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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 25th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

PEACE AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: A TWO-WAY RELATIONSHIP

Panel discussion during the 8th session of the

United Nations Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals.

FridayFebruary 71:15pm – 2:45pm
 
United Nations Conference Room 5, New York, NY
Please join our panel at the United Nations which will focus on the following topics:
  • Causal relationship between durable peace and sustainable development
  • Dilemma of the governments and armed opposition groups: the issue of trust and credible commitment to follow through on peace agreement
  • Distrust of the conflicting sides as a barrier to the implementation of SDGs
  • Enforcement mechanism: How can the United Nations, its agencies, and regional intergovernmental organizations enforce peace deals and contribute to sustainable development
This event will feature a discussion by H.E. Carlos Enrique Garcia Gonzalez, Permanent Representative of El Salvador to the United Nations as well as professors from Columbia University and New York University. 
UN Pass is required to attend.
To receive a UN Pass, please RSVP to rsvp@peaceislands.org        by no later than Thursday, January 30th.
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As a preparation for this meeting I would like to propose an old Jan Pronk article of Maastricht, 1.5.2007, that starts:

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE

by Jan Pronk

  [  Jan Pronk: Sustainable Development and Peace - UNU-Merit

www.merit.unu.edu/.../200705_JanPronkM...?United Nations University ]
 

Shortly after the fall of the Berlin wall the then UN Secretary General, Boutros Boutros Galil, drew the attention to the need for a new paradigm in international policy making: there is no peace without development and there is no development without peace. It may sound as a truism. However, it had been ignored during the Cold War between East and West as well as during many years of lukewarm peace between North and South in the aftermath of decolonisation.

Mutual interests

The neglect of this truism had already become clear during the discussions about the conclusions presented by the Brandt Commission in the two reports North- South: A Programme for Survival (1980) and Common Crisis: Cooperation for World Recovery (1983). These reports dealt with issues concerning development, poverty and new relations between North and South, a new international economic order. They reflected a new philosophy: interdependence between nations, mutual dependencies resulting in a common interest of all nations, not only in order to establish recovery, but also to manage development and even to guarantee survival. The reports claimed that all nations shared a global responsibility for world social and economic development. A world public

sector was advocated, parallel to orderly international market operations, in particular in energy, food, trade in general as well as in finance. This was complemented by the statement that there was a need for world institutional reforms. Would all this be possible? Yes, as Willy Brandt said in the preface to the report: ‘One should not give up the hope that problems created by men can also be solved by men’.

This programme has not been implemented. Why not? Maybe the minds were not yet ripe. The confrontation between East West during the Cold War did not create a climate in favour of global cooperation. There was not yet a feeling of global communality.

There was a second reason as well. The world economic recession of the second half of the seventies and the eighties was not conducive to new approaches. Instead countries followed a pattern of adjustment to what was felt as the economic reality. This adjustment took place through expenditure cuts, rather than investments resulting in growth and development. This led to an economic philosophy consisting of elements which were not in accordance with those proposed by the Brandt Commission: market liberalisation, deregulation, a smaller public sector and more reliance on unbridled market mechanisms.

In the second half of the eighties and in the nineties the world has changed drastically. There was the end of the Cold War, followed by a new phase of globalisation. The new chances for world peace after the Cold War were a big boost to world economic growth, benefiting both the US, the countries of the former Soviet Union as well the countries in Eastern and Western Europe. The economies of these countries were benefiting from a fast and intense globalisation following the opening of national borders. There was a new mutuality of peace and economic progress. Could it be extended towards developing countries as well?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 21st, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

to open the UN General Assembly. “It is with personal humility, but with my justified pride as a woman, that I meet this historic moment,” said Rousseff as she opened the general debate. “I share this feeling with over half of the human beings on this planet who, like myself, were born women and who, with tenacity, are occupying the place they deserve in the world. I am certain that this will be the century of women.”   —-    Rousseff can also be found on the cover of this week’s Newsweek, with a profile by Mac Margolis.

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l aunched the Open Government Partnership (OGP) while in New York on Tuesday. The OGP’s goal is to give citizens tools to monitor   elected leaders and achieve more transparent governance. Mexico is one of the additional six founding members and other Latin American countries that have pledged to sign on to the partnership are: Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, and Uruguay.
This is a smart program for U.S. policy in the hemisphere and a great leadership role for Brazil to play,” reports Bloggings by Boz, who links to commitments and plans from Brazil, Mexico, and the United States.

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Colombia, a member of the Security Council, is very important in this because an attempt is being made to negate to the Palestinians a simple majority in the SEcurity Council in order to avoid a US veto.
This attempt revolves around three Member States and Colombia is one of them.  Rather then attending President Obama’s speech to the General Assembly, Mr. Netanyahu  was at that time in a meeting with the President of Colombia promoting such a move.

