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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

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/research/papers/2014/03/carbon-partnership-china-latin-america-edwards-roberts

 

Best wishes,
Guy Edwards
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.


Research FellowCenter for Environmental Studies
Co-Director of the Climate and Development Lab

Brown University
Box 1943
135 Angell Street
Providence, RI 02912

climatedevlab.org/
www.intercambioclimatico.com/en/author/guy/

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 1st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

Kerala bags an United Nations award for sustainable tourism initiatives.

Published on : Friday, January 24, 2014

Kerala Backwaters      Kerala, God’s own country is recognized for its sustainable tourism policies by the United Nations. Kerala tourism is awarded by the United Nations for creating innovative initiatives in sustainable tourism.

This is the first ever UN award for any state in India.

The coveted award from the United Nations was mostly influenced by the sustainable  development initiative in the world famous backwater resort of Kumarakom. According to a press release from the Kerala tourism, they received the award at the UNWTO Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Tourism held in Madrid, Spain.

 

 

Kerala won the UNWTO Ulysses Award for Innovation in Public Policy and Governance, the highest honour given to the government bodies for shaping global tourism policies through innovative initiatives.

Kerala Tourism was chosen for the honour for its path-breaking ‘Responsible Tourism’ project in Kumarakom, which has successfully linked the local community with the Hospitality industry and government departments, thereby creating a model for empowerment and development of the people in the area while sustaining eco-friendly tourism.

The Kumarakom initiative had earlier won the National Award for Best Rural Tourism Project in March last year and also the PATA Grand Award for Environment.

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Dr. Tej Vir Singh awarded the UNWTO Ulysses Prize for the Creation and Dissemination of Knowledge.

Dr. Tej Vir Singh, professor and Founding Director of the Centre for Tourism Research & Development (CTRD) in India, has been named winner of the 2013 UNWTO Ulysses Prize for Excellence in the Creation and Dissemination of Knowledge. The Award honors outstanding members of the academia for their significant contribution to the development of tourism education and research.

Dr. Singh, the Founding Editor of Tourism Recreation Research, the oldest and highly respected, international tourism journal in Asia, is a pioneer in introducing extensive tourism research in the region. A specialist in Himalayan tourism, Dr. Singh has produced several books on tourism and many papers on tourism development and its impacts.

“I would like to commend Dr. Singh´s lifelong dedication to tourism research and his pioneering the concept and practice of sustainability in the field of tourism. His work has inspired many other academicians to develop their own research in the field, contributing greatly to the advancement of tourism education and of the tourism sector as a whole,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.

As the Founding Director of the Institute of Himalayan Studies and Regional Development at the University of Garhwal, Dr. Singh started the first Himalayan tourism training course. In 1976, he established the CTRD, a non-government organization devoted to the cause of tourism academics and research, with a special focus on India. Under his leadership, the Centre started an outreach programme that included education, training, research guidance, consultancy, curriculum design, and tourism programme initiation to several Indian universities, management institutions and colleges. Today, the CTRD is recognized for the generation and publication of valuable research on recreation and tourism, and is well-known as a leading organization for developing and disseminating scholarships in tourism in India.

The UNWTO Ulysses Prize for Excellence in the Creation and Dissemination of Knowledge will be presented during the UNWTO Awards Ceremony to be held on 22 January 2014, within the framework of the International Tourism Trade Fair (FITUR) in Madrid, Spain.

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Volatile Bangkok turns out positive for Indian tourism.

Published on : Thursday, January 23, 2014

bangkok-shutdown        While Bangkok faces a tourism fall due to the ongoing political crisis, Indian tourism reaps the dividends. Thailand government’s decision to impose emergency in Bangkok is supposed to cause a loss of almost B10 billion for the Thailand tourism industry. On the contrary, foreign tourists are preferring to book a holiday in India.
According to the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), the volatile political condition in Bangkok has spurred a huge interest of international travelers seeking holiday escapades in Indian. Political volatility has been on the rise in Bangkok, especially in the past few days. A couple of bomb blasts took place in the capital amidst wide protests. Protesters have been trying for more than two months to bring down the government. The Indian embassy in Thailand too is continuously tracking the situation and coming up with updates.
The global tourism industry has seen such shift of choices due to political and violent condition in a particular destination. To site an example, Spain tourism had a major share of international travelers last year owing to the political strife in Egypt. While Bangkok is one of the most popular destinations in Asia, India enjoys the advantage of volatile currency and a plethora of destination choices. In fact, domestic tourism also got a boost as many Indians are also going for home holidays rather than opting for Bangkok as every year about 500,000 Indians visit Bangkok.

 

 

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Tourism can foster sustainable development in Central America – UN General Assembly.

 

Published on : Friday, January 24, 2014

 

unwto GNSustainable tourism is an ally of poverty eradication in Central America and the three dimensions of sustainable development – social, economic and environmental – as reflected in the UN resolution on “Sustainable tourism and sustainable development in Central America”.

The 193-member UN General Assembly adopted the resolution unanimously during its 68th session. This represents an important step towards mainstreaming sustainable tourism in the international development agenda and the post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (New York, USA, 22 December 2013).

 

Emphasizing that sustainable tourism in Central America is a cross-cutting activity with close linkages to other sectors and thus generating trade opportunities, the UN General Assembly recognizes tourism as a fundamental pillar of regional integration and an engine of social and economic development, income, investment and hard currency in the region. The resolution further “encourages giving appropriate consideration to the issue of sustainable tourism in the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda”, which will follow the deadline of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Against this backdrop, the UN General Assembly invites States and other stakeholders, as well as the World Tourism Organization, to continue to support the activities undertaken by the Central American countries for the promotion of responsible and sustainable tourism and extend the benefits of tourism to all sectors of society, in particular the most vulnerable and marginalized groups of the population.

 

International tourism in Central America grew significantly in recent years. In 2012, Central America received almost 9 million international tourists who generated US$ 8 billion in revenues, up from, respectively, 4.3 million arrivals and US$ 3 billion in 2000. Today, international tourism accounts for as much as 17% of all Central American exports.

 

The UN resolution was sponsored by 51 Member States: Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Canada, Cape Vert, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Maldives, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, United States of America, Ukraine and Uruguay.

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Central America poised for tourism growth: SITCA

Published on : Sunday, September 15, 2013

centeral America          The Secretariat of Central American Tourism Integration (SITCA), along with the tourism authorities of the seven Central American countries – Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvado r, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama – have conducted a study on the evolution of the tourism sector in the region over the past 12 years and found a positive forecast of expected 6.1 per cent growth for this year.

       In the period between 2000 and 2012, tourism to Central America has grown by 122.8 per cent from 4.23 million visitors in 2000 to 9.39 visitors in 2012, an annual increase of seven per cent on average stated the study.


Domestic tourism from within the region accounts for 40 per cent while North America accounts for between 35 per cent and 40 per cent of visitors.
Costa Rica and Guatemala received the highest number of visitors, but Nicaragua and Panama have registered the biggest growth in the period covered by the study, moving from fifth and sixth position (in terms of the total number of visitors received) to fourth and third respectively.


The average spend by tourists has also grown considerably over the last 12 years, thanks to an increase in the amount of products consumed, moving from an average spend per person of US$700 in 2000 to US$1,016 in 2012.
Based on the results of the study, it is expected that the number of visitors will increase by 6.1 per cent this year compared to last year, with an expected total of 9.96 million visitors.


For 2013, the average spend per tourist is expected to reach US$1,016.63, compared to US$1,016.18 in 2012. Revenue from tourism revenue is expected to be highest in Panama and lowest in Nicaragua.
The data presented by SITCA shows that the tourism sector in Central America is becoming the main source of revenue for all seven countries and a true driver for the economic growth of the region.

 

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International tourism exceeds expectations with arrivals up by 52 million in 2013.

