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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 15th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Asia Society’s Executive Vice President Tom Nagorski invited the working press of New York City – that is the people reporting about activities in New York – rather then only those accredited only to the UN enclave – to tell us about the ASIA GAME CHANGERS AWARDS – perennial recognition of remarkable pioneering leaders and institutions that mostly work in a bottoms-up mode and manage to achieve things that major institution were not able to achieve. Having said this – let me also note that usually a very well established person – someone that has achieved the status of Malala Yousafai or Jack Ma are also recognized – this as they are now targets to demonstrate what an ASIAN can achieve.

The well wetted former contestants that were proposed by peers or establishment, vetted by the Asia Society, presented to the UN, are then honored at an Awards Dinner at the UN – bringing honor to the UN that the UN never deserved. Do not fret – that is how the World Works – luckily there are good people available sometimes where you expect it the least.

This year’s Underwriters of the Asia Society project are Citibank, United Airlines and Pepsico and the Awards Dinner and Celebration will be held at the UN on October 27, 2016 – at the tail-end of this year’s UN General Assembly.

This year’s list of ASIA GAME CHANGERS is headed by the iconic figure of Architect I.M. Pei (US/China) who is celebrated for Lifetime Achievements.

The other awardees in alphabetic order are:

– Muzoon Almellehan of Syria – for bringing education and hope to young girls, amid the trauma of war. She just turned 18 and had started her activities among the refugees in Jordan where her family fled from the Syrian little town – Dura.
She lives now in Newcastle, England where she can continue her own education.

– Marita Cheng of Australia – For engineering a betterv world, and ensuring that more of the engineers are women.
She is an Entrepreneur. She is 30 years old and created an app that helps women. She might br presented as someone who has achieved the kind of status Ms. Almellehan was fighting for.

– Soo-man Lee of South Korea – For turning her Nation’s pop culture into a global phenomenon.
She is the founder and producer of S.M. brand entertainment and “K-pop.”

– Sanduk Ruit of Nepal – an Eye-Surgeon – who brought the gift of sight, and productive life, by making available cataract removal to those in need. He did this for 100,000 people in Nepal and started programs in other countries including North Korea. He institutes this with mobilized centers going to the people.

– Ahmad Sarmast (afghanistan/Australia) – For restoring music and empowering children – in a war-ravaged nation.

– Dureen Shahnaz of Bangladesh – For “social-impact” investing that has changed the game for millions.
Founder of the Impact Investment Exchange Asia. She teaches the reinvestment of the return from investment in order to lead to growth.

– Karim Wasfi of Iraq – for using music to heal, in the aftermath of terror.
He is a renown cellist, conductor of the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra.

At the diner there will be a chance to listen also to a 13 year old kid from Bali who is already a good piano player and Game Changer in the making.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 27th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From a [UNFCCC medialist – UNFCCC global list for media mailouts] PRESS RELEASE

UNFCCC Establishes Regional Collaboration Centre for Asia-Pacific Region in
Partnership with the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) to
Help Speed up Spread of Clean Technologies.

(Bonn, 27 August 2015) – Clean technology in developing countries has
received a further boost with the establishment of a centre to promote the
Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) in the Asia-Pacific Region.

Welcoming the establishment of the centre in Bangkok, Thailand, just months
before the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, Christiana Figueres,
Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate
Change (UNFCCC) said: “A CDM hub in Asia-Pacific comes as nations are set
to ink a new universal climate agreement in Paris in December. The
agreement needs to trigger an ever deeper transition to a low carbon
economy and by the second half of the century a climate neutral
world—scaled up finance, innovative technologies and creative market
mechanisms that benefit people and the planet will be central to these
aims.”

The Centre will be operated in partnership with the Institute for Global
Environmental Strategies (IGES) and will support all countries in the
region in identifying and designing CDM projects and offering opportunities
to reduce transaction costs. It will work in collaboration with the other
Regional Collaboration Centres (RCCs) in Africa, Latin America and the
Caribbean.