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drilling for oil in the Florida Straits between the Florida Keys and Cuba as early as mid-December. It is estimated Cuba may hold anywhere from 5 billion to 20 billion barrels of oil in offshore reserves.

In a piece for CNN’s Global Public Square program and blog, Fareed Zakaria warns: “Our trade embargo on Cuba not only prevents us from doing business with our neighbor but it also bars us from sending equipment and expertise to help even in a crisis. So, if there is an explosion, we will watch while the waters of the Gulf Coast get polluted.”

We watched that program on Sunday, September 18th and it is crystal clear that the US has now to end the embargo on Cuba. We know that election season in the US has just started – but it seems that moves by President Obama on this issue would be right in place and would improve relations within the Western Hemisphere where all countries now side with Cuba.

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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 August 1st, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Extraordinary times in Cuba

Laura Pollan, leader of Las Damas de Blanco, marches along Quinta Avenida in Havana on Sunday.

There has been a flurry of news in Cuba. First came the Cuban government’s decision to release 52 political prisoners over the next three months. Then came the extradition of Francisco Chavez Abarca, a Salvadoran accused of carrying out violent attacks against Cuba.

More news came today when Fidel Castro’s photographer son Alex posted photos showing the former Cuban president visiting a research center in Havana. Alex Castro shot the pictures last week at the National Center for Scientific Investigation in Havana. One news report said Castro used a cell phone camera to take the pictures; I haven’t confirmed that.

Photos by Alex Castro. Source: CubaDebate

News of Fidel Castro’s rare public appearance comes days after the Cuban government said it would free 52 prisoners held since a government crackdown on dissidents in March 2003.
Guillermo Fariñas announced he’d end his 134-day hunger strike after Cuban authorities announced the release. Fariñas is a dissident and independent journalist in the central town of Santa Clara. He began his protest after dissident Orlando Zapata Tamayo died in February after an 86-day hunger strike.

More than a dozen reporters and photographers showed up to cover the Damas’ march on Sunday. The women marched without any interference. A passing motorist yelled something like, “Those people aren’t news.” Another shouted, “Mariconas,” which means lesbians.

The Damas kneeled in front of Santa Rita Church and prayed after finishing their march, then they chanted “Freedom! Freedom!” A few minutes later as they gathered at a nearby park and some of them repeated the chant. A man who was shooting video missed that shot and asked the Damas to repeat it. One prominent member of the group refused, saying that these chants “come from the soul” and aren’t meant to be repeated just because someone asks.

The cameraman asked if, well, the Damas could please be inspired again to feel it “from the soul.” More than a half dozen of the women complied, chanting “Freedom! Freedom!” once again, then told the cameraman that they hoped he was satisfied.

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

Climate Extremes Fuel Hunger in Guatemala.
By Danilo Valladares

GUATEMALA CITY, Jul 28, 2010 (IPS) – “Three-quarters of the fields are still under water. Maize, plantains, okra and pasture are all lost,” José Asencio told IPS at the village of Santa Ana Mixtán in southern Guatemala, the area worst affected by tropical storm Agatha.

The villagers have been working for food in order to survive. “We’ve been shoring up the banks of the Coyolate and Mascalate rivers, and the mayor has been giving us food rations, although we haven’t received any for the past two weeks because supplies have run out,” he said.

Asencio said that food shortages and unemployment, caused by the extreme weather and the floods, have worsened the plight of the 373 families in the village, which is part of the municipality of Nueva Concepción in the department (province) of Escuintla, in the far south of the country.

The same dramatic situation is seen in Madronales, a village in the coastal municipality of Ocós in the southwestern province of San Marcos. “The fields sown with maize and plantain are flooded; we need food aid,” community leader Amparo Barrios told IPS.

Tropical storm Agatha flooded the crops that are the mainstay of 210 families, and “the little that was spared was destroyed by Atlantic storm Alex,” which hit the country a month later, she complained.

Agatha departed from Guatemala May 30, leaving behind 165 people dead and over 100,000 affected by destruction of their homes, crops or livelihoods. One month later, Alex added two more to the death toll and 2,000 to the number of material victims, according to the National Disaster Reduction Coordination agency (CONRED).

The storms also hit El Salvador and Honduras, where at least 29 people died and thousands were left homeless, according to disaster relief agencies.

But the worst hit by the double whammy of the storms was Guatemala, one of the poorest countries in Latin America, where half the population live on incomes below the poverty line and 17 percent are extremely poor, according to United Nations statistics.

“Climate change is exacerbating the conditions of poverty and extreme poverty in the country, and above all is complicating the lives of the most vulnerable,” Carlos Mancilla, head of the Climate Change Unit at the Environment and Natural Resources Ministry (MARN), told IPS.

