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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 22nd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

15 February 2013

Press Conference held inside the UN with access to the room available only to those the UN calls PRESS, and allows in by means of a stranglehold on the process of Media Accreditation. As such, the many websites belonging to environmental media are not part of this process. No wonder that the outside world is hardly provided information on subjects like this one. Non Member-State government-backed media does not stand a chance under such scrutiny.

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference on Impact of Climate Change on Marshall Islands.

The Security Council should consider climate change as a threat to international peace and security, particularly for such low-lying nations as the Marshall Islands whose “very existence” was at risk, a Government minister from that country said at a Headquarters press conference today.

“This organization [the Council] that we put faith in to provide the security of our country is saying that that is not a security matter,” said Tony deBrum, Minister in Assistance to the President of the Marshall Islands, as he briefed journalists on today’s so-called “Arria Formula” meeting on security implications of climate change.

Initiated in 1992 by Ambassador Diego Arria, the representative of Venezuela on the Security Council, such informal gatherings do not constitute an activity of the Council and are convened at the initiative of a member or members of the Council.

Mr. deBrum said he had participated as a panelist and reminded the Council that 35 years ago, he had come to the United Nations to petition for the independence of the Marshall Islands.  Between 1976 and 1986, his delegation had annually visited the United Nations.  In 1986, the Security Council finally approved the termination of the trusteeship and the establishment of an independent Government for the Marshall Islands, he added.

“We are very grateful for that, but it is hard to be excited about the independent Government seeking prosperity, progress and good life for its people to be faced with the situation where its very existence is threatened through climate change,” he said.

“It seems ironic that the very same agency whose approval was needed for my country to become a country again would consider my coming back to ask for help […] is not relevant to their work,” he said.  There was no outcome document or a running record from that meeting, but he expected that his appeal had convinced some or more of the participants that climate change “is in fact a security issue, not just an economic/social/political issue”.

When asked which countries opposed treating climate change as the Council’s prerogative, he said China, Russian Federation and Guatemala were among them.  “Surprisingly”, the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, of which the Marshall Islands was a member, had taken a position that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was the appropriate venue for deliberations on that issue.  That revealed that “many of our own friends throughout the world do not realize the urgency of the problem,” he said.

Describing the situation, he said rising tides had started severely impacting the islands, with roads inundated every 14 days in keeping with the moon cycle.  In southern parts of the nation, where there used to be a military base in the Second World War, ordnances were being exposed by the tides, presenting a clear danger to the life and welfare of people there.  Even the nation’s capital was required to ration water.  In the northern part, emergency kits for making drinking water were being distributed as well water was inundated with salt.

“It became unsuitable for human consumption, and dangerous even to our staple food and citrus,” he said. He said he was not predicting a looming crisis — it was already happening, affecting not just his own country but also Kiribati, Tuvalu and some of the other low-lying islands of the Pacific.
He hoped that “logic will prevail and people see it as a just cause”.

In September, there will be a Pacific Islands Forum meeting to be held in his country, he said.  He wished to invite the most significant players in the politics of climate change to visit the Marshall Islands to see the situation first hand.  “We are not just sitting under coconut trees and waiting for coconuts to fall,” he said, stressing the need for proactive measures.

To an inquiry about Palau’s bid to bring the climate change issue before the International Court of Justice as a security and human rights violation, he said it was an interesting effort, but was not moving anywhere.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 18th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Islands want UN to see climate as security threat.

Posted: Feb 17, 2013 4:46 PM EST Updated: Feb 17, 2013 4:46 PM EST

© In this April 25, 2007 file photo, a woman gathers shellfish on an eroded beach on Majuro Atoll in the Marshall Islands. An April 25, 2007 file photo, a woman gathers shellfish on an eroded beach on Majuro Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The Marshall Islands and other low-lying island nations {February 15, 2013, at the Arria formula UN Security Council non-Meeting} appealed to the U.N. Security Council to recognize climate change as an international security threat that jeopardizes their very survival.

Tony deBrum, a minister and assistant to the Marshall Islands president, said Friday the island nations are facing opposition from Security Council permanent members Russia and China and a group of more than 130 mainly developing nations, which argue that the U.N.’s most powerful body is the wrong place to address climate change.

