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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 2nd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

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 climate@bard.edu.  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 350.org 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
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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 (theislandpresident.com/see-film/) 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 climate@bard.edu.
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, 350.org                                      Corruption, Democracy, Climate
May 1 Manuel Pastor and James Boyce, University of Southern Cal., University of Mass.           Co-Benefits and Climate Justice

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 28th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

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:

secure.avaaz.org/en/maldives_up_2/?biFBDab&v=23525

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:

secure.avaaz.org/en/maldives_up_2/?biFBDab&v=23525

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

MORE INFORMATION

Maldives girl to get 100 lashes for pre-marital sex (BBC)
www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-21595814

Maldives government to appeal flogging of rape victim (Dawn, Pakistan)
dawn.com/2013/03/01/maldives-government-to-appeal-flogging-of-rape-victim/

Rape victims punished, failed by Maldives justice system (Minivan news, Maldives)
minivannews.com/society/raped-victims-punished-failed-by-law-in-the-maldives-53760

Judicial statistics show 90 percent of those convicted for fornication are female (Minivan news, Maldives)
minivannews.com/politics/judicial-statistics-show-90-percent-of-those-convicted-for-fornication-are-female-44605

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 16th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

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.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 6th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

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

Press Release:          The UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON WELL-BEING AND HAPPINESS.

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

A NEW ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PARADIGM.


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.

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

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 www.climatedots.org

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 ClimateDots.org 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 ClimateDots.org. 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.

Onwards,

May Boeve for the whole 350.org Team

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 31st, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


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.

ON POLITICS IN GENERAL MR. NASHEED REMARKED THAT IT IS EASY TO REMOVE A DICTATOR BUT NOT TO FLUSH OUT HUNDREDS OF YEARS OF THE OLD SYSTEM. WHAT HAS HAPPENED IN THE MALDIVES IS WHAT WILL HAPPEN IN THE MIDDLE EAST, he said. THE COME-BACK OF DICTATORSHIP MUST BE AVOIDED, he said.

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.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 30th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

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.
 movies.nytimes.com/2012/03/28/mov…

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

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.

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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.

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

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 350.org‘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 350.org team.

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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.


350.org 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.


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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 7th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


AFTER PRESIDENT RESIGNS IN MALDIVES, BAN VOICES HOPE CRISIS WILL END

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.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 13th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

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. - www.sustainabilitank.info/categor…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 7th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

from Bill McKibben - 350.org <organizers@350.org>
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 350.org 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.

Onwards,

Bill McKibben for the 350.org 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 350.org on Facebook go facebook.com/350org and follow on twitter by visiting twitter.com/350

To join their list  visit www.350.org/signup

350.org 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.
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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)

Featuring:
- 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.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 24th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 22nd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

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 350.org. 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

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 10th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Verónica Michelle Bachelet Jeria (Spanish pronunciation: [mi?t?el ?at?e?let]; born September 29, 1951) is a moderate socialist politician who was President of Chile from 11 March 2006 to 11 March 2010—the first woman president in the country’s history.

She won the 2006 presidential election in a runoff, beating center-right US dollar billionaire businessman and former senator Sebastián Piñera with 53.5% of the vote.

She campaigned on a platform of continuing Chile’s free-market policies, while increasing social benefits to help reduce the gap between rich and poor, one of the largest in the world.

Bachelet, a pediatrician and epidemiologist with studies in military strategy, served as Health Minister and Defense Minister under President Ricardo Lagos.

Bachelet is the second child of archaeologist Ángela Jeria Gómez and Air Force Brigadier General Alberto Bachelet Martínez.

Facing growing food shortages, the government of Salvador Allende placed Bachelet’s father in charge of the Food Distribution Office. When General Augusto Pinochet came to power in the September 11, 1973 coup, General Bachelet, refusing exile, was detained at the Air War Academy under charges of treason. Following months of daily torture at Santiago’s Public Prison, on March 12, 1974, he suffered a cardiac arrest that resulted in his death. On January 10, 1975, Bachelet and her mother were detained at their apartment by two DINA agents, who blindfolded them and drove them to Villa Grimaldi, a notorious secret detention center in Santiago, where they were separated and submitted to interrogation and torture.[13] Some days later they were transferred to Cuatro Álamos (“Four Poplars”) detention center, where they were held until the end of January. Later in 1975, thanks to sympathetic connections in the military, both were exiled to Australia, where Bachelet’s older brother Alberto had moved in 1969.

Her paternal great-great-grandfather, Louis-Joseph Bachelet Lapierre, was a French wine merchant from Chassagne-Montrachet who emigrated to Chile with his Parisian wife, Françoise Jeanne Beault, in 1860 hired as a wine-making expert by the Subercaseaux vineyards in southern Santiago.

In February 1979, Bachelet returned to Santiago, Chile from East Germany. Her medical school credits from the GDR were not transferred, forcing her to resume her studies from where she had left off before fleeing the country. [citation needed] She graduated as M.D. on January 7, 1983. She wished to work in the public sector wherever attention was most needed, applying for a position as general practitioner; her petition was, however, rejected by the military government on “political grounds.” Instead, because of her academic performance and published papers, she earned a scholarship to specialize in pediatrics and public health at Roberto del Río Children’s Hospital (1983–1986). During this time she also worked at PIDEE (Protection of Children Injured by States of Emergency Foundation), a non-governmental organization helping children of the tortured and missing in Santiago and Chillán. She was head of the foundation’s Medical Department between 1986 and 1990. Some time after her second child with Dávalos, Francisca Valentina, was born in February 1984, she and her husband legally separated. She is a separated mother of three and describes herself as an agnostic.

In 1990, after democracy was restored in Chile, Bachelet worked for the Ministry of Health’s West Santiago Health Service and was a consultant for the Pan-American Health Organization, the World Health Organization and the German Corporation for Technical Cooperation.

Driven by an interest in civil-military relations, in 1996 Bachelet began studies in military strategy at the National Academy for Strategic and Policy Studies (Anepe) in Chile, obtaining first place in her class.[2] Her student achievement earned her a presidential scholarship, permitting her to continue her studies in the United States at the Inter-American Defense College in Washington, D.C., completing a Continental Defense Course in 1998. That same year she returned to Chile to work for the Defense Ministry as Senior Assistant to the Defense Minister. She subsequently graduated from a Master’s program in military science at the Chilean Army‘s War Academy.

In 1996 Bachelet ran against future presidential adversary Joaquín Lavín for the mayorship of Las Condes, a wealthy Santiago suburb and a right-wing stronghold. Lavín won the 22-candidate election with nearly 78% of the vote, while she finished fourth at 2.35%. At the 1999 presidential primary of Coalition of Parties for Democracy (CPD), Chile’s governing coalition since 1990, she worked for Ricardo Lagos’s nomination, heading the Santiago electoral zone.

On March 11, 2000 Bachelet—virtually unknown at the time—was appointed Minister of Health by President Ricardo Lagos. She began an in-depth study of the public health-care system that led to the AUGE plan a few years later. She was also given the task of eliminating waiting lists in the saturated public hospital system within the first 100 days of Lagos’s government. She reduced waiting lists by 90%, but was unable to eliminate them completely and offered her resignation, which was promptly rejected by the President.  Controversially,  she allowed free distribution of the morning-after pill for victims of sexual abuse.

On January 7, 2002 Bachelet was appointed Defense Minister, becoming the first woman to hold this post in a Latin American country and one of the few in the world. While Minister of Defense she promoted reconciliatory gestures between the military and victims of the dictatorship, culminating in the historic 2003 declaration by General Juan Emilio Cheyre, head of the army, that “never again” would the military subvert democracy in Chile.  She also oversaw a reform of the military pension system and continued with the process of modernization of the Chilean armed forces with the purchasing of new military equipment, while engaging in international peace operations.

A moment which has been cited as key to Bachelet’s chances to the presidency came during a flood in northern Santiago where she, as Defense Minister, led a rescue operation on top of an amphibious tank, wearing a cloak and military cap.

