links about us archives search home
SustainabiliTankSustainabilitank menu graphic

Follow us on Twitter

MauritiusMaldivesChristmas Island

Indian Ocean:


Posted on on November 20th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (

Climate talks: ‘Save us’ from global warming, US urged.

By Matt McGrath
Environment correspondent

BBC Science & Environment
19 November 2016

Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama told the conference that climate change was not a hoax
The next head of the UN global climate talks has appealed for the US to “save” Pacific islands from the impacts of global warming.

Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said that the islands needed the US now as much as they did during World War Two.

He was speaking as global climate talks in Marrakech came to an end.

Mr Bainimarama said that climate change was not a hoax, as US President-elect Donald Trump has claimed.

Mr Trump has promised to pull the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement and scrap all payments for UN global warming projects.

But as he accepted the role of president of the Conference of the Parties for the year ahead, the Fijian leader took the opportunity to call on to the next US president to step away from his scepticism.
“I again appeal to the President-elect of the US Donald Trump to show leadership on this issue by abandoning his position that man-made climate change is a hoax,” said Mr Bainimarama.
“On the contrary, the global scientific consensus is that it is very real and we must act more decisively to avoid catastrophe.”

He also made a direct call to the American people to come to their aid in the face of rising seas, driven by global warming.
“We in the Pacific, in common with the whole world, look to America for the leadership and engagement and assistance on climate change just as we looked to America in the dark days of World War Two.
“I say to the American people, you came to save us then, and it is time for you to help save us now.”
After two weeks of talks here in Marrakech, participants arrived at a consensus on the next steps forward for the landmark climate treaty.

This gathering saw the opening of CMA1, the Conference of the Parties meeting as the signatories of the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global temperature rises.
CMA1 will be the formal UN body that will run, manage and set the rules for the operation of the Paris treaty.

UK joins the club

The number of countries who have ratified the agreement jumped above 100 with the UK joining during the last few days of the conference.
“Delegates in Marrakech made crucial progress in building the foundation to support the Paris agreement, which went into force just days before COP22,” said Paula Caballero from the World Resources Institute.

“Most importantly, negotiators agreed to finalise the rules of the Paris Agreement by 2018 and developed a clear roadmap to meet that deadline.”

US secretary of state John Kerry gave an impassioned speech in Marrakech, his last climate conference while in office

The participants also agreed the Marrakech Proclamation, a statement re-affirming the intentions of all 197 signatories to the Paris deal.

Seen as show of unity on the issue in the light a possible US withdrawal, countries stated they would live up to their promises to reduce emissions. The proclamation also called on all states to increase their carbon cutting ambitions, urgently.

Some of the poorest nations in the world announced that they were moving towards 100% green energy at this meeting.

The Climate Vulnerable Forum said that the 47 member countries, including Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Yemen, would achieve this goal between 2030 and 2050. And they challenged richer countries to do the same.

Despite these steps forward there were still some areas of significant difference between the parties, especially over money. The talks will continue in 2017 with a new US delegation picked by the Trump administration.



Posted on on February 21st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (



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.
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.
For more information see:
 Hashtag: #islands2014





Posted on on February 21st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (

Feb 18. 2014


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.).


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 on November 3rd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (



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


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:

The page available at  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

Partnerships for Small Island Developing States

The modality resolution adopted during the 67th session ( 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 for inclusion

Warm regards,

Chantal Line


Posted on on April 2nd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

C2C Fellows  /  National Climate Seminar  /  Bard 04.02.13

Dear friends and colleagues,

This Wednesday at noon eastern on The National Climate SeminarKatharine Wilkinson will discuss her book  Between God and Green: How Evangelicals are Cultivating a Middle Ground on Climate Change. What is the source of this unexpected support for climate action? Is this a growing movement, or was it a “2008 moment”? Can creation care create space for conservative politicians to engage on climate?

Dial in: 712-432-3100
Conference Code: 253385

Join us for this important conversation. Send advance questions for Dr. Wilkinson to  If you can’t make it live, all National Climate Seminar conversations are available as podcasts 24 hour after the calls.

In two weeks we have a National Climate Seminar EXTRAVAGANZA, with a 4/17 evening webinar featuring Executive Director, May Boeve, Island President Director Jon Shenk, and Thilmeeza Hussain, former UN Representative from the Maldives.

The webinar is part of our National Conversation on Democracy and Climate. It follows a nationwide screening of The Island President. I include my Grist review of this amazing film below. Here’s the punchline:

“This is the best film dealing with global warming in years. It is a story of classical proportion: of true heroism, courage and nobility, of eloquent soliloquy, of intimate moments, and of political intrigue, compromise, and betrayal.”

The focus for the day is on the link between democracy and climate justice. With the US political system awash in fossil fuel money, the link holds as true in the United States as it does in the Maldives.  Close to 100 colleges, universities, faith and community groups are participating. You can still sign up here to host a screening, and to participate in the interactive discussion!

And finally, it’s not too late to sign up for our final C2C Fellows Leadership training of the spring, in Portland Oregon over the weekend of April 12-14. Please spread the word to undergrads and recent grads aspiring to sustainability leadership in policy, politics and business! Applications are due April 5th.
Thanks for the work you are doing,

Eban Goodstein

Director, Bard CEP & Director, Bard MBA in Sustainability

Triumph, tragedy, and climate change: 
‘The Island President’

“A cross between paradise and paradise.” This is how Mohammed Nasheed of the Maldives describes his nation in Jon Shenk’s powerful new film, The Island President.

Shenk follows President Nasheed over a one-year period, leading up to the Copenhagen climate summit, in a beautiful, courageous, and strangely hopeful story. The film resonates all the more deeply following last month’s coup in the Maldives. The story’s ending — perhaps tragic, perhaps a powerful continuation — is today unfolding in real time.

The Maldives is a string of 2,000 islands off the coast of India, home to about 300,000 people. The highest point in the country is only a few feet above sea level. Until 2008, the islands had been under dictatorial rule for decades.

After returning home from college in Britain, in the late ’80s, Nasheed became an activist for democratic reform. He was imprisoned 12 times, and tortured, enduring 18 months of solitary confinement. In 2008, he led the nation to free and fair elections, winning the presidency.

Shenk, with unprecedented access to a head of state, films a year-long journey of this charismatic, newly elected president. With climate change a clear and present threat to the very existence of his nation, Nasheed begins speaking out globally, and passionately, for all those on the front line of climate change. Finally, he arrives in Copenhagen to play a pivotal role in crafting a global climate deal in 2009.

This is the best film dealing with global warming in years. It is a story of classical proportion: of true heroism, courage and nobility, of eloquent soliloquy, of intimate moments, and of political intrigue, compromise, and betrayal.

The film is also visually stunning. The vast blue ocean is both a serene paradise, and a powerful, threatening force, driving Nasheed’s political urgency. The Maldives capital, Malé, looks like an oasis of buildings rising out of the ocean. When asked by a reporter what was his plan B, should there be no action to slow global warming, Nasheed responds, “We will die.”

Shenk follows Nasheed in strategy sessions with his cabinet as the team seeks to leverage their moral argument as the first victims of climate change, canaries in the coal mine. Nasheed gives speeches, and makes his case with heads of states and ministers at the U.K. Parliament, at the U.N. General Assembly, in India, and finally — during the dark, crushing days of Copenhagen.

I won’t spoil the ending, though it does surprise. I will say that this is a movie for a post-Copenhagen world. Copenhagen put a brutal end to a naïve view that the leaders of the world, pushed forward by a moral imperative, would overcome petty domestic politics and sign an enforceable deal to cut global emissions by 80 percent over the next 40 years. Instead, the meeting advanced a new framework of what could be a race to the top, anchored by national commitments, and driven by domestic political organizing, in the U.S., China, India, Europe, and Brazil.

This approach will be insufficient to save the people of the Maldives. But it is a start, and we are not done yet.

Last month, just after I screened the movie, President Nasheed was forced at gunpoint to resign from his office. Political opponents seized on the economic crisis and fundamentalists objections to Nasheed’s modernizing Islam. At clear and ongoing risk to his life, Nasheed decided to remain in the country, writing, speaking, leading marches, and fighting for democracy.

And this is the enduring lesson from the movie. President Nasheed and thousands of others in the Maldives understand that their land and lives are threatened both by the rising seas, and by the corrupt politics of business as usual. They continue to fight for both democracy and climate justice, in the face of imprisonment, beating, torture, and murder.

Back here in the U.S., there is no outside force stopping any one of us from declaring our candidacy to run as a clean energy/clean money candidate, for mayor, or city council, or the state legislature or Congress. There is nothing stopping us from starting a green team in our business or workplace, and driving sustainability changes there from the ground up.

And maybe, like this island president, we don’t win the first time, and maybe our victories are followed by setbacks. Nevertheless, action at this scale, sustained, by all of us, is what must happen to change the future.