 

International tourist arrivals grew by 5% in 2013, reaching a record 1,087 million arrivals, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. Despite global economic challenges, international tourism results were well above expectations, with an additional 52 million international tourists travelling the world in 2013. For 2014, UNWTO forecasts 4% to 4.5% growth – again, above the long term projections.

Demand for international tourism was strongest for destinations in Asia and the Pacific (+6%), Africa (+6%) and Europe (+5%). The leading sub-regions were South-East Asia (+10%), Central and Eastern Europe (+7%), Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+6%) and North Africa (+6%).

“2013 was an excellent year for international tourism” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. “The tourism sector has shown a remarkable capacity to adjust to the changing market conditions, fuelling growth and job creation around the world, despite the lingering economic and geopolitical challenges. Indeed, tourism has been among the few sectors generating positive news for many economies”, he added.

UNWTO forecasts international arrivals to increase by 4% to 4.5% in 2014, again above its long-term forecast of +3.8% per year between 2010 and 2020. The UNWTO Confidence Index, based on the feedback from over 300 experts worldwide, confirms this outlook with prospects for 2014 higher than in previous years

“The positive results of 2013, and the expected global economic improvement in 2014, set the scene for another positive year for international tourism. Against this backdrop, UNWTO calls upon national governments to increasingly set up national strategies that support the sector and to deliver on their commitment to fair and sustainable growth”, added Mr Rifai.

2014 regional prospects are strongest for Asia and the Pacific (+5% to +6%) and Africa (+4% to +6%), followed by Europe and the Americas (both +3% to +4%). In the Middle East (0% to +5%) prospects are positive yet volatile.

 

Europe welcomes most of the new arrivals

Europe led growth in absolute terms, welcoming an additional 29 million international tourist arrivals in 2013, raising the total to 563 million. Growth (+5%) exceeded the forecast for 2013 and is double the region’s average for the period 2005-2012 (+2.5% a year). This is particularly remarkable in view of the regional economic situation and as it follows an already robust 2011 and 2012. By sub-region, Central and Eastern Europe (+7%) and Southern Mediterranean Europe (+6%) experienced the best results.

In relative terms, growth was strongest in Asia and the Pacific (+6%), where the number of international tourists grew by 14 million to reach 248 million. South-East Asia (+10%) was the best performing sub-region, while growth was comparatively more moderate in South Asia (+5%), Oceania and North-East Asia (+4% each).

The Americas (+4%) saw an increase of six million arrivals, reaching a total of 169 million. Leading growth were destinations in North and Central America (+4% each), while South America (+2%) and the Caribbean (+1%) showed some slowdown as compared to 2012.

Africa (+6%) attracted three million additional arrivals, reaching a new record of 56 million, reflecting the on-going rebound in North Africa (+6%) and the sustained growth of Sub-Saharan destinations (+5%). Results in the Middle East (+0% at 52 million) were rather mixed and volatile.

 

Russia and China – leading in growth in 2013

Among the ten most important source markets in the world, Russia and China clearly stand out. China, which became the largest outbound market in 2012 with an expenditure of US$ 102 billion, saw an increase in expenditure of 28% in the first three quarters of 2013. The Russian Federation, the 5th largest outbound market, reported 26% growth through September.

The performance of key advanced economy source markets was comparatively more modest. France (+6%) recovered from a weak 2012 and the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia all grew at 3%. In contrast, Germany, Japan and Italy reported declines in outbound expenditure.

Emerging markets with substantial growth in outbound expenditure were Turkey (+24%), Qatar (+18%), Philippines (+18%), Kuwait (+15%), Indonesia (+15%), Ukraine (+15%) and Brazil (+14%).

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Source: PATA

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 30th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

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.

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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.

Contacts to the outside:  Adriana La Rotta at alarotta@as-coa.org or 1-212-277-8384
and  
Kariela Almonte at  as-coa.org
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The following day – January 15, 2014, Ms. Christiana Figueres, participated at the UN Headquarters at the

Investor Summit on Climate Risk at UN Headquarters – 15 January 2014 – co-hosted by the UN Foundation, UN Office for Partnerships,and Ceres.

Complete agenda can be found at: www.ceres.org/press/press-releases/500-global-investors-to-gather-at-united-nations-summit-on-climate-change

In that room were insurance company and re-insurance companies and other investors – and I was told that about $13 Trillion were represented there. The talk was that $1 Trillion will be invested in clean energy – this is an economics must.

Christiana Figueres – on a panel that included the relentless Timothy Worth who as maverick Senator was part of the US “B” (the Senate) delegation to the Rio 1992 Conference and now heads the UN Foundation that was created with a one Billion US Dollars by Ted Turner, and Mr. Orr representing the UN Secretariat. The agreed conclusion was that INVESTORS OUGHT TO MOVE OUT OF HIGH-CARBON ASSETS.

We posted at the time: “Costs to the economy – The amount of money invested into the 200 biggest fossil fuel companies through global financial markets is estimated at 5.5 trillion dollars. The costs to human and environmental health that is another matter. But luckily – fossil fuel consumption is already in decline — not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it makes economic sense. But do not count on it – the financial moghuls will not step aside easily.” – See more at:
 Financing Solutions for Clean Energy in Latin America,” which seems to be a – Microfinance Panel: Financing Solutions for Clean Energy in Latin America.

Why this enhanced interest of Latin America in Climate Change? Is this only because of Brazil that over-extended itself in these topics?

Brazil was host of the Rio 1992 Conference that introduced Environment and Development into the routine lingo of the UN as a double helix of Sustainable Development. They were hosts to creation of the high-level product AGENDA 21 and the three conventions – on  Biodiversity, Desertification, and Climate Change. But the majority of the Developing Countries were not ready for it yet – they just wanted DEVELOPMENT – read INDUSTRIALIZATION – and professed not to be the address for Global Sustainability.

The Developed/Industrialized States on the other hand thought that the whole concept was just a give-away to the poorer Nations – something that the established ethics thought to take care of with simple hand-outs of Foreign aid – not an issue of rights.Sustainable Development just did not work in practice.

Then we had the stale-birth of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, and the answer five years later – the Millennium Development Goals.

After another 10 years, at the Rio 2012 meeting, Brazil stepped into the breach again, and with excellent diplomacy, and got rid of the Sustainable Development Commission establishing a new debating platform that will channel its activities to a new Agenda – the post 2015 Global Agenda built on a set of Sustainable Development Goals. Part of this process is anchored in Paris at a COP21 meeting of the UNFCCC.

To get there we have the Lima, Peru, meeting of 2014 – and that is the last chance for Latin America to have an impact.

So, here we get to the Latin Year of which Costa Rican Chrstiana Figueres  wants to take advantage of, and she is lucky in many respects. The UN stars seem to line up in her direction.

The idea was to  have the 2014 UNFCCC meeting in Latin America and at first it was Venezuela that wanted to host the event. In parallel they also wanted to be at the UN – the G77 leaders this year. Bolivia decided to contest  both posts. Bolivia won the G77 position – but with the strong opposition from the US  to both original candidates – it was Peru that got to be the location of the COP with Venezuela hosting – as a consolation prize – the last preparatory meeting. That is how this year’s Latin UN stars are  Bolivia, Peru, and Venezuela.

Considering the central place of Bolivia in all of this – them speaking for the ALBA group – the micro-finance answer to the mega-finance of the UN makes sense as well and the Latin Year might turn out to be an ALBA year to be followed by a Developed & Already Emerged Economic States at the Paris Summit with the real power to lead.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 9th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Countries Agree on Novel Formula for High-level Forum to Boost Follow-up of Rio+20 Outcomes on Sustainable Development

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.