DeBrum told reporters after a closed Security Council meeting on the “Security Dimensions of Climate Change,” organized by Britain and Pakistan, that he hopes more council members will be convinced that “this is a security issue and not just an economic-political-social issue.”

The low-lying islands, which are already being inundated with sea water, want the council to bring its “political weight” to the issue and help their countries survive, for example, by harnessing new technologies and ensuring alternative energy supplies, he said.

DeBrum said it was “ironic, bizarre perhaps” that 35 years after he went before the Security Council to seek the independence of the Marshall Islands he was back again “to appeal for the survival of my country.”

He said climate change has already taken a toll on the Marshall Islands. Wells have filled with salt water, making drinking water scarce and in turn affecting food production. One small island in a lagoon is now under water, and coastlines are being eroded.

The impact of climate change is also causing migration to other islands, as well as to Australia and the United States, he said.

In an interview Friday with The Associated Press, Rachel Kyte, the World Bank’s vice-president for sustainable development, said that since the council’s last discussion of climate change “the sense of immediacy and urgency has increased.”

“The question is: Do you want to keep on cataloguing all of the terrible things that are going to happen if we continue on a business as usual track, or are we actually going to start doing anything about it?” she said.

Kyte said she explained to the council on Friday that “it is possible to stop the worst from happening but it will require real, concerted policy action globally at every country level.”

“Economically we know what to do, but politically it’s going to take leadership,” she said. “And every day we don’t act we make the job more difficult for ourselves.”

“What the Security Council has to do is understand that everything has to be seen through this lens. Climate change is changing the future scenarios for every country,” Kyte said. “It’s framing decisions on security, economic security, food security.”

Germany’s Deputy U.N. Ambassador Miguel Berger recalled that in July 2011, at his country’s initiative, the Security Council discussed the security implications of climate change at a formal meeting and adopted a presidential statement expressing the council’s concern about the possible adverse effects of climate change on international peace and security.

Berger told the council that Germany was happy to see the council taking up the issue again and stressed that all U.N. entities, including the Security Council, need to intensify their efforts to combat climate change and its security implications. He called for these implications to be included in Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s reports to the council on climate change.

“Let us not forget: Climate change and its security implications will shape tomorrow’s world in a way that is almost impossible to overestimate,” Wittig said. “We should also consider whether a U.N. special envoy on climate and security could help us to tackle the foreign and security policy implications of climate change.”

Pakistan’s U.N. Ambassador Masood Khan said the meeting would galvanize actions in all U.N. forums to combat climate change.

“Our response should not be anchored only in politics; it should also be guided by science and technology,” Khan said. “Our response should not just counter immediate threats; it should forewarn and prepare us for the impending threats that impinge on our security.”

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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 September 24th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

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

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

———————————————————————————————————————————————

PACIFIC ISLAND STATES CALL FOR UN MEASURES TO HELP COUNTRIES FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

SURINAME URGES SPEEDY CREATION OF UN-BACKED CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION FUND

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 16th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

WIP on our website means WORK (WRITING) IN PROGRESS – or simply unfinished article. When finished the WIP will be taken off but the article will stay in place without the UPDATED designation. Nevertheless, theses introductory lines will remain as a reminder that the article had a long birth.

***

The meeting, August 15, 2008 was chaired by the Ambassador For Palau. Present were also the Ambassadors from Nauru and from Fiji. Many other Missions were represented – some of these missions have representatives on the working committee. Involved are also some of the active NGOs.

At present the sponsors of a resolution to be brought before the UN General Assembly are 11 from among the 14 Pacific Small Island Developing States – Fiji, Marshall Islands, The Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu; the Maldives and Seychelles from non-Pacific SIDS; Canada, the Philippines from among larger States. But these 15 States will pick up many more co-sponsors. Mentioned were Turkey, the EU, Austria and Iceland that have expressed their eagerness to join. There is no opposition we were told – but only some hesitation because it is seen as a new approach to the problem of the humanitarian impact of climate change that goes on already – this while in major UN institutions the debate has not led yet to action. The inhabitants of the small islands of the Pacific are the first to lose their habitat – and what we see is the eradication of UN Member States by this predictable catastrophe.