New York City, says Nasheed, is no higher than the Maldives. A cross between paradise and paradise: this is where each of us lives, and that we all must defend. Check out the screening schedule ( to find out if The Island President is coming to your town soon.
Mohamed Nasheed
Former President of the Maldives
Mohamed Nasheed is a Maldivian politician and one of the founders of the Maldivian Democratic Party, who served as the fourth President of the Maldives from 2008 to 2012.       Wikipedia
Born: May 17, 1967 (age 45), Malé
Presidential term: November 11, 2008 – February 7, 2012
Previous office: President of the Maldives (2008 – 2012)

National Climate Seminar  /  Spring 2013 Schedule
Climate Seminar calls are Wednesdays at 12pm EST and held twice monthly via conference call. Assign the half-hour calls to your students for a chance to hear top scientists, analysts, and political leaders discuss climate and clean energy solutions. Have questions for the speakers? Email them beforehand or during the call to
Date         Presenter                                                                                                                      Conversation

Feb. 6 Daniel Lashof , Director, Climate and Clean Air Program, NRDC                                     Cutting Carbon at Power Plants
Feb. 20 Mike Tidwell, Chesapeake Climate Action Network                                                      Offshore Wind: Potential &Politics
Mar. 6 Brenda Ekwurzel,Climate Scientist, Union of Concerned Scientists                              After Sandy, What Next?
Mar. 20 Mark Reynolds, Executive Director, Citizens Climate Lobby                                      Lobbyists for Climate Action
Apr. 3 Katharine Wilkinson, Author, Between God and Green                                              Between God and Green
Apr. 17 Bill McKibben*, Author, Educator, Environmentalist,                                      Corruption, Democracy, Climate
May 1 Manuel Pastor and James Boyce, University of Southern Cal., University of Mass.           Co-Benefits and Climate Justice


Posted on on March 28th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (


It’s horrific! A Maldives court just sentenced a 15-year-old rape survivor to 100 whip lashings. By threatening Maldives politicians’ precious tourist income we can save this child and stop these outrageous floggings. Let’s quickly build a massive outcry, then place ads in travel magazines and websites:

It’s hard to believe, but a 15-year-old rape survivor has been sentenced to be whipped 100 times in public! Let’s put an end to this lunacy by hitting the Maldives government where it hurts: the tourism industry.

The girl’s stepfather is accused of raping her for years and murdering the baby she bore. Now the court says she must be flogged for “sex outside marriage”! President Waheed of the Maldives is already feeling global pressure on this, and we can force him to save this girl and change the law to spare other victims this cruel fate. This is how we can end the War on Women – by standing up every time an outrage like this happens.

Tourism is the big earner for the Maldives elite, including government ministers. Let’s build a massive petition to President Waheed this week, then threaten the islands’ reputation through hard-hitting ads in travel magazines and online until he steps in to save her and abolish this outrageous law. Sign the petition and forward this email to everyone:

The Maldives is a paradise for tourists. But for women there, it can be hell. Under harsh interpretations of sharia law, women and children are routinely punished with flogging and house arrest if found guilty of extramarital sex or adultery. It’s nearly always the women who get punished, not the perpetrators. A staggering one in three women between ages 15 and 49 have suffered physical or sexual abuse — yet zero rapists were convicted in the past three years.

Winning this battle can help women everywhere, as the Maldives government is right now running for a top UN human rights position – on a platform of women’s rights! Global outrage has already forced President Waheed to appeal the sentence in the 15-year-old’s case. But that’s not enough. Extremists inside the country will force him to abandon further reforms if international attention fades. Let’s tell the Maldives that it stands to lose its reputation as a romantic tourist hot spot unless it changes its attitudes to and laws about women.

If enough of us raise our voices, we can get President Waheed and his MPs to face down the extremists. The president is already on the back foot over this shameful, tragic story – let’s seize this moment to prevent more horrifying injustices against girls and women. Sign the petition, then send this email widely:

Avaaz members have fought many battles in the global war on women. In Afghanistan, we helped protect a young woman who bravely spoke out about her horrific rape; in Honduras, we fought alongside local women against a law that would jail women using the morning-after pill. Let’s now protect the women of the Maldives.

With hope and determination,

Jeremy, Mary, Nick, Alex, Ricken, Laura, Michelle and the whole Avaaz team


Maldives girl to get 100 lashes for pre-marital sex (BBC)

Maldives government to appeal flogging of rape victim (Dawn, Pakistan)

Rape victims punished, failed by Maldives justice system (Minivan news, Maldives)

Judicial statistics show 90 percent of those convicted for fornication are female (Minivan news, Maldives)


Posted on on February 16th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

Australia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Senator Bob Carr, spoke from the Island Republic of Kiribati, the Bikenikora Village, where he went to visit with President Anote Tong of the Republic of Kiribati. and prepared there a tape to be used for the Arria formula non-meeting at the UN Security Council, February 15, 2013. We made some excerpts because it presents interesting angles of what sea-rise could mean to an Island State. This is a potential clear wipe-out. A UN Member State might simply be discontinued because we emit greenhouse gasses.Just think of it.

What happens with the water area where there used to be an inhabited land? Who takes over the non-existent sunken State? What happens to the mineral and oil rights at the bottom of the former territorial waters?

How do you organize the migration of the inhabitants to another country? Do you establish training centers in the country of origin so that the incoming folks fit better into the adopting society? This is what Australia and New Zealand have to consider in their relations to Kiribati.

Australia’s Foreign Minister Bob Carr has recorded a video message that he says is intended as a call to action at the United Nations. He says that climate change is now a matter of security.

The Foreign Minister says his video message is about approaching the problem of getting world consensus on climate change from a slightly different tack.

Senator Carr recorded his message in the low-lying Pacific nation of Kiribati, and warned that rising sea levels will make the place uninhabitable within 10 to 20 years and force the mass migration of its population.

Bob Carr’s recorded message will be a contribution to a climate debate in the United Nations early next month. He says Kiribati is in the frontline of climate change and president Tong is keen for the world to understand his country’s special message.

The message is to be played at next month’s UN Security Council debate on climate change, as Alexandra Kirk reported for ABC News.


BOB CARR: My name’s Bob Carr, I’m the Foreign Minister of Australia. I’m here in Kiribati with the president of this small, island country, president Tong. And what I’m looking at here is the living reality of climate change. This is a village; the tide rises and floods it. This did not happen in the past, and it sends a message of what might happen to this nation of 100,000 people over six islands should the temperature continue to warm and the sea levels continue to rise.

Australia’s working with Kiribati on mitigation measures, like planting mangroves to hold back the tides – even so, Kiribati still faces a future determined by climate change.

Well the president spoke about two decades being all they’ve got left if ocean levels continue to rise. We’re sending to the UN Security Council this key notion that climate change is a security issue.

You take Kiribati as an early warning sign. If they have to evacuate because rising levels of salt water have inundated their fresh water and there’s no drinking water on the islands, then they will be an example of environmental migration. They would be environmental refugees.

The UN is concerned with problems of peace and security. That defines its charter, especially that of the Security Council. We’re saying that if, for example, a population is driven from its traditional home by rising sea level, then this creates a problem of peace and security.

And if it can happen with Kiribati, it can happen with other vulnerable low-lying areas in poor developing countries.

If Kiribati ends up being a victim of climate change, presumably the burden will fall on Australia and possibly New Zealand. Is that correct?

I think we have to accept that as a given, hence our very big commitment to English language and technical education.

I was at a training college in Kiribati and I saw Australian teachers provided by AusAid, some of them volunteers, working hard to lift English education and provide training in carpentry and motor mechanics so that if it does arise that the population has to be relocated, they can enter the workforce of countries like New Zealand and Australia, with Australian qualifications.

That’s the key, they’re being educated to Australian qualifications, they’re winning Australian trade certificates.

That means, that presents, not as desperate environmental refugees, but as proud skilled migrants, and that’s a serious strategic commitment on our part.


Posted on on April 6th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

As they say in Bhutan, Tashi Dalek! (roughly translates as “Blessings and good luck”).


New York City, In and around the UN Headquarters, April 2-4, 2012.


Experts and representatives from all sectors of society gathered at the United Nations, Monday, April 2, 2012 for a landmark day-long conference and two subsequent days of working groups on “Happiness and Well-being; Defining a New Economic Paradigm,” hosted by the Royal Government of Bhutan.  The landmark gathering addressed next steps towards realizing the vision of a new development paradigm that replaces the present narrow system based on GDP (Gross Domestic Product) with a “Gross National Happiness” (GNH) model.

The current measurement as defined by GDP is dysfunctional, based on the pursuit of material wealth, and the unsustainable premise of limitless growth on a finite planet, while the Bhutan-originated GNH model is holistic, integrating economic, environmental and social measures and objectives.