Flooding is not the only concern. Paradoxically, one of the main chronic problems in Guatemala is drought, in the “dry corridor” in the north and east of the country.

“Adapting to drought is not as easy as coping with floods. How can the social fabric destroyed by a drought be repaired? What happens when the head of a family has to migrate? In contrast, if a bridge is washed away by the rains, it can simply be rebuilt,” Mancilla said.

The General Directorate of Epidemiology reported that at least 54 children died of hunger in 2009 because of the drought, which was described as the worst in 30 years. Meanwhile, 2.5 million people went hungry due to the food crisis, the U.N. reported.

Just under 50 percent of children in Guatemala are malnourished, the highest rate in Latin America and one of the highest in the world, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

But in Mancilla’s view, adaptation to climate change must be broader in scope than just dealing with the food crisis, because inappropriate location of human settlements and the construction methods used compound the risks.

In addition to its economic vulnerability, Guatemala has unstable geology, with a high risk of disasters from volcanic activity, geological faults and its many mountains and rivers.

For example, the Pacaya volcano, 30 kilometres from the capital, erupted May 27 and rained ash over Guatemala City, killing one person and affecting thousands of others.

Among the government measures taken to adapt to the climate emergencies, Mancilla mentioned the creation of an inter-institutional Climate Change Commission, made up of 17 secretariats and ministries, that is “assessing the impact, including on food production, within the different sectors.” In this way “we examine how each one can contribute” to overcoming the challenge, he said.

Sucely Girón, coordinator of the non-governmental Observatory on the Right to Food Security (ODSAN), told IPS that the country “is not investing in prevention,” in spite of having passed a law on food and nutrition security.

“The main thrust of the reconstruction budget is replacing infrastructure. They forget that Agatha and Alex left people with no crops and no jobs that would enable them to buy food,” she said, referring to the announcement by the government of social democratic President Álvaro Colom that it needs one billion dollars to reconstruct the country.

Girón said that crop diversification and alternative economic activities need to be promoted, in order to reduce Guatemala’s dependence on agriculture.

She mentioned tourism, fish farming and craft making as possible ways of earning incomes for families whose crops have suffered from climate change impacts.

The programme on Strengthening Environmental Governance in the face of Climate Change Risks in Guatemala, an initiative of government and non-governmental organisations, community organisations and international aid agencies, aims at sustainable agriculture.

Leonel Jacinto, coordinator within the project for the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), told IPS that food security for the population is being sought through agricultural best practices.

In the central province of Baja Verapaz, affected by drought, the programme encourages avoidance of slash-and-burn techniques, and promotes agroforestry (combining trees and shrubs with crops and/or livestock) and preserving and making use of stubble, in order to improve water retention in the soil.

The project, which is to benefit 791 families directly and another 100,000 families indirectly, promotes the recycling of water used for washing clothes to irrigate vegetable plots. It also encourages energy generation in biodigesters, which produce biogas from organic waste materials.

Jacinto said programmes like this one can change the face of agriculture in Guatemala and make it more resistant to climate change. But it needs to be extended across the country and to be sustained over time, he stressed.

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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.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 3rd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Richard Attias (born 1959 in Morocc) – he is a  global events producer. As chairman of PublicisLive Attias was the producer of the World Economic Forum in Davos for over fifteen years. His personal history and the history of the organizations he was involved with are plainly fascinating and we write this longer posting because we feel that he is embarking now upon even a greater voyage with his new NEW YORK FORUM, then in his previous activities.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) is a Geneva-based non-profit foundation best known for its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, which brings together top business leaders, international political leaders, selected intellectuals and journalists to discuss the most pressing issues facing the world, including health and the environment. Beside meetings, the WEF produces a series of research reports, and engages its members in sector specific initiatives. WEF also organizes the “Annual Meeting of the New Champions” in China, and a series of regional meetings throughout the year. In 2008 those regional meetings included meetings on Europe and Central Asia, East Asia, the Russia CEO Roundtable, Africa, the Middle East, and the World Economic Forum on Latin America. In 2008 it launched the “Summit on the Global Agenda” in Dubai.

The WEF was founded in 1971 by Klaus Martin Schwab, a German-born business professor at the University of Geneva. Originally named the European Management Forum, it changed its name to the World Economic Forum in 1987 and sought to broaden its vision further to include providing a platform for resolving international conflicts.

In the summer of 1971 Schwab invited 444 executives from Western European firms to the first European Management Symposium held in the Davos Congress Centre, under the patronage of the European Commission and European industrial associations, where Schwab sought to introduce European firms to US management practices. He then founded the WEF as a non-profit organization based in Cologny, Geneva, and drew European business leaders to Davos for their annual meetings each January.

