I was contemplating doing a blog about who the next UN Secretary General should be for the beginning of September, but I see that the New York Times and Slant have beaten me to it.
Of course, it helps if you know the process of selection a little better before writing the article. For starters, you cannot have a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council (China, France, Russia, UK and USA [P5]) as the UN Secretary General. The New York Times suggested Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund. She is unfortunately a French national, therefore she isn’t a possible candidate; nor is the excellent suggestion by Slant of Ertharin Cousin, the US World Food Programme head.
At present, the Security Council recommends a candidate for appointment to the General Assembly – ANY of the P5 can veto a candidate. The issue is discussed and decided in private meetings.
There are five regional blocs the UN recognizes when elections are conducted within the UN institutions. The distribution of the past Secretary-General has been:
Western Europe and Other Group (WEOG) (Trygvie Lie [Norway], Dag Hammarskjold [Sweden], Kurt Waldheim[Austria])
Before going into suggestions, I want to take a step back. There are some suggestions of what the next Secretary General should have, as a skill base, produced by a number of NGOs. Clearly, it would help enormously if the candidates were to have a strong track record of implementing organizational-wide reforms. It would be vital for the UN to publish the job description and the person spec for everyone to see.
The UN is in need of another period of reform, so it is ‘fit for purpose’ in ensuring that the new Sustainable Development Goals become the agenda of all its organs over the next 15 years.
Perhaps candidates should have support from countries making up every region of the UN to be considered?
What I would very much like to see is for the UN Security Council to produce a short list (3 to 5 people). These people could then have a set of televised debates perhaps one in each of the five UN regions, for the world to participate in.
Although I recognize the final decision has to be member states, it would ensure that the candidates would be seen under pressure and would become household names at the start of their term. It would also enable an online conversation about the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate, perhaps even an online poll which member states can take note of in their decision.
It is clear that member states are looking to have a woman as the next Secretary General – though that is not guaranteed.
Mr Danilo Türk (Slovenia), former President of Slovenia, former Assistant Secretary-General of the UN, former Ambassador to the UN, former President of the Security Council of the UN (nominated by the Slovenian government in January 2014)
Ms Irina Bokova (Bulgaria), UNESCO Director-General (nominated by the Bulgarian government in June 2014)
Of the two declared candidates, both have extensive experience in the UN, but only one is a woman. So, Irina must – at this point – be seen as the front-runner of the declared candidates. It’s also true to say she has done an excellent job dealing with the withdrawal of its financial commitment of the US from UNESCO in 2011 and the funding crisis that has caused. She has supported staff and managed to keep the organization active in many areas.
A few other possible candidates have indicated an interest from Eastern Europe. They are:
Mr. Vuk Jeremi? (Serbia), former President of the United Nations General Assembly and former Serbian Minister of Foreign Affairs
Ms. Vesna Pusi? (Croatia), Croatian Minister of Foreign and European Affairs
Other possible candidates from Eastern Europe might be:
Kristalina Georgieva (Bulgaria), Vice-President of the European Commission
Dalia Grybauskaite (Lithuania), President of Lithuania she would be be the first former Head of State to be a UN Secretary General.
If for some reason it does not go to Eastern Europe then it is likely to go to Latin America and Caribbean Group as the region has only had the Secretary General once. There are two excellent potential women candidates in:
Michelle Bachelet (Chile), President of Chile and former Executive Director of UN Women – though not finishing her term before going back to stand for election as President of Chile. She would also be the first former Head of State to be a UN Secretary General, which has some clear advantages when dealing with governments.
Alicia Bárcena Ibarra (Mexico), Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. Alicia was also the UN USG for Management and Budgetary Affairs so in a reforming UN would already have a very clear idea where that reform could come from. She also has been a strong advocate for the SDGs and is well liked within stakeholders.
If it were to go to Africa, then the candidate that seems to have some support is Ellen Johnson Sirleaf – the 24th President of Liberia and Africa’s first democratically elected female Head of State. She’s serving her second term as President after winning the 2011 presidential election. She also co-chaired the UN Secretary Generals High level panel that brought forward some great suggestions for what the SDGs should be in 2013.
If for some reason, it were to go to the Western European and Others Group (WEOG) – which I very much doubt it will – then Margot Wallstrom, currently Foreign Minister of Sweden is a good candidate. She was also the UN experience as the representative for women and the EU Environment Commissioner and, subsequently, its VICE-PRESIDENT.
There is also Helle Thorning-Schmidt (Denmark), former Prime Minister of Denmark,
The new Secretary General will not only have to oversee the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, but the continuing crisis in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, as well as the humanitarian crisis around refugees, Climate Change and the emergence of new technologies and their massive impact on global work force – in particular –tomorrow’s youth unemployment crisis.
Let’s choose a UN Secretary General who can address these issues effectively.
Some of the comments Felix Dodds posted:
Ross BaileySeptember 2, 2015 at 2:25 PM
Good blog Felix. Will be fascinating to see what happens next.
You’ve made very clear that she would be an outside but in reality, surely no chance for President Sirleaf surely? She would bring real gravitas but isn’t 78 quite old to be starting an 8 year term.
The UN is in need of another period of reform, so it is ‘fit for purpose’ in ensuring that the new Sustainable Development Goals become the agenda of all its organs over the next 15 years.
Thanks Felix. Far more substantive than the NY Times article, which emphasized only gender as a factor. Keep blogging.
.. and in implementing reform, making the UN fit for purpose, and advancing the SDGs while reversing climate change and building climate and disaster resilience, we need a “Super woman’ selected through a new process and therefore having a greater public buy in than ever before.
Felix Dodds comments on sustainable development, coffee & life
Sep 2 a reply note from Felix Dodds:
The blog I did on who the next Executive Director of UNEP should be seemed to go down well with my readers.
UN publishes draft SDG Summit outcome and policy briefs for September Summit
The General Assembly will convene a meeting on 1 September at 10 a.m. in the General Assembly Hall to take action and transmit the draft outcome for consideration at the 25-27 September Summit to adopt the post-2015 development agenda.
Upcoming climate change related events. Green Economy Principles:
I am attending a very interesting Green Growth and Travelism Summer School organized by he Green Growth and Travelism Institute at Hasselt University in Belgium. A very interesting venue where a former prison has been converted into a prison.
Yet again another article on why the SDGs are not perfect………………………
I have to say I am getting bored with armchair journalists and academics who think they know better than 193 countries, thousands of NGOs and experts. So I am going to try and make this the LAST comment on an ill informed article….but i cant promise it.
As the SDGs start to be promoted there is the need for good graphics. This is the best one i’ve seen so far for the 5 P’s that are in the preamble to ‘Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Time for all of us to be creative – Nice contribution from IIED. Are there any other creative ideas out there? If so send them to me at felix[at felixdodds.net and the best i’ll promote here in the blog.
Bjorn Lomborg Wrong Again:
I had missed Bjorn Lomborg’s article in the Guardian “These are the four SDGs we need to agree on to help the planet” in the section sponsored by Business call to Action.
Summer book reads from some of my friends:
Im enjoying a little downtime after the crazy 2015,2014,2013,2012 processes and wanted to share some books out by some of my friends which you may enjoy for summer reading.
Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
We now have an agreement and a very good name for the agreement it will be called ‘Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.’ This was important because of the ongoing discussion in the negotiations of taking poverty eradication out of sustainable development.
Comments on the new Post 2015 text:
Well who would have expected me to be writing another blog about another final text? Governments return at 11am Sunday to try and finish the negotiations on the Post 2015 Development Agenda. I myself left on Friday assuming it would finish then and went to see Mission Impossible last night.
Comments on the new Post 2015 text
Love the new preamble YES YES YES People need to read the SDGs and their targets and not a summary in a preamble.
Bracketing Therapists – As the negotiations are coming to an end on the Post 2015 Agenda you must be worrying what you will do with all that time you now will have.
Part 2: NGOs such as Save the Children and Corporations —- Tuesday also saw a very good article in the Guardian which raises some very serious issues relating to Save the Children’s relationship with the corporate sector.