In late 2004, following a surge of her popularity in opinion polls, Bachelet was established as the only CPD figure able to defeat Lavín, and she was asked to become the Socialists’ candidate for the presidency.

According to The Economist magazine the government of Bachelet opted to make social protection and the promotion of equality of opportunity her main priority. Since becoming President, her government built 3,500 crèches daycare for poorer children. It introduced a universal minimum state pension and extended free health care to cover many serious conditions.
A new housing policy aimed at abolishing the last remaining shanty-towns in Chile by 2010 featured grants to the poorest families. Some of them had to pay just US$400 for a house costing about US$20,000.

In October 2009 Ms Bachelet’s popularity peaked at 80 percent according to a public opinion poll by conservative polling institute Adimark GfK., and in March 2010 she showed an approval rating of 84%, and in terms of specific characteristics attributed to Chile’s president, ‘loved by Chileans’ reached a record 96%.

The Chilean Constitution does not allow a president to serve two consecutive terms, so Bachelet left office in March 2010.

Chile’s October 16, 2006 vote in the United Nations Security Council election—with Venezuela and Guatemala deadlocked in a bid for the two-year, non-permanent Latin American and Caribbean seat on the Security Council — developed into a major ideological issue in the country, and was seen as a test for Bachelet. The governing coalition was divided between the Socialists, who supported a vote for Venezuela, and the Christian Democrats, who strongly opposed it. The day before the vote the president announced (through her spokesman) that Chile would abstain, citing as reason a lack of regional consensus over a single candidate, ending months of speculation.

Continuing the coalition’s free-trade strategy, in August 2006 Bachelet promulgated a free trade agreement with the People’s Republic of China (signed under the previous administration of Ricardo Lagos), the first Chinese free-trade agreement with a Latin American nation; similar deals with Japan and India were promulgated in August 2007. In October 2006, Bachelet promulgated a multilateral trade deal with New Zealand, Singapore and Brunei, the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (P4),  also signed under Lagos’ presidency.  She also held free-trade talks with other countries, including Australia, VietnamTurkey and Malaysia. Regionally, she signed bilateral free trade agreements with Panama, Peru and Colombia.

At the beginning of 2010 Chile became the OECD’s 31st member, and its first in South America. This acceptance for OECD membership marked international recognition of nearly two decades of democratic reform and sound economic policies; for the OECD, Chile’s membership was a major milestone in its mission to build a stronger, cleaner and fairer global economy

She speaks Spanish (her native language), English, German, Portuguese and French.

In 2009 Forbes magazine ranked her as the 22nd in the list of the 100 most powerful women in the world (she was #25 in 2008, #27 in 2007, and #17 in 2006). In 2008, TIME magazine ranked her 15 on its list of the world’s 100 most influential people.

Eleanor Clift wrote on politicsdaily.com on June 10, 2010 that Michelle Bachelet moved the Chilean Government from Macho – to – Maternal. She was clearly the best qualified person to establish and head the new UN institution that was baptized with the terrible name UNWOMEN. And you know what, letting into the UN building a highly qualified person may endanger the minions working there. That, is what doomed on me today, this because I also learned an additional fact about Bachellet’s Chile, and that is why I write this UPDATE.
 www.politicsdaily.com/2010/06/10/…

The additional fact I learned today came from reading material that will appear in an Energy Management Magazine Published in India. The article is by – Ms. Jimena Bronfman, Vice Minister of Energy, Chile , and it deals with Chile moving into leadership position on energy issues – and you guessed right if you said that Dr. Bachelet started this. In effect the Ministry of Energy – which for Chile is a Ministry of Energy Efficiency – was set up at the end of her days in the Presidential Office. We are sure that this was not an easy task to fulfill – but we are sure that it will be one of her most important legacies. We know that Energy Efficiency is not a top priority of the G77 real on-going leadership and this, more then anything else, explains the diatribe we described in our original posting which we updated now.

The creation of the Ministry of Energy in February 1st 2010 is an important milestone in this process. The law that is the basis for Chile’s current institutional framework also includes the creation of the Chilean Energy Efficiency Agency, a public private entity that will implement the public policies designed by the Energy Efficiency Division of the Ministry.

Energy Efficiency is one of the main goals of Chile’s national energy policy, families are changing their habits and industries, corporations and local governments are trying to reduce their energy consumption by adopting energy-efficient measures. This fostering environment was recently faced by the February 27th earthquake and tsunami that devastated several regions of our country. We have taken this catastrophe as an opportunity and a challenge to rebuild our towns and cities using energy efficiency and renewable energy.

The Ministry of Energy is working with other ministries, such as the Ministry of Housing, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education to include energy efficiency measures and non-conventional renewable energies in the reconstruction of health and education infrastructure and emergency housing. We are also developing a pilot project to rebuild a town with the leading best practices in sustainability and energy consumption, so it can be replicated in other parts of the region and world.

Energy Efficiency is key to Chile’s competitiveness and economic growth. According to studies carried out before the earthquake, energy efficiency measures could help reduce Chile’s energy demand by around 14% by 2020. This would have a positive financial impact in the reconstruction process, as public funds saved by reduction of energy consumption can be reallocated to other priorities of the rebuilding program.

Energy Efficiency will also help Chile, whose economy is based on exports, to reduce its carbon footprint and be competitive in a world that is increasingly carbon-conscious. Although Chile’s contribution to global greenhouse emissions is low compared to many other nations, our wines, copper, fruits, fish and wood products are sold in developed markets that will require sustainable production processes.

In order to achieve our goals we are currently developing the Energy Efficiency Strategy for 2020. At the moment a draft proposal is being reviewed by key actors from the private and the public sectors who will be involved in the actual implementation of the strategy. The main objective of this process is to promote a broad discussion of the specific proposals, introduce appropriate improvements and gain comprehensive support for the energy saving goals contemplated in the strategy.  The official version of the E3 will be published after completion of this discussion period, hopefully by the end of November 2010.

Other challenges for this year include the implementation of the rest of our institutional framework, which will be completed by the creation of the Chilean Energy Efficiency Agency, a public-private non-profit entity that will implement the Ministry’s public policies. It will be funded mainly through public funds but will include private sector representatives in its board. The focus of the Agency’s work will be guided by the E3 strategy; however, we shall also aim at developing other important projects such as education. We strongly believe that a crucial driver for change in these matters is highly-skilled human resources. Therefore, education in schools, undergraduate and post-graduate education is needed to introduce strong energy efficiency programs. Other important aspects of energy efficiency lie in smart-grid and net-metering programs.

Another main priority for 2010 is the development of energy efficiency labelling for cars, new houses and domestic appliances. Labelling is currently mandatory for refrigerators and light bulbs, and we aim to expand this initiative so consumers have all the information available to make the right decisions.

We also want to continue growing our international alliances and cooperation. We have already executed collaboration agreements with several countries and organizations worldwide, and we will work to strengthen and deepen those relationships. Energy Efficiency is a global effort that can be fostered by exchanging best practices that will benefit consumers, industries and countries all over the world.

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The China and Developing States, the full name of the G77 that purports speaking for 130 out of the 192 UN Member States, is a UN charade – simply, because there never was a common interest among all these various States Now, with China becoming at least a G2 with the United States, if not the straight Global Economic Super power, for her to use the leadership of this rag-tag bunch and push into leadership positions at the UN – Libya, Zimbabwe, Sudan etc. resulted in turning the whole UN into a laughable enterprise. Bravo to little Palau that walked out on this continuous obstructionist committee circuit that calls for time-out whenever the UN tries to reach some decision. We watched them at climate Change meetings where Saudi Arabia is their representative.

Perhaps there was once s difference between the industrialized European  – North American countries plus Japan, and the rest of the world – this when the UN was created and the decolonizing process was giving birth to many new UN Member States – in effect multiplying by three the total number of global independent States, but since then much has changed.