On our website we announced this encounter between the proponents of the resolution and the NGOs:

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 15th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)We also pointed out the topically relevant event at the Lincoln Center’s “Mostly Mozart Festival” when Lemi Ponifasio’s REQUIEM had its two evenings before a New York audience.The history of this special effort by the Pacific SIDS started on February 15, 2008, in a speech by Ambassador Stuart Beck of Palau, before the UN General Assembly:www.palauun.org/news_archive.cfm?news_id=189Palau Calls for Security Council Action to Protect Island Nations From Sea-Level Rise.

NEW YORK, NY,  www.islandsfirst.org February 15, 2008 — Addressing the General Assembly of the United Nations at the High Level Debate on Climate Change, H.E. Stuart Beck, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Palau, citing the “life or death” nature of sea-level rise for the world’s island nations, urged the Security Council to utilize its powers under Chapter VII of the UN Charter to address this threat to member states by imposing mandatory greenhouse gas emission standards on all member states, and utilizing the power to sanction, if necessary, to encourage compliance with such standards.

He said:
“The waters continue to rise in Palau, and everywhere else…Though this litany of disasters has become well known in these halls, no action with remedial consequences has been taken…We take this opportunity to respectfully call upon the Security Council to react to the threat which we describe. Would any nation facing an invading army not do the same?”

States reacted swiftly to the statement. This week, Ambassadors are meeting in New York to draft a General Assembly Resolution requesting Security Council intervention to prevent an aggravation of the climate change situation caused by greenhouse gas emissions by states. Pacific Island states will be in the forefront of the effort, since they are both the most vulnerable states, and amongst the least responsible for the problem.

Last year, the Security Council debated the security implications of climate change. Its then President, Foreign Minister Margaret Beckett of the United Kingdom, affirmed that climate change is a threat to “our collective security in a fragile and increasingly interdependent world”. Chapter VII of the UN Charter conveys to the Security Council the necessary tools to address the problem, as it has done so in recent years in connection with terrorism and HIV/AIDS. No other international body has the power to mandate change in an effort to save the threatened island cultures of the world.

The full text of Ambassador Beck’s remarks at the UN Climate Change debate is as follows:

“Mr. President, esteemed colleagues, friends:

The waters continue to rise in Palau, and everywhere else. Salinization of fresh water and formerly productive lands continues apace. The reefs, the foundation of our food chain, experience periodic bleaching and death. Throughout the Pacific, sea level rise has not only generated plans for the relocation of populations, but such relocations are actually in progress. Though this litany of disasters has become well known in these halls, no action with remedial consequences has been taken. Larger countries can build dikes, and move to higher ground. This is not feasible for the small island states who must simply stand by and watch their cultures vanish.

Is the United Nations simply powerless to act in the face of this threat to the very existence of many of its member states? We suggest that it is not.

Last April, under the Presidency of the United Kingdom, the Security Council took up the issue of climate change. At that time, while there were some expressions of discomfort with the venue of the debate, a discomfort which we decidedly did not share, there was general agreement with the notion expressed by the President of the Security Council, UK Foreign Minister Margaret Beckett that climate change is a threat to “our collective security in a fragile and increasingly interdependent world”.

Islands are not the only countries whose existence is threatened. Ambassador Kaire Mbuende of Namibia characterized climate change as a ” a matter of life or death” for his country, observing that ” the developing countries in particular, have been subjected to what could be described as low-intensity biological or chemical warfare. Greenhouse gases are slowly destroying plants, animals and human beings.”

Speaking on behalf of the Pacific Island Forum at last years Security Council debate Ambassador Robert Aisi, of Papua New Guinea observed that climate change is no less a threat to small island states than the dangers of guns and bombs to larger countries. Pacific Island countries are likely to face massive dislocations of people, similar to flows sparked by conflict, and such circumstances will generate as much resentment, hatred and alienation as any refugee crisis.