It was a good warning for all NGOs to look at who they are having funding from in the corporate world.
Part 1: The UN and Corporations
Tuesday I went to an excellent side event by the Global Policy Forum who pre-launched what I think is an excellent report called Fit for Purpose: Private funding and corporate influence in the United Nations.
Some initial thoughts on the Final Declaration Draft:
Wow we are, we hope, into the last five days of the Post 2015 process!!!!
By Friday there should be an agreement and lots of hugs, I understand, all round. Between now and then though there is some tough negotiations to be undertaken.
The year of negotiating precariously
This is a reproduction of the Guardian article written by myself and Michael Strauss ‘The year of negotiating precariously’ in the Guardian on the 23rd of July 2015 which can be read on the Guardian web site.
New Book Governance for Sustainable Development: The Post-2015 Agenda is an unprecedented effort that embodies universal aspirations for achieving a better, more just, equitable, peaceful and sustainable future. Representatives from 193 governments and multiple stakeholders, from all sectors, have actively participated in its creation.
Civil Society Response to the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development Addis Ababa, 16 July 2015
Below is the CSO response to the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. As very little changes have happened in the txt relating to sustainable development and sustainable development goals. My criticism of that text stands.
UPDATED – Dim views of what will happen at Paris2015 and a call to India’s participation in what was previously seen as the needed US-China leadership. Great changes, like the loss of Southern Europe, are predicted for the next 100 years. The Update is about the continuation of the UN to 2030.
On August 28, 2015 – on CNN International’s Amanpour – Kevin Rudd, the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) President, discussed the effects of climate change – with Lord Nicholas Stern, chairman of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, and international climate policy, with Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
“These kinds of temperature increases are just enormous and would rewrite where we could live, where the rivers are, where the seashores are, what the weather is like,” said Lord Stern.
The poorest areas of the world would be “hit strongest and earliest,” he added. “Probably most of Southern Europe would look like the Sahara Desert.”
The resulting gap “will not be filled in Paris,” Figueres said. “It will not be filled in January.”
Video: Kevin Rudd discusses climate change with Lord Nicholas Stern and Christiana Figueres on CNN International’s Amanpour.
The UN is in need of another period of reform, so it is ‘fit for purpose’ in ensuring that the new Sustainable Development Goals become the agenda of all its organs over the next 15 years.
UN climate chief: No such thing as ideal pace for pre-Paris talks
UN climate chief Christiana Figueres countered criticism that preliminary talks for a Paris climate treaty were moving too slowly. “There is no such thing as an objective [ideal] pace of negotiations that everyone can agree on”, she said at a press conference Friday after a round of talks in Bonn.
China and Latin America Cooperation could lead to a lower carbon world but some of their interests seem bent to push the other way finds a Brookings paper authored at Brown University in Rhode Island.
Professor Timmons Roberts and I would like to share with you our new policy paper published by Brookings Institution on Chinese-Latin American relations in a carbon constrained world.
The paper can be downloaded here: www.brookings.edu/
Below we include the executive summary:
China’s rapidly increasing investment, trade and loans in Latin America may be entrenching high-carbon development pathways in the region, a trend scarcely mentioned in policy circles. High-carbon activities include the extraction of fossil fuels and other natural resources, expansion of large-scale agriculture and the energy-intensive stages of processing natural resources into intermediate goods.
This paper addresses three examples, including Chinese investments in Venezuela’s oil sector and a Costa Rican oil refinery, and Chinese investment in and purchases of Brazilian soybeans. We pose the question of whether there is a tie between China’s role in opening up vast resources in Latin America and the way those nations make national climate policy and how they behave at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations.
China and Latin America have a critical role to play to ensure progress is made before the 2015 deadline, since they together account for approximately 40 percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions. Several Latin American nations are world leaders in having reached high levels of human development while emitting very low levels of greenhouse gases. Several have publicly committed to ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. Staying on or moving to low-carbon pathways is critical for these countries, but substantial Chinese investments in natural resources and commodities—when combined with those of other nations and firms—run the risk of taking the region in an unsustainable direction.
Chinese investments and imports of Latin American commodities may be strengthening the relative power of political and commercial domestic constituencies and of “dirty” ministries (e.g. ministries of mining, agriculture or energy) vis-à-vis environmental and climate change ministries and departments. These “cleaner” ministries are traditionally weak and marginalized actors in the region. China may thus be inadvertently undermining Latin American countries’ attempts to promote climate change policies by reinforcing and strengthening actors within those countries and governments that do not prioritize climate change and who have often seen environmental efforts as an impediment to economic growth.
China has stated that it is interested in cooperating with Latin America on combating climate change, but official bilateral or multilateral exchanges on the issue outside of the UNFCCC negotiations have been limited. Both China and Latin America could benefit substantially by refocusing on opportunities for low-carbon growth such as renewable energy. China’s growing influence in global renewable energy markets presents excellent opportunities to invest in clean energy in Latin America.
China and Latin American countries could launch a climate change initiative through the newly created China-CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) Forum, focused on financing the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, forestry, energy and transport, as well as sharing technology and strategies for adapting to climate impacts. Chinese-Latin American relations should also mainstream environmental protection and low-carbon sustainable growth into their partnership, to avoid pushing countries in the region towards high-carbon pathways.
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UNFCCC Executive Secretary Dr. Christiana Figueres spoke at the New York Americas Society/ Council of the Americas about COP20 in Lima, Peru – December 1-12, 2014. She told her Americas audience that 2014 is the LATIN YEAR in the Climate Change negotiations.
Ahead of the 20th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP20) to be held this year in Lima, Americas Society/Council of the Americas hosted UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, the principal voice on the international climate change negotiations, on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
At the November 2013 UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw, governments took a step toward a new, universal climate change agreement said Ms. Figueres in her presentation at AS/COA, Ms. Figueres addressed the concrete steps that must be taken in 2014, which will pave the way for the 2015 conference in Paris, where a new global climate agreement for the post-2020 period is to be adopted.
With 195 Parties, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol has been ratified by 192 of the UNFCCC Parties and its ultimate objective is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.
Christiana Figueres was appointed executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2010 and was reappointed for a second three year term in July 2013. Ms. Figueres has been involved in climate change negotiations since 1995.
Americas Society (AS) is the premier organization dedicated to education, debate and dialogue in the Americas. Established by David Rockefeller in 1965, our mission is to foster an understanding of the contemporary political, social and economic issues confronting Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada, and to increase public awareness and appreciation of the diverse cultural heritage of the Americas and the importance of the inter-American relationship,” it says.
Council of the Americas (COA) is the premier international business organization whose members share a common commitment to economic and social development, open markets, the rule of law, and democracy throughout the Western Hemisphere.
The following day – January 15, 2014, Ms. Christiana Figueres, participated at the UN Headquarters at the
Investor Summit on Climate Risk at UN Headquarte
New York, 9 July— United Nations Member States agreed today to establish a new High-Level Political Forum to boost efforts to achieve global sustainable development that will improve people’s economic and social well-being while protecting the environment. The decision by the General Assembly follows up on a key recommendation of ‘The Future We Want,’ the outcome document of last year’s Rio+20 Conference in Rio de Janeiro.
The Forum will convene annually at the ministerial level under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council and, every four years, it will bring together Heads of State to provide added momentum for sustainable development.
“Establishing the Forum marks a major step forward in implementing ‘The Future We Want,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “The Forum can provide the political leadership and action-oriented recommendations we need to follow up on all the Rio recommendations and meet urgent global economic, social and environmental challenges. Countries must do their utmost to realize the Forum’s potential.”
“We are simply not doing enough to meet the fundamental challenges of our time: to end extreme poverty in this generation and significantly narrow the global gap between rich and poor, without inflicting irreparable damage to the environmental basis for our survival,” said UN General Assembly President Vuk Jeremi?. “The new Forum must be more than just a meeting place—it must be the place where countries and civil society generate the momentum for change.”
Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said “This is a great opportunity to advance the sustainable development agenda. There is so much that we need to do in concert—to accelerate action on the Millennium Development Goals, to eradicate poverty and promote prosperity, to ensure that everyone has a chance for a better life, while addressing important environmental challenges that threaten progress, such as climate change and biodiversity loss and developing a new set of sustainable development goals.”
The High-Level Political Forum will replace the UN Commission on Sustainable Development. The Commission, formed after the 1992 Earth Summit, helped generate action on a range of issues that led to international agreements or treaties. The Commission was also in the forefront in promoting the involvement of civil society in its work. However, governments and civil society actors came to share a belief that a higher-profile body was needed to guide sustainable development towards the future we want.
The Forum will review progress in the implementation of sustainable development commitments, enhance the integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development—economic, social and environmental –focus on themes consistent with the post-2015 development agenda and ensure that new sustainable development challenges are properly addressed.
The General Assembly resolution stresses the need to enhance the role and participation of major groups of society and other stakeholders, while retaining the intergovernmental character of the forum. The first meeting of the Forum will be held in September, during the Assembly’s forthcoming 68th session.
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Cinco de Mayo – President Obama and Mexico. At home in Washington an opinion is being built that the US ought to refrain from any further involvement in the Middle East and strengthen itself on the home front. This means settling with those now illegally in the US who are mainly from South-of-the-border, and build a new Green Future with South and East Asia.
President Obama makes his fourth visit to Mexico and continues on to Costa Rica on what is also his sixth visit to Latin America. On this journey, the President hopes to highlight and reinforce the deep cultural, familial, and economic ties that so many Americans share with Mexico and Central America, and to promote economic growth across the region.
On Monday, the President met with Latino leaders who work both domestically and across borders to enhance social and economic development. The President heard various perspectives on how to strengthen collaboration in the region, further develop our economic relationship, and ideas for how the hemisphere can fit into broader strategic priorities. He emphasized that the long term trends in the hemisphere are clearly moving in the right direction, with growing middle classes, declining poverty and inequality in much of the region, and countries such as Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia taking a more active global role.
On Friday at the White House,business representatives offered strong support for measures intended to facilitate global and hemispheric trade, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. They highlighted the growing importance of the energy sector throughout the Americas and the need for infrastructure improvements to facilitate cross-border trade.
The President made clear that immigration reform continues to be a top legislative priority this year; business leaders agreed on the need to enact commonsense immigration reform as quickly as possible. The meeting also underscored that increased trade throughout the region translates into jobs and growth here in America.
Over the next three days, the President traveled to Mexico City, and San Jose, Costa Rica. We hope you will follow @whitehouse, @lacasablanca and @nscpress for live updates from the President’s trip or get more information about the trip here.
On Friday, in Mexico City, President Obama spoke of what he considered a changing country — one making more headlines lately for economic optimism and potential political reforms than the drug cartels and organized crime violence that have claimed about 65,000 lives over the past six years.
The trip came as Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto shifts his new administration’s focus to economic and social matters, instead of fixating on security — which analysts say remains a serious issue in many regions of the country.
President Obama promised to promote immigration reform — an important issue for Mexico, which has more than 10% of its population living in the United States. He also pledged action on guns, many of which flow south from the United States and are used to commit violence in Mexico.
President Obama went so far as to Blame U.S. For Gun Violence In Mexico – “Most of the guns used to commit violence here in Mexico come from the United States,” President Obama said during a speech at Mexico’s Anthropology Museum. “I think many of you know that in America, our Constitution guarantees our individual right to bear arms. And as president, I swore an oath to uphold that right, and I always will.”
“But at the same time, as I’ve said in the United States, I will continue to do everything in my power to pass common-sense reforms that keep guns out of the hands of criminals and dangerous people. That can save lives here in Mexico and back home in the United States. It’s the right thing to do,” Obama added.
Following a 24-hour stay in Mexico President Obama continued to San Jose, Costa Rica. He was received by Tico astronaut Franklin Chang, Foreign Minister Enrique Castillo, and U.S. Ambassador Anne S. Andrew.The official welcome ceremony was held at the Foreign Ministry in downtown San José, where Obama met with President Laura Chinchilla – he, Chinchilla, and members of her Cabinet, held a bilateral meeting with the U.S. delegation. The stop in Costa Rica was the safest stop the US could have chosen in Central America these days.
Now back home, and the above trip must be seen in relation to Washington – Congress and Lobbyists.
We posted already about the US need to find a reasonable solution to the so called illegal immigrants to the US who are target to the various police levels and criminals in the US and Mexico systems. Most of them are also cheap labor because they are undocumented aliens, afraid to complain, and thus they are being exploited by US employers. They are a low paid working force in the US and a means to destroy the organized economy. This must come to an end as part of the reconstruction in US government policy. But this is just the beginning.
The GPS program of Fareed Zakaria on CNN today – Sunday May 5th, 2013, was all about a basic “Reset” of the US.
THE US MUST START DEALING MAINLY WITH ITS INTERNAL POLICIES – REFRAIN FROM FURTHER INVOLVEMENT IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND SWITCH ATTENTION TO THE PACIFIC – SOUTH AND EAST ASIA. PART OF THIS CHANGE INCLUDES A CLEAR-CUT SOLUTION OF THE PROBLEMS WITH MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA AS WELL. Mexico is a member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership as well – so here another link to above general “RESET.”
First let us explain the need to step out from the Lebanon-Iraq-Syria morass – the three countries of the Levant with a minority rule of which the Christian Maronite minority in Lebanon and the Sunni minority in Iraq have already been deposed, and only the Alawite minority in Syria was still left hanging on to power. [The Alawite are a Shi’ite subsect that makes up 12% of the population, but it also draws some support from other minorities–Druze, Armenians and others–who worry about their fate in a majoritarian Syria. These fears might be justified. Consider what has happened to the Christians of Iraq. There were as many as 1.4 million of them before the Iraq war. There are now about 500,000, and many of their churches have been destroyed. Christian life in Iraq, which has survived since the days of the Bible, is in real danger of being extinguished by the current regime in Baghdad.] These situations were impossible to defend and the US entered situations of civil war destined to end with the minority loosing power. No sense what-so-ever for the US to allow itself be dragged into the Syrian internal war as well.
[In fact, we have seen atrocities much worse than those in Syria very recently, in Iraq under U.S. occupation only few years ago. From 2003 to 2012, despite there being as many as 180,000 American and allied troops in Iraq, somewhere between 150,000 and 300,000 Iraqi civilians died and about 1.5 million fled the country. Jihadi groups flourished in Iraq, and al-Qaeda had a huge presence there. The U.S. was about as actively engaged in Iraq as is possible, and yet more terrible things happened – AND CONTINUE TO HAPPEN – there than in Syria.]
If the objective is actually to reduce the atrocities and minimize potential instability, the key will be a political settlement that gives each side an assurance that it has a place in the new Syria. That was never achieved in Iraq, which is why, despite U.S. troops and arms and influence, the situation turned into a violent free-for-all. If some kind of political pact can be reached, there’s hope for Syria. If it cannot, U.S. assistance to the rebels or even direct military intervention won’t change much: Syria will follow the pattern of Lebanon and Iraq–a long, bloody civil war. And America will be in the middle of it.
With the Middle East pushed thus to the backburner – Fareed Zakaria’s team on GPS could focus on what is really important and achievable for the US Administration – the fixing of the US Home.
The US must deal with the Financial Sector – this is done by looking at the infrastructure, the education system starting with day-care centers, and the immigration bill as well. Then focus on Asia.
The immigration bill must be presented as a win-win rather then a loosing platform. There are three scenarios for allowing the legalization of these illegal people living in the US underground. Legalizing them will create new tax-payers and new income for the Social Security Taxes. But they will also help bringing aboard their employers who will start paying taxes as well. The growth rate will increase by 1% and the average GDP by $1,500. This alone will give a jolt to the US economy.
Fareed Zakaria had two great teams on his program today – Richard Haas of the Center on Foreign Relations and Princeton University’s Anne Marie Slaughter covering the political side, and then Rana Faroohar of the Economist and Gillian Tett of The Financial Times on the economy.
