihoods;
6. he invited the audience to come up with other subjects like devising Low Carbon Growth working with the Global Compact – that is the UN home for corporations large and small – he said.
HIS BOTTOM LINE FOR THE SEPTEMBER 23rd MEETING WAS: “We Can Offer the Platform But It Will Depend On Your Leaders To Provide The Substance.”

He Concluded with: THERE IS AMPLE TIME TO PREPARE and provided the site:

 

AFTER THE ORIGINAL PRESENTATIONS – THE REAL FUN STARTED AT THIS FEBRUARY 10 MEETING:

The first question came from Ambassador Peter Thompson of Fiji, former head of G77  and China, spokesman for the SIDS, Landlocked and Developing Countries with Lowest income, and for 2014 he was elected President of the Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations Office of Project Services (UNOPS). He was the architect of the name-change effective 2011 of the UN’s Group of Asian States to the new name of the Asia-Pacific Group.

Ambassador Thompson remarked  skeptically about 193 Heads of Government and 3-7 minutes each – and the integration of the Oil & Gas Industry for a “Meaningful Commitment.” Then he said – This is a Meaningful Opportunity and we do not want to Second Guess.

He obviously targeted the Abu Dhabi Ascent and wanted to know how we lift the ambitions. Then he pointed out that the US President in the State of the Union said this January that “The Future of Our Grandchildren is at Stake!”

Others wanted to know how the private sector can be engaged in $the 100 Billion Fund that is suposed to kick in soon in order to help the Developing countries starting 2015.

Ambassador Patriota of Brazil continued pointing out the difference in responsibility between countries and issues of Transfer of Technology – the scope of economic drivers and the responsibility for pollution. In short – THERE ARE QUESTIONS OF DRIVERS, he said.

Further – we should avoid reopening issues that were already tackled in other places – like land use and deforestation questions – these will not let us move forward. He sees the basis in the list of the Annex 2 for the responsibility of nations as the starting point.

His conclusion was that the negotiated decisions should be rather under the UNFCCC and not a UNSG one day backed Summit.

The Ambassador from the Solomon Islands, Mr. Colin Beck, reminded us that the ocean acidification and the sea-level rise are here – it will be helpful if we talk on these issues. We would like to know these for Political involvement – he pointed out.

The answers started to point further that if the September event is intended just as a UN gloss-over it will fail.

Mr. Orr said that the Thematic areas are important not those few minute short statements by the Heads of State – everybody can speak but we hope there will be those that will present a “big program” he said and also used the word preference. He also said “we would like to have rather “group Statements.” He also remarked that “we would like Oil & Gas companies not just for political but FINANCIAL topics – we are engaged with them. {is this in the sense that he expects the oil money to finance the industry’s demise ior only the development of a new gas market}. T

The speaker for UNEP answered Brazil: WE HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY TO REDUCE AT LEAST CH4 emissions – so this is an area we can relly on the science and existing technology – especially in the Oil and Gas industry – it helps to improve their image as well. The CH4 and the black carbon from tail-pipes. If we do this we start withserious improvements.

Mr. Orr added to the answer to Brazil that “all we do here is no substitute to UNFCCC – it is for them to cash in what we do here and do the text,” he said.

Also, when we talk of finance – many actors will be here and not in Lima or Paris. {that is to those places he expects again just environment ministers while the Finance and Economy Ministers show up in New York.}

Further, We want to unlock the private funding – there is plenty around that does not go where it is needed.

The Secretary-General talks of the Green Finance Fund – if we get at the Summit a start on this – the Capitalization of The Green Fund -  we could get positive financing agreements in Lima and Paris, he said.
The Pointman for The Green Climate Fund Secretariat is – Mr. Marcelo Jordan   gcfund.org


On Innovation he said that there will be WIPO interest in green technologies and he does not think we should open this discussion again. This is a topic for the UNFCCC. and the creation of a marketplace to accelerate green technology innovation and transfer has a pointman for September – MrJoe Bradley   Joe.Bradley at WIPO.int

 

The second round of questions/comments started with the Ambassador from Kiribati -  Ms. Makurita Baaro. She addressed the issue of resilience and pointed out that we speak about everything except what really counts – the people. Only ISDR had something on this about cities. For us – the Canaries in the Mine? The Ambassador was told her comment was right.

On Adaptation and Resilience Mr. Orr said we must have a “balanced view” for September and the specific areas must be brought up, He said that Land Use and Forests are helpful to the program – I take that the extreme cases today – should get preference.

The UN Representative for the European Commission reminded the meeting that President Baroso  is expected by the time of the meeting of the European Council on March 21st to have the eU proposals that wil be used also for the run-up to September and for the platforms intended for Lima and Paris.

Further comments dealt with Mitigation, Adaptation and Reductions of Risk and Loss and Damage provisions to be advanced at the September Summit – but Palau warned that there should be no duplication of UNFCCC.

There is blooming an issue of Stranded Assets – Various investments will be worth less if we do not do something to reduce risk. These are areas that cause him to hope that this will be a topic at the Global Compact lunch that will be populated with lots of business people – so here we have it – business is expected to save the planet for its own interest and this is fine with us.
Surinam spoke his hope that there will be a shorter list of speakers and most willing to listen. Groups will be speaking with the Summit being just an extra – some countries saying – “we can do this without committing ourselves.

Addressing the Abu-Dhabi Ascent – Surinam, a country that has still 90% of its trees standing, can commit to let the trees standing and “We need Partners” to develop such programs. If we can go there and propose this – the Summit might help.

Mr. Orr got the point that this also means funding travel gave a general anwer that these proposals will have to be fleshed out and that the Ascent is part of a two stage strategy – y in the following negotiations. That is exactly where Climate Finance and Forest Finance come in. The need to achieve this so we like to see this happen. We felt that finally we were hearing serious thoughts and money where it is now – in the hands of the oil people – might help improve the image of the oil industry and be the real reason why they want to be part of these Olympics.

Climate Finance and Sustainable Development Finance overlap. How do you work now so that they reinforce?

Pension Funds that do not invest in our topics but should – and will. Ms. Jane Ebinger said that this is the way the Bank works with the Asian Development Bank and the OECD – and gets to see joint benefits with flows to Climate change and other issues.

So, there is a method here at play – not a blind-leads-blind anymore – but money being led so that it saves money and makes more money – strange enough – but that is how the real world works – the SIDS and others among the poor nations do not have much of a chance unless there are suitors ready to find an interesting angle in them helping in image making.

One last comment – this one just from me. The highly touted UN SE4All (thin the e Sustainable Energy for All UN office headquartered at the UN in Vienna) was mentioned only in the two-sheet handout – but not mentioned once in the 3 hour long meeting. Seemingly business has not yet discovered how to make directly money out of them.

The Papers give for SE4All as challenge – Country Energy Action and Implementation  and as pointman we have Minoru Takada   un.org

——————————————————————————

another UN reference for the 2014 Climate Summit:

About | Summits on Climate Change

United Nations website on climate change summits. UN icon in English by the Climate Change Support Team (CCST) working closely with the UN System.

——————————————————————————

  

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 11th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

“A Mutable Feast”- Batch of Hemingway Ephemera From Cuba Is Digitized.