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

Gross National Happiness is defined by the Bhutan government as a holistic philosophy or development paradigm based on the belief that the ultimate goal of every human individual is happiness, so governments must ensure this human right and take responsibility to create those conditions that will enable citizens to pursue this value and goal.

The conference identified four dimensions for the proposed new economic development paradigm: well-being and happiness; ecological sustainability; fair distribution; and efficient use of increasingly scarce resources. “The new economy will be an economy based on a genuine vision of life’s ultimate meaning and purpose ? an economy that does not cut us off from nature and community but fosters true human potential, fulfillment, and satisfaction,” said Prime Minister Jigmi Thinley.

The historical meeting brought together a select but representative group of government officials, United Nations staff, diplomats, Nobel Laureates, scholars in diverse fields, leading economists and psychologists, representatives of non-governmental organizations, think tanks and advocacy centers, and spiritual and civil society leaders. Panelists and attendees were from both – from developed and developing nations.

The extent of global support for Gross National Happiness was evident in the participation at Monday’s conference of high level representatives from countries around the world, including Finland, India, Japan, Israel, Costa Rica, Thailand, Morocco, Australia. and the United Kingdom.

Noting India’s cultural ties with Bhutan, Mrs. Jayanthi Natarajan, India’s Honorable Minister of State for Environment and Forests, endorsed the need for a new economic paradigm, quoting Mahatma Ghandi, father of the Indian nation, as saying, “Nature provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.” She pledged India’s cooperation in the effort.

Remarks by eco-feminist Dr. Vandana Shiva, Founder of Navdanya, Recipient of the Right Livelihood Award, which supports farmers, highlighted the concordant need to attend to the world food problem, and received considerable approbation by the audience.

Mr. Joe Nakano, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, expressed appreciation for ongoing support to Japan in the wake of last year’s Great East Japan Earthquake. He emphasized the importance of bonds that matter most to people (“kizuna” in Japanese), and the “Paradox of Happiness,” in which, in many developed countries, happiness is not proportional to economic wealth.  A Council on National Strategy and Policy is now following up with visions and concrete measures for government policy-making based on a study published by a Japanese government commission last December, which proposed 130 well-being indicators focusing on bonds between families, communities and nature.  Japan also hosted an Asian-Pacific Conference on Measuring Well-being and Fostering the Progress of Societies in cooperation with the Asian Development Bank and other entities.

Parliamentary speaker Mr. Eero Heinaluoma of Finland pointed out that Finland was one of the first countries to agree on a national set of sustainable development indicators and tools for such measurement in the late 1990s, and committed his country to mainstreaming new measures in its policy-making.

Other addresses were delivered by the Honorable Tim Fischer, Former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, a country which has implemented carbon taxes to reduce carbon emissions; Mr. Gilad Erdan, Minister of Environmental Protection for the Government of Israel, who spoke of their leadership in alternative energy and clean technology, especially in regard to water shortages; from the Kingdom of Morocco; High Commissioner for Planning Mr. Ahmed Lahlimi Alami, whose country has taken major steps to reduce poverty; the Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs from Thailand, Mr. Jullapong Nonsrichai, who referred to the Thai concept of “sufficient economy”; and Lord Gus O’Donnell, Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, who related its new well-being policy and measures. The British Government has instructed its office for National Statistics to begin measuring well-being in the United Kingdom.  The commitment of Great Britain to the Bhutan initiative was confirmed by the Prince of Wales who said in a video message that such a new paradigm is “an essential task that cannot be ignored.”

“Happiness is a sentiment that nests within each person,” said the President of Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla Miranda, in her keynote address. “There are many paths to reach it.  But human history, as well as current realities, teaches us that the paths to Well-being are deeply connected to the respect for dignity and the creation of opportunities to freely pursue our full and harmonious realization as part of the natural and social milieu.” Costa Rica, recognized for its exemplary sustainable development record, was the top-rated nation on the Happy Planet Index, combining its green ecology with reports of high levels of life satisfaction by its citizens.

The meetings were endorsed by the Member States of the United Nations General Assembly, reflected in Resolution 65/309 passed July 2011, when 68 countries co-sponsored the  Bhutan-initiated resolution titled “Happiness: Toward a Holistic Approach to Development.”

Support from the United Nations was also evident in the participation of the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, President of the General Assembly Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, and President of the Economic and Social Council, Mr. Milos Koterec, all of whom gave opening comments. The Administrator for the United Nations Development Fund, Helen Clark, served as moderator.

“Gross National Product has long been the yardstick by which economies and politicians have been measured,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in his inaugural address to the conference, “yet it fails to take into account the social and environmental costs of so-called progress.”

Four panels made presentations on ecological sustainability, efficient use of resources, fair distribution, and well-being and happiness, including presentations by the President of the Centre for Bhutan Studies Karma Ura and the Secretary of Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness Commission, Karma Tshiteem.

Well-being is postulated as an important social indicator of development, which adds value to purely economic indicators; this is viewed as especially important for policy makers in this development model in which public happiness and well-being are their goals.

Eminent expert speakers represented the two aspects of the initiative – economic and psychological.  Nobel Laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz, endorsing the value and importance of the concept of well-being, said “Whatever the indicators we use, whether it’s Well-being or others, we have to be very conscious that …people are experiencing different things, and our commitment to equitable development means that we have to focus on the experiences not of the average but on what’s happening to all of our citizens, including those at the bottom and middle.” According to Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of British Columbia, John F. Helliwell, the world is moving toward both a green economy as well as policies that pay more attention to the quality of people’s lives.

Noted psychologist Martin Seligman founder of Positive Psychology (based on tenets of empathy, resilience, positive thinking, traits, relationships and institutions), emphasized the importance of Gross National Happiness in the mental health of peoples around the world.  Alarmingly high rates of depression worldwide underscore the relevance of such an index.

Happiness is a state and a trait and a skill and can be learned, noted Earth Institute Director Jeffrey Sachs.

In an appeal for a more green economy as well as concern for common good, David Cadman said, “We are living in a rock star mentality, as if there were no tomorrow.”

Prayers were given throughout the meetings by spiritual leaders from Hindu, Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist faiths.

While happiness has been critiqued as a naïve concept that cannot be measured, presentations at a pre-conference meeting at Columbia University refuted that idea.  Economists and experts from many fields presented “the “World Happiness Report,” released to coincide with the conference.  The report lends considerable credibility to a happiness index by presenting methodological approaches and measurement tools to assess development.  The result was extensive country rankings along nine “domains” or well-being indices, including community vitality, cultural and ecological diversity and resilience, good governance, health, education, living standards, time use, and psychosocial well-being (e.g. “life satisfaction” and “positive affect”). The report is co-edited by Professor Emeritus of Economics John F. Helliwell, Director of the Well-being Programme at the London School of Economics Lord Richard Layard and The Earth Institute Director Jeffrey D. Sachs.

Countering critiques about limits of measurement of well-being and happiness, Chief Statistician from the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, Ms. Martine Durand, described their “Better Life Initiative in Measuring Well-being and Progress.”

Although Bhutan is a small country, larger developed nations and their leaders are already committed to the new ways of measuring development and progress, including the British Prime Minister David Cameron, and France’s President Nikolas Sarkozy.  Both leaders commissioned Nobel Prize-winning economists Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen to examine new ways of measuring social progress. Sarkozy has said that the focus on GDP as the main measure of prosperity helped trigger the financial crisis; he ordered France’s statistics agency to integrate the findings of the study into future economic analysis.

The Gross National Happiness model has already been applied in cities, communities and corporations and schools in Brazil, a country that sent a considerable number of attendees to the conference. Susan Andrews, founder of the Brazil-based Fortune Vision Institute, showed a film about a large-scale effort in a Brazilian city whose students polled citizens about their happiness.

In two subsequent days, volunteers participated in break-out groups and came together to share plans and progress to help advance the Happiness agenda in four areas: strategic planning, expert and scholars, civil society involvement, and communications.

The planned outcomes were to submit a report on the conference to the Secretary General of the United Nations; to distribute a set of recommendations for national economic policies based on happiness and well-being to heads of governments around the world; to draft a new development paradigm; and to design a communications strategy to enhance the global understanding of well-being and happiness.

“Happiness is a way of being that comes with genuine altruistic love – serenity – that can be cultivated as a skill day after day, month after month,” said Buddhist scholar Matthieu Ricard. “Now one thing that is clear is that the pursuit of happiness is intimately linked with altruism. There’s no such thing as a successful selfish happiness… Happiness and altruism are not a luxury, they are a necessity.”

The movement has already spawned civil society organizations committed to the cause, including Gross National Happiness World Project, Gross National Happiness USA, a government-sponsored Happiness Project in Japan, the London-based Action for Happiness and the Observatoire International du Bonheur in France (Happiness Observatory), which offers legal tools and research on happiness, as well as entrepreneurship enterprises like GNHappiness, which provides consultation for business transformation.