So let us summarize the day – The US will be brought back into balance by allowing a settlement of its tens-of-millions illegals and bringing them into the positive circle of tax paying residents with rights to an education, health, and freedom to move up the jobs-ladder.
As we wrote earlier today, in addition the settling of bringing in new professionally needed immigrants as requested by the Silicon Valley CEOs will help bringing back jobs that go now overseas because the skills are not available in sufficient amount in the US.
When people will start earning more, they will be able to afford new housing and eventually new demand will help growth.
Then, again as we recently wrote, with non-fossil energy becoming more competitive, with a little further push, the US will clearly be able to embrace the green economy which again will lead to further savings by avoiding environmental damage and health problems.
OH my! We just described the NEW AMERICAN REVOLUTION that starts with a friendlier look South-of-the-Border, arching to the true Orient and landing hard on those who opposed a betterment of the US economy by serving a 1% of the population aided by quite a few more naive followers that could not figure out by themselves that they were being had.
Bhutan calls for a mindful revolution at the United Nations.
by Lester Kurtz | May 12, 2012
Bhutan’s Prime Minister Jigme Thinley (left) and Costa Rican president Laura Chinchilla at the UN, via AFP.
The monks of South Asia have been chanting on behalf of the happiness and well-being of all creatures for 2,500 years. Now, the spirit of those mantras has marched out of the monastery and into the streets, even into the halls of the United Nations.
Calling for nothing less than nonviolent resistance against the failed global economic system, the tiny Himalayan nation of Bhutan, sandwiched between India and China, took to the world stage last month by leading a “High Level Meeting on Happiness and Well-Being.” Its recommendation: Replace the Bretton Woods economic paradigm, imposed on the world by the United States in the wake of World War II, with an entirely new and inherently more just system.
The prime minister of Bhutan, Jigme Thinley, called on the people of the world to demand a change. Scholars, Nobel laureates, political actors, U.N. officials and staff, and spiritual and civil society leaders, many from the Global South, affirmed that the current system serves neither the human community nor other creatures on the planet.
“The GDP-led development model,” Thinley told the gathering, “compels boundless growth on a planet with limited resources.” Moreover, “it no longer makes economic sense. It is the cause of our irresponsible, immoral and self-destructive actions.” Finally, the prime minister concluded, “The purpose of development must be to create enabling conditions through public policy for the pursuit of the ultimate goal of happiness by all citizens.”
Most of the 600 in attendance shared Bhutan’s vision. Indian activist Vandana Shiva emphasized the importance of such a basic human need as food, the source of profit for a few and misery for many. As she has noted before, “The poor are not those who have been ‘left behind’; they are the ones who have been robbed.” The current paradigm creates a flow of financial, social, human and natural capital to the United States and other rich nations at the expense of everyone else.
Although Bhutan has faced criticism in the past for its treatment of Nepalese immigrants and the jailing of smokers, it has made considerable progress in recent years by establishing a new democracy and implementing creative efforts to measure its citizens’ well-being and happiness. The concept of Gross National Happiness was coined by the former King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, who abdicated in 2006 and set the democratization process in motion. To its credit, Bhutan is setting high standards for itself that may be difficult to reach, but the country is not alone in this endeavor.
Costa Rica’s President Laura Chinchilla gave the keynote address, sharing the experience of her country, noting, “In 1948 we decided to consolidate the best of our civic values, and abolished the army. We chose to solve our disputes through the ballots, not the bullets; we decided to invest in schools and teachers, not garrisons and soldiers.” Rather than decreasing the national security, “This uninterrupted path turned Costa Rica into the most stable and longest living democracy in Latin America.”
Interfaith spiritual leaders at the meeting, including the moderator of the Church of Canada and the Buddhist supreme patriarch of Thailand, as well as representatives from major religious traditions, issued their own statement calling for a new economic paradigm “based upon compassion, altruism, balance, and peace, dedicated to the well-being, happiness, dignity and sacredness of all forms of life.”
Meanwhile, economists John Helliwell, Richard Layard and Jeffrey Sachs distributed copies of the World Happiness Report. They argue, “We live in an age of stark contradictions. The world enjoys technologies of unimaginable sophistication; yet has at least one billion people without enough to eat each day.”
The official statement that came out of the meeting calls for a new paradigm with four pillars: ecological sustainability, happiness and well-being for all, fair distribution, and efficient use of resources. An unexpected 200 participants remained at the U.N. for two additional days to clarify what the new paradigm would look like, to propose new solutions, and to strategize how to mobilize a global movement in civil society to resist the current one and implement the change. Relevant civil society, educational, spiritual and activist organizations worldwide are being informed about the process, with an eye toward a 2014 convention that would replace Bretton Woods.
Widespread civil resistance movements would be a vital component in bringing about a shift toward so radically different a paradigm as this. Yet the meeting suggests that insufficient use has been made of the United Nations as a venue by change activists. Despite the U.N.’s obvious shortcomings — for instance, OWS recently protested the influence of corporations on environmental proceedings— it is nonetheless an infrastructure where every nation has a voice, at least in theory. Paradoxically, Global South elites who are also victims of the current economic paradigm provide an entrée into the system for grassroots activists, and this meeting demonstrates that the U.N. can offer a venue for radical critique. But the U.N. will only work on behalf of the people if the people insist that it does and begin to explore the possibilities that it might offer as a space for challenging injustice at a global level.
Dutch Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp, a long-time veteran of international meetings, observed that this one had “a different spirit” and that the time was ripe for unprecedented change. His call for a 0.01 percent donation of everyone’s income, especially from the rich nations, was received with enthusiasm by the civil society working group, which is creating a World Happiness Bank (a tentative name) that would promote and model the new economic paradigm.
This change will not happen, of course, without the mobilization of a nonviolent resistance movement. That’s where we come in; we have a new opportunity to act against a system that is robbing humanity and its fellow creatures through what the meeting’s statement calls the “private capture of the common wealth.” And we can do so by following the lead of the marginalized.
With attention riveted to RIO+20 it is clear that not only the UN Commission on Sustainable Development is in trouble, but also the process that was started by the UN Convention on Climate Change is also in trouble and in both cases the G-77 will not hold together as interests are divergent and important elements are obliged to speak for themselves.
The following is the Analysis of the May 2012 Bonn Meeting as suggested by the Earth Negotiations Bulletin.
The Bonn Climate Change Conference took place from 14 to 25 May 2012 in Bonn, Germany. The conference comprised the 36th sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA). It also included the 15th session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (AWG-LCA), the 17th session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) and the first session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP).
Under the SBI, key issues discussed included loss and damage, national adaptation plans (NAPs), and reporting by Annex I and non-Annex I parties. The SBSTA focused on agriculture, research and systematic observation, and methodological guidance on REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries). Technology and response measures were considered under both the SBI and SBSTA.
Under the AWG-KP, the focus was on issues that need to be finalized to adopt a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol and for the AWG-KP to conclude its work at the eighth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 8). These include: matters relating to quantified emission limitation or reduction objectives (QELROs) with a view to adopting these as amendments to Annex B to the Kyoto Protocol and carry-over of assigned amount units (AAUs). While discussions under the AWG-KP advanced understanding of these issues, many outstanding questions remain, including the length of the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol and carry-over of surplus units.
Under the AWG-LCA, parties initially debated the agenda and whether it adequately reflected progress since the adoption of the Bali Action Plan at COP 13 in 2007. After agreement on the agenda, debates continued on which issues require consideration so that the AWG-LCA can finalize its work at COP 18 in Doha. Developed countries stressed “significant progress” and the various new institutions established in Cancun and Durban. They called for a focus on specific tasks mandated by Decision 2/CP.17 (Outcome of the work of the AWG-LCA). Developing countries identified the need to continue discussing issues, such as finance, technology, adaptation, capacity building and response measures in order to fulfill the mandate in the Bali Action Plan.
Under the ADP, discussions centered on the agenda and election of officers. After nearly two weeks of discussions, the ADP plenary adopted the agenda and agreed on the election of officers during the final day of the conference.