 

 

 
A passport is part of a new digitized collection of some 2,500 items from Hemingway’s onetime home near Havana. Ernest Hemingway Papers Collection, Museum Ernest Hemingway, Finca Vigia, San Francisco de Paula, Cuba

 

BOSTON — Ernest Hemingway was a hoarder. His own prose style may have been spare and economical, but he was unable to part with the words, printed or written, of just about anyone else. According to his fourth wife, Mary, he was incapable of throwing away “anything but magazine wrappers and three-year old newspapers.” A trove of some 2,500 documents collected and preserved at Finca Vigía, Hemingway’s farm outside Havana, and now digitized and newly available at the Hemingway Collection in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum here, includes diaries, letters, lists, telegrams, insurance policies, bank statements, passports, tickets to bullfights and the Longchamp racecourse in Paris, a brochure from a swimming pool filter company, a page of his son Patrick’s homework and seemingly every Christmas card Hemingway ever received.

“Was he a pack rat? Absolutely, absolutely,” Susan Wrynn, the curator of the Hemingway Collection, said last week. “We can only be grateful. But if you had to live with it, it would drive you crazy.”

The digitized copies, which arrived last year, are the second big delivery of Hemingway material to the collection. An earlier batch in 2008 contained many more letters and some important manuscripts, including an alternate ending for “For Whom the Bell Tolls.”

“There’s no real bombshell in the new material,” said Sandra Spanier, an English professor at Pennsylvania State University and the general editor of the Hemingway Letters Project. “The value is in the texture of dailiness, the way it rounds out our picture of Hemingway.” She added: “Hemingway didn’t know when he left Cuba that he was never coming back. His shoes are still there. It’s as if he just stepped out for a moment.”

Hemingway lived at Finca Vigía, or Lookout Farm, from 1939 until 1960 — the longest he lived anywhere — and its 15 acres were probably the place where he felt most at home. He left in July 1960, traveled to Spain and then, in very poor health, returned to America. After a brief stay in New York, he moved to Ketchum, Idaho, where in July 1961, suffering from alcoholism, writer’s block and the aftereffects of two African plane crashes in 1954, he took his own life.

 
A ticket and telegram from the collection. Ernest Hemingway Papers Collection, Museum Ernest Hemingway, Finca Vigia, San Francisco de Paula, Cuba

 

After the Bay of Pigs invasion in April 1961, when relations between the United States and Cuba couldn’t have been worse, President John F. Kennedy quietly arranged for Mary Hemingway to travel to Havana and meet with Fidel Castro. The two struck a deal whereby Mrs. Hemingway was allowed to take papers and paintings out of the country and, in return, gave Finca Vigía and its remaining contents to the Cuban people.

The Cuban government had little money for restoration, however, and for decades left the house more or less as it was, a tropical Miss Havisham’s, with a Glenn Miller record on the phonograph, the labels on the half-full Cinzano bottles fading in the sun, the roof leaking, the floors buckling. The remaining papers were moved to the basement, accompanied by a single overworked dehumidifier.

This decline was arrested, starting in 2005, thanks largely to the efforts of the Finca Vigía Foundation, started by Jenny Phillips, the granddaughter of Maxwell Perkins, Hemingway’s longtime editor. The foundation also helped arrange for the scanning and preservation of the documents. The preservationists are all American-trained Cubans, and they have gone about their work with more zeal than discernment: The new material includes, for example, dozens of blank sheets of airmail stationery printed with the Hemingway address.

 
Stamps on one of Hemingway’s passports. Ernest Hemingway Papers Collection, Museum Ernest Hemingway, Finca Vigia, San Francisco de Paula, Cuba

 

Letters and telegrams are sometimes filed under the sender’s first name, sometimes the last, and apparently no effort has been made to single out important papers from lesser ones. In the middle of a folder mostly dedicated to Christmas cards is a 1952 letter from the critic Malcolm Cowley in which, flouting the usual conventions of reviewer confidentiality, he tells Hemingway that he has been asked by The Herald Tribune to write about “The Old Man and the Sea,” and leaves little doubt about what he is going to say: “ ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ is pretty marvelous — the old man is marvelous, the sea is, too, and so is the fish.”

But the very randomness of this material — a telegram from Archibald MacLeish congratulating Hemingway on “For Whom the Bell Tolls” turns up with Mary Hemingway’s carefully typed hamburger recipes — turns out to be part of its appeal, its reminder that this is how lives are lived, haphazardly.

That Hemingway loved being famous is amply demonstrated here by the scrapbook he kept of congratulatory telegrams he received in October 1954 after winning the Nobel Prize. From Ingrid Bergman: “THE SWEDES ARENT SO DUMB AFTER ALL.” From Toots Shor: “WE LIFTED A FEW TO YOU ALL DAY KEEP DRINKING.”

The several Hemingway passports, besides providing a photographic timeline of him as his hair and mustache go white, attest to his restlessness and wanderlust. So does extensive correspondence with an automobile association about how to ship his Buick Roadmaster from Europe to Havana to the United States.

 
A gun license granted by the Cuban authorities in 1950. Ernest Hemingway Papers Collection, Museum Ernest Hemingway, Finca Vigia, San Francisco de Paula, Cuba

 

There are logs he kept aboard the Pilar, his beloved fishing yacht, and a 1943 note from the American naval attaché in Cuba authorizing him to use some experimental radio apparatus, a reminder that during the war, when he wasn’t chasing after marlin and tarpon, Hemingway was supposed to be on the lookout for German subs.

Some of the most interesting papers, however, belonged to Hemingway’s wife. There is extensive correspondence with Maison Glass, an exporter of luxury foods on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, from which she ordered things like fancy olives, turtle soup and French snails, and with the Conard-Pyle Company, a Pennsylvania nursery from which she ordered plants and got advice about how to grow roses in the Cuban climate.

The impression you get is of someone extremely disciplined and well organized. It’s reinforced by a notebook, probably from before the war, when she was a Paris correspondent for The London Daily Express, listing page after page after page of French vocabulary and nuances of French expression.

Apparently from the same period are a couple of mash notes. In one, addressed to “Hepsibah” or “Hepsey,” the writer has apparently been shopping and noticed a new display of sweaters: “And they are sumptuous, Hepsey. … To remember your sweaters and how they suit you … Your bosom under sweaters, blessed bosom, blessed haven.” Ms. Spanier believes that both messages were written not by Hemingway but by a newspaperman named Herb Clark, an old flame of Mary’s in the Paris days.

According to Ms. Wrynn, Mrs. Hemingway, while packing up papers to take back to America, also burned many. Were these Paris notes ones she overlooked, or ones she couldn’t bear to part with? We’ll probably never know.

We may also never know for sure the reason for some numbered notes Hemingway penciled to himself, probably in 1958. Ms. Spanier thinks they are arguments for why he should be allowed to rework some stories from the ‘30s that Esquire wanted to republish 25 years later in an anniversary anthology. They also read like all-purpose writing advice.

“You can phrase things clearer and better,” one note says. The next: “You can remove words which are unnecessary and tighten up your prose.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 5th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Palau Would Defend Marine Sanctuary With Italian Drones that crashed in DRC.

By Matthew Russell Lee, Inner City Press at the UN, Free United Nations Coalition for Access

UNITED NATIONS, February 4 — Palau’s president Tommy Remengesau returned to the UN on February 4, promoting a stand-alone Sustainable Development Goal about the oceans and speaking of a marine sanctuary which would ban all commercial fishing in an area as large as France.

  Inner City Press asked President Remengesau how the ban on fishing would be enforced, given for example the illegal fishing that takes place off Somalia and, doubly illegal, off Western Sahara.