The Latin ABC, Mexico, Korea, Turkey, India, Indonesia, South Africa have all knocked successfully at the corporate doors of development and entered the G20. The OECD club includes most of these G20 plus most EU States and Israel that is a perpetual  G77 pariah. They have now real interests to defend and not much time for posturing – so we will see slowly a realignment also at the UN. OK, China and South Africa will not want to give up their positions as leaders of the 130. It keeps some of their diplomats in the circuit and the UN will continue the fiction, but how long hence that the AOSIS/SIDS will still play this game? When will they see that Palau was indeed a trailblazer? Will the lack of action on Climate Change by some of the major OECD members who effectively joined the Saudis in opposing real action on climate, push these States back into the G77 arms?

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THURSDAY, JULY 08, 2010
Chile Threatens to Split South Unity in World Body.
Thalif Deen
 ipsterraviva.net/UN/currentNew.as…

UNITED NATIONS, Jul 7 (IPS) – The Group of 77 (G77) has historically maintained a united front, vociferously protecting the economic interests of developing countries at the United Nations. But its longstanding solidarity is now being threatened by the continued presence of a single Latin American country which recently joined the ranks of a rich elitist group.

Chile, which was formally inducted last May into the 30-member Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), described as an exclusive club of industrial nations, has given no indications of leaving the G77, thereby triggering a sharp division of opinion among its 130 members. “Chile wants to have it both ways,” one G77 member told IPS, speaking on condition of anonymity. “It wants to have one foot in the OECD and another in the G77. But this is unacceptable to some of us.”

When Mexico and South Korea broke ranks with the developing world and joined the Paris-based OECD back in 1994 and 1996, respectively, both countries quit the G77, the largest single coalition of developing countries at the United Nations.

Chakravarti Raghavan, editor emeritus of the Geneva-based South-North Development Monitor published by the Third World Network, told IPS if Chile does not voluntarily quit the G77, the group must find a way around its longstanding convention of consensus decisions, and “politely but firmly throw Chile out”.

“This will be in line with the spirit and the intentions behind the formation of the Group of 77 and its functioning over all these years,” he added.

“It is probably about time that the G77 being an informal grouping expel Chile – on the simple ground that you can’t belong to two different groupings,” said Raghavan, who is considered a foremost authority on the G77, and who has written extensively about the Group since its inception in June 1964.

“It is my impression that Mexico, when it joined OECD, initially wanted to be in both camps, but was told it was not possible,” he added.

On North-South economic issues at the United Nations, the G77 and the OECD hold diametrically opposite views – most or all of the time.

The OECD is home to some of the world’s major economic powers, including the United States, Britain, Germany, France and Japan. Most of the emerging economic powers, including Brazil, India, China and South Africa, are longstanding members of the G77 and not members of the OECD.

But according to the OECD, it is planning to have discussions with Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and South Africa – all active members of the G77 – “with a view to possible membership”.

The G77 has lost four other members over the years: Cyprus and Malta (both in May 1994) and Romania (January 2007) when they joined the European Union.

A fourth country, Palau, a small island developing nation in the Pacific, withdrew from the G77 in June 2006, ostensibly for financial reasons.

Besides Chile, Mexico and South Korea, the OECD has also added three other non-G77 members into its ranks: Estonia, Slovenia and Israel.

Speaking off-the-record, a diplomat from a G77 country expressed a dissenting point of view when he told IPS: “There is nothing in the G77 rules or guidelines stating that an OECD member has to quit the G77.”

He said Chile is well within its rights to remain a member of the G77.

“And, while there may be a few in G77 who may not be pleased about Chile remaining in the G77, there are no serious moves afoot to push them out of the grouping,” he said. “Most of us, support Chile remaining in the G77. There will be strong resistance from a number of us if anyone tries to eject Chile from the G77.”

And as an after-thought, he added: “The OECD had made leaving the G77 a condition for Mexico’s entry into the OECD. However, when Chile was applying to the OECD, there was no such condition.”

Moreover, he said, Mexico stated that leaving the G77 should not be a condition for Chile’s entry.

Another G77 delegate told IPS that if Chile does not voluntarily leave the Group, as Mexico and South Korea did in previous years, a divided G77 may be forced to take a decision either way.

Meanwhile the former G8 – the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada and Russia – has been expanded into the G20 to include seven developing nations (besides Australia, Mexico, South Korea, Turkey and the European Union).

The seven developing countries – Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and South Africa – are still members of the G77.

Chile has argued that G77 members that belong to the G20 should be considered in the same light as G77 members belonging to the OECD. But the G20 is not considered a formal body like the OECD, which is treaty-based and whose decisions are binding on all its members.

According to an OECD statement, the invitation to Chile to become the Organisation’s 31st member came at a time when the OECD is expanding its relations with the region.

As an OECD member, Chile will participate in all areas of the OECD’s work, from economic and financial policy to education, employment and social affairs. It will also join with other OECD countries to share experiences and best practices, setting new standards and developing new governance mechanisms for its economy and society more broadly.

The statement said that during two years of accession negotiations, Chile was reviewed by some 20 OECD committees with respect to OECD instruments, standards and benchmarks.

The invitation to take up membership confirms that Chile is taking appropriate steps to reform its economy including in the areas of corporate governance, anti-corruption, and environmental protection, the statement said.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 8th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

from: Bill McKibben - 350.org <organizers@350.org>
date Thu, Jul 8, 2010
subject: Tell Obama: Put Solar on the White House!

Dear Friends,

Washington DC is in the grip of an epic heat wave as I write these words. It hasn’t been enough to get our Senators and Congressmen to do anything about the climate crisis, but it is a constant reminder of the sun’s power, going to waste.

We thought we all could do something about that this summer, so today we’re launching a little campaign asking President Obama to put solar panels on the roof of the White House. It’s easy to sign on–just click the following link to add your name.

www.putsolaron.it/whitehouse

This new campaign is part of our huge push towards the 10/10/10 Global Work Party, where millions of people in 114 countries (and counting!) have already signed up to do something sustainable in their communities on that October day. We hope the president will join in both the work and the party, and help install those panels–if you agree, we’ve made it incredibly simple for you to send along your invitation. Just click here. And just so you don’t think we’re singling out the president, we’re launching this same campaign today in every other country in the world.

President Obama won’t, of course, be doing much to solve climate change with just that one act alone. We really need him to push for comprehensive laws that put a price on carbon and wean us off coal and oil–push much harder than he has so far. We’re a little worried that the Obama administration will use their new solar panels to claim that they’re sincere about climate change without working to pass the legislation and enact the regulations that really matter–none of us wants to be used for a photo opportunity. That’s why the message we’ll all be sending is: you’ve taken symbolic action, so now get to work on the real thing.

And the symbolic action is important. Solar panels sat on the roof of the White House during the Carter administration, but were pulled down by the next occupant of the building, and never replaced. That sent a simple message: renewable energy didn’t really matter. (Not surprisingly, when the panels came down the subsidies for solar energy also disappeared, and now other nations are leading the way on clean energy).

We need the opposite message: every roof  in the country should have solar panels–for hot water and for electricity. Panels on the White House will remind every visitor to Washington of that simple fact–it will do as much good as the wonderful organic garden that the First Lady planted on the South Lawn. (In the year since, the number of Americans with vegetable gardens grew 19%; Burpee Seeds reported sales up by a third!).

Nothing replaces legislation that really cuts carbon.

But one way to build support for those changes is to show how easy it is to start to work. So tell President Obama-it’s time to roll up those sleeves, put solar on the White House and join the Global Work Party!

Onwards,

Bill McKibben for 350.org

P.S. Good news arrived just as we were getting ready to launch this global campaign. President Mohammed Nasheed of the Maldives confirmed he’d be up on the roof of his official residence on 10/10/10 putting up a solar array. It’s fifteen degrees cooler today in his capital city than it is in Washington, so there’s every reason to hope President Obama will match his gesture!

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If in need of solar panels, we just got the following e-mail: www.grapesolar.com/index.php?acti…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 10th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

With the EU unraveling by the day and global money having moved elsewhere, it is natural that the US is following a policy of enlarging its circle of friends. From among the newly industrialized economies, China, Brazil, India, South Korea and other larger relative-newcomers including now also Turkey, it seems that the fact India is the largest democracy in the world may give it an advantage in closeness to the US. But this was not always easy, and may not be any easier today – except when compared to the alternatives. And worse, as we heard today from Professor Charles Kupchan, who at UN University told us his findings on “The Sources of Stable Peace” – compatible regimes are not really needed for successful cooperation between States.