Youth involvement was an important goal identified by the planning working group, consistent with the emphasis on youth by many United Nations initiatives. At the concluding ceremony, student Latoya Mistral Ferns presented her model of an interactive television show, currently being piloted at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom, in which youth interview the public on the topic of happiness.

Since governments can make laws, but citizens must abide by them, reactions were important to gauge. Comments and questions from participants, interspersed between panelist presentations, revealed widespread enthusiasm and commitment to the GNH campaign.

In the year 2015, the Millennium Development Goals, as outlined by the United Nations, will formally come to an end (these include the eradication of poverty, improving maternal and child health, promoting gender equality, and combating HIV/AIDS malaria and other communicable diseases); the governments of the world will consider new Sustainable Development Goals for the years to follow.  Looking towards this time, Prime Minister Jigmi Thinley said, “I hope that by the year 2015, the international community would have integrated a sustainability-based economic paradigm committed to promoting true human well-being and happiness, and insuring at the same time the survival of all beings on this planet.”

Commentary is presented on the website of the Centre for Bhutan Studies. Opinions and outcomes of the conference are being collated to present at the new economic paradigm at the upcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (“Rio+20”) to take place in Brazil this June.


For inquiries, please contact the official site of the Bhutan Government GNH Project.



Posted on on April 5th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

There’s just one month left until Climate Impacts Day on 5/5, when the world will connect the dots between extreme weather and climate change.

Where will you be on 5/5?           Connect the Dots Button

Dear friends,

“What can we do to create the public outcry that we need?”

That’s the big question President Mohammed Nasheed of the Maldives asked me when he was in New York City last week. His country, just 1.5 meters above sea level, is in imminent danger of disappearing beneath the Indian Ocean. Nasheed is an inspiration and a true climate champion, and his question has stayed with me as we prepare for Climate Impacts Day on May 5th.

We have just one month to go until 5/5, the next big global day of action where together we will try to answer President Nasheed’s question.

Already hundreds of local communities are on the map for Climate Impacts Day on 5/5, all of them busily planning actions that will help wake the world up to our new shared reality.

All sorts of local events are in the works — from presentations to protests, from climate solutions to community rebuilding.

In Jammu, India, a local group of 350 activists will spend 5/5 rebuilding homes destroyed in record-breaking storms. In New Mexico in the USA, a group of firefighters who are fed up with drought are switching to solar energy, and will put up big “climate dots” on their fire station where they’ll be installing solar panels. The list of incredible events just goes on and on — and it’s growing every day.

Each event will feature a huge “climate dot” representing the local impacts being felt around the world and together we will connect those dots to make something truly unignorable.

Visit to join in, and register your local event or search the map to find one in your community.

A month might not seem like much time, but organizing a local event doesn’t need to be hard.Our team will provide you with everything you need in our downloadable “Event Toolkit”, complete with customizable posters, banner templates, sample press-releases, action plans, and an easy way for your friends and neighbors to sign up to join you. We’ve also got a guide to making you can take a great photo of your local Climate Dot, no matter the size of your event.

Perhaps the most useful way to think of a month is as four distinct weeks, more than enough time to plan a great local event. Here’s how:

Week 1: You just need to get your community on the map by registering your event on It only takes 5 minutes and you can change your information later, so if you’ve been thinking about hosting a local action you might as well register your event right now.

Week 2: Link up with friends or neighbors and decide what kind of action you’re going to have — it could be a climate solutions project (like planting a community garden) or some grassroots climate education (like presenting the “Connect the Dots” slideshow our team is putting together.) Or really anything that connects the dots between extreme weather and climate change.

Week 3: Work out the logistical details, spread the word in your community, and start planning out your big “climate dot” to display at your local event.

Week 4: Make sure absolutely everyone knows about your local event (including media and local politicians!) and get ready for the big day!

(All of this is covered in the super-helpful 10-step Action Plan in the Climate Impacts Day Event Toolkit)

That’s it. And while the month might pass by in a flash, the real ticking clock is the looming climate crisis. We must do everything we can with the time we have to rise to this planetary challenge — to move from disbelief and desperation to solidarity and solutions. As a global movement, we can help answer President Nasheed’s question by raising a public outcry on climate change too big to be ignored.

We’ll start by connecting the dots. All of us, all together, all around the world.

Please join us on May 5 and help Connect the Dots.


May Boeve for the whole Team



Posted on on March 31st, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

In the Maldives,  an Islands-State former monarchy, that was a late convert to Islam (only 12th century while Indian sub-continent regions already had Muslims 500 years earlier, it was Arab merchant-seafarers   that converted the last Buddhist king of the Maldives), a republic since 1965, and after the totalitarian rules of Presidents Ibrahim Nasir and Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, a true  democracy was established in rather clean elections in 2008, it existed only for three and a half years, and was ended by a coup January 2012.

Mohammed Waheed Hassan Manik, the new ruler, was sworn in as President of the Maldives on 7 February 2012, in connection to the forced resignation of President Nasheed amidst weeks of protests and demonstrations led by local police dissidents who supposedly opposed Nasheed’s 16 January order for the military to arrest Abdulla Mohamed, the Chief Justice of the Criminal Court. Dr. Waheed came out against the arrest order and supported the opposition that forced Mohamed Nasheed to resign by telling him that if he resigns there will be no further violence. Nevertheless, since then prisons for the opposition have been reopened, and Mr. Nasheed claims that it is a return to the Gayoom – Nasir competition days when Nasheed himself was imprisoned.

It seems that  economic issues are behind the upheaval, and as we heard from Mr. Nasheed he proposes that the US and India recognized Mr. Waheed in an attempt to acknowledge a new status quo that they like.

We bring this up here because of Mr. Nasheed’s global fame as supporter of  global action to halt climate change which obviously pitted him against fossil fuels interests – world-wide but pin-pointed against the Arab Oil-States as well.

Interesting that there is now talk of building a coal fired power plant, like in India, while under Nasheed there was an effort to go for renewable energy – solar and wind power – in these blue paradise islands still blessed with clean air and clean water and open for tourism.

Mr. Nasheed predicts that by 2030 16 of the Maldive Islands will go under if the world continues on the path of business as usual – “we always can relocate as persons but not as a civilization,” he says.

Mr. Nasheed, post-Copenhagen meeting of 2009, where he became a global leader just one year after taking office in his own State, back home arranged for his cabinet to have an “under-water” government cabinet meeting for the sake of the global media. This is part of the documentary film ‘The Island President’ that was released this week in New York City, and the film tour brought him also to a Columbia University event where he met students including backers of his from 2009. Mr. Nasheed, when asked about the road to RIO+20 said that the UN cannot do it because they will pick always the lowest common denominator among Nations – and this is not enough.

He said that in the end the US will have to act it alone like Germany started to do it. To my question about a government’s responsibility to protect its citizens he answered that the Maldive military behind the coup is interested in business projects and not in the future of the islands. His interest is in replenishing coral reefs and fish stock.


Now that brings me to the major part of this posting  which deals with a major full day event at the New York based Council on Foreign Relations’ (CFR) cooperative effort with the St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford and the Conservative Middle East Council (MEC) of the UK.

The Event started in the evening of Thursday March 29th with the introductory “THE ARAB UPRISING: HOW DID WE GET HERE?” presented by Professor Margaret MacMillan, Warden, St.Antony’s College and Professor of History, University of Toronto. Her full presentation can be found on the website of the CFR as are all other presentations of this meeting.     I must confess that I did not stay for the presentation because I left before Professor MacMillan started as I wanted to listen across town to Mr. Nasheed. This cost me dearly the following day, when at lunch I did not recognize Professor MacMillan who sat at my table and I stated my point of view that we are forced to deal with the Arab World, that we created, by our insistence to make them our oil suppliers. I also said that there are no US National interests in Foreign Policy except for Oil Interests – and I was rebuked strongly – in an effort to put me back in my place. Now I say that I deserved it as I did not know what she said the evening before the full meeting. Also, as my history of the Middle East starts with the 1945 Roosevelt-Churchill-Stalin meeting at Yalta, the stop at Port Said on the way home, and President Roosevelt striking the deal with King Ibn Saud, I did not know that after finishing her book on the causes that led to World War I, Professor MacMillan turns to the resulting  WWII new world order as established at Yalta –
I promise herewith to be an anxious reader when her book is released by the publisher.

Had the oil-men of Texas not told President Roosevelt that the US oil reserves are not sufficient to fight again a war of liberation in Europe, then I felt Yalta’s division of the World that gave the Soviets East Europe, Britain Iran, and the US Saudi Arabia, might not have taken place, and global warfare may have evolved differently – perhaps not the cold way.

Friday, March 30, 2012 the  CFR Conference sessions were: (1) Prospects for Democracy,  (2) Monarchies,  (3) Islam and Politics, (4) Regional Consequences – The Geopolitics of the Changing Middle East, (5)  Policy Responses for the United States and Europe.