  Remengesau responded that drones could be part of the solution. Palau’s Ambassador Stuart Beck added that drones could take photographs which could be evidence.

  Italy’s Mission to the UN is promoting an event with its Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi and Palau featuring Italian firm Finmeccanica, which made the Selex Falco ES drone procured by UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous which recently crashed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A crash in the ocean would be less dangerous. Still.

  Remengesau explained that sharks are worth substantially more to Palau alive than dead, given its eco-tourism economy. Inner City Press asked about other countries joining the shark sanctuary movement that Palau started. Beck mentioned Mexico, and hoped that the broader marine sanctuary idea would also spread. The oceans being a Sustainable Development Goal would be a good step in that direction.

Background: With fifteen months to go until the “Sustainable Development Goals” are determined by the UN General Assembly, Palau’s Ambassador Stuart Beck back on June 25 made the case for an oceans SDG. He recounted that only last night, Palau had its highest tide ever.

  The seas have become so acid, he continued, that mussels and clams are having a hard time forming their shells.

   Inner City Press asked Beck about Palau’s shark sanctuary, which became with 600,000 square kilometers and is now up to 12.5 million square kilometers, with subsequent joiners like Mexico, Honduras and Costa Rica, Bahamas, Barbados, Micronesia and the Maldives. If sharks could say thanks, he concluded, they’d give thanks for the sanctuary. Video here from Minute 7:05.

  Accompanying Beck was Ghislaine Maxwell of the TerraMar Project, who said the oceans account for 16% of humanity’s food and spoke of using social media in the campaign. It must target all 193 states, Beck pointed out. (Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, it is understood, doesn’t know much about the idea.)

It seems Ban’s UN doesn’t know much about social media or new style network organizations either. The new Free UN Coalition for Access, formed after the old UN Correspondents Association showed itself willing to spy for the UN and seek to get new media thrown out, has been using the Internet and now Twitter to press for media access.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 25th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 Questions for the European Left   by Pilar Rahola in The Guardian.
brought to our attention by a Canadian cousin who is very proud of Canada’s position on the Middle East – as expressed by its Prime Minister Harper’s recent visit to Jerusalem.

 


Dr. Pilar Rahola i Martínez is a Spanish journalist, writer (writes also for the Guardian – the paper we honor most) a former politician and Member of Parliament. 

Rahola studied Spanish and Catalan Philology at the Universitad de Barcelona. A Spanish Catholic leftist that denounces the anti Israel wave for its antisemitism – which is not socially acceptable  correct diplomacy anymore, but says anti Israel is the same – but seemingly the more accepted course to go.

Quite a lady.  What she writes is more impressive because she is NOT Jewish.  Her articles are published in Spain and in some of the most important newspapers in Latin America.          en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pilar_Rahola

 Questions for the European Left   by Pilar Rahola

Why don’t we see demonstrations against Islamic dictatorships in London, Paris , Barcelona ? 

Or demonstrations against the Burmese dictatorship? 

Why aren’t there demonstrations against the enslavement of millions of women who live without any legal protection? 

Why aren’t there demonstrations against the use of children as human bombs where there is conflict with Islam? 

Why has there been no leadership in support of the victims of Islamic dictatorship in Sudan ? 

Why is there never any outrage against the acts of terrorism committed against Israel ? 

Why is there no outcry by the European left against Islamic fanaticism? 

Why don’t they defend Israel’s right to exist? 

Why confuse support of the Palestinian cause with the defense of Palestinian terrorism? 

And finally, the million dollar question: Why is the left in Europe and around the world obsessed with the two most solid democracies, the United States and Israel, and not with the worst dictatorships on the planet? The two most solid democracies, who have suffered the bloodiest attacks of terrorism, and the left doesn’t care. 

And then, to the concept of freedom. In every pro-Palestinian European forum I hear the left yelling with fervor: “We want freedom for the people!” 

Not true. They are never concerned with freedom for the people of Syria or Yemen or Iran or Sudan, or other such nations. And they are never  preoccupied when Hamas destroys freedom for the Palestinians. They are only concerned with using the concept of Palestinian freedom as a weapon against Israeli freedom. The resulting consequence of these ideological pathologies is the manipulation of the press. 

The international press does major damage when reporting on the question of the Israeli-Palestinian issue. On this topic they don’t inform, they propagandize. 

When reporting about Israel, the majority of journalists forget the reporter code of ethics. And so, any Israeli act of self-defense becomes a massacre, and any confrontation, genocide. So many stupid things have been written about Israel that there aren’t any accusations left to level against her. 

At the same time, this press never discusses Syrian and Iranian interference in propagating violence against Israel, the indoctrination of children, and the corruption of the Palestinians. And when reporting about victims, every Palestinian casualty is reported as tragedy and every Israeli victim is camouflaged, hidden or reported about with disdain. 

And let me add on the topic of the Spanish left. Many are the examples that illustrate the anti-Americanism and anti-Israeli sentiments that define the Spanish left. For example, one of the leftist parties in Spain has just expelled one of its members for creating a pro-Israel website. I quote from the expulsion document: “Our friends are the people of Iran, Libya and Venezuela, oppressed by imperialism, and not a Nazi state like Israel .” 

In another example, the socialist mayor of Campozuelos changed Shoah Day, commemorating the victims of the Holocaust, with Palestinian Nabka Day, which mourns the establishment of the State of Israel, thus showing contempt for the six million European Jews murdered in the Holocaust. 

Or in my native city of Barcelona, the city council decided to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the creation of the State of Israel, by having a Week of solidarity with the Palestinian people. Thus, they invited Leila Khaled, a noted terrorist from the 70′s and current leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a terrorist organization so described by the European Union, which promotes the use of bombs against Israel . 

This politically correct way of thinking has even polluted the speeches of President Zapatero. His foreign policy falls within the lunatic left, and onissues of the Middle East, he is unequivocally pro-Arab. I can assure you that in private, Zapatero places on Israel the blame for the conflict in the Middle East , and the policies of Foreign Minister Moratinos reflect this. The fact that Zapatero chose to wear a kafiah in the midst of the Lebanon conflict is no coincidence; it’s a symbol. 

Spain has suffered the worst terrorist attack in Europe and it is in the crosshairs of every Islamic terrorist organization. As I wrote before, they
Kill us with cell phones hooked to satellites connected to the Middle Ages. And yet the Spanish left is the most anti-Israeli in the world. 

And then it says it is anti-Israeli because of solidarity. This is the madness I want to denounce in this conference.

 
 Conclusion: 


I am not Jewish. Ideologically I am left and by profession a journalist. Why am I not anti-Israeli like my colleagues? Because as a non-Jew I have the Historical responsibility to fight against Jewish hatred and currently against the hatred for their historic homeland, Israel .

To fight against anti-Semitism is not the duty of the Jews, it is the duty of the non-Jews. 
 
As a journalist it is my duty to search for the truth beyond prejudice, lies and manipulations. The truth about Israel is not told. As a person from the left who loves progress, I am obligated to defend liberty, culture, civic education for children, coexistence and the laws that the Tablets of the Covenant made into universal principles. 
 
Principles that Islamic fundamentalism systematically destroys. That is to say, that as a non-Jew, journalist and lefty, I have a triple moral duty with Israel, because if Israel is destroyed, liberty, modernity and culture will be destroyed too. 
 