Professor Hironori Hamanaka, Chair of the Board of Directors of IGES,
praised the inter-agency cooperation as an important step towards attaining
the goals set by the international community to combat climate change. He
said: “We are honored to work in partnership with the UNFCCC in Asia and
the Pacific, and this Regional Collaboration Centre in Bangkok will further
tap the potential for CDM projects in the region.”

The CDM allows emission reduction projects in developing countries to earn
certified emission reductions (CERs), each equivalent to one tonne of CO2.
CERs can be traded and sold, and used by industrialized countries to meet a
part of their emission reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol.

This is the fifth CDM RCC established by the UNFCCC in partnership with a
regional organization. The first centre was established in January 2013 in
Lomé, Togo to increase participation in CDM projects in West and
Francophone Africa. A second centre was established in Kampala, Uganda to
serve the rest of Africa. A third was established in Saint George’s,
Grenada to assist in the development of CDM projects in the Caribbean, and
a fourth was set up in Bogotá, Colombia to support underrepresented
countries in Latin America.

The Asia-Pacific RCC will be hosted in the IGES offices in Bangkok and will
become operational on 1 September 2015.

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For further information please contact:
David Abbass, Public Information Officer, UNFCCC at:
 CDM-Press at unfccc.int, +49 (0) 228-815-1511

Augustine Kwan, Programme Manager, IGES at:
 iges_pr at iges.or.jp, +66-2-651-8797

About the CDM
The clean development mechanism (CDM) allows emission reduction projects in
developing countries to earn certified emission reductions (CERs), each
equivalent to one tonne of CO2. CERs can be traded and sold, and used by
industrialized countries to meet a part of their emission reduction targets
under the Kyoto Protocol. With more than 7.600 registered projects in more
than 100 countries, the CDM has proven to be a powerful mechanism to
deliver finance for emission-reduction projects and contribute to
sustainable development.

About the UNFCCC
With 196 Parties, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
(UNFCCC) has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 1997
Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol has been ratified by 192 of the UNFCCC
Parties. For the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, 37 States,
consisting of highly industrialized countries and countries undergoing the
process of transition to a market economy, have legally binding emission
limitation and reduction commitments. The ultimate objective of both
treaties is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at
a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate
system.

About IGES
IGES is a non-profit, research institute headquartered in Hayama, Japan
with offices in Kansai, Kitakyushu and Tokyo, as well as in Bangkok,
Thailand and Beijing, China. Information on IGES research, networks and
events are available on the IGES website: www.iges.or.jp/en/

See also:
Twitter: @UNFCCC | Español: @CMNUCC| Français: @CCNUCC
@UN_CarbonMechs
Facebook: facebook.com facebook.com UNcarbonmechs
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres on Twitter: @CFigueres

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 23rd, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs

Jeffrey D. Sachs, Professor of Sustainable Development, Professor of Health Policy and Management, and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, is also Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals. His books include The End of Poverty, Common Wealth, and, most recently, The Age of Sustainable Development.

Read more at www.project-syndicate.org/columni…


The UN at 70

Project Syndicate – Sunday, August 23, 2015

NEW YORK –The United Nations will mark its 70th anniversary when world leaders assemble next month at its headquarters in New York. Though there will be plenty of fanfare, it will inadequately reflect the UN’s value, not only as the most important political innovation of the twentieth century, but also as the best bargain on the planet. But if the UN is to continue to fulfill its unique and vital global role in the twenty-first century, it must be upgraded in three key ways.

Fortunately, there is plenty to motivate world leaders to do what it takes. Indeed, the UN has had two major recent triumphs, with two more on the way before the end of this year.

The first triumph is the nuclear agreement with Iran. Sometimes misinterpreted as an agreement between Iran and the United States, the accord is in fact between Iran and the UN, represented by the five permanent members of the Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the US), plus Germany. An Iranian diplomat, in explaining why his country will scrupulously honor the agreement, made the point vividly: “Do you really think that Iran would dare to cheat on the very five UN Security Council permanent members that can seal our country’s fate?”

The second big triumph is the successful conclusion, after 15 years, of the Millennium Development Goals, which have underpinned the largest, longest, and most effective global poverty-reduction effort ever undertaken. Two UN Secretaries-General have overseen the MDGs: Kofi Annan, who introduced them in 2000, and Ban Ki-moon, who, since succeeding Annan at the start of 2007, has led vigorously and effectively to achieve them.