It was clear that the pre-lunch three panels were intended to provide the background for the after-lunch two up-date panels about the changing Middle East and the place of the non-Arab States of the larger Middle East – specifically Turkey, Israel and Iran. Interesting, in the morning sessions were present also Ambassadors of Arab States – I did not see them in the afternoon. Did their presence in the morning session somehow make for reduced forwardness on the part of the speakers? I did not hear the word oil from the speakers while the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the UN was present, neither were there complete answers to questions. Nevertheless, the picture came out clearly thanks also to the ample time allowed for questions.

Going to the last two sessions first – let us say that Turkey is now a main player in the Arab Middle East.

The November 3, 2002 elections in Turkey brought a landslide victory for the Justice and Development Party (AKP) – a party with an Islamic pedigree – which received almost two-thirds’ of the parliamentary seats with 34.2 percent of the vote.

These elections ushered in a major realignment of the Turkish political landscape, bringing in the AKP —  winning 363 of the 550 seats in the Turkish parliament. Of the eighteen parties running in the elections, the social democrat Republican People’s Party (CHP) was the only other party to win parliamentary representation, garnering 19.4 percent of the vote and 178 seats (the remaining 9 seats went to independent candidates).

On the other hand, the major parties that ran the country in the 1990s, the center-left Democratic Left Party (DSP) of outgoing Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, the Nationalist Action Party (MHP), and former President Turgut Ozal’s centrist Motherland Party (ANAP) failed to pass the ten percent threshold needed to enter the parliament. Islamist opposition Felicity (previously Welfare) Party (SP), and former Prime Minister Tansu Ciller’s center-right True Path Party (DYP) were also unsuccessful in winning representation in the parliament.

Looking back at material from 2002 I found:

Although the AKP is an offshoot of the Islamist Welfare Party (RP), which was banned in 1997 for Islamist activities, the electorate sees the party as a new force and not necessarily Islamist.

Various secular parties, courts, media outlets, and nongovernmental organizations view the party with suspicion due to its leaders’ past affiliation with RP. Yet, AKP’s moderate, non-confrontational rhetoric over the last year has made it attractive to a diverse array of voters ranging from Islamists to rural nationalists and moderate urban voters.

A second factor explaining AKP’s success is that the party has been able to channel some of the profound anger that characterized the November 3 elections.

AKP appealed to middle and working class voters, who were unsatisfied with the economic plans of the outgoing government that were backed by the International Monetary Fund. Such anger in Turkey has traditionally been concentrated at the lower ends of the socioeconomic spectrum. After the February 2001 economic meltdown, however, even the middle classes became angry.

Accordingly, AKP attracted many moderate urban voters, who were appalled by the inefficient and corruption-ridden governments of the 1990s, as well as by the political instability and economic downturns that characterized this decade. Many voters turned to AKP, which marketed itself as new and untainted by the legacy of the 1990s. AKP promised to deliver growth and stability, as in the Turgut Ozal years of the 1980s, a decade to which most Turks now look back with nostalgia.

What above evaluation did not say in 2002 is that many Turks were hurt by the way the EU did not accept Turkey for its membership, and these Turks decided to retreat to what they consider closer to Turkey’s background – away from European secularism back to Islamic heritage of the Arab Middle East or  Central Asia. That is how AKP leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan looked at making common cause with the Arab Middle East/North Africa. With Egypt – the Central State that sits on the Suez Canal – facing problems – Turkey is now the natural leader of this potential bloc.  Only Saudi Arabia has the possibility to interfere, and that was settled by now with having a Turk as head of the Saudi Arabia based OIC ( Organization of Islamic Cooperation.) So Turkey plays to win. I tried to introduce this as a question but it was not picked up.

Israel seemingly played to lose. With the role of the Global powers playing in the region being diminished, the Israelis did not move ahead to recognize an opportunity to welcome the regimes that are borne in the ashes of the Arab Spring. The Israelis saw only the potential dangers and ignored any possible benefits from the Arab Spring. This because Israel, perhaps by necessity, regarded itself as belonging to the West and ignored the possibility to belong to the neighborhood of the East. Real Politik was the relationship with the winter dictators for regional Security, and for their own security. Mubarak was the enforcer of an unpopular Sadat agreement that favored Israel, and Israel was ready to shelter Mubarak before his forced resignation.

The Syrian revolution is about Syria and not about Israel – but the occupied territories cloud is in the background. Egypt cooperated with Israel in blocking Gaza, the Turks opposed this – so the Turks are now the big winners Marwa Daoudy from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, and Avi Schlain, Emeritus Fellow at St Antony College, U. of Oxford, agree that it was not a bright idea for Ehud Barak saying that Israel is a “Villa in the Jungle” – this did not leave much hope for rapprochement.

In Egypt it is now about “National Dignity” and the perception that Mubarak was an Israeli stugge – when the revolution started the military and government crushed CDs and shreded government documents – we will never know the truth.

Syria started out in as a democracy but a 1949 coup by the CIA ended this.  Nasser talked about Positive Neutralism” in order to get money from all sides, but I did not get a full answer about the fate of Nasserism that was Pan-Arabism.
The short answer was that people in the Arab States worry about their own condition and not InterArabism.

The consensus after this panel was that if the Arabs don’t want us there – the best we can do is step out.

For the future – Hamas is now residing in Egypt and after listening to Egypt in forming a National Government, the Palestinians will be able to declare a cease fire with Israel and push for negotiations. The Egyptians will continue the agreements with Israel but declare they will not repeat the mistake of being one sided in favor of Israel.

The Last panel was about Policy Responses for the United States and Europe and here the cat came out from hiding, and it was that the war in Libya was easy for the West because it promised large riches of Oil – and as always, those that get involved will also bring in their oil corporations in tow. Eugene Rogan of St. Antony said YES-BUT – in Libya case it was also a military consideration because we (the US) could not afford another Sarajevo. Yes, but what about Syria? All right – they do not have oil in such quantities. So What?

Gideon Rose, Editor Foreign Affairs, said Reve Back the rhetoric or Increase Policy? We must make clear what kind of friends we are and what red lines we have. We should not be ashamed of promoting democracy added Robert Danin the Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow for Middle East and Africa Studies. He continued – it has to be indigenous and we should be able to support it via institutions like Freedom House.

There is a lot of Unemployment and Underemployment in the Arab lands, and there is a lot of money in the Gulf States. Things went worse during this last year of upheaval. The extreme haves must support the extreme have-nots in the region he said. I told myself that this will be the day.

Asked what are the three major problems in the White House after November? The Answer was Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia

Eugene Rogan, Faculty Fellow and University Lecturer in the Modern History of the Middle East, St. Antony, addressing the UN, said that the Kofi Annan Moral Mission to Syria has no chance to succeed. What is needed is a UNIFIL operation to make space between the fighting sides in Syria. Only then can start negotiations.

Other speakers included:

Elliott Abrams from CFR and Michael J. Willis from St. Antony on PROSPECTS FOR DEMOCRACY — James M. Lindsay, Director of Studies at CFR – presider of that panel;

Mohamad Bazzi, CFR and NYU, and Columnist Raghida Dergham as Presider at the panel on MONARCHIES.

Isobel Coleman of CFR, Ed Husain of CFR, and Michael J. Willis of St Antony with Deborah J. Amos of National Public Radio on the panel on ISLAM AND POLITICS.

One last comment – The Monarchies fared better then the secular Dictatorships because they have some sort of legitimacy. On the other hand, the secular politicians were viewed as corrupt thieves and treated accordingly when people decided finally to hit the streets.


Posted on on March 30th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

In Paradise, and Closer Than Ever to Disaster

‘The Island President’: Jon Shenk Documentary at Film Forum.

Lincoln Else/Samuel Goldwyn Films

Mohamed Nasheed at the Copenhagen climate summit, where he sought to broker a deal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

By , Published by the New York Times – in print – March 30, 2012

For many of us who live in temperate zones, inland regions and the industrialized West, global warming is a source of anxiety — even terror — and something of an abstraction. The mildness of this past winter on the Eastern Seaboard might have seemed ominous, yes, but it was also pleasant, and much of the time other social, economic and political problems have a way of seeming more urgent than human survival.

There is also a noisy subculture of obfuscation and denial that has pulled an already contentious conversation about climate change and the environment down into the fever swamp of American ideological animus. It’s a hoax! It’s a liberal conspiracy! It’s a scheme on the part of greedy scientists and power-hungry international organizations to shame us out of our S.U.V.’s and our plastic grocery bags!

