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Reporting From the UN Headquarters in New York:
Inner City Press

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 18th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

World’s leading institutional investors managing $24 trillion call for carbon pricing.

Blackrock, CalPERS, PensionDanmark, Deutsche AWM, South African GEPF, Australian CFSGAM, Cathay Financial Holdings
among 340 investors urging heads of state to take strong action on climate change

NEW YORK CITY, 18 September 2014 – Days before UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon convenes the Climate Summit at the United Nations to spur climate action and facilitate a global climate agreement in 2015, more than 340 global institutional investors representing over $24 trillion in assets have called on government leaders to provide stable, reliable and economically meaningful carbon pricing that helps redirect investment commensurate with the scale of the climate change challenge, as well as develop plans to phase out subsidies for fossil fuels.

“Gaps, weaknesses and delays in climate change and clean energy policies will increase the risks to our investments as a result of the physical impacts of climate change, and will increase the likelihood that more radical policy measures will be required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said the statement – the largest of its kind by global investors on climate change. “Stronger political leadership and more ambitious policies are needed in order for us to scale up our investments.”

According to the International Energy Agency, the world must invest at least an additional $1 trillion per year – a Clean Trillion – into clean energy by 2050 if we have any hope of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius and avoiding the worst impacts of climate change on our environment, health and the global economy. Yet global investment in clean energy was just $254 billion in 2013.

The statement recognizes the role investors play in financing clean energy, outlines the specific steps they are committing to take, and calls on policymakers to take action that supports, rather than limits, investments in clean energy and climate solutions. It was coordinated by the four investor groups on climate change – Ceres’ Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR) in the United States, the European Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC), the Investors Group on Climate Change (IGCC) in Australia and New Zealand, and the Asia Investor Group on Climate Change (AIGCC) – with the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) and Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI).

“The perception prevails that we need to choose between economic well-being or climate stability. The truth is that we need both. What is needed is an unprecedented re-channelling of investment from today´s economy into the low-carbon economy of tomorrow. Investors are owners of large segments of the global economy as well as custodians of citizens’ savings around the world. Having such a critical mass of them demand a transition to the low-carbon and green economy is exactly the signal Governments need in order to move to ambitious action quickly,” said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme.

“It is significant that the largest institutional investors from around the world are in agreement that unmitigated climate change puts their investments at risk,” said Mindy Lubber, director of INCR and president of the U.S.-based nonprofit sustainability advocacy group, Ceres. “The financial community has a message for heads of state gathering at the United Nations next week: we can’t afford to wait any longer for a climate deal.”

Stephanie Pfeifer, Chief Executive of IIGCC said: “The international investor community has today made it clear that the status quo on climate policy is not acceptable. Investors are taking action on climate change, from direct investment in renewables to company engagement and reducing exposure to carbon risk. But to invest in low carbon energy at the scale we need requires stronger policies. At the UN climate summit next week, policymakers can ensure pockets of climate leadership turn into mainstream actions.”

“Asia presents perhaps the greatest challenges and most significant opportunities in the efforts to transition towards a green economy,” said Alexandra Tracy, Chairman of the Association for Sustainable and Responsible Investment in Asia and Senior Advisor to AIGCC. “Policymakers need to balance difficult trade-offs between a development agenda and environmental concerns, but we see promising moves from governments in the region, such as the measures in China’s most recent Five Year Plan.”

Alongside the statement, the investor groups have published a report detailing examples of action being taken by investors that support a low carbon, climate resilient economy. While ambitious policy is required in order for low carbon investments to be brought to scale, these examples demonstrate that investors are already acting on climate change in a variety of ways. These activities include direct low carbon investments, the creation of low carbon funds, company engagement, and reducing exposure to fossil fuel and carbon intensive companies.

“Stronger carbon and climate frameworks are needed to catalyze institutional investment,” said Fiona Reynolds, managing director of PRI. “The time is now for national governments to overcome the political obstacles that prevent global carbon pricing and hinder long term capital flows into climate mitigation and adaption.”

Examples in the report from both developed and developing countries include:

· Danish pension fund PKA looking to increase its new and existing offshore wind farm investments to €1.5 billion by the end of 2015.
· U.S. insurer and pension fund provider TIAA-CREFF reduces the carbon footprint of its real estate portfolio by 17 percent, cutting 58,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
·Swedish pension fund AP4 is committed to decarbonizing its entire $20 billion listed equities portfolio.
·China Utility-Based Energy Efficiency Finance Program provides loans worth $790 million, financing 226 projects and reducing emissions by 19 million metric tons of carbon.
·ASN Bank in the Netherlands to become fully carbon-neutral by 2030.
·Zurich Insurance Group to invest up to $2 billion in green bonds, one of many commitments this year that has resulted in 20-fold growth in green bond market since 2012.
·HSBC Armenia partners with IFC to finance nine small-medium size enterprise energy efficiency projects in Armenia, totaling approximately $25 million and reducing carbon emissions by more than 6,600 tons per year.
·Global bank ING has in 7 years reduced its energy project loan allocation to coal power from 63 to 13% and increased its allocation to renewable energies from 5 to 39 percent.

In addition, the investor groups have launched a public online database of select low carbon investments made by asset owners such as pension funds and insurance companies. The Low Carbon Investment Registry identifies how institutional investors are directing capital towards low carbon assets. Asset owners around the world will be encouraged to add examples to the Registry leading up to the climate negotiations in Paris.

“The Low Carbon Investment Registry shows how investors are already supporting the transition to a low carbon economy by investing in a variety of different ways – directly into renewable energy projects, into clean energy funds, through green bonds and through the establishment of public-private-partnerships,” said Nathan Fabian, Chief Executive of IGCC. “It gives policymakers a better understanding of how private capital is currently flowing into low carbon investments.”

Several signatories to the Global Investor Statement on Climate Change are expected to announce significant new individual commitments related to climate risk and low carbon investment at the UN Summit on Climate Change on September 23. For more information, contact  pickering at ceres.org and  NWilliams at IIGCC.org.

Visit www.ceres.org to download a recording of today’s press briefing on the statement, featuring Donald MacDonald, BT Pension Scheme trustee director and Chairman of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (Europe); Frank Pegan, CEO Catholic Super and Chair, Investor Group on Climate Change (Australia); David Pitt-Watson, Chair, UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI); Strategic Advisor, Inflection Point Capital; Assaad Razzouk, Group Chief Executive of Sindicatum Sustainable Resources, Singapore; Asia Investor Group on Climate Change; Anne Stausboll, CEO, California Public Employees’ Retirement System and member of Ceres’ Investor Network on Climate Risk (North America); and Faith Ward, Chief Responsible Investment and Risk Officer, Environment Agency Pension Fund.
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About the Asia Investor Group on Climate Change
The Asia Investor Group on Climate Change (AIGCC) is an initiative set up by the Association for Sustainable and Responsible Investment in Asia (ASrIA) to create awareness among Asia’s asset owners and financial institutions about the risks and opportunities associated with climate change and low carbon investing. AIGCC provides capacity for investors to share best practice and to collaborate on investment activity, credit analysis, risk management, engagement and policy. With a strong international profile and significant network, including pension, sovereign wealth funds insurance companies and fund managers, AIGCC represents the Asian voice in the evolving global discussions on climate change and the transition to a greener economy. aigcc.asria.org/.

About Ceres’ Investor Network on Climate Risk (United States)
The Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR) is a North America-focused network of institutional investors dedicated to addressing the financial risks and investment opportunities posed by climate change and other sustainability challenges. INCR currently has more than 110 members representing over $13 trillion in assets. INCR is a project of Ceres, a nonprofit advocate for sustainability leadership that mobilizes investors, companies and public interest groups to accelerate and expand the adoption of sustainable business practices and solutions to build a healthy global economy. Visit www.ceres.org.

About Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (Europe)
The Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC) is a forum for collaboration on climate change for investors. IIGCC’s network includes over 90 members, with some of the largest pension funds and asset managers in Europe, representing €7.5trillion in assets. IIGCC’s mission is to provide investors a common voice to encourage public policies, investment practices and corporate behaviour which address long-term risks and opportunities associated with climate change. Visit www.iigcc.org.

About Investors Group on Climate Change –(Australia/New Zealand)
IGCC is a collaboration of 65 Australian and New Zealand institutional investors and advisors, managing approximately $1 trillion and focusing on the impact that climate change has on the financial value of investments. The IGCC aims to encourage government policies and investment practices that address the risks and opportunities of climate change, for the ultimate benefit of superannuants and unit holders. Visitwww.igcc.org.au.

About PRI
The United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) Initiative is an international network of investors working together to put the six Principles for Responsible Investment into practice. Its goal is to understand the implications of Environmental, Social and Governance issues (ESG) for investors and support signatories to incorporate these issues into their investment decision making and ownership practices. In implementing the Principles, signatories contribute to the development of a more sustainable global financial system. Visit www.unpri.org.

About UNEP FI
UNEP FI is a global partnership between UNEP and the financial sector. Over 230 institutions, including banks, insurers and fund managers, work with UNEP to understand the impacts of environmental and social considerations on financial performance. Through its Climate Change Advisory Group (CCAG), UNEP FI aims to understand the roles, potentials and needs of the finance sector in addressing climate change, and to advance the integration of climate change factors – both risks and opportunities – into financial decision-making. Visitwww.unepfi.org. For more information, contact: UNEP News Desk,Tel; +254 (20)762 5022; Email;  unepnewsdesk at unep.org

***********************************
Jim Sniffen
Programme Officer
UN Environment Programme
New York
tel: +1-212-963-8094
sniffenj at un.org at gmail.com
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Posted in Archives, Real World's News, Reporting From the UN Headquarters in New York

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 18th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

THE FOLLOWING WAS POSTED BY THE NEW YORK TIMES BLOG CITY ROOM – NEW YORK TODAY

Climate March Countdown
- By Annie Correal – September 18, 2014.


The People’s Climate March is happening on Sunday in Manhattan.

We checked in with Lisa Foderaro, The Times’s reporter who covered the preparations for the march.

The climax will be a moment of cacophony at 1 p.m., when about 20 marching bands and church bells across the city will “sound the alarm” on climate change.

Horns, whistles, cellphone alarms and other disruptive noisemakers are encouraged, too.

The occasion is the United Nations Climate Summit next week.

The march is part demonstration, part parade. For months, people have prepared floats and huge props.

“The Rockaways group has this big 30-foot life preserver that is orange and silver that they’ll carry over their heads,” Ms. Foderaro said.

“Scientists have a chalkboard with calculations about carbon levels. Religious leaders have this ark that they will ride in. A Filipino group has a giant mop to symbolize having to clean up after the typhoon.”

The march, which as of this week had confirmed 496 buses coming from as far away as Kansas, will coincide with similar events in 158 countries.

Though the buses will be using gas, the floats will either be powered by biodiesel or pulled by hand, Ms. Foderaro noted.

Some things to know if you’re going:

• Central Park West north of Columbus Circle to 86th Street will be closed to traffic before the march.

• People can gather from 65th Street to 86th Street. These are the access points.

• The march starts at 11:30 a.m. at Columbus Circle and ends at 11th Avenue and 34th Street, where participants can join a party until 5 p.m. This is the route.

• At 12:58 p.m., there will be a moment of silence followed by several moments of loud noise.

• A list of things you should and should not bring.