The struggle of Israel, even if the world doesn’t want to accept it, is the struggle of the world.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 21st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Bolivia’s Evo Morales: Critical of  “The Empire” But Proud of How Far his Nation’s Has Come.

 

     by George Baumgarten, Accredited United Nations Correspondent

 

     His face and native garb have grown more familiar now: the colorfully-trimmed jacket, and the wide, warm smile. Some have been critical, calling him a clone of the late Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. But Evo Morales Ayma, Bolivia’s now 54-year old President for the last eight years, is nobody’s clone.

Left wing he most surely is—both Socialist and anti-American. But Morales is an original. His greatest pride and priority is his leadership and defense of Bolivia’s native peoples, of whom he most certainly is one. And he can now point with pride to what are said to be significant accomplishments on their behalf.

 

     Juan Evo Morales Ayma was born on 26 October 1959, in the small village of Isallawi, near Orinoca in western Bolivia’s Oruro Department, south of the capital city of La Paz and just west of Lake Poopo. As a youngster he worked as a farmer in Bolivia and northern Argentina, and first learned to speak the native Aymara language. He would go on journeys of several weeks with his father, to trade salt and potatoes for maize and coca (Coca, the raw material of cocaine, is also made into tea, which visitors are advised to drink to combat possible altitude sickness on Bolivia’s (and Peru’s)high plains.  It is a major cash crop, and an important part of their culture.). He also attended university in Oruro, and completed all but his final year. After university, Morales spent mandatory time in the army (1977-78), and even once served as a military guard at La Paz’s Palacio Quemado (Presidential Palace). These were tumultuous years in Bolivia, with five presidents and two military coups, in the short space of just two years.

 

     Bolivia shares with Paraguay the distinction of being one of only two land-locked countries on the American continents. It sits on a plain at high altitude, over which tower the snow-capped peaks of the Andes, most notably the volcano of Cotopaxi, overlooking La Paz. The city itself sits at an altitude of some 12,300 feet in a valley, with the airport, known as El Alto (“The High One”) International, overlooking it from a plateau one thousand feet higher. Coming into the capital at night has been described as descending from the airport into a “bowl of stars”.

 

     Returning from his army service, Morales moved with his family to the city of El Chapare, near Cochabamba in the eastern lowlands. There they had a farm which grew rice, oranges, grapefruit, papayas bananas and coca. El Chapare was a town of 40,000 in 1981, which grew in the next seven years into a city of 215,000 people. Morales became active in the union of cocaleros (coca growers), which was his initiation into local politics. He was one of a group of cocaleros who refused a payment to eradicate his coca crop, as urged by the United States. To the farmers, this was an issue of Bolivian national sovereignty.                                                                              

 

     After serving as General Secretary of the cocalero union, Morales was involved in huge protests against the price of water, and then was finally elected President in late 2005. He was widely regarded as the first democratically-elected indigenous President in Latin America. He quickly let it be known that the improvement of the lot and standard of living of Bolivia’s indigenous peoples would be his first and highest priority. At that time, 16% of Bolivians were said to have been illiterate, and within just a few years, he declared illiteracy to have been eradicated in the country. He also is said to have brought rural electrification to almost all of the country.

 

     Morales came to speak to the U.N. press corps, in his capacity as the newly-installed Chairman of the “Group of 77 [and China]”-  a non-aligned (and somewhat anti-western) group within the United Nations General Assembly (not to be confused with the “Non-Aligned Movement”, or N.A.M.).

   Bolivia had “inherited” the leadership of the G-77 from Fiji. I asked the President what he thought the Group of 77 could be doing—or should be doing, or what influence they hoped to have—given the current tumultuous world situation, with various wars on several continents. He told me that the “Empire” (as he calls the United States), can neither now stage coup d’etats, or win elections. Sometimes they send in the Blue Helmets (i.e., U.N. Peacekeeping Forces) or N.A.T.O. They “intervene, in order to seize the natural resources” (as in Iraq). Who, he asked, now controls the Libyan oil?

 

     He said that he would ask former Presidents of the G-77 for their advice. He noted that there had been a controversy over Bolivia’s doctors only working for 3-4 hours a day, and that there were those advocating a “blue helmet intervention” – Therefore, he would ask his predecessors as to how to deal with conflicts that are “created and financed” by the “Empire”.

 

     Morales also met with the President of the General Assembly, Antigua’s John W. Ashe, and informed him that he was calling for a conference this coming June in the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz, to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the G-77. President Ashe thanked Morales for his invitation to participate, and the two leaders agreed on the importance of the Post-2015 Development Agenda, the successor phase to the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals. Thus was begun this new phase in the career of one of the world’s unique leaders.

Evo Morales may have some contempt for the U.S., and for the West in General. But he is a true leader of his people, and has dedicated himself to the redress of their long-held grievances. And he is genuinely beloved by those whom he serves.

    Copyright 2014  – George Alan Baumgarten

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 15th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Administration Is Seen as Retreating on Environment in Talks on Pacific Trade.

By Coral Davenport of The New York Times, January 15, 2014

Documents obtained by WikiLeaks show that the Obama administration is pulling back on environmental protections to reach a trade deal that is a pillar of the president’s strategic shift to Asia.
Read more at www.onenewspage.com/n/Science/7509arywd/Administration-Is-Seen-as-Retreating-on-Environment-in.htm#ur9WIpYRBZj7S6E2.99 

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is retreating from previous demands of strong international environmental protections in order to reach agreement on a sweeping Pacific trade deal that is a pillar of President Obama’s strategic shift to Asia, according to documents obtained by WikiLeaks, environmentalists and people close to the contentious trade talks.The negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would be one of the world’s biggest trade agreements, have exposed deep rifts over environmental policy between the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations. As it stands now, the documents, viewed by The New York Times, show that the disputes could undo key global environmental protections.

The environmental chapter of the trade deal has been among most highly disputed elements of negotiations in the pact. Participants in the talks, which have dragged on for three years, had hoped to complete the deal by the end of 2013.

Environmentalists said that the draft appears to signal that the United States will retreat on a variety of environmental protections — including legally binding pollution control requirements and logging regulations and a ban on harvesting sharks’ fins — to advance a trade deal that is a top priority for Mr. Obama.

Launch media viewer

Michael Froman, the United States trade representative, said, “We’re pushing hard.”  Stephen Crowley/The New York TimesIlana Solomon, the director of the Sierra Club’s Responsible Trade Program, said the draft omits crucial language ensuring that increased trade will not lead to further environmental destruction.

“It rolls back key standards set by Congress to ensure that the environment chapters are legally enforceable, in the same way the commercial parts of free-trade agreements are,” Ms. Solomon said. The Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the World Wildlife Fund have been following the negotiations closely and are expected to release a report on Wednesday criticizing the draft.

American officials countered that they had put forward strong environmental proposals in the pact.

“It is an uphill battle, but we’re pushing hard,” said Michael Froman, the United States trade representative. “We have worked closely with the environmental community from the start and have made our commitment clear.” Mr. Froman said he continued to pursue a robust, enforceable environmental standard that he said would be stronger than those in previous free-trade agreements.

The draft documents are dated Nov. 24 and there has been one meeting since then.

The documents consist of the environmental chapter as well as a “Report from the Chairs,” which offers an unusual behind-the-scenes look into the divisive trade negotiations, until now shrouded in secrecy. The report indicates that the United States has been pushing for tough environmental provisions, particularly legally binding language that would provide for sanctions against participating countries for environmental violations. The United States is also insisting that the nations follow existing global environmental treaties.