MEDIA CONTACT
For interviews and more information, contact Dan Shepard of the UN Department of Public Information,
1-212-963-9495,  shepard at un.org

On the web –  Permalink | | Email This Article Email This Article
Posted in Africa, Archives, Brazil, Copenhagen COP15, Costa Rica, Eco Friendly Tourism, Future Events, Futurism, IBSA, Islands & SIDS, Peoples without a UN Seat, Reporting From the UN Headquarters in New York, UN Commission on Sustainable Development, Vienna

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 5th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

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.
Then, to top it all a direct interview with Salman Rushdie who has been an immigrant twice – first from India to London then from there to the US. He had the gift of gab to express all of the above and tie it up neatly. The two economists had no problem agreeing among themselves.

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.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 11th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Bhutan calls for a mindful revolution at the United Nations.

by  | 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.

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


Bonn Climate Change Conference – May  14-25, 2012 tells us that the while attention is riveted to RIO+20 in effect not only the UN Commission on Sustainable Development is bankrupt, but also the process that was started by the UN Convention on Climate Change is also bankrupt. THAT IS WHY WE SAY FOR A WHILE THAT THE MEETING IN RIO 2012 IS IN EFFECT A RIO MINUS TWENTY.

The following is the Analysis of the May 2012 Bonn Meeting as suggested by the Earth Negotiations Bulletin.

www.iisd.ca/climate/sb36/

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.

The Earth Negotiations Bulletin Summary of this meeting is now available in PDF format at www.iisd.ca/download/pdf/enb12546e.pdf and in HTML format atwww.iisd.ca/vol12/enb12546e.html

=====================================================

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.”

LOOKING AHEAD

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.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 23rd, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

IFEX

Campaigns and Advocacy / Campañas y Defensa

22 May 2012

Seventeen states request respect for freedom of expression

SOURCE: Andean Foundation for Media Observation & Study (FUNDAMEDIOS)

(Fundamedios/IFEX) – 21 May 2012 – Seventeen states from the Americas, Europe and Asia suggested that the Ecuadorian government should respect and guarantee the freedoms of the press and of expression in the country.

They made these observations on 21 May 2012 during a session of the UN Human Rights Council, where the states assessed Ecuador using the mechanism known as the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

Germany, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Costa Rica, Estonia, United States, Slovakia, Latvia, Luxemburg, Norway, France, India, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom were the countries that presented observations to the Ecuadorian State that it should promote and respect freedom of expression and eliminate laws that criminalize opinion. Some of them also requested that Ecuador should make possible a visit by the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression to examine the situation of freedom of expression in the country.

The European countries’ delegations were the most critical.
Sweden, for example, mentioned the case that led to the conviction of a former feature writer and the directors of the newspaper El Universo; and although President Correa abandoned the lawsuit, it recommended that the Ecuadorian State should protect freedom of expression.

Meanwhile, Switzerland emphasized that an atmosphere of censorship and self-censorship prevails in Ecuador and that the State has the obligation of respecting this fundamental right, while Luxembourg expressed concern for the intimidations against Ecuadorian journalists.

Among countries in the Americas, the United States was one of the most critical, showing its concern for attacks against journalists and because in Ecuador freedom of expression is not fully guaranteed. Canada and Costa Rica also issued recommendations to establish measures that guarantee the protection of this fundamental right in accordance with international regulations.

The criminalization of social protest and free association concerned Belgium, Canada, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Latvia and Luxembourg, all of which recommended that guarantees should be in place to allow opposition groups and communities to protest freely, without being condemned as terrorists or saboteurs. In regard to this issue, Spain recommended reviewing the restrictive legislation against NGOs and the criminalization of social protest in the country.

Faced by these pronouncements, the Ecuadorian delegation, led by Vice-president Lenin Moreno; the Minister of Foreign Affairs Ricardo Patiño; the Minister of Justice Johana Pesántez and the National Communication Secretary Fernando Alvarado affirmed that the press is neither censored nor persecuted in the country and that there are no jailed journalists in Ecuador. “Freedom of expression is absolutely and wholly respected in Ecuador”, stated Minister Patiño.

The 17 observations exceed in number those issued against Venezuela during last October’s UPR, when 13 recommendations concerning freedom of expression were presented, all of them were eventually rejected by that government.

The official report will be presented on Friday 25 May and the Ecuadorian government will have to accept or reject the recommendations issued today, as well as those that the states present in writing.

Fundamedios will attend this session and will provide news coverage through its twitter accounts, @LoFundamental and @Fundamedios, and its Facebook pages Fundamedios and LoFundamental.

For more information:
Andean Foundation for Media Observation & Study (FUNDAMEDIOS)
Unión Nacional de Periodistas E2-32 e Iñaquito
Edificio UNP
Piso 4, Ofic. 403
Quito, Ecuador
info (@) fundamedios.org.ec
Phone: +593 2 2461622/ 2461636/ 2461642
Fax: +593 2 2230 821
www.fundamedios.org
@fundamedios



22 mayo 2012

Diecisiete estados piden respeto para la libertad de expresión

FUENTE: Fundación Andina para la Observación y el Estudio de Medios

(Fundamedios/IFEX) – 21 de Mayo de 2012 – Diecisiete estados de América, Europa y Asia realizaron sugerencias para que el gobierno de Ecuador respete y garantice de forma efectiva las libertades de expresión y de prensa en el país.

Esas observaciones se realizaron este 21 de mayo de 2012, durante la sesión del Consejo de Derechos Humanos de la ONU, en donde los Estados evaluaron al Ecuador bajo el mecanismo conocido como Examen Periódico Universal (EPU).

Alemania, Australia, Austria, Bélgica, Canadá, Costa Rica, Estonia, Estados Unidos, Eslovaquia, Letonia, Luxemburgo, Noruega, Francia, India, Suecia, Suiza, Reino Unido, fueron los países que plantearon observaciones al Estado ecuatoriano para que promueva y respete la libertad de expresión y que elimine leyes que criminalizan la opinión. Algunos de ellos también solicitaron que el Ecuador posibilite de forma real la visita del Relator Especial de Libertad de Expresión de la ONU, para que constate la situación de la libertad de expresión.

En este sentido, los países de las delegaciones europeas fueron los más críticos con este tema. Por ejemplo, Suecia mencionó el caso por el que se condenó al exarticulista y directivos de diario El Universo y, pese a que el Presidente desistió de aquel juicio, recomendó al Estado ecuatoriano la protección de la libertad de expresión.

Por su parte, Suiza fue enfático en señalar que el Ecuador se vive un clima de censura y autocensura y que el Estado tiene la obligación de respetar este derecho fundamental, mientras que Luxemburgo se mostró preocupado por las intimidaciones a periodistas ecuatorianos.

Del lado del continente americano, Estados Unidos fue otro de los Estados más críticos y que mostró su preocupación por los ataques a periodistas y porque en Ecuador no se garantiza plenamente la libertad de expresión. Canadá y Costa Rica también formularon recomendaciones para que se tomen medidas que garanticen la protección de este derecho fundamental, de acuerdo con las normas internacionales.

La criminalización de la protesta social y la libre asociación también fueron temas que preocuparon a muchos países como Bélgica, Canadá, Estonia, Francia, Alemania, Hungría, Letonia, Luxemburgo, quienes plantearon sus recomendaciones en el sentido de que deben existir garantías para que los grupos opositores, así como las comunidades puedan protestar libremente, sin ser condenados bajo figuras como el terrorismo y sabotaje. Al respecto España recomendó revisar la legislación restrictiva para ONG y criminalización de la protesta social en el país.

Frente a estas inquietudes, la delegación ecuatoriana, encabezada por el vicepresidente Lenin Moreno; el canciller Ricardo Patiño, la ministra de Justicia Johana Pesántez y el secretario nacional de comunicación Fernando Alvarado, aseguraron que en el país no se censura ni se persigue a la prensa y que tampoco existen periodistas encarcelados. “En Ecuador se respeta absoluta y totalmente la libertad de expresión”, mencionó el canciller Patiño.