Ambassador Aisi observed then, and we reiterate now, that it is the Security Council which is charged with protecting human rights and the integrity and security of States. The Security Council is empowered to make decisions on behalf of all States to take action on threats to international peace and security. While we applaud the efforts of the President of the General Assembly and the Secretary General to shine a light on this awful problem, we take this opportunity to respectfully call upon the Security Council to react to the threat which we describe. Would any nation facing an invading army not do the same?

Under Article 39 of the Charter, the Security Council “shall determine the existence of any threat to peace…and shall make recommendations…to maintain or restore international peace or security”. We call upon the Security Council to do this in the context of climate change.

Under Articles 40 and 41 of the Charter, it is the obligation of the Security Council to “prevent an aggravation of the situation” and to devise appropriate measures to be carried out by all States to do this. While we Small Island states do not have all the answers, we are not unmindful of the scientific certainty that excessive greenhouse gas emissions by states are the cause of this threat to international security and the existence of our countries. We therefore suggest that the Security Council should consider the imposition of mandatory emission caps on all states and use its power to sanction in order to encourage compliance.

We further propose that under Article 11 of the Charter, the General Assembly is empowered to call to the attention of the Security Council “situations which are likely to endanger international peace and security” and, at the appropriate time, we will call upon this body to do so. In the event that the General Assembly chooses not to avail itself of this right, then we will call upon the countries whose very existence is threatened to utilize Article 34 of the Charter, which empowers each Member State to bring to the attention of the Security Council any issue which “might lead to international friction”.
I think we can all agree that international friction is a mild term to describe the terrible plight in which the island nations now find themselves.

Our Charter provides a way forward. Our Security Council has the wisdom and the tools to address this situation. And while we debate, the waters are rising.

Thank you.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 12th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The “Mostly Mozart” New York City Lincoln Center Summer Festival has become a New York City annual staple. For years it is also connected to the name of the theater director Peter Sellars who would bring in, or create, some special event as part of this festival. Years ago he did this sort of work in Purchase, Westchester County, New York, just outside the city where he staged new insights into Mozart Operas – but since moved these activities to the main location of the city. Jane Moss is the Artistic Director, and to her credit that she pulled in Peter Sellars who here, as in other locations in the world, including Vienna, Austria, has become an acknowledged ferment for creativity. These activities may have only remote connection to Mozart – but he somehow manages to find some link to the culture underneath Mozart’s art. But please, do not look for Mozart’s music in some of these events.

In any case – please remember that this REQUIEM was created by invitation of the 2006 Vienna Celebration of the 250th year Anniversary of Mozart’s Birth and the director for these events was Peter Sellars.

***

This Year, in the summer of 2008, July 29 – August 23, 2008 – “Mostly Mozart came up with two such events. Both, as the vast majority of the Festival’s events are imports:

(a) REQUIEM, an event created in Vienna, that was now seen in New York for two evenings only, Friday August 8th and Saturday August 9th, and a discussion between Peter Sellars and Lemi Ponifasio, the creator, choreographer, and designer of the event on the opening night’s afternoon.

(b) LA PASSION DE SIMONE, that was actually directed by Peter Sellars, and can be attended Wednesday August 13th, Friday August 15th, and Sunday August 17th, with two discussions open to the public on August 13th – a pre-concert discussion with Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho, and August 15th – a post-concert discussion with all those involved in the production. This event is about the personal voyage of Simone Weil with text by the Paris-based Lebanese writer Armin Maalouf. We are happy to be able to note this show here as we hope to create some interest among our readers to go to see this show. We are sorry that we were not able to bring pre-event information in the case of REQUIEM.

Before moving on to REQUIEM I would like to mention that when I looked up on the internet the term “Simone Weil” I found to my astonishment, that the best material is in German, French or Spanish – nothing very enlightening in English. so I decided to post the short biography that on the english Wikipedia is posted in German –

“Simone Weil wuchs in einer großbürgerlichen jüdischen Familie in Paris auf, ihr Bruder André wurde ein berühmter Mathematiker. Am Lycée war sie Schülerin von Alain. Sie studierte an der École Normale Supérieure Philosophie und wurde danach (1931) Mittelschullehrerin in der französischen Provinz.