• Share your experience of the march with us over Twitter using #nytoday and #peoplesclimate.

Here’s what else you need to know.

WEATHER

Nothing but blue skies. Sunny again with a high of 75.

COMING UP TODAY

• Climate March events: Al Gore speaks at an Interfaith Leaders Climate March Breakfast at Union Theological Seminary in Morningside Heights. 9 a.m. [Livestream] …

• … Anti-fracking advocates call for a statewide ban outside the Plaza, during a fund-raiser for Governor Cuomo. Noon. …

• … Naomi Klein talks about her new book, “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate,” at the New School. 6 p.m. [Livestream] …

• … And a panel on jobs and climate change at S.E.I.U. Local 1999 headquarters in Midtown. 6 p.m.

• Mayor de Blasio makes an announcement at the Bronx Zoo. 1:15 p.m.

• Officials preview a taxidermy mount of “Lonesome George,” the last known Pinta Island tortoise (he died in 2012), at the American Museum of Natural History. 3 p.m.

• “Photoville,” a sprawling exhibition in Brooklyn Bridge Park, opens with a D.J.-accompanied slide show capturing 30 years in Brooklyn. 7:30 p.m.

IN THE NEWS

• The gap between the rich and the poor in Manhattan is greater than anywhere else in the country, according to Census data. [New York Times]

• About 100,000 people who identify as Garifuna live in the Bronx. [NY1]

• Scoreboard: Yankees pin Rays down, 3-2. Marlins outswim Mets, 4-3.

AND FINALLY …

Once, fires in the city had to be detected by watchmen, who stood in towers, scanning the horizon for smoke.

One historic tower still stands today: a 47-foot, cast-iron tower, designed by Julius B. Kroehl, atop an outcropping in what is now Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem.

The watchtower, built in 1857, was decommissioned when alarms came along in 1878, and its fortunes have dwindled ever since. Now, it is about to be dismantled, The Times reports. It’s not clear when, or even if, it will be restored.

There was a time, though, when the tower guarded the entire upper end of Manhattan.

It served another purpose, too.

“At one period it governed time in all of Harlem and the surrounding villages. All watches and clocks within sound of the bell were regulated by it,” The Times noted in 1896.

Firefighters rang the bell at 8 a.m., noon and 9 p.m.

“It was proposed several years ago to tear the tower down on account of its shaky condition, but the residents raised such an opposition that it was left standing.”

New York Today is a weekday roundup that stays live from 6 a.m. till late morning. You can receive it via email.

What would you like to see here to start your day? Post a comment, email us at  nytoday at nytimes.com, or reach us via Twitter using #NYToday.

Follow the New York Today columnists, Annie Correal and Andy Newman, on Twitter.

You can always find the latest New York Today at nytoday.com.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 18th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We learned that the timing of the March – Sunday, September 21, 2014, has more to do with the release last night (September 16th, 2014) at the Ethical Culture Society New York Headquarters at Central Park West and 64th Street, then with the forthcoming September 23rd UN event on Climate Change.

The movie is -”THE FUTURE OF ENERGY: Lateral Power to The People” – which is in effect a logic – non-UN inspired – sequel to  Franny Armstrong’s “THE AGE OF STUPID” that was released in 2009 prior to the Copenhagen COP 15 of the UNFCCC (The UN Convention on Climate Change). That movie belonged still to the time people believed in multilateralism as a way to answer the growing threat to humanity from our super-dependence on fossil-carbon fuels. Today the “People” are sophisticated enough to realize that governments via multilateralism do not stand a chance to an agreement that gives birth to a solution to the on-going changes in the global environment that lead to global warming and climate change. The PEOPLE in their own actions – in their communities – are our only hope. This is now the wave of the future – not the UN.

The UN was good to make it crystal clear that there is a problem that needs a solution – but the UN is impotent when it comes to provide the solution. This belongs now to the PEOPLE – the ethical guardians of their own future and the future of the generations to come.

This was made clear to me as I asked the panel that followed the inaugural viewing of the movie “What they expect of the upcoming event at the UN?” The answer from the Producer/Writer – Mr. Maximilian DeArmon – was very short and clear. What will save us are the People in their LOCALITIES and the fact that the non-fossil-carbon solutions to energy needs are already economical and their introduction will make them cheaper, while the continuing use of fossil-fuels makes those trouble-causing fuels more expensive. The logic is here and the People recognize what that means to politics, the economy, and their daily lives.

——————————————————————————–
The March – 11:30 am, Sunday, September 21st
Assembly Location: Central Park West, between 65th and 86thstreets.
NOTE – Some streets will be closed.  Enter on 65th, 72nd, 77th, 81st, or 86th street.

March Route:  The march will begin at 11:30 am.  Assembly starts from 9:00 a.m.
March down Central Park West and go east on 59th Street.  Turn onto 6th Ave. and go south to 42nd Street. Turn right onto 42nd Street and go west to 11th Ave.  Turn left on 11th Ave. and go south to 34th Street
End Location: 11th Ave. in the streets between 34th Street and 38thStreet.

350NYC at the People’s Climate March! Meet us on Central Park West between 71st and 72nd by 10am on Sunday Sept 21st.  We’ll be marching in the green “Solutions” section of the march. T
To receive updates.

 www.BeyondTheMarch.org

 www.PeoplesClimate.org

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At the UN highlights were during the years of Secretary-General Kofi Annan and we want to mention two of his innovations:

(a) he chaperoned the introduction to the UN of the Principle of THE RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT (R2P) which, as he understood it – was the responsibility of governments to protect their citizens from the wrath of the government itself. Clearly, this was not the obviously understood – the responsibility of a government to protect their citizens from outside attacks.
Let us say that this was the first innovation of the UN Charter since the Declaration of Human Rights championed by Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt. We like to view R2P also as a call to governments regarding their responsibility to protect the citizens from the effects of Climate Change and to act in order to avoid this subservience to fossil fuels and corporate greed.

(b) he was responsible for the creation of the United Nations Global Compact.

The United Nations Global Compact is a UN initiative to encourage businesses worldwide to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies, and to report on their implementation. The UN Global Compact is a principle-based framework for businesses, stating ten principles in the areas of human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption. Under the Global Compact, companies are brought together with UN agencies, labour groups and civil society. Cities or localities can join the Global Compact through the Cities Programme.

The UN Global Compact is the world’s largest corporate citizenship initiative with two objectives: “Mainstream the ten principles in business activities around the world” and “Catalyse actions in support of broader UN goals, such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).” We like to see here an opening regarding the effects of Climate Change and the need that corporations are bound to help avoid Global Warming and Climate Change.

The UN Global Compact was announced by then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in an address to the World Economic Forum on January 31, 1999, and was officially launched at UN Headquarters in New York on July 26, 2000.

Under UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Climate Change continued to get a lot of attention, but we did not see yet the needed push to hold governments and corporations responsible for acting along the lines that became available under his predecessor’s leadership. It seems that telling Dr. Assad that he is not allowed to gas his citizens is much easier then telling China not to poison Beijing’s air by building more coal-fired power plants.

 

Nevertheless – we found that above might change now.
Please see: www.unglobalcompact.org/Issues/B…

Since 2008, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has convened the UN Private Sector Forum during the opening session of the General Assembly in order to bring the voice of the private sector to inter-governmental debates on key topics.

This year, the UN Private Sector Forum will be an integral part of the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit. The Climate Summit will serve as a public platform for leaders at the highest level – all Member States, business, finance, civil society and local leaders – to:

  • Catalyze ambitious action on the ground to reduce emissions and strengthen climate resilience
  • Mobilize political will for an ambitious global legal agreement by 2015 that limits the world to a less than 2-degree Celsius rise in global temperature.

Convened by the UN Global Compact in close cooperation with the World Bank Group, and with the support of UN partners, the Private Sector Forum will provide a unique platform for Governments and business to demonstrate their leadership on climate change.

The theme of this year’s luncheon segment of the Forum will be carbon pricing, focusing on actions that the public and private sectors can take to achieve an equitable and fair valuation of carbon through long-term strategies, investments and policies.

Objectives

Comprising two programme segments to showcase and catalyse leadership on climate change, the Private Sector Forum seeks to:

  • Provide a platform for business and investors to demonstrate the contribution that they can make towards reducing global emissions and strengthening resilience; and
  • Inspire new public policy measures, commitments to action, and public-private partnerships to steer global and local climate action

Put a Price on Carbon:

Carbon pricing is a critical tool to address climate change, and momentum is building to put in place carbon pricing schemes. Nearly 40 countries and more than 20 cities, states and provinces use carbon pricing mechanisms such as emissions trading systems and carbon taxes or are preparing to implement them. The private sector has been increasingly outspoken in its support for consistent carbon pricing.

Many companies already operate in countries with carbon pricing and use an internal carbon price in their planning and investments, however more leadership is needed if we are to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius.

Two separate initiatives representing a progression of commitments to support carbon pricing will be presented during the Private Sector Forum on 23 September 2014. To learn more, please read this letter from the UN Global Compact and the World Bank Group.

But the working part of the September 23rd meetings are slim. They amount to:

11:40 Welcoming Remarks -Mr. Georg Kell,
Executive Director, United Nations Global Compact
-
11:50 Introduction to the Roundtable Discussion by the Master of Ceremonies Ms. Christiana Figueres,
Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
11:50 – 12:20 Roundtable Discussion
Participants will be seated at tables of ten and will discuss the following question:
What effective measures can private and public sectors take to significantly advance corporate
action on climate change and help limit global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius?

12:20 – 12:50 Report back and Announcements: Commitments to Action
The Master of Ceremonies calls on leaders from business and civil society to report back on the roundtable
discussions and to announce a commitment to action

Mr. Feike Sijbesma, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman, Royal DSM
Mr. Ajit Gulabchand, Chairman and Managing Director, Hindustan Construction Company, India
Mr. Kerry Adler, President and Chief Executive Officer, SkyPower, Canada
Mr. Jose Lopez, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Nestle, Switzerland
Mr. Morten Albaek, Group Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Vestas, Denmark
Mr.  Jerry Lynch, Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer, General Mills, USA
Mr. Peter Bakker, Chief Executive Officer, The World Business Council for Sustainable Development
12:50 – 12:55 Closing Remarks – Mr. Adolfo Heeren, Chief Executive Officer, Cálidda, Peru
12:55 – 13:00
Wrap up by the Master of Ceremonies Participants move to their seats in the Delegates Dining Room

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The Age of Stupid is a 2009 British film by Franny Armstrong, director of McLibel and Drowned Out, and founder of 10:10, and first-time producer Lizzie Gillett. The Executive Producer is John Battsek, producer of One Day in September.

The film is a drama-documentary-animation hybrid which stars Pete Postlethwaite as a man living alone in the devastated world of 2055, watching archive footage from the mid-to-late 2000s and asking “Why didn’t we stop climate change when we had the chance?”

———————————————————————————————————-
 www.thefutureofenergy.org/

            Impact HUB NYC screening w/ Filmmakers

future of energy card

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 17th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

On Golan, After Ladsous’ Peacekeepers’ Surrender,  UNSG Ban Ki-moon Tells ICP For Safety.

By Matthew Russell Lee reporting for Inner City Press and FUNCA.

