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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 6th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

One of the two last side events on the last Friday of  the second Informal-Informal reading of the draft to Rio 2012 (RIO+20) was about the place of Mother Nature as seen by indigenous cultures that still respect the holiness of the Earth and by intellectuals that are ready to stop a minute and contemplate about the superiority of earth oriented cultures.

Moderated by Lisinka Ulatowska, Coordinator, Major Group Cluster on the Commons, this side event discussed a number of initiatives to create commons-based economies, and how these can be expanded and built upon.

Mario Ruales, Advisor to the Ecuadorian Minister of Coordination of Heritage, highlighted the adoption of a new constitution in 2008, which recognized the rights of Mother Earth. He emphasized the role of natural and indigenous peoples to respect and protect the ecosystem, saying that the constitution has a lot of processes that would allow this to be pursued. He noted Ecuador’s call for a new development architecture, saying that this has been proposed for Rio+20.

Leon Siu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Hawaiian Kingdom, outlined his work for reinstating the independent nation state of Hawai’i, saying that should this occur, many of the traditional practices for land management, agriculture and conservation of natural resources will return. He lamented the marginalization of the indigenous peoples, saying that reinstating the independent nation state of Hawai’i would rectify this problem.

Rob Wheeler, Global Ecovillage Network, outlined that the commons-based approach is one where the land and its resources are cooperatively owned, managed and shared among those living on the commons. He noted that ecovillages, which are based on such a model, are among the most sustainable communities in existence. He noted that many lessons on sustainability can be learnt from ecovillages, underscoring their ability to minimize waste, promote clean, renewable energy and ensure the sustainable consumption of natural resources.

In the ensuing discussion, delegates addressed the different financing systems that could be used for implementing a commons-based model. They also discussed referencing the rights of nature in the Rio+20 outcome document.

Ecuador is a member of the ALBA group of Latin and Caribbean Nations like Bolivia. Both countries were left with strong lodes of indigenous people and the governments attempt to speak for them. The Kingdom of Hawaii does still exist even though Hawaii has become a US State and thus does not recognize a King. Nevertheless, You can still see a functioning royal House on the main Hawaii Island.

————————–

As it happened, on the following day, Saturday May 5th, 2012, I had to be in Washington DC and made it also my business to go to visit the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian at 4th Street & Independence Avenue S,W. At the door I saw the announcement that the next weekend Saturday, May 12 – Sunday May 13, 2012, 10 am – 5:30 pm they will celebrate the BOLIVIAN SUMA QAMANA FESTIVAL – sponsored by the Embassy of the Plurinational State of Bolivia.

“Discover Bolivia’s Magic, culture, Heritage, Joy of Living Well.”

The Museum doors are etched with sun symbols and open to the east to greet the rising sun as do many traditional Native houses. Native people honor the sun as a life-giver and calendar – instructing when to plant, harvest, conduct ceremonies. The American Indian is responding to Environmental Challenges and the Museum has established a special website for this – www.AmericanIndian.si.edu

At present the museum has two special exhibits. One is very appropriate to present American Indian culture as it evolved in the last 250 years – the interaction with horses and the way they viewed these large and friendly animals. The show is dedicated to “A SONG FOR THE HORSE NATION” and here this Nation are the horses themselves taken as if they were like humans.

The other show includes just one item and I stood there in state of shock. The title is HUICHOL ART ON WHEELS.” Its exhibition is planned from March 20 to May 6th 2012 – so let me say without any hesitation – good ridance before the Bolivian event next week.

Why am I quite angry at this exhibit covered with Huichol Art? Let me make sure that there should be no misunderstanding – it is not because of the Huichols. These are people from the West-Central Mexico who are known for their beadwork. Sometimes they take an object and cover it with colorful beads. The Huichol call themselves in their own language the Wixaritari people and I bought items from them years ago in a store they managed in Porto Vallarta, Jalisco.

The problem with this exhibition of one single item is that it is what they call – a VOCHOL – now that is a common Beetle Volkswagen that was completely covered in beads. Again – not that this car is bad looking – but why in this world in which the indigenous people do every possible effort to tell us that they understand the environment and suffer from climate change, and then bring into this interesting museum a common motor-vehicle that when operated uses gasoline?