At the close of the Bonn Conference, many felt that the atmosphere had been “tense,” especially under the ADP. They expressed hope that this would not have a lasting impact, putting at risk efforts to rebuild trust in the process over the past two years since Copenhagen and the “delicate balance” of interests reflected in the Durban Package.
A BRIEF ANALYSIS OF THE BONN CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE
Six months ago, many delegates left the UN Climate Change Conference in Durban basking in the warm glow of success, imbued with the infectious spirit of “Ubuntu,” or unity and interconnectedness. The conference had agreed on several landmark decisions including: the establishment a new Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) and “a process to develop a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force applicable to all parties” to come into effect from 2020 onwards; a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol; and agreement to terminate the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA) and Ad Hoc Working Group on Annex I Parties’ Further Commitments under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) in Doha. Many saw these decisions as heralding a new era of multilateralism and turned to 2012 with anticipation, vigor and purpose.
Six months later, the pressure was on delegates in Bonn to live up to the promise of Durban. Delegates faced a heavy workload, including the tasks needed to operationalize the institutions and mechanisms established in Cancun and Durban. Parties also had to try to demystify what it was they had actually agreed to during the waning hours of the frenzied COP 17. However, negotiations in 2012 got off to an inauspicious start and the Bonn Climate Change Conference was marred by mistrust and unabashed posturing. The meeting was almost paralyzed by prolonged procedural wrangling, which many described as “unprecedented.” This analysis will discuss the underlying reasons for the disputes in Bonn and examine the implications for COP 18 in Doha, Qatar, in another six months.
UNRAVELING DURBAN’S CONSTRUCTIVE AMBIGUITY
Many could not begin to imagine how difficult it would be to begin implementing the Durban decisions. The new platform established in Durban introduced the notions of a “post-2012 or pre-2020” landscape; and a “post-2020” period, that will be covered by the new “protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all parties” to be developed by the ADP.
The Durban Package, which had been negotiated sensitively to accommodate the myriad of parties’ interests, presented challenges and complexities in Bonn, when parties began the business of interpreting its ambiguous language. For example, while many parties see mitigation as the core of the ADP, some developing countries insisted that all elements, including financing, adaptation, capacity building and technology transfer, should also be central to the ADP’s mandate.
For many, enhancing ambition to close the “mitigation gap” was a crucial part of Decision 1/CP.17. The decision establishes that the ADP process for the post-2020 regime shall raise the level of ambition and also launches a post-2012 work plan on enhancing mitigation ambition for all parties. However, the decision does not stipulate when and which body will implement the work plan. While some developing parties supported addressing pre-2020 mitigation ambition under the AWG-LCA, many others insisted on addressing it under the ADP.
The reason why some preferred to address enhancing mitigation ambition under the AWG-LCA is that the Bali Action Plan affirms the Convention’s core principles, including common but differentiated responsibilities. This implies that developed countries have commitments, while developing countries only take nationally appropriate mitigation actions contingent on support from developed countries. This level of comfort is missing under the ADP for developing countries. Indeed, the decision adopting the ADP does not include references to the Convention’s principles nor does it make a distinction between developed and developing countries. As one insider highlighted, “some parties have started to panic about the ADP; they feel as if they are walking into a dark room and don’t know if there is anything there or where anything is.” This uncertainty manifested in disagreements over both the AWG-LCA and the ADP agendas. On the ADP agenda, parties ultimately agreed to address two work streams, one on the post-2020 regime and the other on the post-2012 work plan on enhancing the level of ambition.
Uncertainties also arose when considering the termination of the AWG-LCA in Doha. Decision 1/CP.17 extends the AWG-LCA’s “mandate for one year in order for it to continue its work and reach the agreed outcome pursuant to decision 1/CP.13 (Bali Action Plan)”, until COP 18 at which it “shall be terminated.” However, Durban left room for different interpretations on how to proceed with the inconclusive work beyond Doha. The lack of clarity on the AWG-LCA termination provided room for discussions on whether the AWG-LCA should finish after the Bali Action Plan was accomplished or if the Bali Action Plan was accomplished by the termination of the AWG-LCA. Some parties, particularly a group of developing countries, wanted to assess the progress achieved toward fulfilling the Bali Action Plan, including some elements that were not agreed upon in Durban but were reflected in a compilation document referred to as “CRP.39,” such as intellectual property issues in relation to technology, rights of Mother Earth, trade, and response measures. Meanwhile, many developed countries wanted to focus on specific issues mandated by COP 17. They highlighted that many issues mandated by the Bali Action Plan had already been properly addressed and forwarded to the permanent subsidiary bodies or other relevant institutions created for that purpose, such as the Technology Executive Committee, the Green Climate Fund, the Adaptation Committee and the Durban Forum on Capacity Building.
Nevertheless, the extent to which the permanent subsidiary bodies and the new bodies can address these issues is limited to their technical nature or their particular mandate. Moreover, many of the established bodies still need to be operationalized, as many highlighted. The fact that progress towards their operationalization was not achieved in Bonn did not help to enhance the environment of cooperation. On finance, the Philippines provided examples of this phenomenon, underscoring that the GCF is still “an empty shell, and the Standing Committee is not standing.”
In Durban, under the AWG-KP track, parties agreed to “decide that the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol shall begin on 1 January 2013.” However, it is clear to everybody that to “really adopt” the second commitment period parties will have to agree on its length, put forward QELROs and adopt the necessary amendments to the Kyoto Protocol in Doha. Some questions remain on key issues such as how to ensure a smooth transition to the second commitment period, how to deal with excess units from the first commitment period, how rules can be continued and, in particular, how to continue with the flexibility mechanisms, including who will be able to participate, given that some countries indicated they would not be part of a second commitment period. In Bonn, developing countries reiterated that parties intending to participate in the second commitment period should submit ambitious QELROs in line with the goal of limiting temperature increase to below 2°C. Venezuela vociferously demanded that Annex I parties “show their QELROs” as opposed to pledges. The EU highlighted their submission of QELROs and also called upon his Annex B colleagues to follow suit.
Moreover, in order to finish shaping the second commitment period and properly adopt it in Doha, parties have to agree on its length and on the text of the Kyoto Protocol amendment, but negotiations in Bonn did not lead to any further progress in this regard. With so many relevant details to be defined before Doha, developing countries expressed fear that parties are “jumping from the Kyoto Protocol ship” by shifting the focus on the ADP. The EU and other developed countries argued, in turn, that their agreement on a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol was based on a transition to a global and comprehensive post-2020 climate treaty to be negotiated under the ADP.
EVOLVING DYNAMICS IN A CHANGING WORLD
If anything, the Bonn session brought to the fore the universally acknowledged fact that the UNFCCC, drafted in 1992, reflects a reality light years away from the 2012 global landscape. Since the negotiation of the Convention, the outlook for many G-77/China members has changed dramatically and resulting tensions from these divergences are increasingly playing out in the negotiating rooms. For several years now, many have been wagering bets on how long the G-77/China tinderbox diplomacy can prevail, when it is evident that many of the members appear to sit uncomfortably around the same table. A discernible chasm was evident in Bonn. As one delegate said, “Members of the group are now washing their dirty linen very publically.” The group did not have a common negotiating position on the ADP and many other issues. Moreover, they had trouble agreeing on fielding one non-Annex I candidate for the position of ADP Chair. As one practitioner explained, the UNFCCC governance structure assumed certain things, including that parties fall neatly into two groups: Annex I and non-Annex I countries. This “binary” dynamic has changed. As one delegate noted: “GRULAC and the Asian Group are the dominant forces but they do not represent the interests of the entire group.” This means that, in addition to the traditional distinction between developed and developing countries, a third category of “emerging developing countries” or “advanced developing countries” may need to be factored into the mix.
Ultimately, the specter of having to vote for the ADP officers and the resulting damage to the process proved too much for parties to stomach, and they eventually agreed to a “delicate arrangement,” where the candidate from the Asia-Pacific Group will serve an initial one year term from 2012-2013, with his counterpart from an Annex I party, and the subsequent Co-Chair from GRULAC will serve for a term of 18 months. Many said that creating a voting precedent under the UNFCCC would be difficult, almost unfathomable but, at times during the meeting it appeared as if the taboo would be broken.