But many of those proposals are opposed by most or all of the other Pacific Rim nations working on the deal, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and Peru. Developing Asian countries, in particular, have long resisted outside efforts to enforce strong environmental controls, arguing that they could hurt their growing economies.

The report appears to indicate that the United States is losing many of those fights, and bluntly notes the rifts: “While the chair sought to accommodate all the concerns and red lines that were identified by parties regarding the issues in the text, many of the red lines for some parties were in direct opposition to the red lines expressed by other parties.”

As of now, the draft environmental chapter does not require the nations to follow legally binding environmental provisions or other global environmental treaties. The text notes only, for example, that pollution controls could vary depending on a country’s “domestic circumstances and capabilities.”

——————————————————

Recent Comments

KarlosTJ

11 minutes agoLet’s not worry about getting the best trades we can – let’s worry about the environment. Because after all, allowing Americans to save…

Amy Haible

25 minutes agoOnce again, WikiLeaks shows us what we need to know. The environment is the economy. We can learn it now or after much suffering. But it…

  • See All Comments
  • Leave a Comment

————————————————

In addition, the draft does not contain clear requirements for a ban on shark finning, which is the practice of capturing sharks and cutting off their fins — commonly used in shark-fin soup — and throwing back the sharks to die. The dish is a delicacy in many of the Asian negotiating countries. At this point the draft says that the countries “may include” bans “as appropriate” on such practices.

Earlier pacts like the North American Free Trade Agreement included only appendices, which called for cooperation on environmental issues but not legally binding terms or requirements. Environmentalists derided them as “green window dressing.”

But in May 2007, President George W. Bush struck an environmental deal with Democrats in the Senate and the House as he sought to move a free-trade agreement with Peru through Congress. In what became known as the May 10 Agreement, Democrats got Mr. Bush to agree that all American free-trade deals would include a chapter with environmental provisions, phrased in the same legally binding language as chapters on labor, agriculture and intellectual property. The Democrats also insisted that the chapter require nations to recognize existing global environmental treaties.

Since then, every American free-trade deal has included that strong language, although all have been between the United States and only one other country. It appears to be much tougher to negotiate environmental provisions in a 12-nation agreement.

“Bilateral negotiations are a very different thing,” said Jennifer Haverkamp, the former head of the United States trade representative’s environmental office. “Here, if the U.S. is the only one pushing for this, it’s a real uphill battle to get others to agree if they don’t like it.”

But business groups say the deal may need to ease up. “There are some governments with developing economies that will need more time and leeway,” said Cal Cohen, president of the Emergency Committee for American Trade, a group of about 100 executives and trade associations that lobbies the United States trade negotiator on the deal. “When you think about the evolution of labor provisions, you realize how many centuries the development of high standards took.”

Since the trade talks began, lawmakers and advocacy groups have assailed the negotiators for keeping the process secret, and WikiLeaks has been among the most critical voices. The environment chapter is the third in a series of Trans-Pacific Partnership documents released by WikiLeaks. In November, the group posted the draft chapter on intellectual property. In December, the site posted documents detailing disagreements between the negotiating parties on other issues. The site is expected to release more documents as the negotiations unfold.

A version of this article appears in print on January 15, 2014, on page A17 of the New York edition with the headline: Administration Is Seen as Retreating on Environment in Talks on Pacific Trade.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 12th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

CTMD Upcoming Events

 

Center for Traditional Music and Dance & Verite sou Tanbou present

Verite Sou Tanbou   

VODOU IS NATURE!

A conversation about Vodou and the Environment

followed by a Vodou singing session

 

WITH SPECIAL GUESTS

 

OUNGAN DIEUDONNÉ JEAN-JACQUES

AND

MANBO MARIE CARMEL

 


Sunday, Jan 19th, 6:30PM
138 South Oxford Street, 2nd Floor
Brooklyn, NY
FREE ADMISSION – PRIOR RSVP IS REQUIRED
(Kindly RSVP by January 18th to econdon@ctmd.org.
Your RSVP will be confirmed via e-mail.)
The Center for Traditional Music and Dance and its Haitian Community Cultural Initiative, Verite sou Tanbou (formerly known as Ayiti Fasafas), invite you to “Vodou Is Nature,” an educational workshop on Haitian Vodou practice and performance in New York City. Oungan (Vodou priest) Dieudonné Jean-Jacques and Manbo (Vodou Priestess) Marie Carmel will lead a conversation discussing the roots of Haitian Vodou with respect to the environment, in its “four elements” (air, earth, fire, and water), and the Vodou spirits (lwa) which guard and represent the powerful forces and precious resources of the natural world.  The conversation will be translated into English and Kreyol and will be followed by a question-and-answer session, plus a performance of traditional Vodou songs on nature themes. Audience participation is encouraged!
WikiCommons Tree

  

FOR UP-TO-THE-MINUTE SUBWAY DIRECTIONS VISIT WWW.HOPSTOP.COM

Verite sou Tanbou image design by Kesler Pierre.     kp@keslerpierre.com

Roots/water photo by Pam Fray, 2007 (public domain via Wikimedia Commons).

Support for this program is provided to the Center for Traditional Music and Dance and Verite sou Tanbou by the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, Con Edison, the Emma A. Sheafer Charitable Trust, the Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, the Gilder Foundation, the Hearst Foundation, the Mertz Gilmore Foundation and the Scherman Foundation.

Find out more about CTMD!
For more information about upcoming events, what’s happening in New York City’s traditional music and dance scene, to join or to donate, go to CTMD’s website.  

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 15th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Yes – a most important outside reason for going to the Memorial for Mandela in Johannesburg was to make a public display out of the US effort to do right to its Southern Subcontinent starting with its largest democracy – Brazil.

Then, as I doubt it was mere coincidence, Obama also shook the hand of Brother Raul Castro. Fareed Zakaria observed these public happenings on his CNN/Global Public Square today.

Both events could have real consequences if followed up by the Administration. It was insane to tape Dilma Rousseff’s phone – now she is Prime Minister of Brazil but once was a Member of a National  Communist Party – like every dissent person was in those days  – including Nelson Mandela. But those days are gone – all what is left is a National reluctance to submit to US CIA-enhanced Capitalism that fights democracies world-wide.

The Castro’s are a different matter. What has been is passe – but what is now is a possible opening to Cuba with an honest effort to brig the Island-State to the fold of democracies, and as shown on TV in Johannesburg Raul is hoping for Dilma’s help. The US is closer by so it could actually be a tripartite cause that proves to Dilma that the US President is not just an occasional kisser.

And further – you convince Dilma and Angela Merkel of Germany as well, that a post-Bush era is started in Washington by giving full AMNESTY to Mr. Snowden who was the first to give them evidence that the bosses in Washington do not trust them – something that is not done among friends. And if it is done so these are clearly not regarded as  friends and Raul gets vindicated if he might insist on making his island into a future Chinese base – just an idea.

We just found that another swallow showed up in Washington – or was this a trained pigeon-carrier? We continue by re-posting it and hope it was not just a trial balloon to be shot down by right-wing Republicans with old-time Sugar-planting and cigar smoking Cubans of Miami friends.

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

NSA Official Offers Amnesty Deal to Edward Snowden

By Agence France-Presse, 15 December 2013

National Security Agency official said in an interview released Friday that he would be open to cutting an amnesty deal with intelligence leaker Edward Snowden if he agreed to stop divulging secret documents.