WHY BEAD A BUG? asks the museum brochure and proceeds to answer:
The Vochol demonstrates the complex intersections of traditional and modern cultures. It serves as opportunity to bring attention to contemporary indigenous art while also highlighting Wixaritari culture and talent. The project is a collaboration between the Association of Friends of the Museo de Arte Popular, the Museo de Arte Popular, and the state governments of Nayarit and Jalisco, home to the Wixatari people. And let me add here that it must be also home of the assembly plants of Volkswagen Beetle in Mexico. Further – it must be friends of the US Oil industry and the US Auto Manufacturers that convinced that this big piece of art covering the auto-monster vehicle got into the American Indian Museum in order to soften our resistance to fossil fuels transportation – albeit by a reasonably small vehicle.

The Wixatari artist Francisco Bautista used 2,277,000 glass seed beads to cover this beetle, and he finished the work in 2010 according to the license plate attached to the car. Then, let me never forget what my friend Professor Jad Neeman from the Tel Aviv University told me when we went to see a particular exhibition of what looked to me as unused canvases – the main role of modern art is to make us angry so we are moved from our position of not caring. If that is what the exhibitors had in mind – so this was very great art, because it made me care very much – when I concluded that this did not belong into this particular museum.

In above context let me also write here what I found in the permanent exhibit on the 4-th floor – a stoty about another beetle:

This comes from the Cherokee Nation. They tell that “Long ago – all things existed above the sky, from horizon to horizon. The bird and animal people (you remember the horse people I mentioned earlier?) wondered about the water-covered world below and sent Water-Beetle to explore. He descended and returned with a small piece of mud that spread over the water.”

This obviously was another beetle – the one we like for itself.

Further, in a story from the Campo Indians North of San Diego. They ended up being the address where the San Diego garbage was sent for landfill that gave them the Golden Acorn Casino not far from the Mexico border. The local Amerindians did not agree but got it anyway.

The Environmentalists tell them that they show  who they are with appropriate ways of viewing their land as one of their greatest assets.

Their lands are being decimated under them, but the indigenous people make serious attempts to survive.

The IOWA say – Our Songs and Our Ceremonies Enable Us To Survive.

The Nahua state – Our Laws and way of thinking shall continue.

The Cherokees state simply – WE ARE STILL HERE!



###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 24th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

UNEP leads 27 countries of the Wider Caribbean on  “land-based pollution” at an International Maritime Organization (IMO) meeting in Panama City based on the ISTAC of Kingston, Jamaica (Interim Scientific, Technical and Advisory Committee to the Cartagena Convention. Will they touch nevertheless the menacing Deep-Water Oil-Well Blow-Out?

from: James Sniffen <sniffenj@un.org>

UNEP/CEP PRESS RELEASE: REGIONAL GOVERNMENT POLLUTION EXPERTS MEET IN PANAMA.

Panama City, 24th May, 2010:

Over 50 pollution control experts from 27 countries of the Wider Caribbean
gather today (Monday 24th May) in Panama City at the invitation of the
United Nations Environment Programme’s Caribbean Environment Programme
(UNEP CEP) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

The gathering of experts for the 5th Meeting of the Interim Scientific, Technical and Advisory Committee (ISTAC) to the Protocol concerning pollution from land-based sources, commonly known as the LBS Protocol, will last for five days.  The CEP is the Secretariat for this Protocol and is based in Kingston, Jamaica.

The LBS Protocol is one of three agreements under the Convention for the
Protection and Development of the Marine Environment in the Wider Caribbean
Region (the Cartagena Convention).  It establishes regional guidelines and
standards for reducing the impact of pollution on the coastal and marine
environment, and on human health.   Over 80% of the pollution of the marine
environment of the Wider Caribbean is estimated to originate from land
based sources and activities.

Panama, the host country, is one of only six countries to have ratified the LBS Protocol.  The others are Trinidad and Tobago, Belize, Saint Lucia, France and the United States.  Discussions during the meeting will focus on measures to increase the region’s commitment to ratify the Protocol, and have it enter into force and become international law as soon as possible.

In support of regional cooperation, UNEP CEP is partnering with the IMO and their joint Regional Activity Centre for Oil Spills (RAC REMPEITC) to bring together experts from environmental agencies, maritime authorities and port administrations for this 5th LBS ISTAC.