In diesen Jahren – sie arbeitete eine Zeit lang als Fabrikarbeiterin bei Renault – und bis zu ihrem kurzen Einsatz im Spanischen Bürgerkrieg (wo sie auf der Seite der Anarcho-Syndikalisten in der “Kolonne Durruti” kämpfte) war sie politisch aktiv. Ab 1936 traten für sie religiöse Fragen in den Vordergrund, wobei sie zuvor Atheistin war. Sie näherte sich dem Katholizismus an und ließ sich möglicherweise sogar kurz vor ihrem Tod taufen, nicht offiziell von einem Priester, aber – gültig – von einer Freundin. Von der Taufe im Londoner Krankenzimmer vor der Abreise nach Ashford berichtet zwar 1989 Georges Hourdin in seiner Biographie (Simone Weil) und teilt einen Briefwechsel mit Pater Perrin und Simone Deitz mit, in den Aufzeichnungen Simone Weils, die sie bis kurz vor ihrem Tod weitergeführt hat, findet sich allerdings kein Hinweis. Zeit ihres Lebens litt sie an schwersten, oft unerträglichen Kopfschmerzen.

Wegen der deutschen Besetzung Frankreichs floh sie zunächst nach Marseille, 1942 in die USA und anschließend nach England, wo sie Mitglied des Befreiungskomitees Charles de Gaulles wurde. Sie starb an Magersucht, wobei nicht sicher war, ob sie durch die starken Kopfschmerzen magersüchtig wurde.”

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First, let me introduce the background material that was handed out at the August 8th discussion:

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Lemi Ponifasio (photo Pincas Jawetz)

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Peter Sellars (photo Pincas Jawetz)

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The August 8, 2008 Lincoln Center discussion (photo Pincas Jawetz)

To show what a large scope this REQUIEM has, as I understood it, I would like to mention that the positions taken by its author when explaining what we will be going to see in his answers to Peter Sellars – in above discussion, served me also in my reporting that day on the opening of the Olympics: www.sustainabilitank.info/category/china#6593 In that article I already tackled the essence of the discussion under:

The “Super 8 Friday” – 88888 – Resulted, According to Front Page New York Times The Following Day, In Super-Power News Characteristic to Our Times: In The Old World East Of The Atlantic Russia Moved Further Troops Into Georgia, While West Of The Atlantic Another Top US Politician Revealed That He Cheated On His Wife – In The World of The Future – China Gave A “Dazzling” Coming-Out Party.

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 9th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz ( PJ at SustainabiliTank.com)

I will add here that like in all art, the real creation in art is in the eye and mind of the viewer. What we see is merely the raw material that creates the vision, feelings , and understanding in our minds. As such – different people will say they saw, or interpreted what they saw, in very different ways. As such, even though Lemi Ponnifasio laid out before us various aspects of what we will watch in his ceremonial approach to life (mind you – he made it clear that the Pacific islanders are not actors and this is not a show) different people will still see in it different things.

In my previous comments in the “China” article I mentioned the standing poles that are there as the center-pieces of a house/home without walls – my friend saw in it at a later stage the symbol of smoke stacks that come with electricity-generation turbines that pollute the air, that creates the loss of the life on these islands, that is therefore the loss of the culture, and it becomes thus the Requiem to a Requiem where the second Requiem in this statement is actually the remembrance of the culture that is gone, so that the Mozartean Requiem is the resurgence of the memory of life.

I saw above in the discussion, but my friend added to it the smoke-stack symbolism that her “American” mind added to his “Samoan” interpretation. Both these things do not appear in other reviews I picked up from the press desk the following day – then again, this does not bother me at all – some of the viewers did still see this as art despite the fact that Lemi Ponifasio is imploring us to accept that this is a ceremonial of life and death – the death of not just individuals – but of whole cultures. Individuals in that culture do not die. They continue to be with us because those cultures transcend the physicality of death. Yes, in China the dead’ ashes may sit in an urn – right there on the mantle-piece, but the islanders have no mantle-piece and do not need the ashes as symbol that the passed-on did not pass away. He is just not seen by the naked eye but is felt – this how the people of Kiribas (Kiribati) feel their old islands even when they live now in New Zealand – the host country that agreed, in gallantry to accept in their midst the climate change/global warming refugees from the sinking islands of the Pacific.