President Bush already started driving nearer to India and President Obama took this on from the start of his Administration. it was no coincidence that the first gala evening in the Obama White House was the State Dinner, November 24, 2010, with India (the second such dinner, so far, was with Mexico May 19, 2010).

Since then there was a series of meetings – in the US and in India, and now we just witnessed something that was defined as the Inaugural US-India Strategic Dialogue that involved Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the US Department of State June 1-4, 2010 in Washington DC. A very impressive list of Indian guests participated. It was led by Ms. Clinton’s counterpart – Minister of External Affairs Sri S. M. Krishna.

The obvious topics of discussion revolved around a Strategic future in US-India cooperation in India’s immediate region – that includes Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Iran. We bet that China was also being discussed, but we wondered what about the follow up to Copenhagen – both – in preparation for Cancun but also on the bilateral level.

We had our chance to satisfy partly this curiosity when we had the chance to ask questions from Ambassador Robert Blake Jr. who is at present Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs, and coincidentally was prior to his present position – US Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives. As such, we knew that already January 2007, Mr. Blake Jr., a professional diplomat, son of a professional diplomat, met with then President of The Maldives, Maumon Abdul Gayoom, to discuss renewable energy in the Maldives, and we assume they touched also upon the whole issue of global warming/climate change.  We thought it was fortunate to have him as spokesman for the meeting, as the prominence of the Maldives was clear at the run-up to Copenhagen.

A second topic we wanted to ask about is the issue we already brought up in -
 www.sustainabilitank.info/categor… and this is the potential of a financial US – India – Arab Gulf States triangle with a renewable energy orientation; US and Indian technology and Arab (former oil) money.

We were lucky, and because of the quality of the answers we got – I will copy in the full transcript of our two questions and the answers we got From The Read-out of the  U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue:

FPC (Foreign Press Centers in Washington DC and in New York City) Briefing.

by Ambassador Robert Blake Jr.
Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs

June 7, 2010

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Let’s go to New York so we don’t ignore them.

(A) Sustainable Development Media: I’m Pincas Jawetz from Sustainable Development Media:  I understand that you personally were ambassador to the Maldives before this position, and you had discussions with President Gayoom on renewable energy and our energy global problems.

Now India was part of the group with Brazil and South Africa and China and President Obama that saved somehow the Copenhagen meeting so it was not the disaster of the way how it was described, but actually there was some kind of a road map that came out of there.

But my question is now, thus with the Maldives, that were very prominent in Copenhagen, and India, what has actually happened since Copenhagen? And if this past week you had any discussions with India here in Washington?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Thank you for that question. As you say, I was accredited for the Maldives while I was ambassador in Sri Lanka and we had a number of good areas of cooperation with the Maldives that we started during that time, particularly in the solar and wind area. And we’re going to build on that cooperation with the Maldives going forward because President Nasheed and his team have really made climate change a very high strategic priority for their country because of the threats that they face from climate change if the current trends continue. I think all of us have been very grateful to the leadership that President Nasheed has shown, in addition to the leadership that Prime Minister Singh has shown.

As you correctly noted, the President welcomed the very important role that Prime Minister Singh played in the Copenhagen negotiations, to help bring those to a successful conclusion, and since then our two governments have been working very closely together, and India has formally now associated itself with that accord. India wants to work very closely with the United States and other countries to achieve a successful outcome in Mexico City.

So we had a conversation about this. Our climate change negotiator, Todd Stern, made a presentation during the Strategic Dialogue. Minister Jairam Ramesh was not, unfortunately, here for those talks. But he and Todd Stern remain in very close touch and I’d say that this is one of the many areas in which the United States and India are cooperating productively and closely on global issues.

——————

Moderator: We have time for two more questions. We’ll go to New York and take our last question here in Washington.

Sustainable Development Media: This is a different kind of strategic question. India has strong financial relationships in the Gulf area, especially with Dubai and Abu Dhabi; even in renewable energy. Now is there any chance for a triangular relationship between the United States, Emirates, maybe Qatar and India in these areas? My question is really on energy.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: We haven’t really discussed that yet, but that’s not a bad idea. What we have done, I’d say we have common interests in talking to the countries of the Gulf because many of those countries, not the governments themselves but elements within those countries, are providing support for the Taliban and for LET and for other groups like that. So I think we have a very important common interest in working together to address that financial threat. Again, indeed, that is a great focus in what we’re doing already with respect to the Taliban in Afghanistan. But I think there is scope for greater cooperation in that area.

——————

Looking at the above – the first cringe came when I learned that Indian Minister Jairam Ramesh was not in Washington for these June 2010 meetings.

Jairam Ramesh has been an elected member of the Indian Parliament representing Andhra Pradesh  since June 2004. He is the Indian Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Environment and Forests since May, 2009. He is also a member of the National Advisory Council. From January 2006 to February, 2009, he was the Minister of State for Commerce and Industry and from April 2008 to February, 2009 was also the Minister of State for Power in the Congress Party-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. He was the most prominent Indian Minister involved in the Copenhagen daily events.

From his biography we learned:

Ramesh bided his time after the Congress Party lost the 1989 elections and resurfaced in 1991 to provide intellectual inputs into Rajiv Gandhi’s election campaign. In recent years he has advised Sonia Gandhi, leader of the Congress party.

Following his 2009 re-election to the Indian Parliament, on May 28, 2009 Ramesh was given independent charge of Environment and Forests as Minister of State in the Congress-led administration. He was chief negotiator for India at the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Copenhagen, Denmark, between 7 to 18 December 2009.

Also – regarding the recent Bhopal verdict, a subject that is very much in India’s mind, Jairam Ramesh just said yesterday – June 9th, 2010:” The Verdict is Very Unsatisfactory.” In his 50′s now, Ramesh is a main factor when it comes to the environment.

————
NEW DELHI – by IANS - blog.taragana.com/law/2010/06/08/… – Terming the verdict in the Bhopal gas disaster “very unsatisfactory”, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh Tuesday said his ministry will focus on strictly implementing the environment protection law to ensure such incidents do not occur in future.

“It is a matter of deep anguish for me personally, and it has taken so long, and the verdict clearly is very unsatisfactory from every point of view. It has caused understandable furor, particularly among people affected by the tragedy, and civil society groups,” Ramesh told reporters here.

He said his ministry was concerned with implementing the Environment Protection Act, 1986, brought in by then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in the wake of the 1984 tragedy that killed thousands of people.

“What I can assure people is we will be strict without fear and favour in implementing the act so that future Bhopals don’t occur,” Ramesh said.

————

We bring this up as we thought he should have been in Washington in order to help align a joint US-India approach ahead of Cancun. But then we learned from another Indian source that – “On July 19-20, 2010 US Energy Secretary Chu will host a meeting of 20 of his colleagues (Ministers of Energy),  including India.    At that time he proposes to offer an invitation to join an initiative to promote white roofs to delay climate change, plus their familiar virtues.”   I assume thus that even without Mr. Ramesh, the presence of the Ministers of Energy at the meeting was helpful in coming up with practical ideas on climate issues.

But let us not sound negative. There is going to be on June 22, 2010 a meeting to receive the recommendations of a bilateral revitalized CEO Forum when U.S. and Indian cabinet secretaries gather again to meet with the CEOs and hear their thoughts on how our two governments can further relax restrictions and improve opportunities for trade and investment. It seems that above was said in context of joint developments in the energy sector using private enterprise and innovation – and “the United States plans to send a high level delegation of high tech and other innovation entrepreneurs to Delhi in the fall to develop new partnerships and initiatives in this area in advance of President Obama’s visit in November.”

So, there seems to be activity in those areas of our interest and agreements will be readied for President Obama’s trip to New Delhi in November 2010. This seems an extremely fast schedule when judged against the slow usually behaviour in Washington DC.