Related Stories

Rick Ledgett, who heads the NSA’s task force investigating the damage from the Snowden leaks, told CBS television’s “60 Minutes” program that some but not all of his colleagues share his view.

“My personal view is, yes, it’s worth having a conversation about” a possible deal, said Ledgett, according to excerpts of the interview due to air Sunday.

But Snowden would have to provide firm assurances that the remaining documents would be secured.

“My bar for those assurances would be very high… more than just an assertion on his part,” said Ledgett.

Snowden, a former intelligence contractor for the NSA, has been charged with espionage by US authorities for divulging reams of secret files.

He has secured asylum in Russia and insisted he spilled secrets to spark public debate and expose the NSA’s far-reaching surveillance.

But NSA chief General Keith Alexander rejects the idea of any amnesty for Snowden.

“This is analogous to a hostage-taker taking 50 people hostage, shooting 10 and then say ‘You give me full amnesty and I’ll let the other 40 go,’” Alexander told “60 Minutes.”

Alexander said an amnesty deal would set a dangerous precedent for any future leakers.

The four-star general, who is due to retire next year, also said he offered his resignation after the leak but that it was not accepted by President Barack Obama’s administration.

Snowden reportedly stole 1.7 million classified documents and Ledgett said he “wouldn’t dispute” that figure.

About 58,000 of the documents taken by Snowden have been passed to news media outlets, according to the editor of Britain’s Guardian newspaper.

The CBS report also said an NSA analyst had discovered malware designed in China that could “destroy” infected computers.

NSA Information Assurance Director Debora Plunkett said the weapon was called the “Bios Plot,” after the key component in computers that performs basic steps such as turning on the operating system.

The malware was supposed to be disguised as an update for software, and after the user clicked on it, a virus would turn their computer into “a brick,” Plunkett said.

If launched, “Think about the impact of that across the entire globe,” she said. “It could literally take down the US economy.”

The NSA spoke with computer manufacturers to preempt the possible effect of the malware.


###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 11th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

ENJOY AND BE MERRY – ONLY IN MODERN BIZANTINE WASHINGTON DC OF 2013 CAN THIS FLY AS AN ALLIANCE OF INTERESTS.

 

You are invited

To the
THE NATURAL GAS ROUNDTABLE HOLIDAY RECEPTION!

Cocktails, Hors D’oeuvres
Thursday, December 12, 2013
6:00 – 8:00 pm
at the Embassy of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
1708 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC, 20036
Sponsored by:
American Gas Association (AGAthat when dominated by Mobil Oil used to fight the introduction of the Natural Gas that they were established with intent to support – i.e. they did not support use of CNG motor-vehicles), American Petroleum Institute (API – Washington DC based – all out oil), American Public Gas Association (regulated utilities), America’s Natural Gas Alliance, Ballard Spahr LLP, Business Council for Sustainable Energy (Geneva based – so far positive industry lobby established for the Rio UNCED in 1992), Center for Liquefied Natural Gas (a shipping interest), Chevron, Concentric Energy Advisors, Deloitte Services LP, Edison Electric Institute (established by the nuclear lobby), Embassy of Canada (with pipeline interests), Independent Petroleum Association of America, Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (clearly not a decentralization proponent), National Ocean Industries Association (?fisheries?), National Propane Gas Association (petroleum refinery dependent – no relative of natural gas or biogas), Natural Gas Supply Association, NGVAmerica (Natural Gas or CNG motor-Vehicles), NiSource Inc, North American Energy Standards Board, Shell Oil Company, Williams, World Alliance for Decentralized Energy (WADEbased in Edinburgh – wind-mill operators or renewable energy proponents?).

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 7th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

68th Session of the
United Nations General Assembly
Statement by the Rt Hon John Key
Prime Minister of New Zealand
26 September 2013
NEW ZEALAND
Mr President. Congratulations on your election to the Presidency of this General Assembly.
You take the reins at an important time. We wish you every success.
You have our support.
The recent events in Kenya, Iraq and Pakistan show how troubled the world can be.
We commiserate with the governments and people of those countries and extend
our deepest sympathies to those who lost family and friends in these tragic
incidents.
Mr President.
For most of us, born after the Second World War, the United Nations has been at
the centre of our conception of how the world organises itself.
But the reality of the UN can be quite challenging.
It’s the one place where the countries of the world meet, talk and try to find solutions
to global and regional issues.
Sadly, some of those discussions can become so arcane they are sometimes quite
removed from the issues they claim to be addressing.
That is a concern especially for small states for whom this Organisation is so
important.
Even more sadly, the UN has too often failed to provide solutions to the problems
the world expects it to resolve.
The gap between aspiration and delivery is all too apparent, as the situation in Syria
has again so brutally reminded us.
But any failures of this institution are less failures of the Organisation than they are
failures of us, its Member States, and those who have the responsibility of leading
those states.
There would be no dreadful humanitarian situation in Syria if Syria’s leaders had
upheld the commitments made to the international community and to the Syrian
people when Syria joined this organisation and ratified the Human Rights
Covenants.
This Organisation would not also have been a powerless bystander to the Syrian
tragedy for over two years if the lack of agreement among the Security Council’s
Permanent Members had not shielded the Assad regime – thereby re-confirming
the fears of New Zealand and others who had opposed the veto at the original San
Francisco conference in 1945.
New Zealand is pleased that the Security Council has at last met on the situation in
Syria.
The Secretary-General has advised the Council and the General Assembly, “The
United Nations Mission has now confirmed, unequivocally and objectively, that
chemical weapons have been used in Syria.”
The report found “clear and convincing evidence that surface-to-surface rockets
containing the nerve agent sarin were used” on 21 August.
The information in the report also makes it very clear that those rockets must have
been fired by the Syrian regime. As the Secretary-General has said, these are war
crimes.
Those responsible must be brought to account.
Those that try to cast doubt on the report’s conclusions make themselves look
foolish and do a disservice to the UN.
It is imperative now that the Council acts. It must adopt a resolution that responds
to the use of chemical weapons.
It must find a means to hold those responsible to account, and establishes an
effective mechanism for the destruction of those weapons in line with the proposal
developed by the United States and Russia.
The resolution must also provide for the protection of the civilian population.
Mr President.
While Syria necessarily commands our attention, I also want to spend some time on
some more positive developments both for the Organisation and its member States.
I want to begin with my own country – whose emergence as a fully independent
state has proceeded in parallel with the development of the United Nations.
New Zealand was present at the founding in San Francisco.
We take pride in the fact we were able to influence the drafting of the Charter,
particularly the Trusteeship section that paved the way for a number of states to
become full members of this Organisation.
New Zealand has come a long way since the Charter was adopted.
Then, we were emerging from our status as a dominion of the United Kingdom.
Today, we proudly assert ourselves as a small but independent and diverse country
that has a wide network of friends and trading relationships in all the major regions
and markets of the world.
We value our traditional relationships with Australia and the Pacific, and in Europe
and North America as we build new links with partners in Asia, the rest of the
Americas and the Caribbean, and Africa.
Building and sustaining political and commercial links across the regions of the
world is no small matter for a country like New Zealand.
We are surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and located over three hours flying time
from our closest neighbour, in one of the least populated parts of the world.
We share with our Pacific Island neighbours the challenges of distance and
isolation, and of having to hold our own against much larger countries whose
economies of scale and proximity to markets give them a considerable competitive
advantage.
These factors have reinforced New Zealand’s approach to the United Nations and
to the other international organisations that have shaped the post-World War II
environment.
We have a strong preference for a rules-based multilateralist approach, whether in
the United Nations, the World Trade Organisation or the World Bank.
We know that rules and standards set internationally offer us the greatest certainty
and the greatest protection.
We draw strength from global agreements and from the collective commitment they
represent.
That’s why we attach such importance to the completion of the Doha Round.
While New Zealand continues to actively negotiate bilateral and regional trade
agreements, we acknowledge that FTAs often leave least developing countries on
the sidelines.
The benefit of the WTO, as with the UN, is that rules negotiated there apply across
the globe, irrespective of your size or wealth.
Our preference for international rules reflects New Zealand’s national approach to
governance.
We have a robust and transparent system of government and sound financial
institutions that helped us to ride out the worst effects of the Global Financial Crisis.
This was despite the significant economic and social challenges we faced after the
destructive earthquake that struck Christchurch, our second largest city, in 2011.
Mr President.
As we work to restore the built environment in Christchurch, New Zealanders are
also conscious of our dependence on and our responsibility towards the natural
environment.
In policy terms, climate change has been a challenge for New Zealand, and for the
international community more broadly.
But New Zealanders know we must play our part, and we have taken action.
We have introduced an extensive emissions trading scheme.
We are investing in the Global Research Alliance to find new ways to manage
agricultural greenhouse gases.
And we have committed to reducing emissions by 5 per cent below 1990 levels by
2020.
We made that commitment under the Framework Convention rather than the Kyoto
Protocol.
We have done this because while Kyoto once seemed to offer a path forward,
things have changed.
The Protocol now covers only a small percentage of global emissions.
We need a single legal framework that commits all major emitters.
Mr President.
While climate change is an important issue, it pales in comparison to the problems
faced by many UN members.
One of the most intractable is that of Israel and Palestine.
As long as this problem is left unresolved there can be no assured peace in the
Middle East, and no security for the wider region.
And there can be no resolution without the Israeli and Palestinian peoples both
being assured of viable homelands within secure borders.
New Zealand pays tribute to the tenacity of US Secretary of State Kerry, and to the
courage of President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu for agreeing to resume
the Middle East Peace Process.
In our own region, we have celebrated the successful conclusion of the UN Mission
to Timor-Leste and the transition of the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon
Islands from a military to a police-led operation.
We look forward with intense interest and cautious hope to the reinstatement of
democracy in Fiji. We acknowledge the positive developments there, including on
election preparations and voter registration.
The countries of the Pacific, including New Zealand, want and need Fiji to be
successful, democratic and well-governed.
Mr President