Las 17 observaciones formuladas superan a las realizadas a Venezuela, en el EPU de octubre pasado, en dónde se plantearon 13 recomendaciones sobre libertad de expresión, todas las cuales fueron rechazadas por dicho Gobierno.

El próximo viernes 25 de mayo, se presentará el informe y el Gobierno ecuatoriano aceptará o rechazará las recomendaciones realizadas hoy, o aquellas que los estados presenten por escrito.

Fundamedios estará presente en esta sesión y acompañará la cobertura noticiosa a través de sus cuentas de twitter, @LoFundamental y @Fundamedios y sus páginas de Facebook, Fundamedios y LoFundamental.

Para mayor información:
Fundación Andina para la Observación y el Estudio de Medios
Unión Nacional de Periodistas E2-32 e Iñaquito
Edificio UNP
Piso 4, Ofic. 403
Quito, Ecuador
info (@) fundamedios.org.ec
Tel: +593 2 2461622/ 2461636/ 2461642
Fax: +593 2 2230 821
www.fundamedios.org
@fundamedios

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

What Legacy Do You Want To Leave To Your Children? Have A look At What You Have And  Be Thankful.

Ode_to_N.pps Ode_to_N.pps
6499K   View Download

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

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

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

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

A NEW ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PARADIGM.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 22nd, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


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.

——
 search.japantimes.co.jp/mail/nn20…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 30th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

CRITERIO AMBIENTAL FILM FESTIVAL – First International Environmental Film Festival at La Fortuna De San Carlos, at the feet of the Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica. September 25 to October 1, 2010.

Last night we saw Franny Armstrong´s “AGE OF STUPID.”

Tonight we will have “BIG RIVER MAN” with Martin Strel, the Slovenian swimmer, present.

Strel was the first person known to have swam along the whole Amazonas river.
He will be swimming along the Laguna de Arenal this morning,
all that in order to publicize pollution of the world sweet waters.
This Laguna was man-made after the eruption of Arenal six years ago
and replaced six villages that were in that place earlier. I am
looking forward discussing these events with Strel and will report later.

Now I am off to interesting nature trails with the Caravanas Tour.
Talk to you later.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

————

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Israeli-owned Ormat Technologies Inc. harnesses energy from water heated by chambers filled with molten rock deep beneath the ground. They put volcanoes or potential volcanoes to work.
The company has been operating two plants in Guatemala for three years and wants to expand but is weighing the risks of drilling more costly exploratory wells.

Reuters writes from Guatemala – “There’s a phase where you just have to drill and see,” Ormat’s representative in Guatemala, Yossi Shilon, said – The problem is that you risk a very expensive investment and are not always satisfied with the results.”

Ormat’s project is only a 20 MW station but Guatemala says the country has the potential to produce up to 1000 MW of geothermal energy, a third of projected energy needs in 2022.

Other Central American countries are already forging ahead in this emerging technology.

More than a fifth of El Salvador’s energy needs come from two geothermal plants with installed capacity of 160 MW and investigations are being carried out to build a third.

Costa Rica, which has 152 megawatts of capacity in four geothermal plants, is due to bring a fifth plant online in January 2011 and is looking into building two more.

Nicaragua generates 66 MW from geothermal energy and in the next five years plans an increase to 166 MW.

Guatemala only produces a tiny amount of its own oil and spends about $2 billion a year on imports. The aim is to save money on energy costs and join international efforts to cut green house gas emissions, issues that will be on the table at global climate change talks this November in Cancun, Mexico.

Dotted with active volcanoes, Central America is seeking to tap its unique geography to produce green energy and cut dependence on oil imports as demand for electricity outstrips supply.

Sitting above shifting tectonic plates in the Pacific basin known to cause earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, the region has huge potential for geothermal power generated by heat stored deep in the earth.

Geothermal power plants, while expensive to build, can provide a long-term, reliable source of electricity and are considered more environmentally friendly than large hydroelectric dams that can alter a country’s topography.

Guatemala, Central America’s biggest country, aims to produces 60 percent of its energy from geothermal and hydroelectric power by 2022.

The government is offering tax breaks on equipment to set up geothermal plants and electricity regulators are requiring distributors buy greater proportions of clean energy.

Some 1,640 feet below the summit of Guatemala’s active Pacaya volcano, which exploded in May, pipes carrying steam and water at 347 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius) snake across the mountainside to one of two geothermal plants currently operating in the country.

BETTER THAN DAMS

Central America, heavily dependent on agriculture, is feeling the effects of extreme weather. Tropical Storm Agatha killed nearly 200 people in the region earlier this year.

The largely poor countries are highly reliant on hydroelectricity, the number two source of energy after oil, but environmental activists and energy experts say harnessing geothermal energy has distinct advantages over dams.

Hydroelectricity depends on rainfall and is vulnerable to hurricanes that can wash mud and debris into rivers and clog dams. Such storms are expected to increase in the frequency and intensity as the planet warms.

“With climate change there’s uncertainty over the future behavior of water resources,” said Eduardo Noboa, a renewables expert at the Latin American Energy Organization, or OLADE. “We’re going to see a vulnerability in hydroelectric systems.”

Dams, which can flood vast areas of land during their construction, are unpopular in rural areas where families rely on farming and have trouble finding arable land.

In Guatemala, hydroelectric projects have a haunted past after hundreds of Mayan villagers protesting the building of a dam on the Chixoy river were massacred by security forces in 1978 at the height of the country’s civil war.

The dam and its reservoir, which now generates around 15 percent of Guatemala’s electricity, displaced thousands of people in the country’s central highlands.

Geothermal plants by contrast are compact and companies, learning from the mistakes of the past, say they are making an effort to provide nearby towns with easy power access.

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

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.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 30th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

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 -
unelections.org/?q=node/2056

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 unelections.org/?q=node/2052

 www.heraldsun.com.au/news/special…

Click here to read “Kevin Rudd could be offered UN role before end of election campaign” – Herald Sun, July 29, 2010

Kevin Rudd could be offered UN role before end of election campaign

Kevin Rudd at the UN

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.

Related Coverage

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.


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  1. News for “Kevin Rudd” at the UN?


    ABC Online
    UN role awaits Rudd? – 1 day ago

    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.

    Herald Sun1876 related articles »

  2. Kevin Rudd “in line for UN climate job” | Australian Climate Madness

    Jul 22, 2010 Our socially-disfunctional-verging-on-autistic ex-PM would fit right in at the UN, spouting platitudes about saving the planet and the evils
    www.australianclimatemadness.com/?p=4315AustraliaCached

  3. Kevin Rudd could be offered UN role before end of election

    Jul 29, 2010 KEVIN Rudd’s new United Nations post could be announced before the end of the election in what looms as another major embarrassment for
    www.heraldsun.com.au/…/kevin-ruddun…/story-fn5ko0pw-1225898207146

  4. [PDF]

    told – SPEECH BY PRIME MINISTER KEVIN RUDD TO THE UNITED NATIONS

    File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat – Quick View
    SPEECH BY PRIME MINISTER KEVIN RUDD TO THE. UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY. Acknowledgement. Mr President. I would like to congratulate you on your
    www.un.org/ga/63/generaldebate/pdf/australia_en.pdf

  5. United Nations wants Kevin Rudd for top climate job | The Daily

    Jul 22, 2010 KEVIN Rudd has confirmed he has been approached to take up a job with the United Nations.
    www.dailytelegraph.com.au/…/united-nationskevin-rudd…/story-fn5zm695-1225895300050

  6. Kevin Rudd considering UN job as climate adviser

    Jul 22, 2010 Latest news, breaking news – Kevin Rudd considering UN job as climate Ousted Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is considering a UN
    www.indianexpress.com/news/kevin-ruddun-job-as…/650285/Cached