How right are those at the UN who look at the climate change/global warming induced destruction, starting first with the Pacific islands and extending then to the low-lands of countries like Bangladesh, and continuing to cities like New Orleans and Miami Beach, as threats to World Security and Peace. Global Warming refugees will not be accepted easily like in this case where New Zealand stepped in to help.

New Zealand is Aotearoa – the Europeans that came to live in new Zealand found there the Maori who are Pacific Islanders and made a pact with them to live in peace. The New Zealanders of European descent, who since became the large majority in the two main islands of New Zealand, do not mind now to see this immigration of Maori-alike people and the enhancement of this aspect of the islands culture. After all – this is an enrichment that eventually will benefit all – even those that will still try to cling to the memories of the “old country.” People like Ponifasio understand that there is a need to compromise, after all, he takes his ceremonial before paying audiences that regard it as theatre. He will try to educate them by explaining that there is a quantum-jump difference here. But he will compromise nevertheless so his 24 members of his MAU get a way of making a living – even though they will also enhance visions of people ready to see beyond what their eyes trick them to see.

www.SustainabiliTank.info saw in the various slow actions on the stage, birds, fishes, people that have a loss of habitat. Starting with the chest self-pounding of the Maori heroes, we move to see the moaning climate-victims. We watch to the end how the mats on the floor are neatly folded away as the floor of the ground is going under-water. The reality of space is still there – the two pillars that define the space do not tumble down – but simply are renegotiated and the people leave.

This was a fascinating 90 minutes I spent watching that stage and old memories came back to my mind. These were memories of the end of the sixties and seventies when the new off-off Broadway was born. I saw there the staging of Robert Wilson on the life and times of personalities – the likes of Stalin or Sigmund Freud at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). The very slow dragging action leading to tremendous impacts left behind. I remembered Richard Schechner’s lectures at NYU, and his involvement with the La Mama theater – his talks about Shamanism as the birth of theater. I saw later some of what he was talking about in places like New Zealand, Australia, Turkey, South Africa. I felt like seeing now some of these real things – right here in New York – and low and behold – it was about effects of global warming – I hope I was able to convey some of it in this posting.

One comment about Richard Schechner that I must add here – this because I learned this fact only after posting the China Olympics piece: “In March 2005, the Richard Schechner Center for Performance Studies was inaugurated as part of the Shanghai Theatre Academy, where Schechner is an Honorary Professor. With The Performance Group, Schechner directed many productions including “Dionysus in 69″ based on Euripides’ The Bacchae (1968 production)”

The second half of this relates obviously to the “Bacchae” which was the first piece of the Lincoln Center Summer festival 2008 that we posted on www.SustainabiliTank.info. I hope that someone from our theatre-art intelligentsia could do a comparison between that 1968 production and the 2008 production. Then it was about the shamanic aspect in the Bacchae celebration – now we end up seeing a late women-liberation and self-destruction aspect. To put it nicely – Schechner had then his feet more solidly on the ground and the years since did not serve us well.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 9th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Coincidentally, I started to read yesterday morning a new book by Dmitry Orlov titled – “Reinventing Collapse.” The book was released by New Society Publishers www.newsociety.com and was sent to me by Perseus Distribution of Jackson Tennessee.

Dmitry Orlov was born and grew up in Leningrad, and came first to the US in 1985 and after 10 years started going back and forth so he says – hehasbecome a witness to the changes in Russia.

Orlow is an engineer who worked in high-energy Physics and in Internet Security. He came under our cross-hairs when it turned out that he is also a leading Peak Oil theorist. But this is not why I am mentioning him today. The reason is much deeper then that.

Dmitry Orlov writes that when he came back to the US in 1996, after a longer stay in Russia where he just got married, but also said that at the time he started to understand the reasons why the Soviet Union collapsed – and horror – he started to see that the US had already at that time all the symptoms of the same disease that did in the Soviet Union. He writes that he came back with his wife to make for themselves a new life in the US, but he also started to write about his insights that made him see that the second shoe will drop eventually – that is the US after the Soviet Union – two very different States – but nevertheless two States with similar destinies because they suffer from very similar malaise.