Earlier this year New Zealand withdrew the bulk of its forces from Afghanistan,
following the closure of the New Zealand-led Provincial Reconstruction Team in
Bamyan province, which brought security and helped bring a significant
improvement in governance and development.
School and hospitals were rebuilt and health centres opened. Mortality rates for
children under five were halved. Maternal deaths are a quarter of Taliban-era
levels. Girls now make up half the number of primary school children.
New Zealand expertise also helped substantially improve agricultural yields through
the implementation of modern farming techniques.
We are building the largest solar energy system in Afghanistan, which will bring a
renewable source of electricity to much of Bamyan township.
This has been a big commitment by a small country, situated far away. It also came
at considerable cost; ten of our service men and women lost their lives while on
duty there.
Even so, we are proud of what we achieved in partnership with the people of
Bamyan and hope those gains can be sustained in the years ahead.
Mr President.
In Africa, we see a continent where many countries have faced real challenges.
But as the President of Nigeria reminded us earlier this week, the new story of
Africa is the growing number of countries in the region, which are enjoying the
benefits of good governance, sound economic growth and development driving
positive change across the continent.
All this is good news for Africa and for the world.
New Zealand will do what we can to help with targeted assistance where we have
real expertise to offer – in agriculture, renewable energy and good governance.
New Zealand also recognises and supports the critical roles of the African Union
and Africa’s sub-regional bodies in ensuring Africa’s security and future prosperity.
New Zealand also recognises the importance to Africa, to the Caribbean and to our
own region of the Arms Trade Treaty adopted in April and signed by New Zealand
and many others on the 3rd of June.
This Treaty should curb the flows of small arms and other weapons, especially to
conflict regions, and help arrest the deaths and human misery that are they cause.
Mr President.
I want also to applaud the progress made in implementing the Millennium
Development Goals while at the same time acknowledging that much work has yet
to be done.
We now need to work together on a post 2015 development agenda focused on
creating economic opportunities and the eradication of poverty.
Many of the same issues will be addressed at the Conference of Small Island
Developing States, which Samoa is to host next year.
New Zealand is pleased to be a major supporter of this important UN effort and,
with the rest of the Pacific, looks forward to welcoming the world to our region.
Mr President.
We need to remind ourselves that sound governance arrangements and
transparency of process are also vital virtues for international organisations,
including this United Nations.
By any objective assessment, this organisation has not been equipped with the
structures and rules it needs to operate as it should.
Yet there has been deep resistance to efforts to make things better. That needs to
change.
The rationale for UN reform is clear. Membership has quadrupled since 1945.
Over the same period, its key organs – particularly the Security Council – have
become hostage to their own traditions and to the interests of the most powerful.
From the 1950s through into the 1990s, we could blame the Cold War when the
Security Council did not act.
That does not wash today.
The problems are more systemic and relate both to the composition, as well as the
formal and informal processes of the Council.
We now seem to have a practice whereby the Permanent Members can not only
block Council actions through the veto.
They also appear to have privileged access to information and can stop the Council
from meeting if it does not suit their collective purposes.
Such behaviours damage the reputation and credibility of the wider Organisation
and must be challenged.
These are not necessarily matters of Charter reform, which we know is difficult, but
of the effective functioning of the Organisation – an issue in which we all have a
stake.
New Zealand is not advocating revolution but we are asserting the Council can and

must do better in the way it conducts its business.
That is the approach New Zealand will bring to the Security Council if we are
elected next October.
If successful, it will be 21 years since New Zealand last served on the Council – a
long time ago but not so long that we have forgotten the lessons learned during our
last term.
At the top of that list was you have to be engaged, to listen to the concerns of
others, and to have a view and a voice if you are to be relevant.
There is no point in joining the Council simply to make up the numbers.
Sometimes, you have to speak up and shine a light on what is going on – or not
going on – even when that may be inconvenient to others.
This applies whether the issue is Rwanda or Somalia, Yemen or Yugoslavia in
1993/94, or the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan or Syria in 2013/14.
My hope is when member states make their decision on whom to vote for in
October 2014 they will look at New Zealand’s record and know we will be a credible,
positive influence on the Security Council and a voice for the interests of the wider
Organisation.

Thank you

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 3rd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

from: Leida Rijnhout

Executive Director
ANPED - Northern Alliance for Sustainability
Fiennesstraat 77, 1070 Brussels

Mob: + 32 (0) 494 89 30 52

Dear Colleagues (please circulate),

As you know, the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States will be held from 1 to 4 September 2014 in Apia, Samoa, to be preceded by activities related to the conference from 28 to 30 August 2014, also in Apia, Samoa. It will focus the world’s attention on a group of countries that remain a special case for sustainable development in view of their unique and particular vulnerabilities.