Schwab developed the “stakeholder” management approach which based corporate success on managers taking account of all interests: not merely shareholders, clients and customers, but employees and the communities within which the firm is situated, and governments. Events in 1973 including the collapse of the Bretton Woods fixed exchange rate mechanism, and the Arab-Israeli War, saw the annual meeting expand its focus from management to economic and social issues, and political leaders were invited for the first time to Davos in January 1974.

As the years went by, political leaders began to use Davos as a neutral platform to resolve their differences. The Davos Declaration was signed in 1988 by Greece and Turkey, helping them turn back from the brink of war. In 1992 South African President F. W. de Klerk met with Nelson Mandela and Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi at the Annual Meeting, their first joint appearance outside South Africa. At the 1994 Annual Meeting, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat reached a draft agreement on Gaza and Jericho. In 2008 Bill Gates gave a keynote speech on Creative Capitalism, a form of capitalism that works both to generate profits and solve the world’s inequities, using market forces to better address the needs of the poor.

Frederik de Klerk and Nelson Mandela shake hands at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum held in Davos in January 1992.

During the five-day Annual meeting in 2009, over 2,500 participants from 91 countries gathered in Davos. Around 75% (1,170) were business leaders, drawn principally from its members, 1,000 of world’s top companies. Besides these, participants included 219 public figures, including 40 heads of state or government, 64 cabinet ministers, 30 heads or senior officials of international organizations and 10 ambassadors. More than 432 participants were from civil society, including 32 heads or representatives of non-governmental organizations, 225 media leaders, 149 leaders from academic institutions and think tanks, 15 religious leaders of different faiths and 11 union leaders.
During the 1990s, Attias founded an Event Management Company and produced various global events including the Zurich Insurances Convention and Boris Yeltsin‘s visit to France. Richard was awarded the contract for the signature of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) signature agreements in Marrakesh and for the Middle East and North Africa summit meeting in Casablanca.

A brief encounter with Klaus Schwab, President of the World Economic Forum, resulted in a long-standing partnership and the eventual creation of the Global Event Management Company. This joint venture agency went on to manage international conferences, including the International Telecoms Union Congress and the Middle East Peace Summit in Jordan and the World Economic Forum in Davos.


Richard joined Publicis Groupe in 1998 and established a global enterprise producing events for various clients including IBM, l’Oreal, Uniliver, BT, Avaya, Lenovo, EDF, Sanofi-Aventis, etc.

Richard was named Chairman of the Board of Publicis Dialog which combined the operations of Publicis Events and a range of marketing services. In 2004, Richard moved to New York and became chairman of Publicis Events Worldwide, the first world wide events network with over 600 employees.

At PublicisLive Richard combined the events company and team to form PublicisLive that specialized in the conception and production of international conferences and very high profile events such as the Clinton Global Initiative Forum, the Islamic Conference, The Petra Conference of Nobel Laureates, the Dalian Economic Summit in China, and the Monaco Media Forum.

On March 23, 2008, Richard Attias married in New York’s Rockefeller Centre the ex-wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy     Former French First Lady Mme. Cécilia María Sara Isabel Ciganer-Albéniz (a descendent of the composer).

Cécilia Sarkozy visited Libya twice in July 2007 to visit Muammar al-Gaddafi and helped in securing the release of five Bulgarian nurses and one Palestinian doctor who had all spent years on Libya‘s death row after allegedly being tortured into confessing to infecting Libyan babies with the HIV virus. The French left asked for Cécilia Sarkozy to be heard by the Parliamentary Commission expected to be created in October 2007 concerning the terms of the release of the six, as she had played an “important role” in their liberation. A Newspaper interview with Cécilia Sarkozy on October 19, 2007, made it known that she is leaving the President.


Current work

In 2008 Richard Attias created the Experience Corporation – a U.S. based full service event management and strategic consulting company with offices in New York, Paris, Jeddah and Dubai, that supports government and non-governmental organizations worldwide. As Executive Chairman, Richard oversees the execution and management of global events. Two major recent productions have been the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the accession to the throne of the King of Jordan and the launching of the Bahrain Education Project in Manama on October 10, 2009. The Experience Corporation has also executed more than a dozen corporate and governmental events since its inception in March, 2008.

Richard Attias is the Executive Chairman of  the Experience Corporation and works there with his wife.

Cecilia Attias Foundation for Women, In October 2008, Cecilia Attias announced the launch of her Foundation for women’s rights. The Cecilia Attias Foundation for Women actualizes concrete improvement in the lives of women worldwide by serving as a strategic, media, and financial platform for small and moderate sized, established non-governmental organizations, associations and foundations who champion the cause of women’s equality and well-being. Recently, Cecilia Attias delivered the keynote address at the ARISE Africa Fashion Awards entitled “The Promise of Africa.”