Delegates are expected to identify practical measures to improve the implementation of marine environmental agreements including the IMO London Convention on the control of pollution from dumping of wastes at sea and the MARPOL Convention on the prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships.

According to Nelson Andrade, Coordinator of UNEP CEP”   “It is vital that
Governments adopt a more integrated approach to reducing pollution from
land and marine based sources”.  He noted that the continued partnership
between UNEP and IMO will help to effectively implement the Cartagena
Convention and its three Protocols and to reduce marine contamination.

Meeting Participants are also expected to review recent achievements of the
UNEP CEP to reduce and control marine pollution and to endorse a new work
plan and budget for 2010-2011.

For additional information, please contact:

Christopher Corbin,Programme Officer,
Assessment and Management of Environment Pollution (AMEP),
Regional Co-ordinating Unit, UNEP CEP
Kingston, Jamaica
Telephone: (876) 922-9267 — Fax: (876) 922-9292
www.cep.unep.org; cjc@cep.unep.org;

About UNEP’s Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP) –  The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) established the Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP) in 1976 under the framework of its Regional Seas Programme.   It was based on the importance and value of the Wider Caribbean Region’s fragile and vulnerable coastal and marine ecosystems including an abundant and mainly endemic flora and fauna,

A Caribbean Action Plan was adopted by the Caribbean countries and led to the adoption, in 1983, of the only current regional, legally-binding agreement for the protection of the marine environment, the Cartagena Convention.  The Convention and its first Protocol (Oil Spill) entered into force in 1986.

Two other protocols were developed by the region – the Protocols on Special Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) and the Control of Pollution from Land Based Sources (LBS) in 1990 and 1999 respectively.

The SPAW Protocol entered into force in 2000, whereas three ratifying countries are still needed for the LBS Protocol.

The Caribbean Regional Coordinating Unit (UNEP-CAR/RCU) serves as the Secretariat to the Cartagena Convention and is based in Kingston, Jamaica.

Each Protocol is served by a Regional Activity Centre.  These Centres are
based in the Netherlands Antilles (Regional Marine Pollution Emergency
Information and Training Center for the Wider Caribbean, RAC/REMPEITC) for
the Oil Spills Protocol, Guadeloupe (RAC/SPAW) for the SPAW Protocol, Cuba
(Centre of Engineering and Environmental Management of Coasts and Bays) and
Trinidad & Tobago (Institute of Marine Affairs) for the LBS Protocol.

*****
Jim Sniffen
Programme Officer
UN Environment Programme
New York
tel: +1-212-963-8094/8210
info@nyo.unep.org
www.nyo.unep.org

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 29th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Indigenous Wisdom Against Climate Change

By Stephen Leahy*
ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Apr 28 (Tierram̩rica) РWhile industrialised countries like Canada continue to emit ever-higher levels of greenhouse-effect gases, indigenous peoples around the world are working to survive and adapt to an increasingly dangerous climate.

Over millennia, indigenous peoples have developed a large arsenal of practices that are of potential benefit today for coping with climate change, including some holistic and refreshingly practical ideas.

“Why not give automobiles and planes a day of rest? And then later on, two days of rest. That would cut down on pollution,” suggested Carrie Dann, an elder from the Western Shoshone Nation, whose ancestral lands extend across the western United States.

Dann, winner of the 1993 Right Livelihood Award – known as the Alternative Nobel Prize – for her efforts to protect ancestral lands, made her proposal before the 400 delegates gathered in Anchorage, Alaska, Apr. 20-24 for the Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change.

Dann warned that Mother Nature is getting warmer and the “fever” needed to be cured. “We see many range (grassland) fires in my territory, it is getting so hot,” she said.

To prevent similar uncontrolled wildfires that have burned up large portions of Australia and killed hundreds of people in recent years, the Aborigines of Western Arnhem Land, in the Northern Territory, are using traditional fire practices to reduce such wildfires.

Preventing these fires also reduces greenhouse gas emissions and, for the first time in the world, these Aborigines have sold 17 million dollars’ worth of carbon credits to industry, generating significant new income for the local community, according to a report presented in Anchorage.

Australia’s Aborigines have traditionally used controlled burning following the rainy season to create barriers to stop the intense wildfires later during the dry season.