———————————-

FURTHER EXCHANGES IN ABOVE PRESS BRIEFING ON THE VARIOUS TOPICS OF INTEREST TO INDIA, US, AND OTHER FOREIGN MEDIA.

BUT FIRST THE INTRODUCTORY REMARKS BY ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE Jr. :

FPC Briefing
Robert Blake Jr.
Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs
Foreign Press Center
Washington, DC
June 7, 2010

Over the last ten years we’ve made a systematic, bipartisan effort to improve relations between the United States and India, probably highlighted by the civil nuclear deal in the last administration.

President Obama and Prime Minister Singh decided they would try to elevate our partnership further by establishing this Strategic Dialogue between the United States and India. It was announced last year during Secretary Clinton’s visit to India that you’re familiar with.

Our meetings on June 2nd and June 3rd marked the inauguration of our first Strategic Dialogue. Those meetings featured a wide range of both plenary sessions and bilateral meetings between the U.S. and Indian delegations. Let me just focus on the plenary session.

Secretary Clinton and Minister Krishna led a very wide-ranging two and a half hour discussion that was then followed by a lunch session. I think it was notable because for the first time in our history we had large numbers of cabinet level secretaries on our side and ministers on the Indian side to share ideas and to consider strategic initiatives on a wide range of bilateral, regional and global issues.

The Secretary and Minister Krishna asked the delegations to use the opportunity to really conduct a strategic look at how we could focus our future cooperation. Obviously many of the ideas that surfaced will now be worked, but let me just touch briefly on some of the matters that were discussed.

Security and counterterrorism cooperation was a top priority. We discussed collaboration on a Counterterrorism Cooperation Initiative to further improve information sharing and capacity building between our two countries, and we agreed to look at expanding cooperation in cyber security.

Energy cooperation was also a major focus. Charting a clean and lower carbon energy future is obviously very very important both to the United States and to India. The Indian side reaffirmed their commitment to moving forward with putting in place a nuclear liability regime that will open the door for U.S. companies to export civil nuclear technology to India.

We also discussed ways that the United States can help India to ensure that the massive infrastructure investments that will be made over the next two decades in India can benefit from Indo-U.S. cooperation on things like energy efficiency, smart grids, and many, many other new ideas that are being pioneered in both of our countries.

The United States also shared a draft Memorandum of Understanding with India on shale gas cooperation that both sides believe offers great promise in India.

On the economy, we discussed the importance of sustaining momentum in our trade growth which has doubled over the last five years. As you heard the Secretary say in her public remarks, she mentioned the important boost that India could give to trade and investment by raising some of the foreign direct investment caps that exist in areas such as retail, defense and insurance.

Both sides also look forward to receiving the recommendations of our revitalized CEO Forum when U.S. and Indian cabinet secretaries gather again on June 22nd to meet with the CEOs and hear their thoughts on how our two governments can further relax restrictions and improve opportunities for trade and investment.

The delegations also discussed a wide range of steps our two governments can take to ensure that innovation is a source of growth and dynamism for our two knowledge economies.

The United States plans to send a high level delegation of high tech and other innovation entrepreneurs to Delhi in the fall to develop new partnerships and initiatives in this area in advance of President Obama’s visit in November.

Minister Sibal, the Minister of Human Resources Development, also briefed on India’s hope to see passage this year of legislation that would allow foreign universities to establish campuses and offer degrees for the first time in India. We think this would open enormous new opportunities for American institutions of higher learning of all kinds and help drive new science and technology and other kinds of innovation.

One of the areas where we agreed that we will seek closer scientific collaboration is in the area of food security. Both sides agreed to establish working groups to develop concrete proposals for the United States and India to enhance food security in third countries; to strengthen farm to market links and food processing inside India; and also to develop an initiative to expand weather and crop forecasting.

The common theme underlying all of these discussions was what Secretary Clinton said in her remarks at the concluding press conference. How can the U.S. and India intensify our already wide cooperation to focus on how to deliver results that will make a difference in the lives of the people of the United States, of India, and of the wider world?

We capped the visit and the day with a very sparkling visit by our President who came over for a rare visit to the State Department to honor External Affairs Minister Krishna and his delegation. President Obama, as you all know, announced that he will visit India in November. And he emphasized that our partnership with India is one of his highest strategic priorities.

In sum, as the President says, the United States sees India as an indispensable partner as we move forward in the 21st Century. The Strategic Dialogue that we initiated last week took U.S.-India relations to unprecedented new levels of cooperation that will be highlighted during the President’s visit in November.

————————–

THE ISSUES WITH HIGHEST INTEREST TO THE PRESS  IN ABOVE PRESS BRIEFING:

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(a) ON INNOVATION:

India Abroad News Service: Aziz Haniffa, India Abroad.

You spoke about a high level innovation delegation preceding
President Obama’s trip to India. Is this going to be sort of a private/public partnership kind of delegation? And Foreign Minister Krishna on his first stop spoke about innovation in terms of his keynote speech at the USIBC.

What exactly are you looking for in terms of the innovation that you are talking about? In terms of this high-level delegation?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Again, I don’t want to get into too much detail because this is really up to them to decide, but the idea is to bring together mostly private sector entrepreneurs and to have them take a fairly wide look at where they see the big opportunities as we’ve done with the CEO Forum and other kinds of groups that we have. And for them to then make recommendations to the two governments, but also to our two private sectors about how we can further develop innovation partnerships between, mostly between our private sectors. But if there are steps that the governments can take to kind of nurture that and help that we certainly welcome those suggestions as well.

(b) WHAT ARE THE EXPECTED RESULTS FROM PRESIDENT OBAMA’S TRIP TO INDIA.

What I am asking, Mr. Ambassador, what is the outcome from this visit? Because President Clinton opened the doors between U.S. and India relations and President Bush widely opened the doors by this signing the civil nuclear agreement with India. What do we expect anything new from President Obama’s visit to India?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Well, that’s exactly what we’re starting to work on right now is the details of what the President’s visit will entail, what will be the key areas of strategic focus, where will he visit, and all of these many important questions. But I can tell you that the President himself is looking forward to ambitious results, and again, sees our relations with India as one of the most consequential and indispensable of our partnerships in the world of the 21st Century. So we are going to develop a schedule and a series of results to match that.

(c) DO DOUBTS ON BOTH SIDES REMAIN REGARDING THE RELATIONSHIP?

The Hindu: Hi Ambassador, it’s nice to see you here.

My question is on a remark that the Secretary made during the course of the dialogue at one of the briefings, I think, where she said that doubts still remain on both sides regarding some aspects of the relationship. Just looking at the U.S. side of things, she did say that doubts remain on the U.S. side about whether India was ready to take up a certain position in the world and in this relationship, and specifically she mentioned loosening regulations in a wide range of areas. The economy, for example, but I would see that as applying also to the nuclear liability question, possibly the education sector.

So how serious are these doubts which the Secretary very clearly enunciated? And how do you see them being dispelled over the course of the next few months or this year?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: I think the Secretary made reference to those doubts because there are doubters within our strategic community about the whole relationship. We’ve heard those doubts before.

I think the dialogue really helped to dispel many of those doubts. As I said earlier, the External Affairs Minister and his delegation reaffirmed their intention to seek passage of the Nuclear Liability Law this year. The same with the education bill that I referred to that would open India up to foreign investment by foreign universities. So I think those were helpful.

But obviously India is a democracy, and often a complicated one, so they’re going to have to wrestle with many of these issues. But from our side I have to say, just speaking as a government representative, a senior government representative, we don’t have any doubts that India’s going to be one of our most important partners in the 21st Century and already there’s been tremendous progress in our relations just in the last ten years. We expect that progress to continue as the Indian economy grows, as more and more Indians come to the United States to study here, as more and more Americans hopefully go to India to study, as the Indian-American community here continues to grow in importance and in size.

So we feel we have these common values and common interests that unlike almost any other country in the world we will really be able to use and benefit to help the peoples of our two countries and also increasingly the peoples of the world. So that’s a quite profound statement that you heard from the Secretary and from the President himself. That’s why I think we have mostly optimism about the future course of our relations. Certainly there are these short term obstacles that we’ve got to overcome, but again, I think there’s great and substantial optimism about the future.