2008, Richard Attias sold the Global Event Management Company and with it the contract with the World Economic Forum. Richard is named special advisor to the Emirate of Dubai to provide a comprehensive strategy to make the city a destination for major conferences, and cultural and sporting events and spends a year and a half in Dubai.

Richard Attias is the Chairman the Advisory Board of the Center on Capitalism and Society, directed by Nobel Prize winner Edmund Phelps.

Currently, The Experience is making preparations for its New York Forum, the first summit to unite business leaders, sovereign funds and all major players in the global economy for an open, action oriented debate to foster ideas for improvement and reinvent current business models.

This brings us to what goes on right now – right here in New York, and we got wind of this from the New York Foreign Press Center where Richard Attias gave a Briefing on-The-Record, June 2, 2010.
We learned that this was the launching announcement for the FIRST ANNUAL NEW YORK FORUM, and we bet, in an age of contraction and increased interest in the real world, with demands that go beyond what a resort can provide, the location in New York City might make it possible that the meeting will become even more important then those Davos meetings.
The First Meeting will be held June 22-23, 2010, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel on East 42nd Street in Manhattan.
If you check the dates – you find that this fits neatly before the G-20 meeting – June 26 – 27, 2010 in Toronto. And as such, we already learned, that a main attraction of this meeting will be Christine Lagarde, Finance Minister of France will be the featured speaker at the closing session June 23, 2010.

Lagarde is the first woman ever to become minister of Economic Affairs of a G8 economy.  In 2008, Lagarde was ranked the 14th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes Magazine.  A noted antitrust and labor lawyer, Lagarde made history as the first female chairman of the international law firm Baker & McKenzie. She has been awarded France’s highest honor, the Légion d’honneur. In 2009, the Financial Times ranked her the best Minister of Finance of the Eurozone.
Further we learned that to date, Vikram Pandit, CEO, Citigroup; Edmund Phelps, Nobel Prize in Economics, 2006; Arthur Sulzberger Jr., Chairman and Publisher of The New York Times; Robert Wolf, CEO, UBS Americas; Jonathan Miller, CEO, News Corp Digital; Cathie Black, President, Hearst Magazines; and S.D. Shibulal, Co-Founder of Infosys Technologies, are among the people who have confirmed their attendance.
The New York Forum is a call for action by the business community to reinvigorate the global economy and to find new confidence and credibility. Initial support came from the following Forum partners: The Boston Consulting Group, The New York Times, Partnership for New York City, and the Center on Capitalism and Society at Columbia University.

The Forum’s distinguished Advisory Board includes Nobel Prize-winning economist and Director of The Center for Capitalism and Society, Edmund Phelps; Partnership for New York City CEO Kathy Wylde; Economist and Planet Finance Founder, Jacques Attali; and Scott-Heekin-Canedy, President and General Manager, The New York Times.

—————
WHY NEW YORK?

From Mr. Attias we learned that his love affair with New York started at 9/11. He saw then how “UNITED WE STAND” was something real in this city. That is how he decided to make it his main home.

When the financial crisis struck he was in Dubai – he realized that the economic crisis will follow. He saw there the workers from India losing their jobs without understanding what it is all about. He came back to New York with the intent to create this new platform – the New York Forum with people who really run the show – the business people rather then the politicians. He talks as stakeholders – of NGOs, academics, besides the business people, and he wants them to come up with actual proposals. He will keep them in the discussion groups and wait for solutions. He talks of a call to action and is not shy to say that the problems were started right here in New York, and solutions should come from New York and applied directly in New York.
Richard Attias thinks the Financial Crisis is behind us – but we have the Economic Crisis and we must have jobs for people.
The 2010 New York Forum will have a total of only 320-360 participants – just 3 plenaries with CEOs and attendees. Also many smaller group meetings, Mr. Attias said that 60 people in a group is the maximum. Further, as he said, at the end there must be a road map on regulations and transparency as needed to create renewed trust in the system. For years we had the feeling of credibility, what happened recently made us lose that feeling and we must restore it.
Several days after the meeting there will be a “white book” – 100% transparent, open to the media – at least to the web – and press releases.
Three days after the meeting Rubinstein Communications Inc. will have the result of the dialogue in the form of a document – “REINVENTING THE BUSINESS MODEL.”
We got enthused by the fact that Mr. Attias said that while now there are 600,000 cars on the global roads every day, when China matches us in the ratio of cars per people, there might be 2 billion cars on the roads of the planet – and this is not negotiable. Different transportation systems must be established.
indeed, in his briefing Mr. Attias did not go into details of a green economy, or of the actual alternatives that must evolve. We realized that in ways he wants to keep his neutrality before the dialogue, but it is clear that no results are possible if all our favorite arguments will not be part of this dialogue. Therefore we are confident that the Forum can be the answer to just what the doctor found in his diagnosis: The crisis started in New York and the road map will be drawn in New York in order to effect the financial institutions, that will from now on, have to handle with complete transparency the requirements of sustainability.