Wildfires account for a substantial portion of Australia’s carbon emissions and have been very destructive. However, in recent years few Aborigines live on the land any more so there have been fewer controlled burns. But now there is a new role to play in the fight against global warming.

According to Sam Johnston, of the Tokyo-based United Nations University, a summit co-sponsor, it is in the world’s best interest to take into account indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge.

In Asia, indigenous people are developing diverse crop varieties and utilising different cropping patterns, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Filipina leader and chair of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, told the delegates.

They are also involved in sustainable agro-forestry and energy production based on small-scale biomass and micro-dam projects.

On the Indonesian island of Bali, indigenous peoples are doing reef rehabilitation work and protecting mangroves. In the Philippines, they are mapping ancestral waters and developing an integrated management plan.

“Many are doing these things on their own, with no support,” said Tauli-Corpuz.

In Honduras, faced with increasing hurricane strikes and drastic weather changes, the Quezungal people have developed a farming method that involves planting crops under trees so the roots anchor the soil and reduce the loss of harvests during natural disasters.

Indigenous peoples in Guyana have adopted a nomadic lifestyle, moving to more forested zones during the dry season, and are now planting manioc, their main staple, in alluvial plains where it was previously too moist to grow crops.

Farmers in Belize are returning to traditional agricultural practices and moving up to higher ground, other delegates reported.

In Africa, the Baka Pygmies of southeast Cameroon and the Bambendzele of Congo have developed new fishing and hunting methods to adapt to a decrease in precipitation and an increase in forest fires.

Although indigenous peoples have great capacity to adapt, many treaties and international laws guarantee their rights to food and traditional livelihoods, but climate change threatens all of this, according to Andrea Carmen, a member of the Yaqui Indian Nation, of the U.S. southwest.

When the chiefs of the tribes in the western Canadian province of Alberta declared that there should be no more oil production from tar sands, they were ignored, said Carmen who is also executive director of the International Indian Treaty Council.

Alberta’s tar sands oil projects are the major reason why Canada’s latest greenhouse gas inventory increased four percent from 2006 to 2007. That increase puts the country 33.8 percent over its commitments established in the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, in force since 2005.

But indigenous peoples are also wary of recent actions by governments and industries undertaken in response to climate change, such as building wind farms and biofuel plants, because these are often located on or directly affect their lands and livelihoods, says Gunn-Britt Retter, of Finland’s Saami Council.

“We have the knowledge of how to live through these climate changes. We need to use traditional knowledge to help all our cultures live through these changes,” Retter said.

“Our message to the world is that we need full and effective participation at the national and international levels in order for our cultures to survive these changes,” he added.

It has been 17 years since the first U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change meetings were held to solve the climate crisis, said Sheila Watt-Cloutier, the former head of the Inuit Circumpolar Council.

“We must act quickly… This is the last chance to take control,” she told the delegates by videoconference from her home in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada. “The world needs the wisdom of our cultures.”

(*Correspondent Stephen Leahy’s travel to Alaska was financed by the United Nations University and Project Word, a U.S.-based non-governmental organisation for media diversity. This story was originally published by Latin American newspapers that are part of the Tierramérica network. Tierramérica is a specialised news service produced by IPS with the backing of the United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Environment Programme and the World Bank.)

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 22nd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

U.S. agrees to debt-for-nature swap to preserve Peru rainforests.

In a bid to preserve some of Peru’s biologically diverse rainforests, the United States agreed this week to a $25 million debt-for-nature swap with the country, Peru’s second since 2002. Over the next seven years, in exchange for erasing millions of their debt, Peru will fund local non-governmental organizations dedicated to protecting tropical rain forests of the southwestern Amazon Basin and dry forests of the central Andes.

“This agreement will build on the success of previous U.S. government debt swaps with Peru and will further the cause of environmental conservation in a country with one of the highest levels of biodiversity on the planet,” said Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

Other debt-for-nature agreements have already been brokered with Bangladesh, Belize, Botswana, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Jamaica, Panama, Paraguay, and the Philippines.

This week’s swap makes Peru the largest beneficiary of such deals with the U.S., with more than $35 million dedicated to environmental conservation in the country.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 11th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The Commission on Sustainable Development Is It A Moribund UN Body Or Will It Be Revived Because It Is Needed After The Re-Engagement Hoopla That Happens Now At Bali?