In other parts of the world, though, the issue has a lethal, terrifying urgency. “The Island President,” a new documentary by Jon Shenk (“The Lost Boys of Sudan”), visits one such place, the Maldives. That archipelago of roughly 1,200 low-lying islands in the Indian Ocean, of which about 200 are inhabited, is described as “paradise crossed with paradise,” and its soft sand beaches and blue waters have made it a haven for wealthy tourists. Though the film includes spectacular aerial and underwater footage of the Maldives’ beauty, it concentrates its attention on uglier realities.

For 30 years the country was ruled by Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, a dictator with the usual authoritarian habit of imprisoning, torturing and terrorizing his opponents. Among them was Mohamed Nasheed, who after years as a pro-democracy activist and a political prisoner was elected president at 41 in 2008.

As soon as he took office, Mr. Nasheed faced an environmental crisis of existential dimensions. The steady rise in ocean levels caused by melting polar ice and increasing global temperatures had already caused serious erosion on some islands, and the eventual catastrophic inundation of this small, vulnerable nation was starting to look inevitable, rather than just frighteningly plausible.

Mr. Shenk and his crew were given extraordinary access to Mr. Nasheed during his first year in power, and “The Island President” moves with the sometimes manic energy of a young, ambitious leader throwing himself at enormous challenges. Informative, revealing one-on-one interviews with Mr. Nasheed, his advisers and his wife are interspersed with scenes from the hectic, peripatetic life of a postmodern politician. Mr. Nasheed confers with members of his cabinet and British environmental advisers, takes part in the filming of public service announcements (including one in which he pretends to hold a meeting underwater in scuba gear), takes cigarette breaks and travels to a series of conferences on climate change.

The last of these, the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Summit, provides the film with its climax, as Mr. Nasheed becomes a crucial player in a series of complex negotiations that he hopes will lead to a strong international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. While the film provides a reasonably clear account of the technical issues involved — there is much discussion about acceptable degrees of warming, centimeters of ocean rise and parts per million of carbon dioxide in the air — it also sheds light on some of the 21st-century rituals of power and diplomacy. There are pomp, pragmatism, high principle and brazen manipulation, and it is sometimes hard to tell which is which.

Mr. Nasheed, handsome and earnest, well dressed and well educated, seems at home in this world of global high politics, even as he is often exasperated by its dysfunctional aspects. He is an agile, civil debater with a strong camera presence and a manner that combines boyishness with technocratic self-confidence.

In Copenhagen — and a few months earlier at a United Nations session in New York — he tries to use his moral authority as the leader of a small, imperiled nation to bring some of his more skeptical and cautious counterparts from the developing world over to his side. The geopolitical complexities are daunting, and the structural impediments to change seem overwhelming.

Mr. Nasheed also faces difficulties back home, though these, apart from the rising seas, are fairly peripheral to “The Island President.” Until, that is, a post-script tersely informs us, in white type on a black screen, that he was forced out of office last month, more than two years after the action of the film concludes. Another note relates that in that time, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have continued to rise.

It is in the nature of political leaders, especially in democracies, to be optimistic, to insist that solutions can be found to even the most intractable problems. Topical, politically engaged documentaries, particularly those made by American filmmakers, share in this tendency, offering implicit reassurance even as they deliver bad news about the state of the world. Awareness will be raised. Progress will be made. To doubt this is to court cynicism and despair.

“The Island President” is buoyant and spirited enough to keep those demons temporarily at bay. It is impossible, while watching it, to root against Mr. Nasheed or to believe that he will fail. But the hope that infuses this movie makes it all the more upsetting to walk out of the theater and contemplate a looming disaster that the world’s leaders seem unable to prevent.

The Island President – Opened on Wednesday March 28, 2012, in Manhattan.

Directed by Jon Shenk; director of photography, Mr. Shenk; edited by Pedro Kos; music by Radiohead and Stars of the Lid; produced by Richard Berge and Bonni Cohen; released by Samuel Goldwyn Films. At Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street, west of Avenue of the Americas, South Village. In English and Dhivehi, with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 41 minutes.…


Posted on on February 10th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

A UN delegation has arrived in Maldives to encourage leaders to stabilize the political situation after the resignation of the country’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Nasheed, who said he was forced to step down at gunpoint. The popular revolt over the arrest of a judge accused of being a puppet of the country’s former dictator, as even the UN acknowledges – observers say –  looks more like an old-fashioned coup.

The problem described in the press started in the capital central island of Male, but it turns out that Islamists got hold also of the Southern island of Addu. Thinking of an ocean  infested by Somali pirates, and the fact that the Maldives closes neighbors are India and Sri Lanka – that would not readily favor Islamic pirates – attempts of a renewed Islamic takeover of a string of Islands benefiting from Western tourism could make sense in this turbulence.


The Maldives

Reverting to type

Democracy is never as easy as the voters hope.

Feb 11th 2012 | from the upcoming print edition of the Economist.

“IN POLITICS in this country,” Mohamed Nasheed told The Economist in 2006, “you’re either in government or in jail.” Under house arrest at the time, he seemed more at ease than later, when, bizarrely, he became the Maldives’ president. Having fallen prey this week to what presents itself as a popular revolt but looks much like an old-fashioned coup, Mr Nasheed, known by his nickname “Anni”, is back in a familiar predicament, as a beleaguered activist bewailing the injustice of Maldivian politics.

He relinquished his presidency in a brief press conference on February 7th—a performance forced on him at gunpoint, he later said. After a night “in protective custody”, he was freed and the next day took to the streets, leading a rally of his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) which ended in arrests and violent scuffles, in which he was hurt.

The vice-president, Waheed Hassan, had been sworn in as his replacement. Mr Nasheed’s supporters see the new man as an ineffectual puppet, with the real power-grabbers being close to Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. Mr Gayoom’s nasty 30-year dictatorship was overthrown in the Maldives’ first multiparty election, in 2008.

Then, Mr Nasheed won 54% of the vote. Young and charismatic, he came to power bearing the hopes of liberals among the Maldives’ 400,000-strong population. He soon charmed the outside world with shrewd publicity stunts that were aimed at drawing attention to the particular danger climate change poses to the Maldives—1,200 tiny islands, barely above sea-level. Mr Nasheed held the world’s first (scuba-enabled) underwater cabinet meeting, and suggested his country set aside some of its tourism earnings to buy a new homeland.

But from the beginning, the MDP has struggled to remake the Maldives. In particular, the judiciary has blocked efforts to reform and to prosecute members of the Gayoom regime. Mr Nasheed’s detractors allege that, in response, he acquired some of the intolerance of dissent that marked the Gayoom era. What precipitated his downfall was the arrest of a judge accused of being in Mr Gayoom’s pocket. That arrest, which was condemned as unconstitutional, galvanised nightly protests in Male, the crowded capital. When some of the police mutinied and joined the protesters, it seemed clear that Mr Nasheed’s days were numbered. (The offending judge has now issued an order for Mr Nasheed’s arrest.)

One element of the opposition to him is Islamic. After he resigned, there were soon stories of the alcohol and “hash oil” allegedly found in his home. The stress on Islamic virtue seems odd for a country whose main industry relies on pandering to the sybaritic excesses of honeymooning couples. But the Maldives operates touristic apartheid. The resorts are on uninhabited islands. Tourists need have no truck with Maldivian culture or currency, let alone its politics.

They may be thankful for that in the weeks to come. The ugly clashes on February 8th-9th are a warning of the potential for violence. In his resignation speech, Mr Nasheed said he did not want to rely on force to stay in power. Whatever else one thinks about his rule, at least Anni did not get his gun.


Posted on on February 8th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Help President Nasheed of the Maldives.

President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives, a friend and ally of the climate movement, is in danger, and when our friends need our help, we respond. Sign on to tell world leaders to do what they can to keep him and his people safe.

President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives has been one of‘s strongest allies, and friends, for many years. As the first democratically elected leader of the small island nation, he has been a tireless voice for climate action and strong advocate for getting us back to 350 ppm. “For us, this is a matter of life and death,” Nasheed has said.

Now it is he specifically who is at risk. A military coup forced President Nasheed from office on Tuesday morning with threats of violence. He is currently under house arrest and needs our help.

From Bill McKibben:

Dear friends,

Our fight is a global fight, and early this morning one of our greatest allies, Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed, was ousted in a military coup. He’s under house arrest at the moment and could be in serious danger. We’re collecting signatures on a petition that we will deliver to key secretaries of state and foreign ministers to make sure there’s pressure on the coup leaders to keep President Nasheed safe.

On our action page,  you’ll see a video of President Nasheed at the Copenhagen climate talks–it was one of the great moments of the 350 movement.

We also pasted an account of the coup from inside the government. Click Get More Info on the page for both.

The Maldives was on course to become the world’s first carbon-neutral nation, a beacon for the rest of the planet; but for the moment, all that matters is the safety of our dear friend and his colleagues.

Days like today remind us how hard this fight will be, and how many setbacks we’ll see on the way. They also remind us that we need solidarity above all else. If you’re a praying person, include Pres. Nasheed and his family in your prayers.