He picked New York also because its rich cultural life, in this respect it might be more to the point then going away to a retreat.
With a composition as diverse as including people from South Africa, India, Dubai, Korea, etc. a process of innovation may be started at this forum. He has extended invitations to Sovereign Funds- so governments like Saudi Arabia will be present.
Problems started as for years political leaders were out to reduce costs, but the problem that in the real world it led to the Greece crisis. Something has to change. Mme. Legarde is expected to address tis problem

———————-

For The New York Forum

Contact:         Rubenstein Communications, Inc.

Iva Benson (212) 843-8271,  ibenson at rubenstein.com

Thomas Chiodo (212) 843-8289,  tchiodo at rubenstein.com

——————–

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

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

from: James Sniffen <sniffenj@un.org>

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

Panama City, 24th May, 2010:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For additional information, please contact:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


CLIMATE CHANGE: Native Peoples Reject Market Mechanisms.
By Daniel Zueras

SAN JOSÉ, Apr 1, 2010 (IPS) – Solutions to global warming based on the logic of the market are a threat to the rights and way of life of indigenous peoples, the Latin American Indigenous Forum on Climate Change concluded this week in Costa Rica.

Proposals from governments and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs), such as the Clean Development Mechanism and the UN-REDD Programme (United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries), “are new forms of economic geopolitics” that endanger indigenous rights enshrined in treaties, says the final declaration of the forum, which ended Wednesday.

These proposals allow states and transnational corporations to promote dams, agrofuels, oil exploration, tree plantations and monoculture crops, that cause expropriation and destruction of indigenous peoples’ territories and the criminalisation, prosecution and even murder of native people, the document says.

The Forum, which opened Monday, included the Indigenous Council of Central America (CICA), the Meso-American Indigenous Council (CIMA), the International Alliance of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forests, the Coordinating Body for the Indigenous Organisations of the Amazon Basin (COICA), the Indigenous Women’s Biodiversity Network (IWBN), the South American region of the Continental Network of Indigenous Women (ECMIA), the Intercultural Indigenous University (UII) and the International Indigenous Women’s Forum (IIWF).

Indigenous people and their organisations are putting forward holistic solutions that respect the rights of human beings and of Mother Earth, and that are not limited to Western scientific knowledge but include traditional wisdom, indigenous practices and innovations that have contributed to efforts to preserve ecosystems and biodiversity, the Forum declaration says.

There are some 400 different native groups in Latin America, totaling about 45 million people.

“We discussed indigenous peoples’ strategies and positions with respect to climate change,” the general coordinator of the Guatemala-based Sotz’il – Centre for Maya Research and Development, Ramiro Batzin, told IPS. Governments talk to each other without taking civil society into account, but indigenous people must be listened to, because they are the most affected by global warming, he said.

Climate change is due to “a model of development that has forced indigenous people into extreme poverty,” he said.

The worst harm they are suffering is lack of food, because of drought and floods, and the loss of their cultural identity.

The UN-REDD Programme provides for rich countries to pay for maintaining tropical forests in the developing world, in compensation for their carbon dioxide emissions, the main greenhouse gas responsible for global warming.

The native peoples say that the great majority of places being proposed by governments and some NGOs to participate in the REDD programme are located in indigenous territories.

This shows that these territories are well preserved, but it is urgent to defend guarantees contained in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, particularly territorial rights and the right to self-determination and free, prior and informed consent, the forum declaration says.

“States do not want to acknowledge this; their approach is based purely on the bottom line,” said Batzin.

People here pinned their hopes on the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, to be hosted this month by the Bolivian government. The meeting is conceived as an alternative approach to the solutions explored to date by the international community.

Official climate negotiations will be resumed at the next United Nations conference in Mexico in November, after the failure of the Copenhagen meeting last December.

“The failure was to expect an outcome from such a meeting. In the midst of an economic crisis, industrialised countries do not want to sacrifice production,” Pascal Girot, Mesoamerica and Caribbean coordinator for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), told IPS.

The present model “is exterminating Mother Nature,” said Batzin, who criticised the governments of Panama, Costa Rica and Guatemala for not protesting against the documents that emerged from Copenhagen, which he said were “not very democratic and lacked transparency.”

Costa Rica, for instance, is planning to be a carbon neutral country by 2021, and to sell greenhouse gas emissions mitigation mechanisms to industrialised countries.

“It’s a licence to pollute. It may be a solution for Costa Rica, taking a very utilitarian view. But it’s the principle that the polluter pays, and that is all we have at the moment,” said Girot.