UNITED NATIONS, September 16 — With UN Peacekeepers in the Golan Heights having first surrendered to the Al Nusra Front, then left weapons, vehicles and uniforms for them, Inner City Press on September 16 asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon:

Inner City Press: Matthew Lee, Inner City Press. On behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access, thanks for taking questions and I hope in the next two weeks we have as much access as possible.

I want to ask about the Golan Heights.  There is a lot of controversy about what has taken place there, with apparently an order to surrender and Al-Nusra is now running around with UN trucks and vehicles.  And it was said at the stakeout this morning that the equipment was given over and basically that the mission is no longer completing what its mission is, which is to monitor both sides of the ceasefire line.

So I wonder what are you going to do in terms of getting to the bottom of if a surrender was ordered, who ordered the surrender and what can you say to the troop contributing countries who say that this is kind of a disarray and people need to know what the role of peacekeepers is, stand and fight or surrender and run?

SG Ban: For that issue I understand that Mr. [Hervé] Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, has explained to you in detail what had happened.  And, as you know, the security situation was very, very urgent and dangerous at that time.  Therefore, you should also appreciate the peacekeepers were and still are working on the very difficult and dangerous situation.  That is why, as was briefed by the spokesperson yesterday, we had to relocate this UNDOF [United Nations Disengagement Observer Force] peacekeepers to a safer and more secure place.  This is a part of and continuing efforts to make sure that our peacekeepers and UN staff’s security and safety are ensured.

  While the change to put the question to Ban was appreciated, things are arranged for DPKO chief Herve Ladsous to avoid the tough questions, just as he has announced he will not respond to questions of media whose questions he doesn’t like. Video here and here and here.

 

  While respecting safety of peacekeepers, how does this relate to the Office for Internal Oversight Services’ critique of Ladsous’ DPKO has not protecting civilians? If they cannot protect themselves, how can they protect civilians?

 

  Inner City Press on September 2 asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric:

Inner City Press: the Philippines military has complained that the military force commander of UNDOF asked or ordered the Filipino peacekeepers to lay down their weapons in some sort of in relation to the Fijians and they refused to do so and has asked, as they say, for an investigation of the commander.

Could you explain under what circumstances the UN central peacekeeping or force commander would ask peacekeepers to lay down their weapons in the face of a hostile group and why?

Spokesman Dujarric: Again, as the situation is ongoing and the situation in the Filipinos and Fijians are obviously linked, I’m not getting into the detail of it. What I will say is that we will respond to any formal request made by Member State. Its normal procedure of review of action being taken and after review action be taken by mission once the situation has concluded. So, I think we have to get through this is extremely volatile situation. The safety of all our peacekeepers here is foremost on our mind. It’s at risk. We have seen the kind of area they are operating on and I think we need to let this — we need to let all of this conclude and then we can address it more formally.

Inner City Press: for troop-contributing countries, are you aware of any other case in which peacekeeping has asked peacekeepers to essentially surrender and are they supposed to obey those orders? Usually they complain the other way and they are ordered to fight and they won’t fight. Are you aware of any other case when they are ordered to surrender?

Spokesman Dujarric: And I think every situation is different, and as I said what is foremost on our mind is the safety of our soldiers.

Back on September 3, Inner City Press asked about the black-flagged UN vehicles, and about public and widely reported comments by Ireland’s minister of defense that no more Irish troops will be send to the UNDOF mission until it is reviewed.

  Dujarric said no formal communication has been received from the Irish government.

  Earlier on September 3 the first, set-aside UNCA soft ball question, unpressed, was about Filipino Colonel Ezra James Enriquez. Ladsous said he has “tendered his resignation” but that “is a matter for them.” For whom? It was then reported that Ezra James Enriquez has “left his post.”

There is more to be said.  Watch www.InnerCityPress.com  – the informed investigative reporting from the UN.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 8th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

From:  Vanessa, People’s Climate March    -    peoplesclimate.org

   PLEASE SEE - ” title=”http://peoplesclimate.org/march/” target=”_blank”>Click here to find a bus near you: peoplesclimate.org/transportation.

More buses are being confirmed every day, so there may even be more than one nearby.

If the bus fills up and/or you’d like to step up and organize your own bus, click here to volunteer to be a bus captain.

It’s pretty simple, and there’s even some funding available –  the awesome bus team  will support you every step of the way.

If you need more info on transportation (and housing) options for the People’s Climate March, click here.

We have a real chance to make a difference on the issue of our time – make sure you have a ticket to New York to be part of it.

Click here to find a bus near you: peoplesclimate.org/transportation.

We can’t wait to march with you,
Vanessa T & the bus team

P.S. If you already have a ticket (or after you buy yours now), join our Thunderclap promoting the march. It only takes a second — you can sign up with your Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr to join a huge simultaneous social media post on September 15th and make sure everyone knows that this is too big to sit out.

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

Sierra Club - Explore, enjoy and protect the planet


Dear Pincas –
Climate change is personal. March with us.

RSVP now!

RSVP now for the People’s Climate March!

Trapped and hungry, in the middle of New York City. Climate change is here.

That is what I thought when I drove into Brooklyn, after Hurricane Sandy. My name is Carl Giles. I am a groundskeeper for the New York City Housing Authority and was dispatched after the storm to clear debris and set up generators and pumps at some of our hard-hit public housing.

I and other members of my union, Teamsters Local 237, were out even before the storm, to keep city residents safe and to prepare for the damage that Sandy would bring. The images from those days will be with me forever. People without power, begging for just an opportunity to charge their cell phones and let family members know that they are ok. Families in public housing without heat as cold weather bore down on the Northeast. Signs of the storm surge left behind; water marks three stories high on apartment buildings and four feet of sand covering the street.

Pincas, we’ve seen what climate change can do. That is why I and my Teamster brothers and sisters will be marching in the People’s Climate March on September 21st. Will you join the fight and march alongside us?

Working people are on the front lines of climate change. We live in the most vulnerable neighborhoods. We lead the recovery after extreme weather. And work in the industries that have to change to reduce emissions and clean our atmosphere.

For many Teamsters, Hurricane Sandy was a traumatic experience. I heard about one member working in an underground garage who drowned during the storm. Another Teamster lost two children. Too many lost homes and livelihoods.

At the same time, we were called on to put our city back together. Many Teamsters cleared roads and delivered supplies by day, while repairing their own homes at night.

We are marching because we want to tell our story and tell the world that workers are part of the solution to climate change. Teamsters in the private waste hauling industry are working to reduce pollution from their garbage trucks. Meanwhile, Teamsters in food distribution are working to build a more climate-resilient food system for our city.

We are all part of the solution. March with us on September 21st. RSVP now.

Thanks,

Carl Giles
Member, Teamsters Local 237

P.S. If this march is going to be big enough to get the world’s attention, we need everyone. After you RSVP, forward this message to five of your friends and family and share it on Facebook and Twitter to get the word out.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 2nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

from: Nanette Woonton  sprep.org 

   
 

Talofa,

 

The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) has several key events during the UNSIDS we would like to invite you to attend:

Tuesday 2 September, 5.30 – 7.00

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) will open their Pacific-sub office at the SPREP Headquarters in Vailima. 

The Honourable Prime Minister Tuilaepa Fatialofa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa, Achim Steiner the Executive Director of UNEP and Mr. David Sheppard Director-General of SPREP will present at today’s historical event.  Transport to the SPREP Headquarters will be available from Gate 6 at the UNSIDS Conference Venue an hour before the event.

 

Wednesday 3 September

11.00 – 12.30

The Cook Islands will be launching the Vital Harbours DVD developed under the Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change Project at the SIDS Venue – CR1.  The Honourable Prime Minister Henry Puna of the Cook Islands will launch the dvd.

5.00 – 6.30pm

Launch of the SIDS Sustainable Energy Partnership will take place at the SIDS Venue – CM4, an event coordinated by SPREP

7.00 – 8.30

Official launch of the Framework for Nature Conservation and Protected Areas in the Pacific Islands region 2014 – 2020: A partnership platgorm followed by the signing of partnership agreements at the SPREP Headquarters.  The key address will be presented by Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity.  Transport to the SPREP Headquarters will be available from Gate 6 at the UNSIDS Conference Venue an hour before the event.

Kia manuia.

Nanette Woonton | Media and Public Relations Officer
Attachée de relations publiques
Phone | +685 21929 Ext 305Fax  | +685 20231 |
Website |
www.sprep.orgEmail  | nanettew@sprep.org |
The Pacific environment – sustaining our livelihoods and natural heritage in harmony with our cultures

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

LOOKING AT THE  FREEDOM HOUSE MAP OF PRESS FREEDOM 2014 – THE ONLY UN MEMBER STATES RATED AS ALLOWING FOR FREE PRESS ARE – JAPAN, TAIWAN, and ISRAEL   JUST THREE STATES.

RATED AS PARTIALLY FREE ARE – MONGOLIA, SOUTH KOREA, INDIA, BHUTAN, BANGLADESH, LEBANON, KUWAIT, HONG KONG (the PART OF CHINA that is governed with the help of an agreement with the UK), THE PHILIPPINES, INDONESIA, and EAST TIMOR. Any other country is just – “NOT FREE.”

Judging from the above mentioned map,  it is clear that FREEDOM OF THE PRESS is not the “Forte” of Asia, Africa, or Latin America – so why does misbehavior of South Korea excite us?  The answer is to be found in the fact that this is the home country of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who seemingly has allowed the UN as a whole to fall behind when it comes to allowing for  truly Free Access to a Free Press in its dealing with the media. That, rather then South Korea per se, is the true content of the following complaint in Matthew Lee’s reporting from the UN.

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

As S. Korea Cracks Down on Questioning of Park, Ban’s UN Notably Silent.

By Matthew Russell Lee – Reporting from inside the UN for Inner City Press.

UNITED NATIONS, August 31 — A recent and ongoing press freedom case in South Korea has echoed all the way to the UN in New York. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was a long-time South Korean diplomat before taking up his UN post. But he has been notably quiet about press freedom generally, and now strikingly, with regard to South Korea.

  The government in Seoul has summoned Sankei Shimbun’s Tatsuya Kato on possible charges of defaming President Park Geun-hye, and has blocked him from leaving South Korea in the interim.

  At issue is an article that Tatsuya Kato wrote and Sankei Shimbun published, citing the South Korean publication Chosun Ilbo, that during the sinking of the Sewol ferry in April, President Park was not seen for seven hours and may have been trysting with a recently divorced former aide.

  While understandably causing anger, such a report should not trigger travel bans or criminal charges.

  It is particularly troubling that while Tatsuya Kato of Japan’s Sankei has been targeted, the South Korean publication Chosun Ilbo from which he quoted is not being targeted. This disparate treatment of journalists, based on nationality or other factors, should not be tolerated.

 

{SO THE ISSUE IS NOT ONLY FREEDOM OF THE PRESS – BUT MISUSE OF CENSORSHIP FOR FOREIGN POLICY REASONS AND THE QUESTION HOW THIS IS TRANSFERRED TO THE UN PROPER?  THIS AS ADDED COMMENT BY SUSTAINABILITANK.INFO}

  As a comparison, when Afghanistan recently imposed a similar travel ban on a New York Times reporter, not only the US State Department but also many others spoke out.

  But when at the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman was twice — three times, actually — asked about South Korea’s treatment of Sankei Shimbun’s Tatsuya Kato, only platitudes emerged.