Other dynamics also played out within the G-77/China, which caught many practitioners by surprise. Bonn witnessed the emergence of a group of approximately 40 countries primarily comprised of the Arab Group, Latin American countries, including Argentina, Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, as well as India and China, who, on the face on things, appear to have forged an alliance to uphold the Convention’s principles of common but differentiated responsibilities and equity, as well as developed countries’ historical responsibility for climate change. They maintain that any outcome under the ADP must be equitable so that “universality of application” does not become “uniformity of application.”
In contrast, another group of developing countries, including members from AOSIS, LDCs, and some Latin American countries, such as Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Peru and Panama, are looking for such action on mitigation from developed and developing countries and for action to be “incentivized for all countries,” which they describe as the “beginning of a new paradigm for responding to climate change.”
Reflecting on the developments within the G-77/China, one insider said “history is being made and the wedge within the group is helping to bring about an exciting geo-political shift, which is about how countries deal with each other politically and economically and also a reflection of where they are and where they will be.”
Bonn demonstrated that, as many have said, Durban was a carefully negotiated package contingent on all elements of the outcome moving forward in tandem. However, what is clear is that parties have a very different perspective of what the future looks like in terms of, inter alia, the ADP’s mandate, how to terminate the AWGs and what to focus on for effectively addressing climate change. As evidenced in Bonn, constructive ambiguity results in uncertainty that can sometimes breed mistrust. This mistrust is often manifested through disputes over procedure and consequently hampers progress. Looking ahead, parties have their work cut out to accomplish tasks they agreed to in Durban. They will need to exercise goodwill, integrity and congeniality in order to deliver on the ultimate objective of meaningful mitigation action for the post-2012 era.
What Legacy Do You Want To Leave To Your Children? Have A look At What You Have And Be Thankful.
GREEN DEVELOPMENT, HAPPINESS, and PROSPERITY! Young new Costa Rica Ambassador tells Japan about his country’s energy system based on 95% Renewable Energy. Also he said – diplomacy in the next few decades – “should focus on green economy, sustainable development, happiness and prosperity.”
LET US POST THIS ON OUR MINDS:
GREEN ECONOMY, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, HAPPINESS, and PROSPERITY!
GREEN DEVELOPMENT, HAPPINESS, and PROSPERITY? COULD THAT BE THE NEW DEFINITION OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT?
Costa Rica envoy makes energy pitch.
from Japan we learn that – The new Costa Rican ambassador to Japan, Alvaro Antonio Cedeno Molinari, said his mission here is to raise awareness of investment opportunities in renewable energy.
He also wants to attract more Japanese tourists to Costa Rica — a country with a rich variety of bird species, rain forests and kayaking spots that make it a prime ecotourism destination.
In a courtesy call Wednesday to The Japan Times, Cedeno Molinari stressed that diplomacy in the next few decades “should focus on green economy, sustainable development, happiness and prosperity.”
He emphasized that Costa Rica “generates 95 percent of its electricity from renewable, clean and safe resources.”
Cedeno Molinari, 36, also said although 50 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product is related to tourism, only a small number who visit hail from Japan.
He also said he would push for a free-trade pact with Japan.
The first day of the High Level 2010 UNGA was full of Climate Change. The Dominican Republic President, spoke of the many nature-disasters of 2010, the Peruvian President linked these disasters to terrorism, and the Turkish President thought that obsolete military equipment could be used to help in these latest disasters. The SIDS are most vulnerable and the UN Climate Chief hopes some succor may come from the Cancun meeting – ten weeks from now.
We add here that Climate Change, Loss of Biodiversity, and the slow-down in Poverty Reduction are inter-related – talking about one of them while ignoring the others is counter-productive. And what do you know – Climate Change imposed on others by our own excesses is it not, indeed, a novel way of terrorism?
Peruvian President Alan García told the General Assembly today that terrorism and climate change, as well as other global illnesses, require that the United Nations be the forum for world cooperation.
Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernández called for the creation of a new global coalition under United Nations auspices of nations at risk of catastrophe to share experiences and knowledge. He told General Assembly, on the first day of its annual high-level segment,that this year alone – up to now – there have been 47 floods and landslides; 12 hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons; eight serious droughts followed by fires; seven earthquakes; and volcanic eruptions.
“Additionally, we have to include the numerous cold waves, floods, and storms that have occurred as well as the epidemics that took place as a result, particularly cholera in Africa and dengue in Latin America and the Caribbean.”
Many natural disasters, he pointed out, are caused by climate change, underscoring the need to set guidelines to regulate carbon emissions and protect the planet’s biodiversity.
Calling for a new mechanism to stave off the worst effects of natural disasters at the Assembly debate today was Turkish President Abdullah Gül.
“This would also help maintain international peace and security by mitigating the threats stemming from weak governance, collapse of public order and domestic or inter-State conflicts over diminishing natural resources,” he noted.
Dedicating just a small fraction of nations’ defense expenditures to financing this new mechanism could more cost-effectively achieve results in maintaining global peace and stability, he said.
“Moreover,” the Turkish leader said, “If we could pool some of our defense equipment that lost its effective utilization in military terms but are still relevant disaster relief operations, we would swiftly build the said rapid reaction capability.
Climate change, natural disaster and the triple crises of food, finance and fuel jeopardize sustainable development gains made by small island developing States (SIDS), according to a new United Nations report.
In some instances, it points out, improved economic and governance capacity in SIDS has been offset by reduced resilience to external shocks.
“Although SIDS are confronted with increasing challenges, the growing international consensus surrounding the need to support SIDS offers an unprecedented opportunity to advance their sustainable development efforts,” the report says.
Its release comes ahead of a high-level General Assembly gathering to review progress towards sustainable development made in these nations. The two-day meeting kicks off tomorrow.
In the past nearly four decades, SIDS including Samoa, Grenada, Vanuatu and Maldives top the list of 180 countries recording the highest economic losses in relative terms due to natural disasters.
In Samoa, a 1983 tropical storm and forest fire, along with three tropical storms in the late 1980s, may have set its capital stock back more than 35 years.
Despite advances made towards realizing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the eight globally-agreed targets with a 2015 deadline, in areas such as health and gender equality, the eradication of poverty is still a major hurdle for small island nations.
In a side event at the UN, Dr. Christiana Figueres, the top UN climate change official, today stressed the urgent need for governments to move forward in their negotiations ahead of the Cancun, Mexico, meeting where the UN contends that she is expected to conclude agreements related to issues such as technology transfer, mitigation and adaptation, and funding.
“We are barely two months away from the UN climate change conference in Cancun, the place where Governments need to take the next firm step on humanity’s journey to meet the full-scale challenge of climate change,” said Christiana Figueres, Executive Director of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Ahead of the next conference of parties to the Convention, to be held in November in Cancun, governments will hold a negotiating session in Tianjin, China, next week.
It is in Tianjin, said Ms. Figueres, that they will need to “cut down the number of options they have on the table, identify what is achievable in Cancun and muster the political compromises that will deliver those outcomes.”
“On the whole, governments have been cognizant this year that there is an urgent need to move forward and they have been collaborating in moving beyond their national positions to begin to identify common ground so that they can reach several agreements in Cancun.”
“Let me be clear: there is no magic bullet, no one climate agreement that will solve everything right now,” she said.
“To expect that is naïve. It does not do justice to the crucial steps already achieved since the beginning of the Convention and it dangerously ignores the need to keep innovating.”
She noted four major trends shaping the future – energy supply and security; natural resource depletion; population growth; and climate change.
“An unchecked climate change is the flame that would make the other three burn most seriously,” said Ms. Figueres. “Governments can either stand together to turn these four threats into a new development paradigm that harnesses the full power of society, science and business, or they will fail divided.”
But let us not think that Dr. Figueres believes in the “Seal the Deal” mantra – she is on the record of having said earlier that she does not expect a Kyoto Protocol kind of agreement to emerge from Cancun – so the Tianjin meeting is very important in order to avoid renewed failure because of exaggerated expectations.