  7. Bangkok Post : Ex-Australian PM Rudd in talks over UN role

    Jul 22, 2010 Ousted Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd Thursday confirmed talks over a possible United Nations role but said he did not plan to quit
    www.bangkokpost.com/…/ex-australian-pm-rudd-in-talks-over-un-roleCached

  8. Kevin Rudd tipped for top UN climate job – Developmental Issues

    Jul 22, 2010 Australian ex-prime minister Kevin Rudd is angling for the post of a climate change adviser to the United Nations, news reports said
    timesofindia.indiatimes.com/…/Kevin-RuddUN…/6201236.cmsCached

  9. Kevin Rudd tipped for UN climate job | Perth Now

    Jul 22, 2010 KEVIN Rudd is being considered by the United Nations for a top-level job that would force him to leave Australia.
    www.perthnow.com.au/…/kevin-ruddun…/story-e6frg15u-1225895337247

  10. Rudd confirms UN talks – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting

    Jul 22, 2010 Kevin Rudd has confirmed he has been sounded out about the possibility of a job with the United Nations, but says he is still committed to
    www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/07/22/2961142.htmCached

  11. Kevin Rudd confirms talk with UN boss | News.com.au

    Jul 22, 2010 OUSTED prime minster Kevin Rudd has confirmed he has spoken with the United Nations Secretary-General about a possible appointment.
    www.news.com.au/…/kevin-rudd…talk…un…/story-e6frfku0-1225895627286

  12. Videos for “Kevin Rudd” at the UN?

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 29th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

WORLD NEWS – JULY 29, 2010
 online.wsj.com/article/SB40001424…

Climate report shows Earth has heated up over 50 years.

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 “doesn’t try to make the link” between climate change and what might be causing it, said Tom Karl, an official at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration involved in the new assessment.

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.

————————–
 blogs.ft.com/energy-source/author…

NOAA finds “human fingerprints” on climate

July 28th, 2010  by Fiona Harvey

A report from the NOAA in the US has found that data from ten key climate indicators all point to the same finding: the scientific evidence that our world is warming is unmistakable.

It is the first major piece of new research since the “Climategate” scandals.

It found that, relying on data from multiple sources, each indicator proved consistent with a warming world. Seven indicators are rising: air temperature over land, sea-surface temperature, marine air temperature, sea level, ocean heat, humidity, and tropospheric temperature in the “active-weather” layer of the atmosphere closest to the earth’s surface. Three indicators are declining: Arctic sea ice, glaciers and spring snow cover in the northern hemisphere.

Read the full report here:

www.ncdc.noaa.gov/bams-state-of-the-climate.

 www.ft.com/cms/s/0/6d1fd25c-9a69-…

Research says climate change undeniable

By Fiona Harvey, Environment Correspondent

Published: July 28 2010 – print and on-line.

International scientists have injected fresh evidence into the debate over global warming, saying that climate change is “undeniable” and shows clear signs of “human fingerprints” in the first major piece of research since the “Climategate” controversy.

The research, headed by the US National Oceans and Atmospheric Administration, is based on new data not available for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report of 2007, the target of attacks by sceptics in recent years.

The NOAA study drew on up to 11 different indicators of climate, and found that each one pointed to a world that was warming owing to the influence of greenhouse gases, said Peter Stott, head of climate monitoring at the UK’s Met Office, one of the agencies participating.

Seven indicators were rising, he said. These were: air temperature over land, sea-surface temperature, marine air temperature, sea level, ocean heat, humidity, and tropospheric temperature in the “active-weather” layer of the atmosphere closest to the earth’s surface. Four indicators were declining: Arctic sea ice, glaciers, spring snow cover in the northern hemisphere, and stratospheric temperatures.

Mr Stott said: “The whole of the climate system is acting in a way consistent with the effects of greenhouse gases.” “The fingerprints are clear,” he said. “The glaringly obvious explanation for this is warming from greenhouse gases.”

Environment ThumbnailSome scientists hailed the study as a refutation of the claims made by climate sceptics during the “Climategate” saga. Those scandals involved accusations – some since proven correct – of flaws in the IPCC’s landmark 2007 report, and the release of hundreds of emails from climate scientists that appeared to show them distorting certain data.

“This confirms that while all of this [Climategate] was going on, the earth was continuing to warm. It shows that Climategate was a distraction, because it took the focus off what the science actually says,” said Bob Ward, policy director of the Grantham Institute at the London School of Economics.

But the report nonetheless remained the target of scorn for sceptics.

Myron Ebell, of the Competitive Enterprise Institute in the US, 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.”

Pat Michaels, a prominent climate sceptic, ex-professor of environmental sciences and fellow of the Cato Institute in the US, said the NOAA study and other evidence suggested that the computerised climate models had overestimated the sensitivity of the earth’s temperature to carbon dioxide. This would mean that the earth could warm a little under the influence of greenhouse gases, but not by as much as the IPCC and others have predicted.

“I think it is the lack of frankness about this that emerged with Climategate, and that seems to continue [that make people doubt the findings],” he said.

Steve Goddard, a blogger, said the conclusion that the first half of 2010 showed a record high temperature was “based on incorrect, fabricated data” because the researchers involved did not have access to much information on Arctic temperatures.

David Herro, the financier, who follows climate science as a hobby, said NOAA also “lacks credibility”.

But Jane Lubchenco, the administrator of NOAA, said the study found that the average temperature in the world had increased by 0.56° C (1° F) over the past 50 years. The rise “may seem small, but it has already altered our planet … Glaciers and sea ice are melting, heavy rainfall is intensifying, and heat waves are more common.”

——————————————————-
 planetark.org/wen/58965

Developing Nations See Cancun Climate Deal Tough.

Date: 29-Jul-10
Country: MEXICO
Author: Brian Ellsworth

Reaching a binding climate deal at the upcoming U.N. conference in Mexico will likely be difficult, delegates from a group of developing nations said on Monday, spurring further doubts about a global climate accord this year.

Environment ministers from Brazil, South Africa, India and China — known as the BASIC group — meeting in Rio de Janeiro said developed nations have not done enough to cut their own emissions or help poor countries reduce theirs.

Delays by the United States and Australia in implementing schemes to cut carbon emissions has added to gloomy sentiment about possible results from the Cancun meeting.

“If by the time we get to Cancun (U.S. senators) still have not completed the legislation then clearly we will get less than a legally binding outcome,” said Buyelwa Sonjica, South Africa’s Water and Environment Affairs minister.

“For us that is a concern, and we’re very realistic about the fact that we may not” complete a legally binding accord, she said.

BASIC nations held deliberations on Sunday and Monday about upcoming climate talks, but the representatives said those talks did not yield a specific proposal on emissions reductions to be presented at the Cancun meeting.

“I think we’re all a bit wiser after Copenhagen, our expectations for Cancun are realistic — we cannot expect any miracles,” said Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh.

He added that countries have failed to make good on promises for $30 billion in “fast track” financing for emissions reduction programs in poor countries.

“The single most important reason why it is going to be difficult is the inability of the developed countries to bring clarity on the financial commitments which they have undertaken in the Copenhagen Accord,” he said.

Hopes for a global treaty on cutting carbon emissions to slow global warming were dealt a heavy blow last year when rich and poor nations were unable to agree on a legally binding mechanism to reduce global carbon emissions.

More than 100 countries backed a nonbinding accord agreed in Copenhagen last year to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times, but it did not spell out how this should be achieved.

The U.S. Senate on Thursday postponed an effort to pass broad legislation to combat climate change until September at the earliest, vastly reducing the possibility of such legislation being ready before the Cancun conference begins in December.

Australia has delayed a carbon emissions trading scheme until 2012 under heavy political pressure on from industries that rely heavily on coal for their energy.