The MDGs have engendered impressive progress in poverty reduction, public health, school enrollment, gender equality in education, and other areas. Since 1990 (the reference date for the targets), the global rate of extreme poverty has been reduced by well over half – more than fulfilling the agenda’s number one goal.

Inspired by the MDGs’ success, the UN’s member countries are set to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – which will aim to end extreme poverty in all its forms everywhere, narrow inequalities, and ensure environmental sustainability by 2030 – next month. This, the UN’s third triumph of 2015, could help to bring about the fourth: a global agreement on climate control, under the auspices of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, in Paris in December.

The precise value of the peace, poverty reduction, and environmental cooperation made possible by the UN is incalculable. If we were to put it in monetary terms, however, we might estimate their value at trillions of dollars per year – at least a few percent of the world economy’s annual GDP of $100 trillion.

Yet spending on all UN bodies and activities – from the Secretariat and the Security Council to peacekeeping operations, emergency responses to epidemics, and humanitarian operations for natural disasters, famines, and refugees – totaled roughly $45 billion in 2013, roughly $6 per person on the planet. That is not just a bargain; it is a significant underinvestment. Given the rapidly growing need for global cooperation, the UN simply cannot get by on its current budget.

Given this, the first reform that I would suggest is an increase in funding, with high-income countries contributing at least $40 per capita annually, upper middle-income countries giving $8, lower-middle-income countries $2, and low-income countries $1. With these contributions – which amount to roughly 0.1% of the group’s average per capita income – the UN would have about $75 billion annually with which to strengthen the quality and reach of vital programs, beginning with those needed to achieve the SDGs. Once the world is on a robust path to achieve the SDGs, the need for, say, peacekeeping and emergency-relief operations should decline as conflicts diminish in number and scale, and natural disasters are better prevented or anticipated.


This brings us to the second major area of reform: ensuring that the UN is fit for the new age of sustainable development. Specifically, the UN needs to strengthen its expertise in areas such as ocean health, renewable energy systems, urban design, disease control, technological innovation, public-private partnerships, and peaceful cultural cooperation. Some UN programs should be merged or closed, while other new SDG-related UN programs should be created.

The third major reform imperative is the UN’s governance, starting with the Security Council, the composition of which no longer reflects global geopolitical realities. Indeed, the Western Europe and Other Group (WEOG) now accounts for three of the five permanent members (France, the United Kingdom, and the US). That leaves only one permanent position for the Eastern European Group (Russia), one for the Asia-Pacific Group (China), and none for Africa or Latin America.

The rotating seats on the Security Council do not adequately restore regional balance. Even with two of the ten rotating Security Council seats, the Asia-Pacific region is still massively under-represented. The Asia-Pacific region accounts for roughly 55% of the world’s population and 44% of its annual income but has just 20% (three out of 15) of the seats on the Security Council.

Asia’s inadequate representation poses a serious threat to the UN’s legitimacy, which will only increase as the world’s most dynamic and populous region assumes an increasingly important global role. One possible way to resolve the problem would be to add at least four Asian seats: one permanent seat for India, one shared by Japan and South Korea (perhaps in a two-year, one-year rotation), one for the ASEAN countries (representing the group as a single constituency), and a fourth rotating among the other Asian countries.

As the UN enters its eighth decade, it continues to inspire humanity. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights remains the world’s moral charter, and the SDGs promise to provide new guideposts for global development cooperation. Yet the UN’s ability to continue to fulfill its vast potential in a new and challenging century requires its member states to commit to support the organization with the resources, political backing, and reforms that this new era demands.

Read more at www.project-syndicate.org/comment…

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How to Select the Next UN Secretary-General.

By Dean Ngaire Woods and Nina Hallon, Project Syndicate, Oxford University

Ngaire Woods is Dean of the Blavatnik School of Government and Director of the Global Economic Governance Program at the University of Oxford.

Nina Hall, a post-doctoral fellow at the Hertie School of Government in Berlin, is the lead researcher on the WEF/BSG project.