Our Website was established in order to help create the awareness that there is no other development possible – not in the developing countries and not in the developed countries – that is not SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT.

We had experience starting from before the Brundtland Commission of 1987, we were engaged at the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, and we wrote the “Promptbook on Sustainable Development for The World Summit on Sustainable Development, Johannesburg 2002. In short we are strong believers that if the UN CSD were not created in 1994, we would have had to create it now.

Why that? Simply, because as it is crystal clear now that the development of tomorrow cannot go on by rules of the development of yesterday – and this was given, right today, full global recognition in Oslo, when the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the scientists of the IPCC, and to Al Gore – whatever will come out from the Bali-Poznan-Copenhagen process will be clearly a final global landing on the runway that was built in Rio for Agenda 21. And as we keep saying – this will be a joint Sustainable Development for North and South, East and West. It will be a world were those that have the needed technologies will share them with those that are only trying out for their own National development. This will not be done because of altruism – it will be rather because of self interest that comes from the simple fact that we are all residents of planet earth, and we understand that we have caused the planet to be on a path of destruction that harms the continuation of life as nature or god created.

After UNCED, The UN created a Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development and Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Gali appointed Mr. Nitin Desai, at the Under-Secretary-General level to head the Department. 1994-1998 Joke Waller-Hunter from the Netherlands was the first Director of the Division for Sustainable Development and the head of the Commission on Sustainable Development – so the Commission itself dates back, for all practical purpose, to 1994 – even though it officially was started in 1992. In May 2007 we witnessed the CSD 15 (that is counting back to 1992!).

In 1997, Secretary-General Kofi, in an effort to reduce the number of UN Under-Secretary-Generals, consolidated three economic and social departments and created UN DESA (UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs) and eventually put Mr. Desai as head of DESA where he was until he was replaced in 2003 with Mr. Jose Antonio Ocampo, the former Finance Minister of Colombia; the new Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon, brought in, July 2007, Mr. Sha Zukang, the previous China Ambassador in Geneva. In 1998 Ms. JoAnne DiSano, with a background of having worked for the Canadian Government, and then for 11 years with the Australian Government, became the Director of the new Division of Sustainable Development within DESA. She held this position until September of 2007 and since then the position is VACANT, and it looks as if the UN does not care.

Ms. Joke Waller-Hunter, left her position with the CSD in 1998 in order to become the Executive Secretary of the of Bonn based   UN Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) where she remained untill her death in 2006. She was replaced there in 2007, by Mr. Yvo de Boer, appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Mr. Yvo de Boer is also from the Netherlands, where he was Director for International Affairs of the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and Environment. He was in the Past Vice-Chair of the Commision on SD and Vice-Chair of the COP of the UNFCCC. Both, the CSD and the UNFCCC are outcomes of the 1992 UNCED. Ms. Joke Waller-Hunter’s departure from New York may have had something to do with the 1997 UN reorganization that replaced the Department of SD with a Division of SD within DESA. She may have sensed that her presence at UNFCCC will further SD goals easier then   at the new Division of SD – that its creation caused in effect a demotion in her position.

The present vacancy at the nerve-center of the CSD, at a time the CSD is needed indeed, following the latest push at the UNFCCC, on matters of climate change, that causes our renewed interest in the UN CSD and in the UN Division that was established specifically in order to run the CSD. We are afraid that it will be difficult to see progress on the UN level, in matters of climate change, without a functioning office that deals with sustainable development.

Now to be honest, our interest is not just because of curiosity – but rather because of the worry that we understand very well the reasons for the slow demise of the CSD – the factors that got it to start on what may be a path to extinction.

At CSD 9 it was decided that the CSD will discuss specific topics in cycles of two years. So the first cycle was Water for CSD11-CSD12, the second cycle Energy for CSD14-CSD15, the third cycle Land Use for CSD16-CSD17.

So 2006-2007 was the Energy cycle, and as in UN fashion it was supposed to be the turn to have a chair from Asia, it was the Asians that suggested Qatar to chair the energy subject. Now Qatar is a producer of gas rather then oil.