We know that all of you are action people–so here’s that sign-on link again.

With respect,
Bill McKibben and the team.


Tell your national leaders:

We are deeply concerned about the recent coup that forced Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed from office and is currently keeping him under house arrest. President Nasheed was the first democratically elected leader of his country and a global voice for action to address the climate crisis. He needs your support to ensure his safety.

Please put diplomatic pressure on the leaders of this coup to avoid violence and to work for a peaceful, democratic solution to their conflict. is building a global movement to solve the climate crisis. Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up for email alerts. You can help power our work by getting involved locally and donating here.

What is 350? —-   Go to our website to learn about the science behind the movement.


Posted on on February 7th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (


Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced hope today that the resignation of the President of the Maldives and the appointment of his deputy as the new leader will help to peacefully end the ongoing political crisis in the Indian Ocean country.

Mohamed Nasheed announced his resignation earlier today and will be succeeded by Vice-President Mohammed Waheed Hassan. The move followed recent street protests and mounting tensions between parts of the Government and the military.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban expressed “his strong hope that this handover of power, which has been announced as a constitutional step to avoid further violence and instability, will lead to the peaceful resolution of the political crisis that has polarized the country in recent months.”

Mr. Ban called on all Maldivians to “refrain from violence and engage constructively” in tackling the challenges facing the country, adding that he hoped the Maldives will be able to build on “the important gains” it has recently made in establishing democracy and the rule of law.

“The UN Secretary-General acknowledges the important contributions of President Nasheed, the country’s first democratically-elected president, to the establishment of democracy in the Maldives and his role in raising international awareness of the dangers of climate change and rising seas.”

Later this week Assistant Secretary-General Oscar Fernandez-Taranco will lead a United Nations political mission to the Maldives to help the country deal with its recent tensions. Mr. Fernandez-Taranco is slated to meet with Government officials, opposition leaders and civil society representatives.


Posted on on October 13th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

Dear Mr. Jawetz,
White sandy beaches, exotic underwater worlds—the Maldives are the perfect year-round destination for your dream vacation. During the peak season between November and April, Austrian Airlines will fly you directly to this tropical paradise. Beginning on 2 November, we will offer non-stop service to Malé every Wednesday on a Boeing 777. Between 23 December and 29 February 2012, we will add a second weekly flight.

I guess we got that e-mail because we ho;d in high esteem the position the Maldives have taken on Climate change issues

– just please see our Maldives Islands  button. –…


Posted on on September 24th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

“First, the Secretary-General should appoint a Special Representative on Climate and Security to analyze the projected security impacts of climate change so that the Council and Member States can better understand what lies ahead.

“Second, the Secretary-General should assess the capacity of the United Nations system to respond to the likely security impacts of climate change, so that vulnerable countries can be assured that it is up to the task. These two proposals are the absolute minimum necessary to prepare for the greatest threat to international security of our generation.”



The leaders of three Pacific Island countries called on the United Nations today to take a series of measures to help them and other small island nations combat the effects of climate change.

“Climate change threatens to undo all of our recent development gains if the major biggest polluters continue down the path of business as usual,” Nauru’s President Marcus Stephen told the General Assembly annual general debate.

He stressed that it is essential that the international community recognizes climate change as a peace and security issue, not just an environmental one, and called for further measures to ensure the issue was addressed by the Security Council.

“First, the Secretary-General should appoint a Special Representative on Climate and Security to analyze the projected security impacts of climate change so that the Council and Member States can better understand what lies ahead.

“Second, the Secretary-General should assess the capacity of the United Nations system to respond to the likely security impacts of climate change, so that vulnerable countries can be assured that it is up to the task. These two proposals are the absolute minimum necessary to prepare for the greatest threat to international security of our generation.”

Mr. Stephen also urged Member States to honour their commitments made in existing environmental accords such as the Kyoto Protocol and the Cancún Agreements so that further progress can be made on sustainable development goals.

Micronesian President Emanuel Mori echoed Mr. Stephen’s remarks by saying that a special category for Small Island Developing Countries (SIDS) is imperative if the UN is to improve the lives of people who live in these states.

He also remarked that climate change as a security threat is not new, but should be taken even more seriously now by Member States.

“We cannot help but notice the persistent failure and reluctance by some countries to address the security aspect of climate change even in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence.

“We believe that those who opposed the debate in the Council and those who doubted the security implications of climate change simply ignored the obvious,” he said.

President of Kiribati Anote Tong noted that climate change is a threat that his country faces every day and this will be true for other countries in the future.

“In Kiribati, many young people go to sleep each night fearing what will happen to their homes overnight especially during the high tides,” he said.

“Accelerated and continued erosion of our shorelines is destroying settlements and as I speak some communities are relocating elsewhere on the island. I was glad that the Secretary-General was able to understand and feel for himself the sense of threat which our people and those of similarly vulnerable countries experience on a daily basis,” he said, referring to the Secretary-General’s recent visit to Kiribati earlier this month, which marked the first time ever that a Secretary-General visited the country.

* * *


Suriname has urged the international community to move quickly to create the United Nations-backed climate change adaptation fund to support vulnerable developing countries that risk losing their peoples’ livelihoods to the effects of climate change.

“Our understanding of the climate change suggests that our planet will undergo considerable changes over the next 50 years, impacting all areas of society,” President Desiré Delano Bouterse told the General Assembly.

“For Suriname and its low-lying coastline, this means a vulnerable exposure to a rising sea level, risking inundation of our fertile soil and fresh water reservoirs.” An estimated 80 per cent of the South American country’s population lives in coastal areas.

The climate change adaptation fund was established by the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to finance concrete adaptation projects and programmes in developing countries.

Mr. Bouterse also stressed that the upcoming Conference of Parties to UNFCCC in Durban, South Africa, must reach concrete agreement on limiting emissions of the harmful greenhouse gases that are blamed for global warming.

“We owe this to our present and future generations. We call upon parties concerned to reach agreement,” he said.

* * *


Posted on on October 7th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

from Bill McKibben – <>
date Tue, Oct 5, 2010

Just in time to give this weekend’s Global Work Party a White House-sized boost, the Obama administration announced this morning that they are going to put solar panels on the First Family’s living quarters, returning to a tradition begun by president Jimmy Carter and abandoned by Ronald Reagan.

{We note the fact that, AS PROMISED BY ENERGY SECRETARY Dr. STEVEN CHU, THE PANELS WILL BE SET ON THE WHITE HOUSE LIVING QUARTER’S ROOF BY SPRING 2011 ONLY – WHICH SIGNALS TO US THE 25 LOST YEARS SINCE PRESIDENT REAGAN UNDID THE START IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION OF DECREASE IN THE PETROLEUM DEPENDENCE THAT CARTER SYMBOLIZED. The action will take place only at the start of the third year into the Obama Presidency, after the mid-term elections, and with a new composition of US Congress in place.}

It’s a great win for efforts over the last months–everyone who wrote letters, signed petitions for our “Put Solar On It” campaign, and turned out for the Solar Road Trip as we rolled down the east coast from Unity College towing one of the original Carter panels. We were disappointed that day that the White House wasn’t prepared to go solar, but are now very happy and honored that they took our suggestion to look into the matter seriously.

Solar panels on one house, even this house, won’t save the climate, of course. But they’re a powerful symbol to the whole nation about where the future lies. And President Obama will wake up every morning and make his toast by the power of the sun, which will be a constant reminder to be pushing the U.S. Congress for the kind of comprehensive reform we need.

And remember, President Obama’s not alone: tomorrow, Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed and a crew from Sungevity will be putting solar panels on the Muliaa’ge, the “White House of the Maldives”. It’s a trend!

Of course, both of these initiatives are perfectly timed to lead into this weekend’s Global Work Party, when 6127 carbon-cutting events (and rising) will take place in 187 countries.  If you haven’t already gotten involved, now is most definitely the time to join an event near you–or register your own.

The first account of the news from the White House, from Associated Press reporter Dina Cappiello, noted the efforts of to make this happen. In particular, Bill McKibben salutes Jean Altomare, Amanda Nelson, and Jamie Nemecek, the three young women from Unity College who brought the Carter solar panels to Washington DC, and made such an impression on the White House.

They remind all of us why we’ll be working hard this weekend for the Global Work Party–and why, when the day is done, we’ll be putting down our hammers and our shovels and picking up our cellphones to call our leaders.

You never know what will happen when you ask for change.


Bill McKibben for the Team

P.S. from McKibben: Victories like this should be shared.
Click here to spread it on Facebook,
and click here to post about it on Twitter.