The U.N.’s climate agency has detailed contingency options if the world cannot agree a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, whose present round expires in 2012 with no new deal in sight. {But the article does not spell them out and we wonder if they are any different from what we suggested – moving the deliberations away from the UNFCCC – to a much smaller group of Nations modeled along the lines on the evolving G20 with a united EU and a representation of AOSIS/SIDS and Highest suffering countries like Bangladesh on-board,}

Kyoto placed carbon emissions caps on nearly 40 developed countries from 2008-2012. {But Left out any responsibilities for the remaining countries including the above BRICS. Copenhagen was a success in the sense that it made it clear that the BRICS must be part of any agreement if it is going to happen – so, in this trspect, at Copenhagen there was progress – the first time since the beginning of the negotiations within UNFCCC.}

———————

The comments in green are those made by us – the editor of www.SustainabiliTank.info
WE ARE OPTIMISTS NEVERTHELESS AND WE HOPE THAT WITH THE UN-BASED SMILES FROM THE UN HEADQUARTERS IN NEW YORK, OUT OF THE WAY, A MORE ATUNNED  CHRISTIANA FIGUERES WILL INDEED COME UP WITH A MORE MANAGEABLE DEBATE.

From the Wikipedia: Karen Christiana Figueres Olsen (born August 7, 1956) was appointed Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on 17 May 2010, succeeding Yvo de Boer[1] [2]. She had been a member of the Costa Rican negotiating team since 1995, involved in both UNFCCC[3] and Kyoto Protocol[4] negotiations. She has contributed to the design of key climate change instruments.[5] She is a prime promoter of Latin America’s active participation in the Convention,[6] a frequent public speaker,[7] and a widely published author.[8] She won the Hero for the Planet award in 2001.[9]

For Latin America, in the BASIC group, speaks Brazil which has created for itself the image of an oil-rich country. This might create further difficulties for Ms. Figueres and we do not yet say that Brazil steaked out a final position for Cancun. In effect, the October 3, 2010 elections will have brought to the fore-front a new President for Brazil and we are yet to see his or her position.


###

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

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.

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)

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.

——————————
„Verwerflich“

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.,

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 15th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

CENTRAL AMERICA:  Doors Wide Open for Renewable Energy.
By Danilo Valladares

GUATEMALA CITY, Jul 15, 2010 (IPS) - Heavy reliance on petroleum imports, the need for electricity in rural areas, and the ongoing effort towards sustainable development have focused Central America’s attention on renewable energy. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t opposition.

This year, Honduras plans to have one of the largest wind energy farms in Latin America up and running, with an output of 100 megawatts of electricity.

Located in the municipality of Santa Ana, 24 kilometres from the Honduran capital, it cost 250 million dollars, according to owner Energía Eólica Honduras (Wind Energy Honduras), subsidiary of Mesoamerica Energy, made up of 15 business groups from the region.

In addition, Honduras will invest 2.1 billion dollars in 52 hydroelectric projects between 2010 and 2016, each with the capacity to generate five megawatts, announced the Honduran Association of Small Producers of Renewable Energy in early June.

“We based our efforts on three aspects: energy security by avoiding dependence on international petroleum prices, improving access to energy in rural zones, and sustainable development,” Association president Elsia Paz told IPS.

According to Paz, promotion of renewable energy has been important for achieving a balanced diversification of the Honduran energy matrix, as 70 percent comes from fossil fuels, “a resource that is imported and leads to capital flight.”

Honduras is typical of Central America’s high reliance on oil for generating electricity.

In the 1980s, about 75 percent of the region’s electricity came from renewable sources — primarily hydroelectric dams. That portion has now dropped to 50 percent, according to the non-governmental Energy Network Foundation BUN-CA, based in Costa Rica. The rest comes from hydrocarbon- based sources.

Nicaragua, meanwhile, through its Ministry of Energy and Mines, announced in May that all of the energy generated in 2016 would come from renewable sources through the implementation of the National Programme for Sustainable Electrification and Renewable Energies.

Similar to Honduras, 70 percent of Nicaragua’s electricity is generated from fossil fuels, and 30 percent from renewable resources, according to official figures.

To improve that ratio, construction is under way of the Tumarín hydroelectric dam, the largest in the country, in the South Atlantic Autonomous Region. Behind the project, which will produce 220 megawatts, is the Brazilian consortium Quieroz Galvão-Electrobras.

But Tumarín has come under fire from the surrounding communities, which say they were not consulted about the project and it will have negative consequences for the entire Río Grande de Matagalpa watershed. The dam, which requires an investment of more than 600 million dollars, will change hands to be administered by the Nicaraguan government in 30 years.

Meanwhile, the Amayo I and II wind park, with U.S., Guatemalan and Nicaraguan capital, is so far the largest operating in Central America.

Located along the shore of Lake Nicaragua, in the southern province of Rivas, it generates 63 megawatts of electricity.

Luis Molina, of the environmental control unit of Nicaragua’s Ministry of Energy and Mines, told IPS that his country aims to implement renewable energy projects in order to reduce emissions of greenhouse-effect gases, which cause global warming, and to decrease the portion of the national budget going to the purchase of fossil fuels.

He said that at the “macro” level, the main objective is to achieve 100 percent energy from renewable sources, while at the “micro” level the goal is to extend the electrical network in rural areas.

About 10 million people in Central America, of a total population of 40 million in the region, do not have electricity in their homes.


In El Salvador, which is already producing biofuels and has tapped into solar and geothermal energy, the Japan International Cooperation Agency will finance 1.5 million dollars for drafting a master plan for developing renewable energies, to begin at year’s end.

Approximately 60 percent of the region’s energy potential lies in possible hydroelectric dams.

Of the 22,000 megawatts of potentially exploitable hydro-energy, the Central American isthmus has developed just 17 percent, according to the Central American Electrification Council.

Costa Rica is the region’s leading producer of clean energy, with 80 percent coming from hydroelectric sources, according to the governmental Costa Rican Institute of Electricity (ICE).

President Laura Chinchilla announced that she wants to make Costa Rica the first country in the world to run 100 percent on renewable energy.

But it is no easy task. Guatemala’s renewable energy coordinator at its Ministry of Energy, Otto Ruiz Balcárcel, told IPS that there is a great deal of misinformation about renewable energy, which limits investment in the sector.

“There are towns that think water gets contaminated from the hydroelectric turbines, and investors have not been able to communicate how it works,” he cited as one example.

However, he believes Guatemala is on the road to expanding clean energy, primarily through more hydroelectric dams.

Of a different opinion is Oscar Conde, activist with the group Madreselva de Guatemala, who told IPS that renewable energy projects like hydroelectric dams alter ecosystems and affect rural communities, who are not taken into account when the dams are built.

“They are transnational or national businesses that use the water for their own benefit, and the communities just watch it go by,” he said.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 2nd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

from monitor@unelections.org
leone@wfm-igp.org
date Fri, Jul 2, 2010 at 5:11 PM
subject [UNelections] New Leadership at UNFCCC – Figueres Takes Office Next Week.
UNelections Monitor, Issue #144 – New Leadership at UNFCCC – Figueres Takes Office Next Week

New York, July 2, 2010 The United Nations’ new head for climate change negotiations takes office in Bonn, Germany next week. Christiana Figueres of Costa Rica, who succeeds Yvo de Boer of the Netherlands, was selected in May in a process featuring competition and a greater level of formality than in other recent appointments, but which also was kept largely confidential. She is the first person from a developing country to hold the position of Executive Secretary. The appointment of a woman also has been noted and welcomed.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed Figueres on May 17, and the appointment was endorsed by the Bureau of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on the same day.