With many Heads of State in New York for the UNGA “High Level” meeting, it is the September 21-23, 2010 CGI where networking to help achieve some set goals may show results. Indeed, some may say that the GPI is built on the participation of volunteers and as such it is somewhat disorganized, but nevertheless – the truth is that nobody smiles in disbelief like at the UN. People just do not say – oh well – “palabra, palabra” – the feeling is that words do actually matter. The motto is – “Turning Ideas Into Actions” – and the website – www.ClintonGlobalInitiative.org
On Monday September 20th, green vehicles were showcased on 7th Avenue between 52nd and 53rd Streets – Green Technology Automotive (GTA) “My Car” and the Hybrid-Sports, a Nissan Leaf, a Toyota Prius Plug-in and a Diesel-from-algae fueled car displayed by Solayzime. There were also folding bicycles from BigFish Bikes – clearly an important vehicle in our world when we are finally broke from buying oil.The UN did not think of offering such displays to its bankrupt members.
The real meetings started on Tuesday the 21st. Former President Clinton sat there for the opening session with Tarja Halonen, the present President of Finland, Melinda French Gates of the Microsoft-made money Foundation, Robert McDonald of Procter & Gamble, and Eric Smith, CEO of Google. It was declared that with 67 current and former Heads of State present – some 600 business leaders, 500 NGO and philanthropists, circa 300 commitments are expected, and relief for the stricken Haiti, Pakistan, and the US Gulf Coast, will be forthcoming. Real money will be spoken here – this as in the 2005-2008 period $57 billion were raised at these CGI meetings.
The first day Keynote Lunches were called for: (1) Economic Empowerment (not just to benefit women anymore), (2) Education (to benefit everyone and the future), and (3) our favorite – Environment and Energy with The Former President of Costa Rica, Jose Maria Figueres and Richard Branson towering over the proceedings. Even Ms. Christiana Figueres, the daughter of Jose Maria, now Head of Global Climate, came by on a break from the UN before rejoining the UN for a briefing to governments by Mexico – on the Cancun COP 16 of the UNFCCC.
The lunch Plenary was about Empowering Women and Girls and a special guest was Former First Lady and present Secretary of State – Ms. Hilary Clinton. For correctness sake, also Former First Lady Barbara Bush was at the dais.
The four afternoon Special Sessions included a very special session – one on “Peace and Beyond in the Middle East. it was Chaired by the Crown Prince of Bahrain and had Mr. Salam Fayyad, the Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority and Shimon Peres, the President of Israel. That was clearly a session that allowed Mr. Clinton maximum push for good sense. He is definitely in better position to do so today then a sitting President or the unbridled UN. Simply said – Bill Clinton can show both sides how much they can gain from working together, and his two mild partners are well trained to try and see what it is there for them.
The other three session dealt with women issues and included among the participants really unexpected persons – former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke, and journalists Tina Brown and Nicholas Kristof.
The day still had a Special Sessions on how to profit by running Microfinance systems and then many small groups for action networking, and eventually seven groups for official “Topic Dinners.” One interesting example with Duke Energy as host – “The Climate War – Can it be Won?”
To those that are interested – there are two more days and evenings – “Chuck full of Nuts” like the above.
What makes a good UN story? We hinted at the Kevin Rudd idea earlier but we were still waiting for further developments.
Are we seeing here rumors because of infighting in Australia on the way to their National elections August 21, 2010?
Are we on the trail of rumors intended to save the Ban Ki-moon reelection to a second term?
Are we watching an Obama approach to create a new environment to save negotiations on climate?
Kevin Rudd would be an excellent choice to extricate the UN from the hole it created in the “Seal the Deal” charade when every child could have seen that the G192 is no environment to talk about Sustainable Energy options.
Australia is no good example either – but Kevin Rudd was ready to step out of his nation’s “is” and aim for a better future.
He got punished for this and perhaps is now ready for revenge by working on a global level that will then sweep with him his own country as well.
With his experience as Australia’s Prime Minister with-vision that was cut short from bringing his own country into the group of real leaders for tomorrow, he can work with President Obama and perhaps the other four leaders that hammered out the Copenhagen platform that is not dependent on all climate mongers of the UN circuit. As a fresh figure, he could perhaps sit down with the ALBA folks and take the best ideas they have and incorporate them also in a new recipe under the SUSTAINABILITY big sky of the future.
Will the UN accept him as a new Super Czar of a combined UNCSD and UNFCCC – or let him form a new structure so these older structures will just wilt away into oblivion slowly? Who knows? But let us follow this new world hype.
The subject having slowly boiled in the PRESS has reached also www.UNelection.org – so it is time for us to try out the waters ourselves also. This then reinforced the UNelections interest in the issue as per added –
Kevin Rudd could be offered UN role before end of election campaign
Kevin Rudd talks with UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon / AP Source: AP
KEVIN Rudd’s new United Nations post could be announced before the end of the election in what looms as another major embarrassment for Julia Gillard.
The Herald Sun can reveal the UN body Mr Rudd is being considered for is being set up under the working title High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability.
Mr Rudd is believed to have been backed for the post by the UN’s chief climate adviser, Janos Pasztor, and is odds-on to be offered the job.
Diplomatic sources said the decision could be made within weeks, which raises the spectre of an appointment before the election.
“It’s on the cards,” a source said of a pre-election announcement.
The Herald Sun believes Mr Rudd is favoured in part because he will have direct access to resources paid for by the Australian taxpayer.
This is on the assumption that the former prime minister is re-elected to Federal Parliament on August 21, 2010.
Climate change reform will be the centrepiece of the panel, virtually guaranteeing conflict with a Gillard government, assuming Labor is re-elected.
Sources said it would be created to look at climate change in the context of broader sustainable development, and would be part-time.
Mr Rudd has declined to say whether the appointment would be paid.
If he were to be paid, this could raise allegations he would be a part-time MP.
Mr Rudd’s spokesman directed questions to the UN, declining to say whether he already had accepted the position.
Mr Rudd has previously said he would serve a full term in Parliament and that any UN position would be part-time.
“It is a matter, of course, for the United Nations Secretary-General to clarify what roles would be played by any individual on such a panel,” Mr Rudd said on July 22.
The biggest political risk for the Government is that the UN body clashes on climate change policy backed by Ms Gillard.
Mr Rudd previously backed a 5 per cent emissions cut on 2000 levels by 2020 as well as a so-called cap-and-trade scheme, which involves setting limits on carbon emissions but allowing heavy polluters to buy permits to allow them to emit more carbon.
Mr Rudd dropped his legislation this year when it was blocked by the Coalition in the Senate and his handling of the issue was considered crucial to him being dumped as PM.
It is official – 2000s Warmest Decade – Global Warming is Man-made and Cancun will be a bust or – in order to avoid this – the start of the implementation of moves initiated in Copenhagen by a smaller group of representatives. Big Business in Washington guarantees to try to interfere.
WORLD NEWS – JULY 29, 2010
Which in the printed Wall Street version was rechristened – “CLIMATE STUDY CITES 2000 as WARMEST DECADE.” This appropriate to the US inward look of New York, while the above title is clear better positioned for the world at large –
By GAUTAM NAIK
A new assessment concludes that the Earth has been getting warmer over the past 50 years and the past decade was the warmest on record.
The State of the Climate 2009 report, published Wednesday as a special supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, was compiled by 300 scientists from 48 countries and drew on measures of 10 crucial climate indicators.
Seven of the indicators were rising, including air temperature over land, sea-surface temperature, sea level, ocean heat and humidity. Three indicators were declining, including Arctic sea ice, glaciers and spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere.
“Each indicator is changing as we’d expect in a warming world,” said Peter Thorne, senior researcher at the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites, a research consortium based in College Park, Md., who was involved in compiling the report.
The report’s conclusions broadly match those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations body, which published its last set of findings in 2007. The IPCC report contained some errors, which further stoked the debate about the existence, causes and effects of global warming.