To join on Facebook go and follow on twitter by visiting

To join their list  visit is an international grassroots campaign that aims to mobilize a global climate movement united by a common call to action. By spreading an understanding of the science and a shared vision for a fair policy.
What is 350?
350 is the number, coined by scientist Dr. James Hansen and that other leading scientists say is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Scientists measure carbon dioxide in “parts per million” (ppm), so 350ppm is the number humanity needs to get below as soon as possible to avoid runaway climate change. To get there, we need a different kind of PPM-a “people powered movement” that is made of people like you in every corner of the planet.
As we posted earlier 10/10/10 activities are programed in 254 countries and we attach here one example that reached us today:

1010 ACTIONS: 10/10/10 Global Work Party – The activity this Sunday at one place in Indonesia.

The Climate Project Indonesia in collaboration with The Body Shop Indonesia would like to invite you to the 1010 ACTIONS: 10/10/10 Global Work Party.

Date: Sunday, October 10th, 2010, 4pm-8pm.
Place: Barcode at Le Codefin Kemang, Jalan Kemang Raya 8 (Across Kemang Food Festival)

– 1010 Actions Submission Centre
– Eco Fashion Show by CARE
– Environment Short Films Screening
– Green Sunday Market
– Carbon Calculator Booth
– Live Music by Syncope

The party will be hosted by Nadine Zamira, Miss Indonesia Earth 2009 and Ariseno, TV Producer for Green Campaigns
The fashion show will feature a collection of fashion items using sustainable material presented by Y.M. Adhimiharja for CARE
The models are Miss Earth 2009 finalists

This global work party is supported by Green Radio 89.2 FM, Evolver, Barcode, Bike to Work, CARE, Engage Media, IESR and individual supporters to TCPI.


Posted on on September 24th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Climate change, natural disaster and the triple crises of food, finance and fuel jeopardize sustainable development gains made by many developing nations.

We add here that Climate Change, Loss of Biodiversity, and the slow-down in Poverty Reduction are inter-related – talking about one of them while ignoring the others is counter-productive. And what do you know – Climate Change imposed on others by our own excesses is it not, indeed, a novel way of terrorism?


Peruvian President Alan García told the General Assembly today that terrorism and climate change, as well as other global illnesses, require that the United Nations be the forum for world cooperation.

Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernández  called for the creation of a new global coalition under United Nations auspices of nations at risk of catastrophe to share experiences and knowledge. He told General Assembly, on the first day of its annual high-level segment,that this year alone – up to now – there have been 47 floods and landslides; 12 hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons; eight serious droughts followed by fires; seven earthquakes; and volcanic eruptions.

“Additionally, we have to include the numerous cold waves, floods, and storms that have occurred as well as the epidemics that took place as a result, particularly cholera in Africa and dengue in Latin America and the Caribbean.”

Dr. Fernández proposed the establishment of a World Alliance of Countries at Risk which would be “a great contribution towards designing and implementing policies to help save lives and minimize material damages.”

Many natural disasters, he pointed out, are caused by climate change, underscoring the need to set guidelines to regulate carbon emissions and protect the planet’s biodiversity.


Calling for a new mechanism to stave off the worst effects of natural disasters at the Assembly debate today was Turkish President Abdullah Gül.

“This would also help maintain international peace and security by mitigating the threats stemming from weak governance, collapse of public order and domestic or inter-State conflicts over diminishing natural resources,” he noted.

Dedicating just a small fraction of nations’ defense expenditures to financing this new mechanism could more cost-effectively achieve results in maintaining global peace and stability, he said.

“Moreover,” the Turkish leader said, “If we could pool some of our defense equipment that lost its effective utilization in military terms but are still relevant disaster relief operations, we would swiftly build the said rapid reaction capability.


Climate change, natural disaster and the triple crises of food, finance and fuel jeopardize sustainable development gains made by small island developing States (SIDS), according to a new United Nations report.

The report points out that these events exacerbate the vulnerability of the SIDS due to their small size, remoteness, susceptibility to shocks and narrow resource bases, the publication says.

In some instances, it points out, improved economic and governance capacity in SIDS has been offset by reduced resilience to external shocks.

“Although SIDS are confronted with increasing challenges, the growing international consensus surrounding the need to support SIDS offers an unprecedented opportunity to advance their sustainable development efforts,” the report says.

Its release comes ahead of a high-level General Assembly gathering to review progress towards sustainable development made in these nations. The two-day meeting kicks off tomorrow.

In the past nearly four decades, SIDS including Samoa, Grenada, Vanuatu and Maldives top the list of 180 countries recording the highest economic losses in relative terms due to natural disasters.

In Samoa, a 1983 tropical storm and forest fire, along with three tropical storms in the late 1980s, may have set its capital stock back more than 35 years.

Despite advances made towards realizing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the eight globally-agreed targets with a 2015 deadline, in areas such as health and gender equality, the eradication of poverty is still a major hurdle for small island nations.


In a side event at the UN, Dr. Christiana Figueres, the top UN climate change official, today stressed the urgent need for governments to move forward in their negotiations ahead of the Cancun, Mexico, meeting where the UN contends that she is expected to conclude agreements related to issues such as technology transfer, mitigation and adaptation, and funding.

“We are barely two months away from the UN climate change conference in Cancun, the place where Governments need to take the next firm step on humanity’s journey to meet the full-scale challenge of climate change,” said Christiana Figueres, Executive Director of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Ahead of the next conference of parties to the Convention, to be held in November in Cancun, governments will hold a negotiating session in Tianjin, China, next week.

It is in Tianjin, said Ms. Figueres, that they will need to “cut down the number of options they have on the table, identify what is achievable in Cancun and muster the political compromises that will deliver those outcomes.”

She told a news conference at UN Headquarters that governments are converging on the need to mandate a full set of ways and means to launch a new wave of global climate action.

“On the whole, governments have been cognizant this year that there is an urgent need to move forward and they have been collaborating in moving beyond their national positions to begin to identify common ground so that they can reach several agreements in Cancun.”

The UN climate change chief said that negotiations are on track towards reaching agreements on the sharing of technology, jump-starting activities in developing countries dealing with reducing deforestation and degradation, setting out a framework for adaptation, and establishing a fund that would help developing countries with their mitigation and adaptation efforts.

“Let me be clear: there is no magic bullet, no one climate agreement that will solve everything right now,” she said.

“To expect that is naïve. It does not do justice to the crucial steps already achieved since the beginning of the Convention and it dangerously ignores the need to keep innovating.”

She noted four major trends shaping the future – energy supply and security; natural resource depletion; population growth; and climate change.

“An unchecked climate change is the flame that would make the other three burn most seriously,” said Ms. Figueres. “Governments can either stand together to turn these four threats into a new development paradigm that harnesses the full power of society, science and business, or they will fail divided.”

But let us not think that Dr. Figueres believes in the “Seal the Deal” mantra – she is on the record of having said earlier that she does not expect a Kyoto Protocol kind of agreement to emerge from Cancun – so the Tianjin meeting is very important in order to avoid renewed failure because of exaggerated expectations.


Posted on on September 22nd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Hey there, Pincas:

Are you fed up with political leaders who’ve failed again and again and again to put us on a path toward climate sanity? Clearly, it’s time to take matters into our own hands — literally.

That’s the idea behind the Global Work Party being organized by On 10/10/10, people all around the world will gather in their communities to get things done. Politicians are invited to come and take notes.

Bill and ChipIn Hailey, Idaho, people are getting together for a home weatherization raffle and demonstration. In Auckland, New Zealand, they’re organizing a giant bike fix-up day. In Ambalantota, Sri Lanka, they’ll be planting hundreds of trees. In the Maldives, they’ll be putting solar panels on the president’s office. Find out what’s going on in your neck of the woods, or organize a work event yourself. With the might of our combined efforts, we’ll be sending a message to our leaders: We’re doing our part. Now get to work and do yours.

Join us in a live chat on Grist to find out more about the Global Work Party and the climate crisis that inspired it — today, Sept. 22, at noon Pacific time (3 p.m. Eastern).

Yours in working and partying,

Bill McKibben, author, activist, & Grist board member
Chip Giller, Grist founder & president


Posted on on July 13th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

from CPA <>
date Tue, Jul 13, 2010
subject:   WMO launches SWIdget: get severe weather warnings on tropical cyclones on your computer.

The Severe Weather Information Centre (SWIC) of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has been enhanced with the launch of a new service known as SWIdget.  With this brand new service, local and international users can now obtain severe weather warnings related to tropical cyclones that are issued by participating official weather services in near real-time.  This new service aims to help users access severe weather warnings easily so that they can take suitable precautionary measures well in time.

Please find attached a press release on the above subject.
(Arabic, Chinese, French, Spanish and Russian versions will be available online soon).

More information:

Communications and Public Affairs
Communication et relations publiques
World Meteorological Organization
Organisation météorologique mondiale
Tel: + 41 22 730 83 14
Fax: + 41 22 730 80 27
7 bis Avenue de la Paix
Case Postale 2300
CH 1211 Geneva 2