Some said that though sustainable development must help put forward development methods that are less dependent on oil and coal, this for reasons of global warming and climate change, nevertheless, recognizing the role of natural gas as a cleaner fuel and a potential intermediary fuel from an oil and coal economy to an economy that is starting to be based on renewable sources of energy, Qatar could have been acceptable also as a political peace-maker between the interests of conventional industry and the incoming new industry based on renewbles. But to the consternation of those optimists, we could see that behind the representative of Qatar, at the CSD sessions, there was always sitting a representative from Saudi Arabia, and in the end there was no resulting negotiated text for what is probably one of the most important topics of Sustainable Development – Energy.

Above was nothing yet when compared with what happened in the last day of CSD 15. As always, there are elections for the next CSD membership – the membership is held at 53 countries elected according to a regional key – and then there is the election of the “bureau” and the new chair. The turn according to UN habit was that next chair will be from Africa, and as said, the topic for CSD16 in 2008, and for CSD17 in 2009, will be Land Use. The Africans decided to put forward Zimbabwe as their choice and campaigned with the G77 that this is their wish. The UK did not want any part of this, and specially since the land policies of the Mugabe Government have run Zimbabwe agriculture from being a large agricultural exporter to becoming a starving nation, with an economy that was totally destroyed, a monetary situation that shows astronomic inflation rate, and human rights problems that clearly make it ineligible for a UN leadership position, it is this obstinacy that reduced the CSD to plain irrelevancy. We were there that night of Friday May 11, 2007, in room 4 in the UN basement, and watched in disbelief how the distinguished, low-key German Ambassador, head in New York of the EU presidency, with the German Minister of the Environment next to him, simply told the CSD Chair from Qatar that the EU cannot work with this sort of CSD.

If by any way I exaggerate now, 7 months later, please forgive my memory, but see what I, Pincas Jawetz, Inner City Press journalist Matthew Rusell Lee, and the EUobserver from Brussels, wrote about this – the references on the www.SustainabiliTank.info web are:

– EUobserver on the 5/11 Crash of CSD15 (May 14th, 2007)

– A First Analysis: From The Ashes of the CSD, Will We See A Rising Phoenix? A Brundtland II, To be Called – “OUR COMMON GROUND” ? (May 13th, 2007)

– The UN General Assembly Resolution of September 30, 1974 against South Africa was not Premised On Apartheid’s Threat To Security, But On Its Serious Violation Of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. WHY DOES
SOUTH AFRICA OF 2007 BACK MUGABE’s ZIMBABWE SAYING HE DOES NOT THREATEN INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY? (May 13th, 2007)

– 9/11 and 3/11 Have Become Symbols of what Oil Money Can Cause To Those Who Insist On Buying The Oil, Will 5/11 Become The Symbol of Awakening at the UN? This Because Of May 11, 2007 Late Evening Happenings At
The So Called UN Commission On Sustainable Development? (May 12th, 2007)

– At the UN, Zimbabwe Elected 26-21 to Sustainable Development Chair for CSD16, As EU and Others Reject Final Text of The Chairman from Qatar of CSD15. (May 12th, 2007)

I took then the 5/11 date and in ways of exaggeration tried to compare this with 9/11 in New York and 3/11 in Madrid. Was it really an exaggeration? Could we say that the backing Zimbabwe got from States with unresolved problems from colonial days, and oil states that think, completely wrong, that they have anything to gain from derailing the concept of sustainable development, sustainable energy, global warming, climate change…, from efforts to improve the life of billions of people?

Further, the UN recognizes three groups of States with greater needs – these are the Least Developed States (LDCs), the Small Island Independent States (SIDS), and the Landlocked States. These are the States within the UN system that are most in need of help via sustainable development. Why did the UN take them out from being under the Under-Secretary-General who heads DESA, and put them under a separate Under-Secretary-General? Does this not cause waste and decreased efficiency? Would they not be served better within a well functioning unified economic organization that takes, for instance, in account the interests of Island States when it comes to the subject of the effects of global warming/climate change?

Now, I was not going to allow myself to lose my hope for a functioning CSD. The articles I refer to above are actually articles of hope – that is I hope that from the ashes the CSD will rise, as a Phoenix, under the leadership of Brundtland II.