Continuing the trend on August 31, Ban Ki-moon’s comment on the coup in Lesotho did not mention that the military took over the television and radio stations there.

  The day’s New York Times recounted how South Korean artist Hong Sung-dam had his painting depicting Park Geun-hye and his view of her role in the sinking of the Sewol ferry censored by authorities in Gwangju.

  Some including the new Free UN Coalition for Access, an anti-censorship alliance established at the UN during and counter to Ban Ki-moon’s time in control, have noted a trend toward ignoring some attacks on the media. How far back does it go? What will happen in South Korea, and at the UN?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 31st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Fijians negotiating with Islamist captors of 44 {or 45?} peacekeepers.

Head of Fiji’s army says exact location of kidnapped troops cannot be confirmed.

By Times of Israel staff and AP  – August 31, 2014, 3:12 pm
For what the UN releases on this – please look www.InnerCity.Press.com – whose reporter at the UN Headquarters in New York – Matthew Russel Lee – is following closely this topic.
The Freedom House Map of “Press Freed0m 2014″ has Fiji and The Philippines among the “Partly Free States” – thus reflecting on the source of the UN Mercenary hired personnel that is the human fodder to Peace Keeping Missions that do not get full UN backing when finding themselves in difficult situations.
Members of United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) using binoculars to watch the Syrian side of the Golan Heights near the Quneitra border crossing, on August 31, 2014. (photo credit: AFP Photo/Jalaa Marey)

Members of United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) using binoculars to watch the Syrian side of the Golan Heights near the Quneitra border crossing, on August 31, 2014. (photo credit: AFP Photo/Jalaa Marey)

The Fijian military said Sunday that it was pursuing negotiations with the Syrian Islamic rebel group which kidnapped 44 UNDOF peacekeepers in the Syrian Golan Heights Thursday, but still had not received word on where the soldiers were being held.

Fiji has been told that the men were unharmed and were being treated well, but “we still at this stage cannot confirm the exact location of our troops. We are continuing negotiations at all levels,” said Brig. Gen. Mosese Tikoitoga, head of the Fijian army, according to a Reuters report.

 

“However, we are still very concerned that we cannot confirm at this stage their exact location, whether they are still in Syria or whether they have been moved to neighboring countries,” the general added.

Tikoitoga’s comments came after 40 Filipino peacekeepers made a daring escape after being surrounded and under fire for seven hours by Syrian rebels in the Golan Heights on Sunday, leaving the 44 Fijian troops in the hands of al-Qaeda-linked insurgents.

The peacekeepers became trapped after Syrian rebels entered the UN-patrolled buffer zone between Syria and Israel this past week, seizing the Fijian soldiers and demanding that their Filipino colleagues surrender. The Filipinos, occupying two UN encampments, refused and clashed with the rebels on Saturday. The first group of 35 peacekeepers was then successfully escorted out of a UN encampment in Breiqa by Irish and Filipino forces in armored vehicles.

As night fell and a ceasefire took hold, a further 40 Filipinos fled with their weapons, traveling across the chilly hills for nearly two hours before meeting up with other UN forces, who escorted them to safety inside Israel early Sunday, Philippine officials said.

The clashes erupted after Syrian rebel groups — including al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, the Nusra Front — overran the Quneitra crossing on the frontier between Syrian- and Israeli-controlled parts of the Golan on Wednesday and seized the 44 Fijians.

The SITE Intelligence Group reported that the Nusra Front posted a statement on its Twitter account Saturday taking responsibility for detaining the Fijian peacekeepers. The Nusra Front stated that the Fijian detainees “are in a safe place, and they are in good health, and that we have given them what they need of food and treatment.”

The Nusra Front also posted a photo showing what it said were the captured Fijians in their military uniforms along with 45 identification cards, SITE said.

SITE added that the Nusra Front claimed the Fijians were seized in retaliation for the UN’s ignoring “the daily shedding of the Muslims’ blood in Syria” and even colluding with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s army “to facilitate its movement to strike the vulnerable Muslims” through a buffer zone in the Golan Heights. The SITE report could not be independently confirmed.

The UN mission has 1,223 troops from six countries: Fiji, India, Ireland, Nepal, Netherlands and the Philippines. A number of countries had previously withdrawn their peacekeepers due to the escalating violence.

Philippine officials said Filipino forces would remain in Golan until their mission ends in October despite the rebel attacks and the capture of the Fijian peacekeepers.

Both UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council strongly condemned Saturday’s attack on the peacekeepers’ positions and the ongoing detention of the Fijian peacekeepers.

The Nusra Front has recently seized hostages to exchange for prisoners detained in Syria and Lebanon.

Read more: Fijians negotiating with Islamist captors of 44 peacekeepers | The Times of Israel www.timesofisrael.com/fijians-negotiating-with-islamist-captors-of-44-peacekeepers/#ixzz3BzEeLB38

————————————————————————————————————————————-

As of July 31, 2014 UNDOF has 1,223 peacekeepers from six countroies – Fiji, India, Irelamd, Nepal, Netherlands and the Philippines.

The mission was established in 1974 with the purpose to monitor the disengagement accord between Syria and Israel after the 1973 war (the Yom Kippur War). In effect they monitor the line between the no-man’s zone and the Syrian State. But let us not forget that the Syrian Government these days rules only over part of Syria and rebels of Al-Qaeda persuasion – organized in the Al-Nusra front and the ISIL – Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant – are what the UN peacekeepers are facing now – this rather then a Syrian State military. Does the original mandate hold under these conditions? Seemingly Austria had some doubts and pulled out their troops at last mandate-renewal.

Actually – the mandate is up to renewal every 6 months and the current mandate ends on December 31, 2014.  Would this not be a good opportunity to allow the current forces to go home? Ireland, Netherlands and Austria were not there for the money, and those that are in for the money better learn that this is a tough spot, and it is rather without real purpose – only potential harm.

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

 

Please forget the old question of what is a Non-Government Organization and when it is the front for a particular autocratic government as now we have the final list of 38 participants that are tasked with telling the angle of the “WE THE PEOPLE” – that are those that feel the brunt of Climate Change – while our governments – we elected or self-styled – might be more interested in superficial monetary gains then in our true suffering.

These 38 participants have now been given the chance to speak to the 100 Heads of State that answered the call of the UN Secretary General to participate at this ONE-DAY SUMMIT he has called.

Please also note that the remaining 94 Heads of UN Member States State will not be present in person on that day.

 

……????
……??
……Español
……Français
……???????
……Dansk

 

At the request of the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Change Support Team, UN-NGLS issued an open call for nominations of civil society speakers and attendees for the 2014 UN Climate Summit, with a deadline of 15 August. UN-NGLS received 544 nominations, which can be viewed here (multiple submissions for the same person were consolidated into one entry). Between 16-25 August, UN-NGLS facilitated a civil society Selection and Drafting Committee to review all nominees. A list of the members of the Committee is available here.

The Committee short-listed 76 candidates for consideration by the Secretary-General’s Climate Change Support Team (CCST). From this list of 76 candidates, the CCST has now selected the following 4 speakers and 34 attendees for the Climate Summit:

 

Speaker for the Opening Ceremony:
Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner – College of the Marshall Islands and Jo-Jikum – Marshall Islands .
.
3 Panellists for the “Voices from the Frontlines of Climate Change” Thematic Debate (organized by UN Women, UNICEF, and UNFPA):

Alina Saba – Mugal Indigenous Women’s Upliftment Institute / Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development – Nepal

Christina Ora – Pacific Youth Council – Solomon Islands

Sylvia Atugonza Kapello – Riamiriam Civil Soceity Network Karamoja – Uganda .
.
34 Attendees (in alphabetical order by first name):

Agnes Kinaka – Carterets Catholic Parish/Leitana Nehan Women’s Development Agency (LNWDA)/Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development – Papua New Guinea

Alexandra Vanessa D. Pierre – PLURIELLES – Haiti

Arthur Mychal Johnson – South Bronx Unite – USA

Assia Korichi – Friends of the Environment Association “Ahbab EL Biaa” – Algeria

Bianca Hakena Carwinn – Leitana Nehan Women’s Development Agency/ Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development – Papua New Guinea

Carlos Bernabe Chex Mux – Asociación Ak’ Tenamit – Guatemala

Caroline Usikpedo – Niger Delta Women’s movement for Peace and Development (NDWPD) – Nigeria

Catherine de Medici Jaffee - 350.org – USA

Daniel Temesgen Gelan – Pastoralist forum Ethiopia – Ethiopia

Diana Eurydyka Maci?ga – Pracownia na rzecz Wszystkich Istot (Association Workshop for All Beings) – Poland

Emad Adly – Arab Network for Environment and Development (RAED) – Egypt

Erika Pires Ramos – RESAMA – South American Network for Environmental Migrations – Brazil

Fadoua Brour – Arab Youth Climate Movement & Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network – Morocco

Farah Kabir – ActionAid Bangladesh – Bangladesh

Gladys Lorena Terrazas Arnez – Network Peace Integration and Development – Bolivia

Jatani Sora Liban – Gayo Pastoral Development Initiative (GPDI) – Ethiopia

Kandi Lea Marie Mossett – Indigenous Environmental Network – USA / Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara tribal nation

Kanyinke Sena – Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC) – Kenya

Kathryn Kay Leuch – Philippine Movement for Climate Justice Phillippines

Linda Onyenya Wamune – SolarAid – Kenya

Margaret Hiza – Indian Nations Conservation Alliance – USA / Crow Tribe

Maria Theresa Nera-Lauron – IBON International – Phillippines

Melissa Ann Daniels – Native Women’s Association of Canada – Canada / Athebasca Chipewa

Mohamed Adow Iman – Christian Aid – Kenya

Osver Jaime Polo Carrasco – Iniciativa Construyendo Puentes – Peru

Relinda Melania Sosa Perez – National Confederation of Women Organized for Life and Integrated Development (CONAMOVIDI) / GROOTS Peru – Peru

Saleemul Huq – International Institute for Environment and Development – Bangladesh

Sandra Leticia Guzman Luna – Grupo de Financiamiento Climático para América Latina y el Caribe (GFLAC) – Mexico

Sara Suwan – Heinrich Boell Foundation Palestine and Jordan – Palestine

Sharad Joshi – Centre for Community Economics and Development Consultants Society (CECOEDECON); Public Advocacy Initiatives for Rights and Values in India (PAIRVI) – India

Sheng Ying – Shanghai Tongji Urban Planning & Design Institute – China

Tshiwe Shiri – Zimbabwe chapter of the Rural Women’s Assembly (RWA) – Zimbabwe

Ursula Regina Rakova Tulele Peisa – Papua New Guinea

Xinxin Bi – China Association for NGO Cooperation – China

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Related articles

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 27th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

From James Snifen, UNEP

UNEP Targets Innovative Learning to Reduce Disaster Risk Worldwide.

More than 1,000 risk and disaster experts, practitioners and government officials from over 100 countries convene in Davos this week to tackle the growing challenge of disaster risk.

DAVOS, Switzerland, 26 August 2014 – In the past decade, natural disasters have cost over 1.2 million lives and economic losses have continued to skyrocket. Projections indicate that damages from disasters will climb up to US$400 billion per year and with climate change expected to worsen these impacts, identifying innovative solutions and responses has become an urgent priority.