Mechanisms like the REDD programme must guarantee the long term survival of the world’s large forests. But to achieve that in Central America is very difficult, because of the pressures on forested areas, and because “investors want guarantees that the mechanisms will be measurable,” Girot said.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 10th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

You see, while one US dollar buys you one Florida orange, you get for one US dollar now 5 bananas from Colombia – up from 4. Attention!  This is the only produce that has fallen in price.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 22nd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 21st, 2008

From:  ebulletin at mail.ipu.org March 20, 2008
Subject: IPU e-Bulletin no.11


THE INTER-PARLIAMENTARY UNION a base for creating the United Democracies.

IPU JOINS UNITED NATIONS THEMATIC DEBATE
ON CLIMATE CHANGE

The President of the United Nations General Assembly convened a high-level thematic debate on climate change on 11-12 February 2008, with the aim of building political momentum towards effective action in this crucial area. The Inter-Parliamentary Union, based on its own work in this field over the past year – particularly in follow-up to the 116th IPU Assembly in Bali – joined the discussion and highlighted its efforts to reinforce climate change policy and legislation with a view to achieving the ultimate objectives of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol.

climate3.jpg

National parliaments have reported back to the IPU on their own initiatives in implementing the Bali parliamentary declaration on climate change. The parliament of Chile, for example, has started to look at ways to make the national budget more environment-friendly. The German Bundestag Committee on the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety has recently debated several motions on proposed climate protection measures tabled by the parliamentary groups. The Bundestag also sets an example for climate protection and energy efficiency in the operation of its own buildings. In Israel, the Knesset Committee for Internal Affairs and the Environment is currently preparing the second and third readings of the Clean Air Bill.

A recent session of the Japanese Diet has seen the enactment of a law relating to the promotion of government contracts that pay due consideration to environmental concerns, assessing the environmental load of each project rather than simply looking at price competitiveness. In the UK, the parliamentary Joint Committee on the Draft Climate Change Bill, which aims to reduce the net UK carbon account by at least 60 per cent from the 1990 baseline by the year 2050, expressed its concerns recently about the legal enforceability of the targets and budgets, and proposed a system of annual milestones and a compliance mechanism to create a strong legal framework. In Belarus, the parliament is currently debating two bills designed to mitigate climate change, one to amend the environmental protection law on compensation for environmental damage, and the other concerning a draft code on earth resources. Many other examples can be quoted in this regard.

On 5 March, IPU was also invited to attend a parliamentary event hosted by the United States Congress, in the context of the Washington International Conference on Renewable Energy. Several legislators joined their national delegations to this important event, and shared views and experiences on good policies and practices to expand the use of clean and renewable energy solutions. Following a brief but productive exchange among legislators, it was agreed that there was scope for further work by the IPU and national parliaments in this important area.

IPU PRESIDENT IN THE MIDDLE EAST

President Casini went on an official mission to the Middle East at the end of January, when a freak snowstorm brought much of the region to a standstill.

jerusalem.jpg

On January 28, one day after the 63rd anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, he delivered a speech in the Knesset to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day. During his stay in Jerusalem, he held talks with the Speaker of the Knesset, Ms. Dalia Itzik, and leaders of the political factions, before meeting President Perez, Prime Minister Olmert and Foreign Minister Livni. The talks centered on the political situation in the region and prospects for peace, the crisis in Gaza, and codes and standards for parliamentary elections. The mission also raised the question of the PLC parliamentarians who were detained in Israeli jails.

Wishing to gain first-hand information about the difficulties facing the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), Mr. Casini travelled to the PLC headquarters in Ramallah, where he held a lively exchange of views with a group of parliamentarians, focusing on the representation of Palestine in the IPU. Later in the day he met with Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

The IPU Secretary General joined the President during his visit to Jerusalem and Ramallah after making a stop in Amman, where he met with the Speaker and other members of the Palestinian National Council for discussions about their membership status at the IPU. He also held several meetings in Ramallah with the PLC members and the Secretary General of the parliament.

{what we found interesting here is the IPU geography – the Midle East – when talking about the World’s Parliaments – amounts to Israel and the induced Israeli effect on the Palestinian authority that learned from israel the mechanics of aiming at a parliamentarian democracy. www.SustainabiliTank.info comment}

Selected forthcoming IPU events

118th IPU Assembly and Related Meetings
CAPE TOWN (South Africa), 13-18 April 2008

Seminar on the role of parliaments in Central America in reconciliation and democratization processes, SAN SALVADOR (El Salvador),
5-7 May 2008

Annual session of the Parliamentary Conference on the WTO, GENEVA (Switzerland), 11-12 September 2008

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 15th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Oceans Eyed as New Energy Source.
By Brian Skoloff, The Associated Press, Thursday February 14, 2008.