Does this look likely? I submit it is imperative, and by the end of this week, whatever wind will be blowing from Bali, people will see that it does not go without sustainable development. So why do the Africans not get together and try to rein in Mr. Mugabe? Again, just this week, the EU invited all Heads of State of Africa to Lisbon for discussions on trade that were needed in order to help restart the Doha trade round. The Europeans were ready to put aside the dispute with Mugabe, and he was also invited – then why did he have to show physically his raised fist? Is this the end of an EU-Africa relation? Clearly not. It was just a new beginning showing that rational people can try to restart negotiations even in the presence of a street-bully. And that brings me back to the UN DC-2 building – that is where one finds the CSD Secretariat.

CSD 16 will happen one way or another in May 5-16, 2008. The full list of topics is: “The Review Session of The Third Implementation Cycle that Will Focus on Agriculture, Rural Development, Land, Desertification, and Africa.”

The CSD expects Germany to fund the bringing to New York of youth representatives from the developing countries. A main topic will be “Drought and Desertification and Africa” – this means effects of climate change that helped cause warfare in Africa. Will the world allow Africa to commit suicide through obstinacy, or is the world obliged to look into the mirror and say we cannot continue on this path? Mr. Baroso bit his lip and made an effort. We assume the EU will continue to try to find a way to keep the Commission in business, if at least the UN Secretariat helps reestablish a CSD Secretariat – and at the minimum there must be a functioning Director of the CSD Secretariat. That is the closing of the three month old vacancy that was created with the departure of Ms. JoAnne DiSano.

I understand that part of the nominating and election process involves the Commission itself. The present 53 members are:

African States: 12 besides Zimbabwe. They are – Cameroon, Cape Verde, Congo/Kinshasa, Djibouti, Gambia, Guinea, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Tunisia, Tanzania, Zambia.

Asian States: 11 – Bahrain, China, North Korea, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Kuwait, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Thailand.

Eastern Europe: 6 – Belarus, Croatia, Czech Rep., Poland, Russia, Serbia.

Latin America and Caribbean: 10 – Antigua and Barbuda (the incoming head of G-77), Belize, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Haiti, Peru.

Western European and Others: 13 – Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Monaco, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, UK, US.

By looking through this list I clearly see that Poland, the host of next year’s follow up meeting to Bali, motors of the UNFCCC track like Germany, UK, Japan, Australia, India, even China, Antigua, Korea,Tunisia, Congo/Kinshasa, Tanzania, Croatia will want to see a functioning CSD. What is needed is a low key peace maker with vision who comes from inside the UN system, and who has a history of having seen the difficulties when working with developing countries that seem to have memories from colonial days that they apply to new situations that really are of a totally different nature. Finding such a person would help, we hope, revive the CSD, so it could continue its functions and prepare for much larger importance when the UNFCCC track finally starts sputtering.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 2nd, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Many Strong Voices joined forces on climate change 27-30 May 2007 at the Belize City Meeting.

Driven by the need to protect the cultures and economies of
countries and regions most affected by climate change, representatives of
Arctic communities and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) from the
Caribbean, and Pacific have formed an alliance called Many Strong Voices to
press for significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

The participants, who came from 16 countries and regions, including – Alaska,
the Caribbean, Fiji, the Canadian Arctic and the Overseas Countries and
Territories Association of the European Union, including Greenland and
French Polynesia –
met in Belize City to prepare a five-year action plan.

The strategy includes plans to push for deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions
through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

It also includes an assessment of the SIDS to adapt to climate change and a
plan to inform and warn the world of the dramatic effects of climate change
in their regions.

“Together, we have identified common problems as a consequence of climate
change, and our communities are suffering,” said Taito Nakalevu, Climate
Change Officer with the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, based in
Samoa. “We insist that those countries that are causing the problems have a
responsibility to those whose lives are being affected.”

The participants from the Arctic and the SIDS regions pointed to similar
climate change effects, including the relocation of communities as well as
changes in marine resources on which communities depend.

“In the Arctic, we know that melting ice and sea level rise are going to
affect everyone on the planet especially people in Small Island Developing
States. This is why we have chosen to work together – amplifying our voices
in global negotiations,” said Alaska-based Patricia Cochran, Chair of the
Inuit Circumpolar Council.