This week at the 5th Annual International Disaster Risk Conference (IDRC), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) unveiled its latest effort to build resilience to this global challenge. UNEP is launching the first-ever Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) focusing on how to minimize disaster risk through “natural” or ecosystem-based solutions.

Ecosystems such as forests, wetlands and reefs often provide valuable protection against natural hazards like avalanches and flooding. They also supply vital services such as food, fuel and shelter following a disaster event. Yet limited awareness of the services offered by ecosystems and false perceptions on their effectiveness as a tool for disaster risk reduction is preventing concrete action.

“In order to bring disaster losses under control, we need more skills, scale and speed in our disaster risk reduction efforts. This MOOC improves access at a global scale by enabling people to learn directly from experts and practitioners how to apply ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction and adaptation in their own communities,” said Dr. Muralee Thummarukudy, Senior Manager for Disaster Risk Reduction at UNEP.

This MOOC will also broaden awareness on the different tools available beyond concrete or engineered solutions by demonstrating how climate change, disasters and the environment are linked. It exposes participants to a range of tools for eco-disaster risk reduction and adaptation. With over 20 hours of video lectures, guest lectures from world leaders and real-life case studies, the MOOC targets policy-makers and decision-makers, practitioners, experts and the wider public.

Today, UNEP and the Partnership for Environment and Disaster Risk Reduction (PEDRR) are also hosting an interactive panel discussion on “Bridging disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation through ecosystems management.” The panel aims to demonstrate through field projects how ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction and adaptation are building resilience in communities worldwide.

 

The MOOC is the result of a collaboration between UNEP and the Centre for Natural Resources and Development, a consortium of 11 universities from around the world that is coordinated by the Cologne University of Applied Sciences (CUAS), Germany.

Further details on UNEP’s disaster risk reduction programme are available at www.unep.org/disastersandconflicts/Introduction/DisasterRiskReduction/tabid/104159/Default.aspx

The Partnership for Environment and Disaster Risk Reduction (PEDRR) is a global alliance of UN agencies, NGOs and specialist institutes; see www.pedrr.org

The International Disaster Risk Conference is a major biennial forum on disaster risk; see www.idrc.info

 

For more information, please contact:

UNEP Newsdesk, Nairobi, Kenya: unepnewsdesk@unep.org

Cassidy Travis, Communications Advisor, UNEP Post-Conflict & Disaster Management Branch: +41 22 917 8839 or Cassidy.travis@unep.org

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

On this website we believe that the qualifier “Natural Disasters” is Unnecessary and misleading.These are disasters – All-Right – but there is nothing Natural with them.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 27th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

As per e-mail from Maya Valcheva  —  Maya.VALCHEVA at unitar.org  – on behalf of  envdem.yale@gmail.com and envdem@unitar.org where ENVDEM siands for ENVIRONMENTAL GOVERNANCE and DEMOCRACY two topics that did not make it into the AGENDA of the RIO Conference of 1992 and are being tackled only now in the run-up to the Post-2015 decision making process.

————–

Human Rights, Environmental Sustainability, Post-2015 Development Agenda, and the Future Climate Regime.

3rd UNITAR-Yale Conference on Environmental Governance and Democracy
Yale University, 5-7 September 2014
 
 
The 2014 Conference on Human Rights, Environmental Sustainability, Post-2015 Development Agenda, and the Future Climate Regime will take place from 5-7 September 2014 at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.
The Conference is organized by Yale University and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United National Development Programme (UNDP), and the World Resources Institute (WRI).
The Conference will bring together more than 100 scholars and policy experts to discuss state-of-the-art knowledge at the nexus of human rights and the environment, building on more than 70 papers which will be written by researchers and expert practitioners from 40 different countries as a contribution to the Conference.
The keynote presentation will be given by John Knox, the UN Independent Expert on Human Rights and the Environment.
Given that the Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals was just completed, and the upcoming climate change negotiations in Peru are approaching, the Conference also provides an opportunity to develop policy insights for strengthening the human rights-environment interface at the international level.
Details concerning the Conference are available on this Web Page.  
Inquiries may be sent to envdem.yale@gmail.com with cc to envdem@unitar.org.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 24th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

SundayReview | Opinion

The Climate Swerve.

By ROBERT JAY LIFTON,  The New York Times,

AMERICANS appear to be undergoing a significant psychological shift in our relation to global warming. I call this shift a climate “swerve,” borrowing the term used recently by the Harvard humanities professor Stephen Greenblatt to describe a major historical change in consciousness that is neither predictable nor orderly.

The first thing to say about this swerve is that we are far from clear about just what it is and how it might work. But we can make some beginning observations which suggest, in Bob Dylan’s words, that “something is happening here, but you don’t know what it is.” Experience, economics and ethics are coalescing in new and important ways. Each can be examined as a continuation of my work comparing nuclear and climate threats.

The experiential part has to do with a drumbeat of climate-related disasters around the world, all actively reported by the news media: hurricanes and tornadoes, droughts and wildfires, extreme heat waves and equally extreme cold, rising sea levels and floods. Even when people have doubts about the causal relationship of global warming to these episodes, they cannot help being psychologically affected. Of great importance is the growing recognition that the danger encompasses the entire earth and its inhabitants. We are all vulnerable.

This sense of the climate threat is represented in public opinion polls and attitude studies. A recent Yale survey, for instance, concluded that “Americans’ certainty that the earth is warming has increased over the past three years,” and “those who think global warming is not happening have become substantially less sure of their position.”

Falsification and denial, while still all too extensive, have come to require more defensive psychic energy and political chicanery.

But polls don’t fully capture the complex collective process occurring.

The most important experiential change has to do with global warming and time. Responding to the climate threat — in contrast to the nuclear threat, whose immediate and grotesque destructiveness was recorded in Hiroshima and Nagasaki — has been inhibited by the difficulty of imagining catastrophic future events. But climate-related disasters and intense media images are hitting us now, and providing partial models for a devastating climate future.

At the same time, economic concerns about fossil fuels have raised the issue of value. There is a wonderfully evocative term, “stranded assets,” to characterize the oil, coal and gas reserves that are still in the ground. Trillions of dollars in assets could remain “stranded” there. If we are serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions and sustaining the human habitat, between 60 percent and 80 percent of those assets must remain in the ground, according to the Carbon Tracker Initiative, an organization that analyzes carbon investment risk. In contrast, renewable energy sources, which only recently have achieved the status of big business, are taking on increasing value, in terms of returns for investors, long-term energy savings and relative harmlessness to surrounding communities.

Pragmatic institutions like insurance companies and the American military have been confronting the consequences of climate change for some time. But now, a number of leading financial authorities are raising questions about the viability of the holdings of giant carbon-based fuel corporations. In a world fueled by oil and coal, it is a truly stunning event when investors are warned that the market may end up devaluing those assets. We are beginning to see a bandwagon effect in which the overall viability of fossil-fuel economics is being questioned.

Can we continue to value, and thereby make use of, the very materials most deeply implicated in what could be the demise of the human habitat? It is a bit like the old Jack Benny joke, in which an armed robber offers a choice, “Your money or your life!” And Benny responds, “I’m thinking it over.” We are beginning to “think over” such choices on a larger scale.

This takes us to the swerve-related significance of ethics. Our reflections on stranded assets reveal our deepest contradictions. Oil and coal company executives focus on the maximum use of their product in order to serve the interests of shareholders, rather than the humane, universal ethics we require to protect the earth. We may well speak of those shareholder-dominated principles as “stranded ethics,” which are better left buried but at present are all too active above ground.

Such ethical contradictions are by no means entirely new in historical experience. Consider the scientists, engineers and strategists in the United States and the Soviet Union who understood their duty as creating, and possibly using, nuclear weapons that could destroy much of the earth. Their conscience could be bound up with a frequently amorphous ethic of “national security.” Over the course of my work I have come to the realization that it is very difficult to endanger or kill large numbers of people except with a claim to virtue.

The climate swerve is mostly a matter of deepening awareness. When exploring the nuclear threat I distinguished between fragmentary awareness, consisting of images that come and go but remain tangential, and formed awareness, which is more structured, part of a narrative that can be the basis for individual and collective action.

In the 1980s there was a profound worldwide shift from fragmentary awareness to formed awareness in response to the potential for a nuclear holocaust. Millions of people were affected by that “nuclear swerve.” And even if it is diminished today, the nuclear swerve could well have helped prevent the use of nuclear weapons.

With both the nuclear and climate threats, the swerve in awareness has had a crucial ethical component. People came to feel that it was deeply wrong, perhaps evil, to engage in nuclear war, and are coming to an awareness that it is deeply wrong, perhaps evil, to destroy our habitat and create a legacy of suffering for our children and grandchildren.

Social movements in general are energized by this kind of ethical passion, which enables people to experience the more active knowledge associated with formed awareness. That was the case in the movement against nuclear weapons. Emotions related to individual conscience were pooled into a shared narrative by enormous numbers of people.

In earlier movements there needed to be an overall theme, even a phrase, that could rally people of highly divergent political and intellectual backgrounds. The idea of a “nuclear freeze” mobilized millions of people with the simple and clear demand that the United States and the Soviet Union freeze the testing, production and deployment of nuclear weapons.

Could the climate swerve come to include a “climate freeze,” defined by a transnational demand for cutting back on carbon emissions in steps that could be systematically outlined?

With or without such a rallying phrase, the climate swerve provides no guarantees of more reasonable collective behavior. But with human energies that are experiential, economic and ethical it could at least provide — and may already be providing — the psychological substrate for action on behalf of our vulnerable habitat and the human future.

———————————-

Robert Jay Lifton is a psychiatrist and the author of “Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima,” and a memoir, “Witness to an Extreme Century.”

A version of this op-ed appears in print on August 24, 2014, on page SR4 of the New York edition with the headline: The Climate Swerve.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 23rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

The Opinion Pages | Op-Ed Contributor

Saudis Must Stop Exporting Extremism:

ISIS Atrocities Started With Saudi Support for Salafi Hate.

By ED HUSAIN,  

ALONG with a billion Muslims across the globe, I turn to Mecca in Saudi Arabia every day to say my prayers. But when I visit the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, the resting place of the Prophet Muhammad, I am forced to leave overwhelmed with anguish at the power of extremism running amok in Islam’s birthplace. Non-Muslims are forbidden to enter this part of the kingdom, so there is no international scrutiny of the ideas and practices that affect the 13 million Muslims who visit each year.

Last week, Saudi Arabia donated $100 million to the United Nations to fund a counterterrorism agency. This was a welcome contribution, but last year, Saudi Arabia rejected a rotating seat on the United Nations Security Council. This half-in, half-out posture of the Saudi kingdom is a reflection of its inner paralysis in dealing with Sunni Islamist radicalism: It wants to stop violence, but will not address the Salafism that helps justify it.

Let’s be clear: Al Qaeda, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Boko Haram, the Shabab and others are all violent Sunni Salafi groupings. For five decades, Saudi Arabia has been the official sponsor of Sunni Salafism across the globe.

Most Sunni Muslims around the world, approximately 90 percent of the Muslim population, are not Salafis. Salafism is seen as too rigid, too literalist, too detached from mainstream Islam. While Shiite and other denominations account for 10 percent of the total, Salafi adherents and other fundamentalists represent 3 percent of the world’s Muslims.