His description of the ingredients of a super-power collapse are as follows: (a) A severe and chronic shortfall in the production of crude oil; (b) A severe and worsening trade deficit, (c) A runaway military budget and (d) Ballooning foreign debt. When such a soup starts boiling, then “the heat and agitation” are provided by (e) a fear of a humiliating military defeat, and (f) wide spread fear of a looming catastrophe.

He looks then at all of those ingredients that existed in the Soviet collapse – that was an internal collapse – an implosion I would say. He laughs at the thought that it was caused by outside influences, stemming from the actions of the US, except for the fact that the Soviets fell for the arms race of the “star-wars” competition that caused them further exhaustion. On the other hand, he sees all these ingredients in the present state of the US, and he watched these aspects grow during the last decade.

Orlov looks at Chernobyl as the backdrop of catastrophe that sent off the Soviet Union, and sees the need of oil in order to grow food in the US – at the tune of ten calories of fossil fuels to produce one calorie of food – this, and runaway foreign foreign debt, leading to the decrease in credibility of US monetary instruments – killer hurricanes and global climate upheaval – become the US fear of catastrophe. The eventual reason for the drop of the second shoe.

I only mention here these morning thoughts – I will be getting back to this book later and write a book review. Now I intend to touch on another incomplete activity I found myself involved in yesterday.

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This was a “Pre-Concert Discussion” of the “Mostly Mozart” Lincoln Center Festival presentation of “REQUIEM.” Yesterday was the US premiere, but I will be seeing the show only tonight. All what I did was to sit in at the discussion between the Festival’s Director Peter Sellars, and Lemi Ponifasio, a Samoan living in Auckland, New Zealand, who is the Director/Choreographer/Designer of this Requiem.

Again, this writing of mine is a half backed attempt, and not yet a finished review of the show. This will come later. But now what I want to say here is that all such words as “Director,” “Choreographer,” “Designer,” “Show,””Review,” were actually knocked out of my head last evening, because I realized that we really are totally incapable of understanding the mind of those that do not think like us. Interesting, Peter Sellars, remarked in a even larger context – “in our age – the commentator on the Op-Ed page presumes to understand everything – we will see that it is not as simple as that.”

My mention of Orlov’s look at history showed me how trite it is to think that the US led to the collapse of the Soviet Union, and that the US is safe because it thinks of itself as a democracy. Now, Lemi, and the movement of MAU in Samoa, and his troupe, that adopted the MAU name for their collective, are really no actors at all, according to how they see themselves. In effect they will be involved in CEREMONIES that come to them naturally – something that is not just a CELEBRATION – and this requiem is not a memorial for the dead – this because they are not dead at all – they are here with them – so it is as if there were a communal living with these unseen members of the community present. We will look in a future review at this as a “Requiem to Requiem” where the idea of a Requiem, in the second time it is mentioned in this comment, becomes sort of a synonim to culture, life, an island, an environment. Then the first mention of Requiem in the remark is the more accepted meaning. MAU is the name of the Samoan independence movement that took on the Germans, French, Dutch, and British. The meaning is Vision or Revolution. The activities of the MAU troupe serve “to energize dialogue and revive local oriented histories, arts, thought, languages, and narratives that have been silenced or excluded.”

In those Pacific Islands a house is not a home where you close in your belongings like in a storage – their concept is that this is a space for life and all are invited. There is always a standing pole in their culture – this pole gives you sort of a vertical feel of space and you and all your ancestors reside there. We will see that eventually this home without walls becomes the whole island and its sufferings.

To be true to our www.SustainabiliTank.info website, I will add that Lemi and Peter also touched on the problems of global warming that threaten the demise of cultures like Kiribas (Kiribati). So, will we someday have to try our own hand at this kind of Requiem when remembering the independent indigenous cultures of these Small Islands Independent States of today – the SIDS of the Pacific?

This is the extent of how far I am ready to go here.