Dania Beach, Florida – Just 15 miles off Florida’s coast, the world’s most powerful sustained ocean current – the mighty Gulf Stream – rushes by at nearly 8.5 billion gallons per second. And it never stops.

To scientists, it represents a tantalizing possibility: a new, plentiful and uninterrupted source of clean energy.

Florida Atlantic University researchers say the current could someday be used to drive thousands of underwater turbines, produce as much energy as perhaps 10 nuclear plants and supply one-third of Florida’s electricity. A small test turbine is expected to be installed within months.

“We can produce power 24/7,” said Frederick Driscoll, director of the university’s Center of Excellence in Ocean Energy Technology. Using a $5 million research grant from the state, the university is working to develop the technology in hopes that big energy and engineering companies will eventually build huge underwater arrays of turbines.

From Oregon to Maine, Europe to Australia and beyond, researchers are looking to the sea – currents, tides and waves – for its infinite energy. So far, there are no commercial-scale projects in the U.S. delivering electricity to the grid.

Because the technology is still taking shape, it is too soon to say how much it might cost. But researchers hope to make it as cost-effective as fossil fuels. While the initial investment may be higher, the currents that drive the machinery are free.

There are still many unknowns and risks. One fear is the “Cuisinart effect”: The spinning underwater blades could chop up fish and other creatures.

Researchers said the underwater turbines would pose little risk to passing ships. The equipment would be moored to the ocean floor, with the tops of the blades spinning 30 to 40 feet below the surface, because that’s where the Gulf Stream flows fastest. But standard navigation equipment on ocean vessels could easily guide them around the turbine fields if their hulls reached that deep, researchers said.

And unlike offshore wind turbines, which have run into opposition from environmentalists worried that the technology would spoil the ocean view, the machinery would be invisible from the surface, with only a few buoys marking the fields.

David White of the Ocean Conservancy said much of the technology is largely untested in the outdoors, so it is too soon to say what the environmental effects might be.

“We understand that there are environmental trade-offs, and we need to start looking to alternative energy and everything should be on the table,” he said. “But what are the environmental consequences? We just don’t know that yet.”

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has issued 47 preliminary permits for ocean, wave and tidal energy projects, said spokeswoman Celeste Miller. Most such permits grant rights just to study an area’s energy-producing potential, not to build anything.

The field has been dealt some setbacks. An ocean test last year ended in disaster when its $2 million buoy off Oregon’s coast sank to the sea floor. Similarly, a small test project using turbines powered by tidal currents in New York City’s East River ran into trouble last year after turbine blades broke.

The Gulf Stream is about 30 miles wide and shifts only slightly in its course, passing closer to Florida than to any other major land mass. “It’s the best location in the world to harness ocean current power,” Driscoll said.

Researchers on the West Coast, where the currents are not as powerful, are looking instead to waves to generate power. {but this is a technology that is already being tested in places as varied as Rio de Janeiro, New York City, and Tel Aviv}

Canada-based Finavera Renewables has received a FERC license to test a wave energy project in Washington state. It will eventually include four buoys in a bay and generate enough power for up to 700 homes. The 35-ton buoys rise above the water about 6 feet and extend some 60 feet down. Inside each buoy, a piston rises and falls with the waves.

The company hopes later to be the first in the U.S. to operate a commercial-scale “wave farm,” situated off Northern California. The project with Pacific Gas and Electric calls for Finavera to produce enough electricity to power up to 600 homes by 2012. Finavera eventually wants to supply 30,000 households.

Roger Bedard of the Electric Power Research Institute said an analysis by his organization found that wave- and tide-generated energy could supply only about 6.5 percent of today’s electricity needs.

Finavera spokesman Myke Clark acknowledged that wave energy is “definitely not the only answer” to the nation’s power needs and is never going to be as cheap as coal. But it could be “part of the energy mix,” and could be used to great advantage off the coasts of Third World countries, where entire towns have no connection to electrical grids, he said.

Nick Furman, executive director of the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission, said he fears the wave technology could crowd out his industry, which last year brought in 50 million pounds of crab and contributed $150 million to the state’s economy.

“We’ve got a limited amount of flat sandy bottom on the Oregon Coast where we can put out pots and where we can fish, and the wave energy folks are telling us they need the same flat, sandy bottom,” Furman said.

“It’s not the 10-buoy wave park that has the industry concerned. It’s that if it’s successful, then that park turns into a 200- or 400-buoy park and it just keeps growing.”

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On the Net:

Electric Power Research Institute: www.epri.com

Finavera Renewables: www.finavera.com

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission: www.ferc.gov

Center of Excellence in Ocean Energy Technology: coet.fau.edu

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