Unlike a majority of Sunnis, Salafis are evangelicals who wish to convert Muslims and others to their “purer” form of Islam — unpolluted, as they see it, by modernity. In this effort, they have been lavishly supported by the Saudi government, which has appointed emissaries to its embassies in Muslim countries who proselytize for Salafism. The kingdom also grants compliant imams V.I.P. access for the annual hajj, and bankrolls ultraconservative Islamic organizations like the Muslim World League and World Assembly of Muslim Youth.

After 9/11, under American pressure, much of this global financial support dried up  {something this website doubts indeed – a PJ comment}, but the bastion of Salafism remains strong in the kingdom, enforcing the hard-line application of outdated Shariah punishments long abandoned by a majority of Muslims. Just since Aug. 4, 19 people have been beheaded in Saudi Arabia, nearly half for nonviolent crimes.

We are rightly outraged at the beheading of James Foley by Islamist militants, and by ISIS’ other atrocities, but we overlook the public executions by beheading permitted by Saudi Arabia. By licensing such barbarity, the kingdom normalizes and indirectly encourages such punishments elsewhere. When the country that does so is the birthplace of Islam, that message resonates.

I lived in Saudi Arabia’s most liberal city, Jidda, in 2005. That year, in an effort to open closed Saudi Salafi minds, King Abdullah supported dialogue with people of other religions. In my mosque, the cleric used his Friday Prayer sermon to prohibit such dialogue on grounds that it put Islam on a par with “false religions.” It was a slippery slope to freedom, democracy and gender equality, he argued — corrupt practices of the infidel West.

{ Above is an oxymoron – Wahhabism is the religious base that kept Salafism alive and is the base on which was mounted the Saudi throne. The Saudi monarchy and Wahhabism are one and the same so the Saudi treasury it is also the modern age father of Salafism. And what fills the Saudi treasury? Those are the foreign currencies spent at any gas-pump – be it by buying Saudi oil products or any oil products. As oil is fungible, any oil sold globally increases the value of Saudi oil sales.The bottom line is thus that anyone of us, by his thirst for oil, feeds ISIL.}

This tension between the king and Salafi clerics is at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s inability to reform. The king is a modernizer, but he and his advisers do not wish to disturb the 270-year-old tribal pact between the House of Saud and the founder of Wahhabism (an austere form of Islam close to Salafism). That 1744 desert treaty must now be nullified. 

{WHAT IS HE TALING ABOUT HERE – WHAT TENSION? IT REALLY IS A SYMBIOTIC RELATIONSHIP.
(PJ comment)}

The influence that clerics wield is unrivaled. Even Saudis’ Twitter heroes are religious figures: An extremist cleric like Muhammad al-Arifi, who was banned last year from the European Union for advocating wife-beating and hatred of Jews, commands a following of 9. 4 million. The kingdom is also patrolled by a religious police force that enforces the veil for women, prohibits young lovers from meeting and ensures that shops do not display “indecent” magazine covers. In the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, the religious police beat women with sticks if they stray into male-only areas, or if their dress is considered immodest by Salafi standards. This is not an Islam that the Prophet Muhammad would recognize.

Salafi intolerance has led to the destruction of Islamic heritage in Mecca and Medina. If ISIS is detonating shrines, it learned to do so from the precedent set in 1925 by the House of Saud with the Wahhabi-inspired demolition of 1,400-year-old tombs in the Jannat Al Baqi cemetery in Medina. In the last two years, violent Salafis have carried out similar sectarian vandalism, blowing up shrines from Libya to Pakistan, from Mali to Iraq. Fighters from Hezbollah have even entered Syria to protect holy sites.

Textbooks in Saudi Arabia’s schools and universities teach this brand of Islam. The University of Medina recruits students from around the world, trains them in the bigotry of Salafism and sends them to Muslim communities in places like the Balkans, Africa, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Egypt, where these Saudi-trained hard-liners work to eradicate the local, harmonious forms of Islam.

What is religious extremism but this aim to apply Shariah as state law? This is exactly what ISIS (Islamic State) is attempting do with its caliphate. Unless we challenge this un-Islamic, impractical and flawed concept of trying to govern by a rigid interpretation of Shariah, no amount of work by a United Nations agency can unravel Islamist terrorism.

Saudi Arabia created the monster that is Salafi terrorism. It cannot now outsource the slaying of this beast to the United Nations. It must address the theological and ideological roots of extremism at home, starting in Mecca and Medina. Reforming the home of Islam would be a giant step toward winning against extremism in this global battle of ideas.

—————————

Ed Husain is an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a senior adviser to the Tony Blair Faith Foundation.

A version of this op-ed appears in print on August 23, 2014, on page A23 of the New York edition with the headline: Saudis Must Stop Exporting Extremism

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

The changing landscape of religion.

Laxenburg, Austria, 20 August 2014: The mixes of religion and ethnicity in society are changing in Vienna, Europe, and the world. IIASA research provides a demographic perspective. 

Religion is a key factor in demography, important for projections of future population growth as well as for other social indicators. A new journal, Yearbook of International Religious Demography, is the first to bring a quantitative demographic focus to the study of religion. The journal is co-edited by IIASA researcher Vegard Skirbekk, an expert in the field of religious demography. The first edition of the journal includes three studies by IIASA researchers:
 

Vienna: Growing diversity in religion and ethnicity.

The city of Vienna is growing increasingly diverse in both religion and ethnicity, according to a new study by IIASA researcher Markus Speringer and Ramon Bauer of the Vienna Institute for Demography, which explored how Vienna’s ethnic and religious diversity has developed from 1970 to 2011.

The study reflects Vienna’s changing religious and ethnic structure, which has seen increased migration since 1970. By 2011, almost a third of Vienna’s population was foreign-born, the study showed. But while in 2001, a majority of those immigrants came from Turkey and the former Yugoslavia, in 2011 the immigrant population was far more diverse, including many newcomers from Germany, Poland, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria.

At the same time, the percentage of Roman Catholics has declined in the city, from nearly 80% in 1971 to less than 50% in 2001. This decline is due to both an increase in religious disaffiliation as well as an influx of people of different religions, the study shows.

The study also assessed the makeup of Vienna’s neighborhoods – showing that most migrants live in Vienna’s inner districts, in diverse, mixed neighborhoods. The outer districts of Vienna, by contrast, are mainly home to people born in Austria with a catholic religious affiliation.

 

Europe:  Immigration and religious switching.

Christians still make up 75% of people in Europe, according to a second paper published in the journal, which quantified Europe’s population by religious affiliation. The study, led by IIASA researcher Marcin Stonawski, showed that the next-largest group (18%) of Europeans claims no religious affiliation, and Muslims are the third-largest group with about 6% of the population. The study estimated religious distribution by age and sex for 42 countries – the first to provide such a detailed demographic analysis over all of Europe. It shows that the Christian population is relatively old, with a median age of 41.7 years, while the median age for the Muslim population was 31.8 years.
Contact: Marcin Stonawski stonaw@iiasa.ac.at


A third paper published in the new journal provides the methodology behind the Pew Research Global Religious Landscape Study published in 2012, the most thorough demographic analysis to date of global religious populations. The study, based on more than 2,500 censuses, surveys and population registers, found that 84% of the 2010 world population was affiliated with a religion. The study also found that roughly one-in-six people around the globe had no religious affiliation.

The report included estimates of the religious composition of over 230 countries and territories and, for the first time ever, median age data for followers of each religion. The study documented a wide gulf between the median age of Muslims (23) and Jews (36).
 
The report was produced by the Pew Research Center in collaboration with researchers from the Age and Cohort Change Project (ACC) at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), including Vegard Skirbekk, Marcin Stonawski and Michaela Potancokova.
Contact: Vegard Skirbekk  skirbekk@iiasa.ac.at

Reference
Feng, Kuishuang, Klaus Hubacek, Stephan Pfister, Yang Yu, Laixiang Sun. 2014. “Virtual Scarce Water in China.” Environmental Science and Technology, dx.doi.org/10.1021/es500502q.

For PDF copies of the studies highlighted in this release please contact IIASA Press Officer Katherine Leitzell.

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

 

Sunday, August 17 2014 -  The America Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) spearheaded by US Jewish organizations presented at Union Square, New York,  speakers from South Sudan, the Kurdish Nation, The Christian Copts of Sudan and Egypt. One could see among the sea of Israeli flags also the flag of a free Kurdistan and the Coptic Cross of the individual Christian Communities being exterminated in present day Muslim Africa. I asked myself Where are those that fought the Apartheid in South Africa – except the Jews? South African Apartheid was a much milder phenomenon then what goes on in Nigeria and Sudan, Syria and Iraq, these days – right under our eyes.

WE RECEIVED THE  ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT THE SUNDAY UNION SQUARE DEMONSTRATION FROM THE CHASSIDA SHMELLA ORGANIZATION OF THE ETHIOPIAN BLACK JEWS THAT RESIDE NOW IN THE US. THEY LIVED AMONG THE ETHIOPIAN CHRISTIANS – SO THEY DID NOT HAVE THE EXACT EXPERIENCE AS THE COPTS OF THE SUDAN, BUT NEVERTHELESS THEY ARE FIRST IN LINE TO UNDERSTAND AFRICA – AND THAT IS OBVIOUS IN THE WAY THEY REACT TO EVERYTHING THAT HAS TO DO WITH TRUE DISCRIMINATION BECAUSE OF RACE OR RELIGION. THAT UNION SQUARE DEMONSTRATION IS FOLLOWED NOW BY A NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE AUTHORED BY FORMER US AMBASSADOR RONALD LAUDER – A REPUBLICAN.

They had at that meeting also Hindu, Sikh, Caldeans and Buddhists – and among the flags was also the flag of India.
———————————————————————

 

The Opinion Pages | Op-Ed Contributor

Who Will Stand Up for the Christians?

By RONALD S. LAUDER  – The New York Times –

Credit Edel Rodriguez

 

WHY is the world silent while Christians are being slaughtered in the Middle East and Africa? In Europe and in the United States, we have witnessed demonstrations over the tragic deaths of Palestinians who have been used as human shields by Hamas, the terrorist organization that controls Gaza. The United Nations has held inquiries and focuses its anger on Israel for defending itself against that same terrorist organization. But the barbarous slaughter of thousands upon thousands of Christians is met with relative indifference.

The Middle East and parts of central Africa are losing entire Christian communities that have lived in peace for centuries. The terrorist group Boko Haram has kidnapped and killed hundreds of Christians this year — ravaging the predominantly Christian town of Gwoza, in Borno State in northeastern Nigeria, two weeks ago. Half a million Christian Arabs have been driven out of Syria during the three-plus years of civil war there. Christians have been persecuted and killed in countries from Lebanon to Sudan.

Historians may look back at this period and wonder if people had lost their bearings. Few reporters have traveled to Iraq to bear witness to the Nazi-like wave of terror that is rolling across that country. The United Nations has been mostly mum. World leaders seem to be consumed with other matters in this strange summer of 2014. There are no flotillas traveling to Syria or Iraq. And the beautiful celebrities and aging rock stars — why doesn’t the slaughter of Christians seem to activate their social antennas?