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Now, with the above two snippets, in my head, let me say that I sat down before my TV set to watch the NBC, Channel 4, reporting from Beijing, that was handled by NBC as if it was just an excuse to sell us ExxonMobil trying to sell us that they take on “the largest energy challenges of the World.” I was amazed when after that an NBC journalist actually added “while you watched the advertisements China advanced several hundred years in its history.” I hope they will not fire him for this remark.

GE spoke of biogas technology and that was fine, but Chevy Silver was trying to impress us with their miserable 20 mpg technology. Oh! Yes – we also saw John McCain bashing Obama in the campaign well paid advertisement – and we thought that at least this night we can forget about the US Presidential non-debate.

This Chinese Coming-Out event was all about HARMONY. We watched the Tai-Chi performers and were told of Harmony between Man & Nature as the only chance for Sustainable Development for China and the rest of the World for next generation – and we said AMEN. When this is resolved there will be prosperity and environmentalism.

You do not have to be naive and embrace China’s government, or take for granted the smiles on the faces of all the participating dancers and musicians. It was too uniform and large to be taken at face value – but there was enough there to say that it was an honest attempt to say – look – we suffered in our history from what others did to us – but we are a sleeping giant that is now showing – yes – we can and we will.

China showed us that they are much closer to the MAU mentality now then they are to their previous MAO mentality. Yes, the legions of dancers and musicians were militarily trained. Their performance perfect, thus in some way threatening, but the content of their show was so we appreciate what they have given to the world – ink and paper for those believing in the needs of the press, and the compass for those in search of direction. Navigation is the means of communication with the great world, and they had their own naval chiefs of the caliber of a Christopher Columbus.

These performers did not hate us – they CELEBRATED their return to the world stage, and this was their CEREMONY. After this show, China and us will never be the same. Just think of the fact that they reminded us that there were days China had the highest GNP in the world. We saw some of their ghosts, and we saw some of our ghosts. We saw Confucius, and yes, we remembered how it was members of the Atlantic community that committed them to opium enslavement. It was not said – but I knew it was somewhere there in that huge mat, center stage, on the floor of the stadium.

Money is no problem, they bought the best architectural minds to work with their own best, and created the greatest venue for a global event. Pity that parts of the show were missed by us because of the commercialism of US TV world.

We saw how some foreign leaders, like Putin, that did not smile, President Bush looked at his watch, we wondered why President Peres of Israel, who is secular, had to make the gesture of going on foot back to his hotel because of the Sabbath, but then these were not China’s problems that day.

OK, now, I finished the Friday events. On Saturday morning I rushed to pickup the papers.

The opening of the Olympics was really not the main set of news. That debatable honor went to Russia’s attack inside Georgia, and to the John Edwards attack on the US political system by having endangered the Democratic Party’s chances for meaningful change in Washington.

I really have little to say about Edward’s male infidelity – that should have been left to be solved between him and his wife, but we know that this is not US reality. Such events can sink the US, as it happened in the Bill Clinton days. Clinton’s Presidency was decreased in potency, to the detriment of the American Nation, by some self appointed ethical judges who, as we know by now, some of them had much worse transgressions in their closets. What the US does not have is that vertical space the man from Samoa was talking about. There is no ceremonial thinking in our system – only raw hunt after the culprit who may have sinned much less then we did. And when the US is in decline, while China is on the rise – now we have things to think about – not so? And don’t forget – China holds the strings to the US treasury and Orlov made his unforgivable observations.

As for the second news of the day – Putin moving on Georgia – that is tough for the Georgians but again, Putin is back in the oil-saddle and is flush with money too. In effect, we believe that he came to Beijing not as a teacher, but now he comes to Beijing as a student. He has learned from the Chinese that if you put your economy in better shape, outsiders and your own people as well, will criticize you less on human rights and other transgressions. He did not smile on TV, and he knows what his intent is now.

So, what does Dmitry Orlov think of the opening of the Olympics and the near certainty that China will take over the Super-power manttle after the drop of what he described as the second shoe?

Then, to remind us that change may not be as smooth as some may hope for, two American Olympic tourists were just stabbed while visiting the Drum Tower in the center of Beijing – reasons yet unknown.

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