A Conference website has been prepared by the SIDS 2014 Secretariat, available at
www.sids2014.org

Preparatoryprocess


Several preparatory meetings are taking place throughout 2013, including national preparations and expert group meetings, following three regional meetings and an inter-regional meeting. A special accreditation process for organizations wanting to participate in the Conference and it’s preparation that are not in Consultative Status with ECOSOC. More information will be provided as decisions are made. A Global Intergovernmental Preparatory process will be launched by the President of the General Assembly at the end of 2013, with the first preparatory committee meeting to occur early in 2014. The preparatory process can be followed on the following page:
www.sids2014.org/index.php?menu=1494.

The page available at
www.sids2014.org/index.php?menu=1509  lists various activities undertaken by the UN system, including expert meetings and other relevant events/conferences. If you wish to have a meeting/event included on this page, please send us the details to dsd@un.org.

Partnerships for Small Island Developing States


The modality resolution adopted during the 67th session (
www.sids2014.org/content/documents/186N1249102.pdf) of the General Assembly called for the “strengthening of collaborative partnerships between SIDS and the international community” as one of the important ways and means to address new and emerging challenges and opportunities for the sustainable development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS).  At the SIDS inter-regional preparatory meeting held in Barbados, SIDS decided to recommend that the overarching theme of the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States should be “the sustainable development of SIDS through genuine and durable partnerships.

The SIDS 2014 Conference website provides a “Partnerships Registry” of new and existing partnerships related to the sustainable development of SIDS, including relevant voluntary commitments from the Rio+20 Conference. It is expected that the SIDS Conference will lead to the announcements of new SIDS partnerships.


If you wish to include a Partnership in the Conference Partnerships Registry, please either 1) Register it online (address below), or 2) send us the details to
dsd@un.org for inclusion



Warm regards,

Chantal Line

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 8th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

New Zealand is competing for a seat on the UN Security Council in the elections October 2014. The Kiwis want to be advocates for smaller countries says Helen Clark to a home crowd. Its bid for a position on the 15-member UN Security Council is up against Spain and Turkey for one of two spots to be voted on by the UN General Assembly in October 2014.

Helen Clark on a better world.

Posted at 8:49am Thursday 08th Aug, 2013 | By Hamish Carter  www.sunlive.co.nz/news/50581-hele…

Almost 600 people packed Baycourt Theatre last night to hear former Prime Minister Helen Clark speak about the challenges of making the world a better place.

As administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, Helen oversees hundreds of programmes and initiatives aiming to support developing countries around the world.

It’s an ambitious goal, but one she told the audience was critical to support the United Nations two primary missions – peace and security and human rights.

“They are all intertwined. You don’t get a high standard of living without peace and security and human rights.”

In an exclusive interview with SunLive prior to the event, Helen said she was encouraged to see a sell-out crowd at Baycourt and most venues around the country, saying it illustrated New Zealanders long-standing interest in playing a part in international affairs.

On this note Helen believes New Zealand will be an advocate for smaller countries if it succeeds in its bid for a position on the 15-member UN Security Council. NZ is up against Spain and Turkey for one of two spots to be voted on in October 2014.

Looking back over the last 13 years since the UN’s Millennium goals were set, Helen says mixed progress has been achieved – with a lot of work still needed on some areas.

“There were eight target areas and a lot of them have actually been achieved.”

She was particularly pleased with the progress in achieving the goal of halving the number of people living in extreme poverty (under $1.25 US/day) – but says the success underlines the need to help pull the other half out of grinding poverty.

“If the world is to set its sights on eradicating poverty it needs to look at places like the Sahel,” says Helen, who describes the combination of lack of development, infrastructure, weak governments and struggling economies in the North African region making it especially vulnerable to the impact of climate change. She says the recent drought that devastated the area has put development efforts back many years.

For Helen, Sahel is an example of the underlined need for a strong focus on building resilience to natural disasters in developing countries, for a strong focus on sustainability, along with a major global focus on tackling global change.

Work is already being done behind the scenes on developing a new set of development goals, which would be finalized by 2015.

Helen says goals are critical in helping focus government attention and donor support for focus in these important areas, with a lot more momentum achieved in each area than before it became a goal.

Reviewing other millennium development goals she says good progress had been made increasing the number of children going to school, but 60 million children still do not attend school and education quality is sometimes poor.

Infant and childhood health has improved, under five-year-old deaths have fallen by 45 per cent since 1990, but she said limited improvements in the goal to boost reproductive and maternal health is a reflection of the low status of women in many developing countries.

Major improvements had been made in tackling HIV/AIDS, malaria and other major diseases – but she says some countries, such as Ghana where AID numbers were starting to tick up again, need to redouble their efforts.

Looking ahead she says some initial consultation work had already been on issues to tackle for the next series of development goals, with Helen saying member states like New Zealand would have to think about the agenda for the next few years.

“Big questions like how do we eradicate poverty and get every child to school for a free education.”

A high level panel of 27 international leaders recently released its recommendations on five key areas to target in the post-2015 development agenda, which Helen says will be the basis of some of the development goal negotiation. www.un.org

The ‘High Level Panel’ has called for a focus on ‘five big transformative shifts’: – ending extreme poverty; stop environmental degradation and climate change; transform economies for jobs and sustainable growth; build peace and open, accountable institutions; and forge a new global partnership of solidarity and cooperation.

“This could be a big and very ambitious agenda, but we need know less if we look at the environment out there,” says Helen.

“Climate change is seen as one of the biggest challenges. Its impact affects the poorest people the most. So we need to support adjustments in these countries to cope with extraordinary weather events, but we also need to be doing the things that need to be done to stop extra warming.”

Helen emphasises the need for urgent action to tackle climate change, saying that some climate scientists were now predicting a six degree rise above pre-industrial temperatures.

“If they were warning two degrees is going to be devastating, what is six degrees going to be?”

She says 2015 will be a big year for UN initiatives, with hopes also for a break-through deal on tackling climate change.

“But we have a long way to go to get there.”

She stresses action to tackle climate change and help achieve sustainable development is critical with the world’s population projected to reach 9.3 billion by 2050.

While all the discussion of goals can sound quite distant, she says there is nothing like the satisfaction of seeing change on the ground. Helen gave the example of a visit to Tanzania in June when she saw how efforts to establish a reserve in the mountains to protect the area had prompted programmes to help poor villagers who had been deforesting the mountainside to grow maize.

By taking an integrated approach they were helping the villagers to find other ways to make a living that did not damage the environment, such as beekeeping.

“It’s been a very successful programme which the Tanzanian Government has adopted which is being supported by donor countries.”

With the former Prime Minister back home Sun Live also asked for her perspective from outside on what the Government should be focused on. Although hesitant to meddle in domestic affairs she believes two areas that need to be prioritized are cutting unemployment and diversifying the economy.

“There is no room for complacency. While New Zealand is a developed country our living standards are too dependent on one industry and we’ve seen how vulnerable that can make us in the last few days.

“So it’s vital that we focus on diversifying the economy, investing in our people in their skills and education, on innovation and branding. This is an area that is critical that needs to be made a high priority.”

What about the next election? She is keeping out of party politics, but says while the Labour Party is down in the polls now things could change quickly: “you can never count a major party out because circumstances can chance and they can bounce back”.

Helen Clark’s talk was hosted jointly by United Nations Tauranga branch and Waikato University.

###