President Obama should be commended for ordering airstrikes to save tens of thousands of Yazidis, who follow an ancient religion and have been stranded on a mountain in northern Iraq, besieged by Sunni Muslim militants. But sadly, airstrikes alone are not enough to stop this grotesque wave of terrorism.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is not a loose coalition of jihadist groups, but a real military force that has managed to take over much of Iraq with a successful business model that rivals its coldblooded spearhead of death. It uses money from banks and gold shops it has captured, along with control of oil resources and old-fashioned extortion, to finance its killing machine, making it perhaps the wealthiest Islamist terrorist group in the world. But where it truly excels is in its carnage, rivaling the death orgies of the Middle Ages. It has ruthlessly targeted Shiites, Kurds and Christians.

“They actually beheaded children and put their heads on a stick” a Chaldean-American businessman named Mark Arabo told CNN, describing a scene in a Mosul park. “More children are getting beheaded, mothers are getting raped and killed, and fathers are being hung.”

This week, 200,000 Aramaeans fled their ancestral homeland around Nineveh, having already escaped Mosul.

The general indifference to ISIS, with its mass executions of Christians and its deadly preoccupation with Israel, isn’t just wrong; it’s obscene.

In a speech before thousands of Christians in Budapest in June, I made a solemn promise that just as I will not be silent in the face of the growing threat of anti-Semitism in Europe and in the Middle East, I will not be indifferent to Christian suffering. Historically, it has almost always been the other way around: Jews have all too often been the persecuted minority. But Israel has been among the first countries to aid Christians in South Sudan. Christians can openly practice their religion in Israel, unlike in much of the Middle East.

This bond between Jews and Christians makes complete sense. We share much more than most religions. We read the same Bible, and share a moral and ethical core. Now, sadly, we share a kind of suffering: Christians are dying because of their beliefs, because they are defenseless and because the world is indifferent to their suffering.

Good people must join together and stop this revolting wave of violence. It’s not as if we are powerless. I write this as a citizen of the strongest military power on earth. I write this as a Jewish leader who cares about my Christian brothers and sisters.

The Jewish people understand all too well what can happen when the world is silent. This campaign of death must be stopped.

———————————————————————————————————

Ronald S. Lauder is the president of the World Jewish Congress.
{A Former US Ambassador and head of a very rich American Jewish family}

A version of this op-ed appears in print on August 20, 2014, on page A23 of the New York edition with the headline: Who Will Stand Up for the Christians?.

 

SOME OF THE COMMENTS:

“Everyone who believes in religious freedom should protest the efforts of Boko Haram and ISIS to persecute Christians and other religious…”

“I couldn’t care less about some contrived and convenient “bond between Jews and Christians”. Let’s hear it for the bonds between humans. The…”

“Ron, please remember that groups like ISIS were not a factor while that predator Saddam still ruled the jungle. Please remember that the…”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 19th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Apply to join Al Gore in Brazil
to become a Climate Reality Leader >
APPLY TO JOIN AL GORE IN BRAZIL, NOVEMBER 4-6 TO BECOME A CLIMATE REALITY LEADER!

Dear Pincas,

Change doesn’t happen by accident.

Change takes time, dedication, and most importantly, it takes leaders.

Here at The Climate Reality Project, we’ve got some of the best around: they’re called Climate Reality Leaders. And today, I’m hoping you’ll apply to join us in Rio de Janeiro November 4-6 to become one.

During the course of three days, you’ll work with world-renowned experts in climate science, alternative energy, and sustainability. You’ll learn from twenty-first century communicators, organizers, and of course, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.

Together, we’ll equip you with the training to more effectively communicate, organize, and lead. You’ll discuss what’s happening to our planet and the real solutions we have today. You’ll learn how to strengthen the public will to solve this crisis once and for all.

 

And once you’ve got the right tools, you’ll be prepared to join more than 6,000 other Climate Reality Leaders across the planet and spread the message so widely and speak up so loudly that it cannot be ignored: we can solve climate change.

The world needs climate leaders like you now more than ever.

Apply to join us in this effort. You’ll come as a leader, and leave as a Climate Reality Leader, ready to take on the greatest challenge of our time.

We look forward to receiving your application. Together, we can change the world.

Thanks for your commitment to climate action,

Ken Berlin
President & CEO

P.S. If you still need some convincing, check out this video our Chairman and Founder Al Gore recorded to remind everyone why becoming a Climate Reality Leader is so important.

 

©2014 The Climate Reality Project. All rights reserved.
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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 17th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

A CHOREOGRAPHY THAT EXPLORES THE IDEA OF RECONCILIATION.

Fishman Space in BAM Fisher, 321 Ashland Place, near Lafayette Avenue, Fort Greene, Brooklyn; 718-636-4100, www.bam.org.

The main purpose of DanceMotion USA, a cultural diplomacy program run by the Brooklyn Academy of Music for the State Department, is to send American artistic troupes abroad. Yet the program also benefits New Yorkers directly by having  American companies bring back a foreign one for a free, collaborative stay and performance here of several weeks – sometimes at dance camps out-of-town i.e. in Maine.  Eventually a new program is born and it is shown at the Brooklyn BAM which is now blessed o have also the  Fisher Building (Fishman Space) next door. These visits have proven to say the least – interesting. The New York Times prefers to say illuminating.

At the BAM Fishman Space on Thursday, David Dorfman Dance which is based at the BAM, back from a four-week tour of Turkey, Armenia and Tajikistan, teamed up with the Korhan Basaran Company from Istanbul, augmented by two Armenian dancers – Karen Khatchatryan and Davit Grigoryan. 

The program was not one with pieces from each of the performing triangle’s previous repertory.  Mr. Dorfman and Mr. Basaran went all the way,  joining forces for an hour-long  joint program titled – “Unsettled” with a  chosen theme of  “reconciliation.”   It was remarkable how well the two companies, both packed with powerful dancers did merge.

The work teemed with groups pushing and shoving, but it did not set one troupe against the other. The sharpest contrast — in the opening moments and in two later face-off duets — was between the choreographers: Mr. Basaran, tall, with a tendency to collapse inward, and Mr. Dorfman, squat, always hurling his energy out. Yet the aesthetic kinship between them was also apparent in eruptive rhythms and labile emotions.

The music, composed and played live by Sam Crawford, Liz de Lise, Jesse Manno and Timothy Quigley, beguilingly blended Western and Middle Eastern styles and instrumentation. It borrowed the folk song “Sari Gyalin” (or “Sari Gelin”), which in Turkish, Armenian and English versions laments the failure of love across ethnic divides.


A few scenes — for example, a forced march — could be read as specific allusions to the bloody history between Turks and Armenians, but much of the work’s tension was cannily translated into the power dynamics of the choreographic process. In its strongest segment, Evrim Akyay, a slinky Turkish dancer with a menacing presence, directed the motions of an ingenuous American, Kendra Portier, as if in rehearsal for this show. The more he yelled at her in Turkish and slapped her around, the brighter her smile. Though, the power of that scene was squandered as Ms. Portier turned to audience members and implored them to move closer together, vocalizing her needs in dancerly double entendres (“I need to be moved”).  Similarly, another scene swerved from infantile humor to a sharp evocation of the coercion in making people say they’re sorry, only to end with weeping on the ground. A shrewd point about forced reconciliations got belabored in a manner that was itself coercive.

Still, it is to the credit of all involved that “Unsettled,” after a celebratory group dance, had the honesty to remain unsettled. What resonated was a moment before the end, when Mr. Dorfman, having failed to force his friendship on Mr. Basaran, took a line from the folk song and allowed it to expand into a humble question for everyone: “Oh tell me please, what can I do?”

 

This reporting of mine follows a review in the New York Times and a feeling that many in the audience, including myself, had that though seeing a piece that historically dealt with the Armenian – Turkish relations that included an attempt at genocide, actually today the topic is the Israeli Palestinian conflict and it was obvious that to untrained ears Turkish, Armenian, or Arab music – seem all the same – and thus a presence in the air – reference was being made to the Middle East as if there were some generic to it.

The performances at the BAM went on Thursday – Friday – Saturday evenings, but then there was also a performance Saturday afternoon that I attended because it had also a follow up discussion with TV link to Istanbul and questions via the internet from London, Ankara, Germany and some other places.

On a question about the collaboration we heard an answer that said – in a month we become one but in some things where there were differences we become States.

Before the TV land internet links the conversation was according to the natural language of the speaker with a sometime translation into English – then from Ankara came the notion that something that was said in Armenian needed also Turkish translation. Fair enough.

On the I AM SORRY piece: “Children can easily apologize to each other – forget and forgive.”  As he got older, the comment went on, he felt he needed more – the words alone mean less.

Then he saw The Planet of the Apes – they have the capacity of forgive & forget – but we do not have that capacity anymore.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 17th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Burgenland Nachhaltigkeitstage Nachhaltigkeitstage Nachhaltigkeitstage Nachhaltigkeitstage Nachhaltigkeitstage Nachhaltigkeitstage Nachhaltigkeitstage NachhaltigkeitstageLogo Lebensministerium
for the full article:    
Stimmen-Alois_Schwarz Dr. Alois Schwarz, Diözesanbischof. In der Österreichischen Bischofskonferenz für Wirtschaft und Nachhaltigkeit zuständig
Über ethische und nachhaltige Grundsätze in der Wirtschaft

„Langfristig erfolgreiche Unternehmen zeichnen sich dadurch aus, dass sie eine Balance finden zwischen den Interessen ihrer EigentümerInnen, ihrer KundInnen, Ihrer Mit-arbeiterInnen und der sie umgebenden Umwelt. Solche Unternehmerinnen und Unternehmer würden statt einer kurzfristigen Gewinn-Maximierung langfristiger Stabilität, fairen Kundenbeziehungen und respektvoller Mitarbeiterführung den Vorrang einräumen und mit ihrer gesellschaftlichen und ökologischen Umwelt in offener und verantwortungsvoller Beziehung stehen. Leitbilder leben von den Vorbildern, die sie leben. Erfolgreiche Unternehmen verstünden es, ihren Wertekanon in allen Phasen und Ausgestaltung ihres wirtschaftlichen Daseins konsequent zu leben.“

 

stimmen_helga_kromp-kolbHelga Kromp-Kolb, Institut für Meteorologie Department Wasser-Atmosphäre-Umwelt Universität für Bodenkultur Wien, Österreich

„Nachhaltigkeit, Zukunftsfähigkeit, Enkeltauglichkeit – sie alle bedeuten, heute so zu handeln, dass es ein glückliches Morgen geben kann. Dieses Handeln kann erfreulicher Weise schon heute zu einem erfüllteren Leben verhelfen – um den Preis, Gewohnheiten zu ändern.
Leider müssen wir schnell Handeln – das Klimasystem gerät unwiederbringlich aus dem Gleichgewicht. Es ist wichtig, jetzt zu handeln und andere für das nachhaltige Leben zu begeistern!“

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 17th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 Transatomic is a MIT spinoff and could save us with Molten Salt Nuclear Reactors that can use wastes from Water Cooled Reactors for useful purpose.

Transatomic Power’s advanced molten salt reactor consumes spent nuclear fuel cleanly and completely, unlocking vast amounts of cheap, carbon-free energy. It solves four of the most pressing problems facing the nuclear industry: ecological stewardship, public safety, non-proliferation, and cost-efficiency. Only an advanced reactor that meets all four goals at once can truly change the nuclear fission game and allow for broad adoption of nuclear power.

A technical white paper gives a more detailed description of the reactor design.