—————–

(d) ON THE BHOPAL DISASTER AND ON THE NEW DAVID HADLEY CASE – IS THERE IMPUNITY FOR US BUSINESS?

CNN IBN: Welcome Secretary Blake. This is Indira Kannan from CNN IBN. I have two questions.

The first one is about David Headley. I want to understand if India and the U.S. have any sort of mechanism to verify any information that is being received from David Headley. Is he required to give this information under oath? If so, who is administering that oath?

As you’re aware, an Indian court has delivered a verdict on the Bhopal gas tragedy, and I understand that an earlier request by the Indian government to extradite Warren Anderson, the former Chairman of Union Carbide, was turned down by the U.S. Would the U.S. now be more receptive to any request for extradition of Warren Anderson or other American officials? And would the U.S. also be willing to exert any pressure on Dow Chemical in terms of compensation in the way that you are intending to do in the case of BP for instance?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: On the matter of Bhopal and the announcement that was made today by the Indian courts, that is an internal matter to India. So if you have any questions about that I’d just refer you to the courts themselves about that decision.  The question of extradition: as a matter of policy we never discuss extradition, so I can’t comment on that.

Times of India: Why is there such lack of clarity and candor? And do you realize that it leads to all kinds of suspicions in India? If you look at the kind of feedback that stories on this get, that the U.S. is protecting him, that you’re shielding him, that he’s a double agent, triple agent, and so on. And in fact since India mentioned Warren Anderson, for those of us who covered Bhopal and its aftermath, it actually reminds us of the kind of cooperation or non-cooperation that the U.S. administration offered when the terms were made to get at Mr. Anderson.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Let me just say that there’s been a great deal of transparency and close cooperation between our two governments. For obvious law enforcement reasons there are many things that we can’t share with the press, but again, I think we’ve had very good and close cooperation on this particular issue, and I think our Indian friends would confirm that.

Times of India: If I can follow-up, Ambassador. There are 172 families who lost members of families here, so I really wonder why is it necessary to hide it from the press or keep this from the press?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Well it’s because the case is still going on. It’s much better not to comment on these things while such cases are ongoing. So again, there’s cooperation taking place that’s very constructive between our two governments that we can’t necessarily describe to the press.

News X: Ambassador Blake, Anirudh Bhattacharyya. I represent a couple of Indian news organizations, News X and the Sun Times. I have two questions. Unfortunately, the second one is about Headley, but I’ll come to the first one. It’s about Bhopal.

You know, this is a follow-up to a previous question. You’ve been putting pressure on BP in terms of the Gulf oil spill. Will there be pressure put on Dow in terms of reparations with regard to the Bhopal disaster? Is that going to happen from the U.S. side at this point in time?

The second question about Headley is, there have been a lot of reports in the Indian media about how he may not have been cooperating fully with the Indian investigators. My question is indirect. My question is basically, if he doesn’t cooperate fully, doesn’t that invalidate the terms of the plea bargain agreement itself? That says that he needs to cooperate fully with investigators.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Again, I’m not going to comment on Headley. I’m neither a lawyer nor a Department of Justice expert, so anything I say will probably not be well placed.

With respect to Bhopal, obviously that was one of the greatest industrial tragedies and industrial accidents in human history. Let me just say that we hope this verdict today helps bring some closure to the victims and their families. But I don’t expect this verdict to reopen any new inquiries or anything like that. On the contrary we hope this is going to help bring closure.

—-

(e) ON EXPORT CONTROLS:

Washington Trade Daily: Thank you. Jim Berger from Washington Trade Daily.

One item that was high in the Indian agenda for these talks anyway was easing of U.S. export controls as a follow-on to the nuclear agreement and the calls for high technology and so on. But the U.S., the administration is in the midst of reforming its controls as well as Congress. Were there any discussions of how India might be treated in a new export controls regime? Or is it just too early?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Well as you say, there are two separate processes going on here. One is a wider review on the part of the administration of the overall export control regime. I think you’ve heard Secretary Gates and others have made some quite detailed statements about that.

The second is the India-specific review that also is underway and in fact we will probably split off from the wide review. As you all know, we have made a great deal of progress over the last six years or so in reducing the export controls that apply to India. Now less than one-half of one percent of all exports require any sort of a license at all, and most of those are presumed to be approved. So again, there’s been a lot of progress, but there still are some controls and so there’s a reciprocal process underway now to seek the necessary assurances from the Indians about the strengthening of their own export control regime that would enable us to relax our restrictions.

So I anticipate that there is going to be further good progress on this and we had a good exchange during the Strategic Dialogue in which we shared ideas about how we could achieve that good progress. So I expect there will be some positive announcements to be made before the President’s visit, hopefully well before.

.
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(f) ON THE INDIA – PAKISTAN – US TRIANGLE AND THE FIGHT ON TERRORISM – AFGHANISTAN:

India Globe and Asia Today: Thank you, Mr. Blake. Raghubir Goyal, India Globe and Asia Today.

Mr. Ambassador, this was a very high level meet between the two countries, largest and oldest democracies, and many call it a big drama in Washington. But what I’m asking you, my question is that there is a triangle — India, Pakistan and the United States. Many people are concerned in India as there is terrorism across the border into India from Pakistan. What they are saying is that until, unless that is solved, they feel that U.S. may be a little soft as far as dealing with the terrorism against India is concerned. People in India live in fear, and people in the United States live under the fear of terrorism.

Where do we go from here? Because this is the most important issue for both countries. And I think around the globe for everybody.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: First of all let me say that the United States will never be soft on terrorism. This is our highest priority and this is the area that we have probably made the greatest progress in terms of our cooperation with India in terms of not only law enforcement cooperation, but also intelligence cooperation.

We take extremely seriously the threats against both of our countries because we believe that there is increasingly a syndicate that is operating in countries like Pakistan that threatens both of our countries. It also threatens Pakistan itself, and that’s a point that I’ve made frequently not only here but during my recent trip to Pakistan.

So we feel it’s in the interest of all three countries to address this very critical problem, to work together. So we have been in the forefront of countries urging Pakistan to not only continue the progress it has been making in Swat and South Waziristan, but also to address the problem in the Punjab, namely the Punjab based groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba that are operating against India, that have also targeted the United States in the Mumbai bombings and elsewhere.

Again, this will remain a very very high priority for us and you should not doubt the sincerity of that statement.

India Globe and Asia Today: May I have one more, Mr. Ambassador?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Sure.

India Globe and Asia Today: As far as the presidential announcement to India is concerned, this will be President Obama’s first official visit to India and he was looking forward even before he was senator. This announcement was taken very seriously and with joy toward India. They are looking forward to welcome him.

VOA Pashto/Urdu: Thank you very much. Iftikhar Hussain for Voice of America Pakistan, Afghanistan, border region service.

First of all the Strategic Dialogue of the United States with India was in broader terms, but India is indispensable partner. Pakistan is a strategic ally. Was there any concern from India in respect to relations with Pakistan in the current situation? Or in some way it is hindering the U.S. efforts in the region? Did it come up during talks with the United States officials?

And secondly, we have been listing in media reports last week about the Shazad, the New York failed plot accused. Did any take on the U.S. [inaudible] was traced back to Pakistani soil? And there is an option if Pakistan in a sense doesn’t cooperate fully on that. So what we are hearing on that front from Pakistan to cooperate with the United States. And I’m not sure if you can tell us on.

On the third question, the jirga, consultative peace jirga three-day, which is held in Kabul, in Afghanistan, and just ended and issued a statement demanding peace and also talks with the Taliban. So how the United States is looking to the developments in the region?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Let me just stick to the topic at hand which is the Strategic Dialogue. Let me say there was a discussion that was chaired by our Under Secretary Burns and Foreign Secretary Rao in which they touched briefly on Pakistan, but again, this is an area that really, as you know, our longstanding position is that this is something that needs to be resolved by India and Pakistan, and the pace and scope and character of that dialogue between your two countries is really up to your two countries to decide.