Many have welcomed Figueres’ appointment, including environmental organizations, governments, and private companies. An op-ed on the news site Business Green wrote, “if you were to develop the composite CV of the ideal person to replace … de Boer it would look a lot like the resume submitted by Figueres.” The UNFCCC said, “Ms. Figueres’ leadership at the helm of the UNFCCC comes at a crucial time in global efforts to take effective action on climate change,” referring in part to the upcoming conference in Cancún, Mexico, where some hope that a legally binding agreement will be reached.

While de Boer’s resignation took effect yesterday, July 1, Figueres’ term begins on July 8, next Thursday, the UNFCCC stated in a recent Note Verbale.

About Christiana Figueres

Figueres has served as Costa Rica’s climate change negotiator for 15 years, and she is credited with helping to secure Latin America’s cooperation with the Kyoto Protocol.

She has particular experience on the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). The CDM aims to stimulate sustainable development and emissions reductions by allowing countries to trade “credits” toward their emissions limitation commitments. She represented Latin America and the Caribbean on the Executive Board of the CDM in 2007 and co-Chaired the negotiating group on the CDM at the 2009 Copenhagen Conference of the UNFCCC. Figueres is said to have been a “key architect” of the new financial instrument “programmatic CDM” with four “groundbreaking publications that have marked global thinking on this novel concept.”

Figueres also advises private companies involved in climate change mitigation, including the Carbon Rating Agency (CRA), which seeks to establish standards for the global carbon markets.

Figueres has non-profit experience as well. She founded the Center for Sustainable Development in the Americas (CSDA), which promotes Latin American countries’ participation in the UNFCCC, and she has served on the board of the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS).

Figueres began her career in 1982 as Minister Counselor for Costa Rica’s embassy in Bonn, Germany. In Costa Rica, she was Director of International Cooperation in the Ministry of Planning, and later became Chief of Staff to the Minister of Agriculture.

She has a Masters degree in Anthropology from the London School of Economics and a Certificate in Organizational Development from Georgetown University. She speaks Spanish, English and German.

Figueres’ publications include analysis of the design of the climate regime and book chapters on global environmental governance published by the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy.

Upon her appointment as Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, Figueres expressed her “gratitude” and her “great respect for the institution and a deep commitment to UNFCCC process. There is no task that is more urgent, more compelling or more sacred than that of protecting the climate of our planet for our children and grandchildren.”

In interviews since the appointment, she has expressed the view that, despite calls from some developing countries, a binding agreement is not the goal for the upcoming Cancún conference. Instead, the next step is trust-building, to repair the current “trust deficit,” through fulfillment of earlier promises, including to “curb emissions, and – on the part of the rich – to provide money to help developing nations adapt to climate impacts.” The needed trust-building atmosphere began in Bonn earlier this month (this perception was echoed by several delegates recently).

She also has noted that UNFCCC conferences must observe transparency and inclusiveness. Having observed that their absence at the Copenhagen Conference contributed to its disappointing outcome, “what we need to be mindful of is that all interests that will be there among parties of the UNFCCC are represented” (BBC). Moreover, the UN is the only viable forum for dealing with climate change, as only the UN offers every country a voice when negotiating, and there is “no alternative” to it in tackling complex climate challenges (Xinhua).

Finally, she has noted the importance of the appointment of an Executive Secretary from the developing world. Her appointment marks the “first time this is in the hands of the developing world, and I think that’s actually quite symbolic and represents the much greater role that the developing world is taking in the climate negotiations” (Living on Earth interview, May 28).

Post of Executive Secretary

The UNFCCC is an international treaty, the “parent” of the legally binding 1997 Kyoto Protocol. States that have signed the UNFCCC are known collectively as the Conference of Parties (COP). The COP’s current focus is to negotiate a new international agreement on climate change, a “successor” to the Kyoto Protocol, to take effect in 2012. With its goal of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, the treaty would “shape the way countries power their economies” and thus is very complex to negotiate.

The COP is governed by a Bureau. The Executive Secretary is the head of the Bureau.

The Bureau is made up of delegates from 11 COP member countries, representing the five geographic regions. The Bureau handles administrative and management issues of the negotiation process, advises the President of the COP, and serves to represent each regional bloc and other groupings for negotiation. The current members of the COP Bureau are: Australia, Bahamas, Denmark, South Korea, Mali, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Sudan and Russia.

Figueres will have five months to prepare for the next COP meeting, which will take place in Cancún, Mexico beginning in late-November. Preparatory talks will take place in Bonn, Germany in August and in China in October.

The position of Executive Secretary “is currently at the Assistant Secretary-General level [but] may be upgraded to that of Under-Secretary-General,” according to the March 11 letter of the Secretary-General asking governments for nominations for the position, “depending on the outcome of a review to be undertaken by the Secretary-General of the structure of the UNFCCC secretariat.”

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Selection Process:

Although the selection process was kept confidential by the Secretary-General’s office, and reliable information was difficult for stakeholders to find, the process seemed to include some important elements of an accountable, qualifications-based process. These included announced criteria and a clear timeline. In addition, the process was competitive.

The selection procedures are outlined below, followed by an analysis of the process’ integrity.

Qualifications and Call for Nominations

On March 11, the Secretariat circulated a call for nominations and position guidelines on the UNFCCC Executive Secretary, which highlighted criteria that a successful candidate would need to fill.

The Secretary-General’s letter requested missions to the UN to nominate candidates by March 31.

The criteria were:

  • Commitment to a global strategy to address climate change and its consequences through the Convention and its Kyoto Protocol;
  • Capacity to work with the President, the Bureau and the delegates of the COP, and the willingness to provide objective leadership when required;
  • Proven skills in management and the capacity to provide leadership to an autonomous secretariat of approximately 450 staff and a total expenditure of up to USD 100 million per year;
  • Vision, high professional standing and knowledge of the issues involved in the climate change and sustainable development spheres;
  • Ability to, and experience in collaborating actively with the UN Secretary-General, with heads and senior staff of UN system agencies, funds and programmes as well as of other international entities, the private sector, and civil society organizations;
  • Excellent communication and representational skills; and
  • Highest possible standards of integrity in professional and personal matters.

Candidatures

In response to Ban’s call, eleven countries nominated candidates, the UN reported on April 15. The UN declined to name any of the candidates or nominating countries, but several candidates were identified by their governments and other reports. They were:

Thompson is one of two candidates who gave a press briefing at the UN on her candidacy. The other was Christiana Figueres.

In a noon press conference at UN headquarters on April 15, the spokesperson for Secretary-General Ban, stated, “… it is standard practice, not just for this job but for any job – we do not reveal the names of candidates.”

He added that the appointment would “be made following a normal competitive process run by a selection committee and in consultation with the bureau of the UNFCCC.”

According to reports, the other candidates may have included Tony Blair (United Kingdom), Hassan Wirajuda (Indonesia), and Carlos Rufino Costa Posada (Colombia).

Shortlist and Interviews

Five candidates for the post were interviewed by the Secretary-General’s selection committee beginning in late April, according to reliable sources speaking to the UNelections Campaign. The interviewed candidates – also known as the shortlist – were:

  • Figueres,
  • Pasztor,
  • van Schalkwyk,
  • Sharma, and
  • Thompson.

The shortlist was notable for its geographic and gender balance, with two women and candidates from four UN regional groups.

The selection committee that reviews candidates and conducts interviews for a high-level appointment generally is made up of UN officials ranking as Assistant Secretaries-General (the level of the post being filled) or higher, and established and overseen by the office of Ban’s Chef de Cabinet, Vijay Nambiar.

Decision by Secretary-General

Following the interviews, the selection committee made recommendations to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who was responsible for the final decision.

Ban’s decision to appoint Figueres reportedly was influenced or reinforced by the Alliance of Small Island States, known as AOSIS, which made a strong bid for Figueres, a candidate from a small developing country, over Marthinus van Schalkwyk, rumored to be the other leading candidate.