This reactor can be powered by nuclear waste because it uses radically different technology from conventional plants. Instead of using solid fuel pins, they dissolve the nuclear waste into a molten salt. Suspending the fuel in a liquid (the mo;ten salt) allows  it to be kept in the reactor longer, and therefore capture more of its energy. Conventional nuclear reactors can utilize only about 3% – 5% of the potential fission energy in a given amount of uranium before it has to be removed from the reactor. This design captures 96% of this remaining energy.

Why it’s different

Molten salt reactors are not a new technology – they were originally developed and tested at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. In many respects, Transatomic’s reactor is similar to these early designs. It uses similar safety mechanisms (such as freeze valves), chemical processing techniques (such as off-gas sparging), and corrosion tolerant alloys (such as modified Hastelloy-N). These similarities to previous designs allowed Transatomic to build on an established body of research and reduce the uncertainty associated with the design.

The main differences between Transatomic Power’s molten salt reactor and previous molten salt reactors are the metal hydride moderator and LiF-(Heavy metal)F4 fuel salt. These features allow  to make the reactor more compact and generate electricity at lower cost than other designs. Furthermore, previous molten salt reactors, such as the Oak Ridge Molten Salt Reactor Experiment, used uranium enriched to 33% U-235.

The newly proposed reactor can operate using fresh fuel enriched to just a minimum of 1.8% U-235, or light water reactor waste.

The above comes with  MIT  research and was brought to our attention in today’s CNN/GPS program by Fareed Zakaria (August 17, 2014) who had as guest recently graduated PHD student Dr.Dewan.

In effect – Transatomic, is a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) spinoff intent to commercialize a safer fission nuclear reactor designed to overcome major barriers to nuclear power.  For the anti-nuclear folks the design offers to burn up the existing spent fuel from the world’s fleet of nuclear reactors in a design that doesn’t offer a chance for a meltdown.  That should be nirvana for those alarmed about atomic energy and weapons proliferation.
Dr. Leslie Dewan and coleague Mr. Mark Massie seem to be the young folks who started this MIT offshoot.
Dr. Dewan was Fareed Zakaria’s guest on his program – August 17, 2014.

The US has 100 operating nuclear reactors and additional five in construction.
China has now 21 nuclear reactors and an additional 86 in construction.
Above means that the dangers of nuclear material contaminated water is immense, not just the danger of melt downs -  and that is why opponents to water cooled fission reactors are up in arms.
Imagine the potential for hope if a method is found to decontaminate that water and even find a positive use for the wastes?

We found an old article by Brian Westenhaus of  March 17, 2013 from which we picked:

Transatomic, founded by a pair of very smart and innovative young nuclear engineers, has updated the molten-salt reactor, a reactor type that’s highly resistant to meltdowns. Molten-salt reactors were demonstrated in the 1960s at Oak Ridge National Lab, where one test reactor ran for six years.  What remains is raising $5 million to run five experiments to help validate the new basic design.

Russ Wilcox, Transatomic’s new CEO estimates that it will take eight years to build a prototype reactor at a cost of $200 million.  The company has already raised $1 million in seed funding, including some from Ray Rothrock, a partner at the venture capital firm Venrock.

The cofounders, Mark Massie and Leslie Dewan, who we met here in April last year, are still PhD candidates at MIT. Yet the design has attracted some top advisors, including Regis Matzie, the former CTO of the major nuclear power plant supplier Westinghouse Electric, and Richard Lester, the head of the nuclear engineering department at MIT.

Ms Dewan Mr. Massie and Mr. Lester of Transatomic Power
Ms Dewan Mr. Massie and Mr. Lester of Transatomic Power.

The new reactor design called the Waste-Annihilating Molten Salt Reactor (WAMSR) so far exists only on paper.
Ray Rothrock says the company will face many challenges. “The technology doesn’t bother me in the least,” he said. “I have confidence in the people. I wish someone would build this thing, because I think it would work. It’s all the other factors that make it daunting.”  We’ll get to those daunting factors in a moment.

Related article: France Predict Cost of Nuclear Disaster to be Over Three Times their GDP

——-

Background – today’s conventional nuclear power plant is cooled by water, which boils at 100º C a temperature far below the 2,000° C at the core of a fuel pellet. Even after the reactor is shut down, it must be continuously cooled by pumping in water until the whole internal core apparatus is below 100º C.  The inability to do that properly is what has caused the problems at troubled plants.  Oddly, the nuclear industry and regulatory agencies haven’t come to realize the notion of mixing water and nuclear fuel is the dangerous matter.

The big problems can be solved by using molten salt, instead of water as the coolant, which is mixed in with the fuel. Molten salt has a boiling point higher than the operating temperature of the fuel. That way the reactor has a built-in thermostat – if it starts to heat up, the salt expands, spreading out the fuel and slowing the reactions cooling the thing off.

In the event of a power outage where cooling circulation would stop carrying away the heat, a plug at the bottom of the reactor melts and the fuel and salt mixture flows by gravity into a holding tank, where the fuel spreads out enough for the reactions to stop. The salt then cools and solidifies, encapsulating the radioactive materials.

Ms Dewan now the company’s chief science officer says, “It’s walk-away safe, if you lose electricity, even if there are no operators on site to pull levers, it will coast to a stop.”

She needs only $5 million to prove it, she said.

Technology – Transatomic’s design improves on the original molten-salt reactor by changing the internal geometry and using different materials. Transatomic is keeping many of the proprietary design details to itself, but one change involves eliminating the graphite that made up 90% of the volume of the Oak Ridge reactor. The company has also modified conditions in the reactor to produce faster neutrons, which makes it possible to burn most of the material that is ordinarily discarded as waste.

WAMSR Reactor Schematic Graphic Diagram.
WAMSR Reactor Schematic Graphic Diagram.

 

The design offers a couple other real strong incentives.  Because it runs at atmospheric pressure rather than the high pressures required in conventional reactors the amount of steel and concrete needed to guard against accidents is greatly reduced.  The technical approach will work for uranium or for the future thorium fuels as well.

Related article: Will Japan Embrace Geothermal Power to Move Away from Nuclear?

Here is the comparison that should light up the hearts of the antinuclear crowd.  A conventional 1,000-megawatt reactor produces about 20 metric tons (44,000 lbs.) of high-level waste a year, and that material needs to be safely stored for 100,000 years. The 500-megawatt Transatomic reactor will produce only four kilograms (8.8 lbs.) of such waste a year, along with 250 kilograms (550 lbs.) of waste that has to be stored for a few hundred years.

In the presentation the duo projects some warming numbers for both the low cost power and the anti nuclear folks.  Conventional nuclear reactors can utilize only about 3% of the potential fission energy in a given amount of uranium before it has to be removed from the reactor. The Transatomic design captures 98% of this remaining energy.  A fully deployed Transatomic reactor fleet could use existing stockpiles of nuclear waste to satisfy the world’s electricity needs for 70 years, now through 2083 when about 99.2% of today’s dangerous spent fuel – would be burned away.

Even though the basic idea of a molten-salt reactor has been demonstrated the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) certification process is set up around light-water reactors.  NRC spokesman Scott Burnell said for the next few years, the NRC will be focused on certifying the more conventional designs for SMNRs.  But he also said that the commission is aware of Transatomic’s concept but that designs haven’t been submitted for review yet.  The certification process for Transatomic will take at least five years once the company submits a detailed design, with additional review needed specifically for issues related to fuel and waste management.

The detailed design is years and $4 million more dollars away.  Wilcox estimated that it will take eight years to build a prototype reactor – at a cost of $200 million.  Low cost power customers and the antinuclear folks might want to coordinate getting the Congress to rewrite the NRC’s procedures to speed things up.

After all, China is reported to be investing $350 million over five years to develop molten-salt reactors of its own. It plans to build a two-megawatt test reactor by 2020.

It’d be a pity to miss out on a trillion dollar industrial market and trillions more in electricity savings.  Plus get rid of all that weapons ready, costly to store used fuel.

A hat tip goes to Brian Wand for spotting the latest update to Tranatomic’s progress.

By. Brian Westenhaus  —   Original source: The Nuke The Anti Nuke Crowd Should Love

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 11th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

CTMD Upcoming Events

Gran Bwa Culture and Neg Gran Bwa Drummers present

Bwa Kay Iman Photo by Tony Savino

BWA KAY IMAN 2014   

An all-day Haitian arts and culture celebration

commemorating the uprising against slavery in 1791

that began the Haitian Revolution

 

Saturday, August 16th

(3-9PM)
Prospect Park, Lakeside Area,

Brooklyn, NY

(Take the Q train to the Parkside stop and
enter via Parkside entrance) 

FREE ADMISSION
   
Center for Traditional Music and Dance (CTMD) and its Haitian Community Cultural Initiative, Verite sou Tanbou, are pleased to serve as media sponsors for Bwa Kay Iman, an all-day Haitian arts and culture celebration at lakeside in southeastern Prospect Park (near the Parkside entrance), presented by Gran Bwa Culture and Neg Gran Bwa Drummers, led by Oungan Asogwe (High Priest) Deenps “Gran Bwa” Bazile.
Bwa Kay Iman is a longstanding annual Haitian celebration in Prospect Park that commemorates the important slave social gathering on August 14th of 1791 that began the Haitian revolution.  The event celebrates and demonstrates Haitian culture with drumming, traditional Haitian folkloric dance, artwork, and storytelling followed by traditional Haitian Vodou drumming and singing between 3PM and 9PM.
CHILDREN AND FAMILIES ARE WELCOME!
Seating is picnic-style; attendees are invited to bring
blankets, cushions, and lawn chairs as needed.

Suggested dress code
for this cultural gathering

is djan-djan (multicolored attire).

 To volunteer at this event (assist with set up, clean up, or picking up supplies)
or for further information, contact Gran Bwa at:
Granbwaculture@yahoo.com or 347-785-6419.

Set up begins at 11AM – assistance is welcome!
To make a donation via Paypal directly to Gran Bwa Culture
in support of this free cultural event click here
You can also donate via our GoFundMe campaign
by clicking
here.
OTHER ITEMS ARE WELCOME, INCLUDING:
- Cases of water, fruit (oranges, bananas, grapes, mangos),
cases of candles, lawn chairs, and tarps
- Art supplies (markers, crayons, white paper, construction
paper, paint, and paint brushes)

“Gran Bwa Culture is reaching out to everyone in the community of all age groups and cultures to partake in this great annual celebration. We are providing a series of hands-on workshops in the natural setting of Prospect Park, creating an opportunity for Haitians to reconnect with their culture and for the general community to learn about Haiti’s culture.”  –Erzuli Guillaume
For a preview of Bwa Kay Iman, courtesy of City Lore’s video documentation
of this celebration in the park in 2010, click on the image below.

Haitian Neighborhood Tour 3: Gran Bwa in Prospect Park
Haitian Neighborhood Tour 3:
Gran Bwa in Prospect Park
by City Lore www.citylore.org
FOR UP-TO-THE-MINUTE SUBWAY DIRECTIONS VISIT WWW.HOPSTOP.COM
Bwa Kayiman photo courtesy of Tony Savino:  www.tonysavino.com

Find out more about CTMD!
For more information about upcoming events, what’s happening in New York City’s traditional music and dance scene, to join or to donate, go to CTMD’s website.

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