I said earlier that we’ve taken a strong position on terrorism that is emanating from Pakistan soil. That remains our very strong conviction, that it’s in Pakistan’s own interest to address that and we’ll continue to encourage our Pakistani friends to do that.

But really in terms of the Strategic Dialogue, there was much more time spent on issues like Afghanistan where, again, I think our two countries are working very productively together not only to help with the civilian reconstruction of Afghanistan and to help build the Afghan economy and provide capacity building, but also to discuss the very important reconciliation process that is now beginning.

I think we had a very good conversation in which the Indian side I think had many of their questions answered. Obviously I’ll let them speak for their own concerns, but again, I think it was a good and productive discussion.
VOA Afghanistan: Thank you. This is Ashiqullah, Voice of American Afghanistan Services. Thank you, sir.

My question is particularly about the proxy war that there have been reports of proxy war going on in Afghanistan, between Pakistan and Afghanistan. A couple of places have been attacked in Afghanistan for which Pakistan was accused, and the same thing happened in Pakistan for which India was accused. And we understand that Afghanistan being on the top priority of foreign policy of the United States and the United States has always asked the support of regional countries, of which India is one, and the neighboring countries, Pakistan is one. And this burden cannot be taken by the U.S. alone. It has to be shared by the regional countries and also the international community.

The proxy war of India and Pakistan is undermining U.S. and international efforts in Afghanistan. Was this issue in any way discussed in the Strategic Dialogue between the U.S. and India, or on the sidelines of the Strategic Dialogue? Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: I wouldn’t say it was a major focus of what we talked about. Again, we were much more focused on the future of Afghanistan and how the training effort is going and the reconciliation process and the whole process of rebuilding the economy and so forth. But in the past we have talked about it. The United States has expressed its condolences to India for the losses that it suffered in the attacks on the guest house that you mentioned and also the attacks on its own emabassy that have taken place. But we also have reaffirmed our support for the very important work that India has undertaken there and our determination to see if we can find ways to work together more in Afghanistan. Because we do believe that India is playing a constructive role. So that may be a new area of cooperation for us.
(g ) ABOUT NEPAL:

AFP: Shaun Tanden with AFP.

I know this isn’t the topic at hand, but I was wondering if you had any perspectives on developments in Nepal. There was –

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Let me stick to India, but I’d be happy to talk about Nepal another time, or we can have a separate interview about that if you want to.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Ma’am. And then we’ll go to New York afterwards.

India This Week & Express India: Geeta Goindi with India This Week and Express India.

You just mentioned a lot of reasons, you just praised India a lot. Given its phenomenal progress and it’s the largest democracy with over a billion people. It’s difficult to comprehend why it doesn’t have a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. I want to ask you, given that the U.S. is supporting India’s rights and being so vocal about that, shouldn’t it be more vocal about India’s seat on the council?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: I think Under Secretary Burns addressed that question in the very important speech that he gave last Monday, a week ago now, at the Council on Foreign Relations in which he said that India’s expanding global influence will naturally make it an important part of any future consideration of UN Security Council reform. And that’s I think the most forward leaning statement we’ve made so far about this. But it does reflect, again, our growing confidence in India’s positive influence in the world.

But we’ve also made clear that there’s an ongoing process within our government about the whole question of UN Security Council reform and how to expand the council while at the same time maintaining the effectiveness of the council. And that’s really where the debate is now focused within our own government.

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Indian-American community here continues to grow in importance and in size.

So we feel we have these common values and common interests that unlike almost any other country in the world we will really be able to use and benefit to help the peoples of our two countries and also increasingly the peoples of the world. So that’s a quite profound statement that you heard from the Secretary and from the President himself. That’s why I think we have mostly optimism about the future course of our relations. Certainly there are these short term obstacles that we’ve got to overcome, but again, I think there’s great and substantial optimism about the future.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 20th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From Jeannette Larue, Coordinator Environmental Education, Ministry of Education, Seychelles. 5/19/2010.

To celebrate Earth Day, the Ministry of Education in Seychelles, organized a public speaking competition for its young people to give their views on climate change. Please find attached an article on the outcomes.

Young Islanders from Seychelles disappointed with COP 15.


Young Islands from the Seychelles islands say that they are “profoundly” disappointed with COP 15 conference. They felt that as future leaders of this planet, and the inheritance of climate change impact, their future is being decided “for” them instead of “with” them.  All these feelings were expressed during a public speaking competition organized by the Ministry of Education to celebrate Earth Day 2010.

Prior to the competition, a workshop was organized for secondary school students, and their teachers, where they learnt about the reasons for organizing such an important conference in December 2009.  They also learnt about the COP 15, the different negotiations which took place there, and looked at the COP 15 Accord.  The competition provided secondary students with an opportunity to give their opinions on COP 15 whereas the Primary ones topic was ‘Stop! We do not want to live in a world of Climate Change.’

The competition was a very tough one, especially for the secondary students which proved that a lot of research was done on the topic. The students concentrated on their position as young islanders.

All teams stated that they were disappointed with the results of COP 15.  One of the team stated that the negotiation should have been an “open, democratic, party driven, transparent, inclusive, legitimate and accountable” but due to the final decisions being made “just between a few” and “behind closed doors” showed that “the super powers’ greed overruled the small island stated needs.”  They felt that as SIDS, ‘life is so unfair’ and that the “superpowers bullied us!!”   They said that even if so much money was spent, people met, voices cried out, in the end, superpowers once again put their self-interest first instead of the health of the planet, though they accepted in the accord that climate change is real.

Anse Boileau team, the winners of the competition argued that even now, days after the meeting, they are still asking themselves whether this whole ordeal really paid off.  They further disputed that the biggest losers from COP 15 are the SIDS and that as young SIDS people they are very disappointed as COP 15 have “failed to meet our expectation for the future.”

They strongly pointed out that “the Accord was not acknowledged by all present …” for decisions were made mainly by the same “major polluters who got to write down what they thought was best for the world.”  In the end they said, “It was not negotiable it was jammed down the throat of the rest of the world” and that SIDS, as major victims were left out. They also said that they were not happy with Maldives who was amongst the final small group which drafted the Accord; they did not defend SIDS enough they said. They felt that there was no transparency in the negotiation and it was undemocratic and asked the audience “Why was such a negotiation held, don’t the rich countries want us, small island to exist?” They said that they supported their Seychellois delegates for not endorsing the agreement made.

The participants of competition also argued that as future victims of climate change and leaders of tomorrow, they felt that “youth were left out of the whole process at Copenhagen.” They said that although many youth were present, they were not included in the final decision making process. For that they say:

“Our future was being decided FOR us, but not WITH us.  They (other youth around the world) like us didn’t feel valued.  I wonder how the rich countries would have felt if they were in our shoes and they have to live to see effect of their decisions.”

One team even stressed that even if their President, James Michel, tried to plead for their survival, it fell upon deaf ears. Similarly, another team sadly put it as “… the Copenhagen conference and its subsequent Accord did not deal Seychelles a fair deal, we were ignored and our request for survival denied.  Our future is at stake, we need to act now’.

One of the teams which came from the second largest residential islands, Praslin, brought forward several examples of how their once beautiful coasts are now being battered by climate change.  They explained that for them “climate change is already a reality, and this issue is of urgency.  Waiting for 2015 to review and consider the reduction of emission is far too late. But then the gravity of the existing problems will have multiplied.”

Some of the teams acknowledged that the accord at least made reference that funding will be needed to assist developing and the least developing countries.  But most of them also stated that too often there are frustrating delays where it comes to accessing large donor funds.  The Praslinois argued that “we felt that money will not solve the existing problem,” and that “much of the money earmarked for climate adaptation, the global community is left resembling an alcoholic who has decided to save up for a liver transplant rather than give up drinking.” They question if the money will bring back their beautiful eroding beaches.

To conclude the teams expressed that they are “disappointed”, “frustrated”, “angered” and “saddened”, especially as the accord was made by “a selected few”. Seychelles youth said that “fear of becoming climate change refugees and loosing our way of life, culture and identify.” Young islanders from Seychelles islands are calling upon world leaders stating that it’s high time “we stop the talk and start walking the talk.” They further stated that “we therefore, reaffirm that the cost of inaction today will be higher tomorrow than the cost of action today.” Stop talking they said, take action to reduce carbon emission for that is our main problem.