Stressing the connection between the Arctic and the SIDS regions, Dr. Ken
Leslie, Director of the Belize-based Caribbean Community Climate Change
Centre (CCCCC) noted that Belize has been experiencing many effects of
climate change. “We have many small, low-lying, inhabited islands along our
coast and the second largest barrier reef in the world that are vulnerable
to sea level rise and, most significantly, hurricanes which are increasing
in intensity due to the warming of the sea.”

The Many Strong Voices meeting was hosted by the CCCCC and was coordinated
by UNEP/GRID-Arendal, based in Norway, and the Center for International
Climate and Environmental Research – Oslo (CICERO).

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 25th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Meeting in Belize will develop adaptation strategies for Arctic and Small
Island Developing States.

When it comes to the earth’s changing climate, the people of the Arctic and
Small Island Developing States (SIDS) have a message for the world – the
time for action is now.

This message is supported by the recently released report by the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which highlights the
vulnerability of the polar regions and small island states to climate
change.

These two regions, separated by geography, climate and culture, are united
by the fact that they are already feeling the dramatic effects of climate
change. Both regions are looking for ways to adapt, but on their own, they
may not be able to succeed. Strategic policy-relevant and community-driven
initiatives need to be addressed through collaboration.

“We need to focus our research efforts on local communities because
adaptation to climate change is a global concern with local manifestations,”
says Grete Hovelsrud, project leader for the Many Strong Voices Programme
and Research Director at CICERO.

From 27 to 30 May 2007, 40 stakeholders from the Caribbean, Alaska, Fiji,
Greenland, French Polynesia, and other locations in the Arctic and Small
Island Developing States (SIDS) will gather at a workshop in Belize. They
are part of the Many Strong Voices Programme, coordinated by the
UNEP/GRID-Arendal, based in Norway, the Center for International Climate and
Environment Research – Oslo (CICERO), the Caricom Climate Change Centre and
the Organization of American States’ Department of Sustainable Development.

The Many Strong Voices Programme was launched in late 2005 at a global
climate change meeting in Montréal, Canada. Its task is to bring together a
consortium of researchers, policy-makers, and organizations to advance
mutual learning and exchange of knowledge, research, and expertise on
climate change adaptation within and between the Arctic and the SIDS.

“When the programme was launched we were calling it ‘Many Small Voices’,
thinking about small nations and regions with small populations joining
forces,” explains Joan Eamer, Polar Programme Manager for UNEP/GRID-Arendal.
“It is a measure of the depth of concern and strength of purpose of the
participants from both regions that the name very soon became ‘Many Strong
Voices’.”

Coastal communities in the Arctic and Small Island Developing States are
experiencing the effects of climate change first-hand. Because of their
close ties to land and sea environments, economies and cultures in both
regions are particularly vulnerable to climate change.

Although the natural and human environments in the two regions differ
markedly, the effects of rising temperatures, changing precipitation, shifts
in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, and projected
changes in sea level threaten the ecology, economies and social and cultural
fabric of both regions.

The four-day workshop will focus not only on strategies to adapt to climate
change but also on ways to deliver a strong message to the world. The people
in the SIDS and Arctic are responsible for less than 1 per cent of the
world’s greenhouse gas emissions. According to the IPCC report, however,
they are feeling a disproportionate level of impact.

These regions are bellwethers for climate change and the effects they are
feeling now will soon be felt by the rest of the planet. Representatives of
the Arctic and SIDS countries have been arguing that the rest of the world
needs to pay attention to their situation.

Belize is an ideal location for the workshop, which is hosted by the Caricom
Climate Change Centre, because it too is experiencing the effects of climate
change. These include coastal erosion, sea level rise and increased
temperatures that have led to the widespread devastation of forests in the
region due to insect infestations.

At the workshop in Belize, participants will develop a five-year programme
and agree on concrete and collaborative steps to address the issues of
capacity building, targeted research, communications and outreach
activities, and partnership and fundraising goals.

Funding for the workshop is provided by the Government of Norway and the US
National Science Foundation.

 www.manystrongvoices.org

Contact Info:
Petter Haugneland
Communications Advisor
CICERO (Oslo)
E-mail :  petter.haugneland at cicero.uio.no
Cell : +47 982 34 699

John Crump
Polar Issues Co-ordinator
UNEP/GRID-Arendal (Ottawa)
E-mail :  john.crump at grida.no
Cell : +1 613 255

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