According to the Economic Times, Figueres’ candidature was strengthened by “the support she enjoys from many members of the [Alliance of Small Island States]”, or AOSIS, to which she is seen as a “strong ally.” For this reason, her appointment “is being viewed as part of an effort to reach out to small island states and less developed countries in a bid to rebuild the trust between nations.”

“Although [van Schalkwyk is] respected personally, small island states that feel threatened by climate change are understood to have resisted the appointment of someone from the BASIC bloc of countries” (Brazil, South Africa, India, and China), reports the BBC.

It also has been suggested that Figueres was selected because of her “great reputation of being a negotiator, a conciliator who brings people together,” and of “having a deep understanding of its processes and its outstanding issues.”

Another explanation for Ban’s decision is that he plans to appoint van Schalkwyk instead as Under-Secretary-General to lead the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS). The appointment of its current head, Inga-Britt Ahlenius, expires this year after a five-year, non-renewable term that began April 20, 2005.


Approval by COP

UN officials presented Ban’s decision to a meeting of the UNFCCC COP Bureau on May 17. The Bureau reportedly gave Figueres’ nomination its unanimous support, which finalized the appointment.

Although it had been reported that Ban would consult with the COP in making the decision, it seems that the Bureau simply accepted his only recommendation in a largely ceremonious procedure.

Reuters reported that Figueres was “Ban’s only recommendation” to succeed de Boer, and that it was “just a courtesy” to present it to the Bureau.

Analysis of Process

Positive steps taken in this appointment process included the use of specific criteria in evaluating the candidates (“position guidelines”), and the public listing of those criteria. These correspond to two elements repeatedly called for by the UNelections Campaign – formal candidate qualifications and an official timeline and systematic reporting.

In addition, the fact that eleven countries nominated individuals for the post contributed to ensuring that the Secretary-General could select someone highly qualified. Indeed, the WWF noted that the candidatures submitted included strong candidates, “particularly from developing countries.”

Another feature of high-level appointments called for by the UNelections Campaign is inclusion of geographic and gender considerations. The reported shortlist included at least one person from each of the UN’s regional groupings, with the exception of the Group of Western European and Other States (WEOG), and three of the candidates on the list were women.

The appointment of a woman is particularly welcomed in light of the recent creation by Ban Ki-moon of an Advisory Group on climate change financing that included 19 men and no women (a woman was added later), as well as the importance of women’s voices in climate change, which is known to disproportionately impact women.

Despite these positive steps, the process fell below international standards in its level of transparency following the call for nominations. Strict confidentiality was imposed by the Secretary-General’s spokesperson in speaking with the press and by senior officials in the Executive Office who managed the selection process. The names of candidates and the selection committee’s shortlist were kept confidential and obtained only informally.

As a result, reliable information was difficult for stakeholders to find.

Greater transparency at all stages would afford media, civil society, and all Member States the opportunity to research candidates and provide feedback to the Secretary-General. During his term as Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon has not employed the previous practice of circulating a shortlist for high-level appointments, instead insisting on the necessity of confidentiality and that, despite the record of previous Secretaries-General, it is “standard practice, not just for this job but for any job – we do not reveal the names of candidates.”

Overall, the competitive nature of the appointment, the selection of someone regarded as very well qualified for the position, and a woman from a small, developing country reflects relatively well on the Secretary-General’s appointment process this time. Steps toward greater transparency would bring his future appointment processes closer into line with international standards.

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Reactions:

Below are excerpts from various stakeholders’ reactions to the appointment of Figueres to lead the UNFCCC.

  • · NGOs

o       Greenpeace:

§         Costa Rica’s goal of becoming carbon-neutral by 2021 is “the type of attitude we need on the global stage.”

§         Having observed Figueres in several negotiations, she “seems to be a person who has courage and ambition.”

o        WWF:

§         Figueres “promises to be an inspiring leader who can keep a high level political dialogue going in order to secure the first critical elements of a climate treaty in Cancún, Mexico in December,”

§         She “will bring forward her experience with government, business, and civil society and at the same time the perspective of a developing country government. Her background should allow her to foster trust between countries and to push for an ambitious climate deal.”

§         “We are convinced that Ms. Figueres will maintain an open door policy and engage widely with civil society,”

o Pew Center on Global Climate Change

§         Through her many years of participation and leadership in the multilateral climate process, Ms. Figueres has demonstrated the expertise and commitment needed to lead the UNFCCC at this critical stage. She understands the issues, the history, and the many interests at play. These assets will be essential as she works with parties to strengthen confidence in the UNFCCC process, set realistic expectations going forward, and facilitate practical progress.”

o        Women’s Views on News:

§         “Seeing as climate change disproportionately affects women – as do natural disasters – the election of Christiana Figueres is particularly heartening. Figueres has an impressive background in UN climate change work and is thought not only to have a profound understanding of the issue, but also extensive experience of dealing with the bureaucratic processes of the UN. This could make her more likely to effect change.”

Member States:

  • US: Figueres is “well-qualified with a deep background in UN climate change negotiations.”
  • China: Welcomed the appointment of a candidate from a developing country. “Climate change issues are closely related to world development, especially the development of poor countries.”
  • Denmark: Figueres is “highly experienced, she is well connected, she knows all the negotiators. She knows the dossiers.”
  • Japan: “As one of her co-chairs in the [CDM group in December], I know for sure that [Figueres] will lead us in a balanced and transparent manner. I have a great confidence in her leadership and would like to provide her, the secretariat, and the negotiation process with all necessary support.”

Private sector:

  • IDEAcarbon (owns the Carbon Rating Agency):
    • Is “honoured and delighted that such a highly regarded and experienced figure has been appointed to this important post and we welcome her appointment wholeheartedly. We feel that this can herald a new impetus to the international negotiations to secure a new global deal for climate change, as Ms. Figueres understands what is required to get the sector participants fully engaged and how financial flows can make a difference in mitigation, adaptation and market mechanisms.”
    • “Christiana Figueres’ background in finance makes her an excellent choice to shepherd the UNFCCC towards a global climate deal, with an integral role that the carbon markets can play in achieving its objectives. She is widely seen as a negotiator who is able to bring complex issues between parties to a common approach.”

o        “We’re delighted that someone with such a background in the process of the negotiations and with such respect among parties and observers, including the private sector, has been given the job.”

o        She needs to “restore the world’s confidence in the international negotiating process after the low point of Copenhagen and she needs to find a way to bring private sector stakeholders and economic stakeholders in the public sector, such as finance ministries, into the heart of the process.”

o        “She’s always been willing to listen to business and has taken time to understand what business is saying.”

o        “Christiana has been involved in the climate change negotiations since the early days of the UNFCCC and, having worked in the public, private and NGO sectors, she perfectly combines diplomatic skills with a great mix of expertise, in particular on market-based instruments and regulatory issues…. Her intelligence, eloquence, determination, responsiveness and gentleness is outstanding – but the way she is approachable by stakeholders at all levels and builds trust amongst them is unique and this is exactly what is needed within the UNFCCC process.”

  • Business Green (Editorial)
    • “If you were to develop the composite CV of the ideal person to replace the out-going Yvo de Boer it would look a lot like the resume submitted by Figueres.”
    • “The appointment of a woman from a relatively small developing country to one of the most high profile UN posts is also to be welcomed, particularly given that the climate change negotiations continue to be dominated by middle-aged men in dark suits from the world’s most powerful economies.”
    • “…She clearly genuinely and passionately cares about the urgent need to combat climate change.”

Finally, Yvo de Boer commented, “I have known Christiana Figueres for many years and can testify to her deep commitment and work to establish the robust and effective international climate regime that is the only way for all nations to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. She is familiar with the different interests a successful outcome of negotiations must address and can help stakeholders to find common ground. I wish her every success.”

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