They also strongly recommended that at the next COP 16, all government of SIDS, including Seychelles, should have at least one youth representative on their team and that young people must be involved, stop underestimating them they said. They further requested that: “Decision makers need to understand that whatever decision they make today, they may not live to see their outcomes.  We, the youth of island states, we are the frontline of being totally gone, WE NEED TO SURVIVE!  So listen to us, we can help”.

Teams called upon all youths around the world to stand together and ask boldly, in the name of their future that “more be done to make 350 ppm and 1.5 degrees goal a reality to ensure our survival.” The youth from Seychelles also called up upon young people from other SIDS to fight against the decision made at COP 15. “They have not done enough for us, the SIDS,” they said.

“It is now or never.  Now is the time to save our planet.  To do the right thing before it is too late.  We are fighting for 1.5 degrees to stay alive,” they emphasised. They concluded that “we are glad to form part of the global community of young people who are increasingly taking bold steps to protect our planet against climate.” As for world leaders, they are insisting that it is high time to try to take decision “WITH US” they said instead of “FOR US”.


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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 17th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

India-China competition dims hopes for regional cooperation.


By HARSH V. PANT
The Japan Times online, Monday, May 17, 2010.
LONDON — Established in 1985, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) had its 16th summit meeting in Thimpu, Bhutan, late last month. Apart from the fact that Bhutan hosted its first SAARC summit, there was hardly anything that inspired confidence in this largely moribund organization that is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its founding this year.

Covering at least 1.5 billion people across India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Maldives and Afghanistan, SAARC is one of the largest regional organizations in the world. But its achievements so far have been so minimal that even its constituents have become lackadaisical in their attitudes toward it. The state of regional cooperation in South Asia can be gleaned from the fact that Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani went to Bhutan via Nepal, using Chinese territory in Tibet rather than the straightforward route through India.

Bhutan chose climate change as the theme of the summit, and the eight-nation grouping delivered a Silver Jubilee declaration titled “Toward a Green and Happy South Asia.” The focus, however, was the agreement on trade in services signed during the summit. Intraregional trade in South Asia remains far below its potential despite the member states’ signing the South Asian Free Trade Agreement, which went into force in 2006.

For long, the dominant narrative of SAARC has been how the India-Pakistan rivalry hampers the group’s evolution into something significant. That is now losing salience amid China’s growing dominance of the South Asian landscape.

China entered SAARC as an observer in 2005, supported by most member states; India could do little about it and so acquiesced. Now, much to India’s consternation, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal are supporting China’s full membership in SAARC. China’s rising profile in South Asia is not news. What is astonishing is the diminishing role of India and the rapidity with which New Delhi is ceding strategic space to Beijing on the subcontinent.

Even as China becomes the largest trade partner of most states in South Asia, including India, New Delhi is busy repeating the old mantra of South Asia being India’s exclusive sphere of influence.

Of course, no one takes note of that anymore. Pakistan’s all-weather friendship with China is well-known, but the reach of China in other South Asian states has been extraordinary. Bangladesh and Sri Lanka view India as more interested in creating barriers against exports than in spurring regional economic integration. India’s protectionist tendencies have allowed China to don the mantle of regional economic leader. Instead of India emerging as the facilitator of socio-economic development in Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan, it is China’s developmental assistance that has impact.

India’s attempts to keep China out of the subcontinent have clearly not worked, and it’s time to re-evaluate its South Asia policy. China’s strategy toward South Asia is premised on encircling India and confining her within the geographical coordinates of the region. This strategy of using proxies started with Pakistan and has gradually evolved to include other states in the region, including Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal. China is entering markets in South Asia more aggressively through trade and investment, improving linkages with South Asian states through treaties and bilateral cooperation.

It is following up on this by establishing a ring of road and port connections in India’s neighborhood and deepening military engagements with states on India’s periphery. This quiet assertion of China has prompted various smaller countries in South Asia to play China off against India. Most states in the region now use the China card to try to offset the influence of India. India’s structural dominance in South Asia makes it a natural target of resentment among its smaller neighbors.

Yet, there is no hope for regional economic cooperation in the absence of Indian leadership. The failure of India to counter China’s rise has made it even more unlikely that such cooperation will evolve productively. As the two regional giants compete with each other in the near future, they will be more focused on relative gains vis-a-vis each other than on the absolute gains that regional cooperation can bestow.

Liberals in South Asia have long taken their inspiration from extraordinary developments in the European Union (EU), arguing that South Asia could also go down a similar path of regional economic and political cooperation.

That comparison is fundamentally flawed, however. The states in Western Europe arrived at the EU only after resolving persistent security dilemmas. And the U.S. security umbrella continues to ensure that European political rivalries do not raise their ugly heads again.

In South Asia, the security dynamics between a large India and its smaller neighbors ensures that the road to economic and political cooperation will be a bumpy one. And that road will become even more difficult to traverse with the emergence of China.

Harsh V. Pant teaches at King’s College London.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 7th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The SIDS just cannot be told that their consumption is a reason for their suffering from climate change. If their islands go under it is not because of their sins, but because of our way of life – right here in New York, in Beijing and in Brussels, Johannesburg, Tokyo, New Delhi, Sao Paulo and in most developed and developing countries. The Commission on Sustainable Development makes sense for them only if it is ready to talk about climate change. For the SIDS, the avoidance of global warming caused by us is a matter of survival for them. That is why they practically walked out from the G-77 – this because the concept of development – if not sustainable – is poison to the SIDS. On the other side, some of the developing countries still think in terms of “development for us” is an indisputable or inalienable right.

Vanuatu, the Maldives, and Grenada are breaking the UN taboo that keeps Sustainable Development and Climate Change on different tracks, and will burst into the proceedings on Monday May 10th. Will UNSG Ban Ki-moon listen to what they have to say? Will he listen to their advice when picking his new Climate Chief?

We will not be there because the UN DPI is not interested in our coverage. In effect, some three years ago, when Ambassador Angus Friday of Grenada brought me in to this same kind of Press Conference, as the SIDS and AOSIS had at that time, he was reprimanded by UN officials Ahmad Fawzi and Gary Fowley who did not think that coverage has to go beyond the few UN journalists they blessed with their accreditation. Climate change or sustainable development was just a matter for the unruly NGOs they thought. Luckily not all the world goes by censorship rules of Egypt or China, but the success of this kind of rules brought down the UN to its present low relevance and when it comes to reporting on what goes on in this world.

Nevertheless, we bring here the announcement of that Press Conference as interested readers could follow on the webcast, what eventually will be said by the Small Islands, and we will have also material on the SIDS position that we will try to obtain directly from them.

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Press Conference on the challenges facing Small Island Developing States
18th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development – 10 May 2010

WHAT:         Commission on Sustainable Development to discuss challenges facing Small Island Developing States

WHO:       The Honorable Sela Molisa, Minister of Finance and Economic Management, Republic of Vanuatu;

H.E. Amjad Abdullah, Director General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Maldives

H.E. Ambassador Dessima Williams, Permanent Representative, Grenada

WHEN:                 Monday, 10 May 2010 at 1:00 p.m.

WHERE:                 Library Auditorium, United Nations Headquarters

BACKGROUND :

Small Island Developing States are very vulnerable and face unique and special challenges. Their social, economic and natural systems are among the most at risk in the world. The main question being discussed at the current session of the Commission on Sustainable Development is how to move from disaster management towards sustainable development.

The press conference will focus on the special vulnerabilities of SIDS, such as those to climate change and natural disasters. They will also focus on ways to address these challenges through international cooperation efforts, platforms and mechanisms, such as those offered by the five-year review process of the Mauritius Strategy of Implementation.

Leading up to this meeting, one full day (10 May) during this Commission on Sustainable Development will be devoted to discussing preparations and ensuring that the key issues at the heart of the sustainable development challenge of SIDS are addressed.

Live webcast: www.un.org

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