The new report incorporates data from the past few years that weren’t included in the last IPCC assessment. While the IPCC report concluded that evidence for human-caused global warming was “unequivocal” and was linked to emissions of greenhouse gases, the latest report didn’t seek to address the issue.
The report said, “Global average surface and lower-troposphere temperatures during the last three decades have been progressively warmer than all earlier decades, and the 2000s (2000-09) was the warmest decade in the instrumental record.” The troposphere is the lowest layer of the atmosphere.
The scientists reported that they were surprised to find Greenland’s glaciers were losing ice at an accelerating rate. They also concluded that 90% of planetary warming over the past 50 years has gone into the oceans. Most of it had accumulated in near-surface layers, home to phytoplankton, tiny plants crucial to virtually all life in the sea.
A new study has found that rising sea temperature may have had a harmful effect on global concentrations of phytoplankton over the past century.
BUT THE WALL STREET JOURNAL IS VERY ANEMIC ON CONTENT OF ABOVE NEWS – IF YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT REALLY HAPPENED, AS MOSTLY ALMOST – GO TO THE FINANCIAL TIMES. HERE YOU FIND FIONA HARVEY’S FULL ARTICLE – SHE CONTRIBUTES TO THE EDITORIAL SECTION AS WELL. YOU WILL BE IN THE CLEAR ABOUT THE MACHINATIONS IN WASHINGTON AS WELL.
You will also see there the Washington rot as in the following: “Myron Ebell, of the Competitive Enterprise Institute in the US, formerly in charge of energy with the powerful CSIS, said the new report would not change people’s minds. “It’s clear that the scientific case for global warming alarmism is weak. The scientific case for [many of the claims] is unsound and we are finding out all the time how unsound it is.”
You will find that there was no doubt about the implication that it is humans who did it except in the words of that outspoken minority of industry lobbyists that hold power over Washington.
July 28th, 2010 by Fiona Harvey
An Explosion at the UN – the departing Swedish head of the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), in a 50 page memo, makes it clear that this UN Administration has failed to clean up the UN and actually actively insisted on making things worse – we observed this a couple of years ago. It is time to look for a Can-Do UN Secretary General as we have observed earlier this year. The article echoed in Vienna also.
Much of the UN rebuttal is mush and we will report on how this unfolds.
Departing U.N. official calls Ban’s leadership ‘deplorable’ in 50-page memo.
Inga-Britt Ahlenius wrote a 50-page memo upon the end of her term as head of the U.N. Office of Internal Oversight Services. (2008 Photo By Mark Garten/Associated Press)
By Colum Lynch
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
UNITED NATIONS — The outgoing chief of a U.N. office charged with combating corruption at the United Nations has issued a stinging rebuke of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, accusing him of undermining her efforts and leading the global institution into an era of decline, according to a confidential end-of-assignment report.
The memo by Inga-Britt Ahlenius, a Swedish auditor who stepped down Friday as undersecretary general of the Office of Internal Oversight Services, represents an extraordinary personal attack on Ban from a senior U.N. official. The memo also marks a challenge to Ban’s studiously cultivated image as a champion of accountability.
Shortly after taking office in 2007, Ban committed himself to restoring the United Nations’ reputation, which had been sullied by revelations of corruption in the agency’s oil-for-food program in Iraq.
But Ahlenius says that, rather than being an advocate for accountability, Ban, along with his top advisers, has systematically sought to undercut the independence of her office, initially by trying to set up a competing investigations unit under his control and then by thwarting her efforts to hire her own staff.
“Your actions are not only deplorable, but seriously reprehensible. . . . Your action is without precedent and in my opinion seriously embarrassing for yourself,” Ahlenius wrote in the 50-page memo to Ban, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post. “I regret to say that the secretariat now is in a process of decay.”
Ban’s top advisers said that Ahlenius’s memo constituted a deeply unbalanced account of their differences and that her criticism of Ban’s stewardship of the United Nations was patently unfair.
“A look at his record shows that Secretary General Ban has provided genuine visionary leadership on important issues from climate change to development to women’s empowerment. He has promoted the cause of gender balance in general as well as within the organization. He has led from the front on important political issues from Gaza to Haiti to Sudan,” Ban’s chief of staff, Vijay Nambiar, wrote in a response.
“It is regrettable to note,” Nambiar added, “that many pertinent facts were overlooked or misrepresented” in Ahlenius’s memo.
The departure of Ahlenius, 72, coincides with a period of crisis in the United Nations’ internal investigations division. During the past two years, the world body has shed some of its top investigators. It has also failed to fill dozens of vacancies, including that of the chief of the investigations division in the Office of Internal Oversight Services. That post has been vacant since 2006, leaving a void in the United Nations’ ability to police itself, diplomats say.
“We are disappointed with the recent performance of [the U.N.’s] investigations division,” said Mark Kornblau, spokesman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations. “The coming change in . . . leadership is an opportunity to bring about a significant improvement in its performance to increase oversight and transparency throughout the organization.”
The U.N. General Assembly established the Office of Internal Oversight Services in 1994 to conduct management audits of the United Nations’ principal departments and to conduct investigations into corruption and misconduct. The founding resolution granted the office “operational independence” but placed it under the authority of the secretary general and made it dependent on the U.N. departments it policed for much of its funding and administrative support.
The dispute between Ahlenius and Ban has underscored some of the resulting tensions and exposed a protracted and acrimonious struggle for power over the course of U.N. investigations.
While Ahlenius cited Ban’s move to set up a new investigations unit as a sign that he was seeking to undermine her independence, Nambiar said that it was intended to strengthen the United Nations’ ability to fight corruption.
Ahlenius also clashed with Ban over her efforts to hire a former federal prosecutor, Robert Appleton, who headed the U.N. Procurement Task Force, a temporary white-collar crime unit that carried out aggressive investigations into corruption in U.N. peacekeeping missions from 2006 to last year. The unit’s investigations led to an unprecedented number of misconduct findings by U.N. officials and prompted federal probes into corruption.
Ban’s advisers said they blocked Appleton’s appointment on the grounds that female candidates had not been properly considered and said that the final selection should have been made by Ban, not Ahlenius.
“The secretary general fully recognizes the operational independence of OIOS,” Nambiar said. But that, he said, “does not excuse her from applying the standard rules of recruitment.”
The above story, as per – www.orf.at/#/stories/2004590/ – also echoed in Vienna.
Scheidende UNO-Diplomatin rechnet mit Ban ab.
Die scheidende Chefkontrolleurin der Vereinten Nationen geht laut Medienberichten mit Generalsekretär Ban Ki Moon hart ins Gericht. Ban habe ihre Arbeit als oberste Korruptionsbekämpferin unterlaufen und die UNO in eine Ära des Niedergangs geführt, schrieb Inga-Britt Ahlenius laut einem Bericht der „Washington Post“ gestern in einem vertraulichen Memorandum.
Entgegen seinen Ankündigungen zum Amtsantritt 2007 habe Ban die durch mehrere Affären angeschlagene Reputation der Vereinten Nationen nicht mit allen Mitteln geschützt.
Vielmehr habe er ihr Amt der Chefrevisorin mehr und mehr geschwächt, schreibe Ahlenius in dem 50-Seiten-Papier an Ban: „Ihr Handeln ist nicht nur bedauerlich, sondern sogar verwerflich.“ Es sei beispiellos und „meiner Meinung nach für Sie selbst beschämend“. Das Blatt zitierte: „Ich bedaure es, sagen zu müssen, dass das Sekretariat in einem Zerfallsprozess ist.“
Kritiker werfen Ban seit langem vor, die UNO nur zu verwalten und vor wirksamen politischen Initiativen zurückzuschrecken. UNO-Mitarbeiter wiesen die Vorwürfe in der „Washington Post“ als „unfair“ zurück. Ban habe mehrere politische Schwerpunkte gesetzt, etwa beim Klimaschutz und bei der Gleichstellung der Frau. Die Abrechnung der scheidenden Schwedin sei ein „höchst unausgewogener Ausdruck ihrer Differenzen“ mit Ban.,