Read more at www.project-syndicate.org/comment…

OXFORD – When the United Nations elects a new secretary-general next year, the world will face a crucial choice. With crises erupting in every region of the world, the need for strong, decisive leadership is self-evident. And yet the selection process for filling important international posts has often been characterized more by political horse-trading than a meritocratic search for the best candidate.

The tools to improve the process are available, and the time is right to ensure their adoption by the UN and other international organizations. A new report by the World Economic Forum and Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government lays out a series of best practices – each one of which has already been implemented by at least one international agency – that can guarantee that leaders are drawn from the most qualified candidates, and that the organizations for which they work are vested with the best possible management practices.

For starters, it is important to professionalize the selection process. For too long, backroom deals among governments have taken precedence over searching for a candidate with the relevant skills and experience. When Pascal Lamy, one of the authors of the report, was chosen to become head of the World Trade Organization, there was not even a description of the job against which his qualifications could be measured.

Once a candidate has been chosen, it is important to set clear performance expectations that can be evaluated annually. Groups like the World Health Organization – which came under fierce criticism during the Ebola crisis – can learn from the 80% of American non-profit boards that have a formal process in place for a yearly evaluation of their CEO.

Ethical standards also need to be strengthened. In April, Spanish police questioned Rodrigo Rato, a former managing director of the International Monetary Fund, as part of a corruption probe. Not long before that, his successor at the IMF, Dominique Strauss Kahn, faced pimping charges in France.

Putting in place a code that sets out clear standards for identifying conflicts of interest and robust methods for dealing with complaints about a leader’s behavior is crucial. In recent years, allegations of improper behavior have led to resignations by the heads of the IMF, the World Bank, and the UN Refugee Agency.

A leader is only as good as the people who work for him, so organizations must make it a high priority to attract and retain good staff and rid themselves of those who lack professional integrity or competence. Many global agencies are introducing systematic surveys of their employees, but much remains to be improved. Crucially, international organizations must build up the capacity to resist governments’ efforts to protect their underperforming nationals. Performance evaluations should be made public, allowing outsiders to measure progress (or the lack thereof).

Organizations also need to focus more on delivering results and tracking outcomes. For decades, countries borrowing from the World Bank and regional development banks have begged for the loan process to be expedited; most cannot afford to wait more than two years to find out whether a loan has been approved. Halving the time it takes to approve a loan is the kind of operational goal that a good leader can set, and for which he or she can subsequently be held to account.

It is also important to ensure well-structured, systematic engagement with stakeholders and civil-society groups, which is necessary to ensure high-quality and innovative inputs. Adopting an ad hoc approach, as many organizations currently do, frequently yields poor results.

Finally, it is crucial that organizations learn from their mistakes. Fortunately, almost all global agencies have instituted processes for independent evaluation. Less happily, most are still grappling with how to implement lessons learned. Evaluation is important, but it needs to be followed up with strong governance reforms that require leaders to shift incentives and behavior.

Pressure for change is mounting. In November 2014, Avaaz, the United Nations Association, and other NGOs launched a campaign to reform the selection process by which the UN secretary-general is chosen, replacing an opaque process dominated by the permanent members of the Security Council with a transparent one, in which all countries have a say. Among their demands are a clear job description for the role, public scrutiny of candidates, and a shortlist with more than one candidate.

Progress is being made in some agencies. The UN High Commission for Refugees now describes its objectives in its Global Strategic Priorities and evaluates progress toward them annually. And all senior UN officials must file an annual financial-disclosure statement with the organization’s ethics office.

One notably successful agency in this regard is the African Development Bank (AfDB), which has introduced an organization-wide whistle-blowing policy, an anti-corruption and fraud framework, and an office to investigate disclosures. The AfDB will choose a new president in May, and it has not only defined the job clearly; it has also identified eight candidates and asked each to set out their strategy in advance of the election.

The world relies on international organizations to coordinate the global response to a host of critical threats, from pandemics to financial crises. An effective UN leader needs to be able to persuade member states to cooperate, manage the organization well, and deliver results. Without good leadership, any organization – even the UN – is destined to fail.

Read more at www.project-syndicate.org/comment…

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Gareth Evans

Gareth Evans, former Foreign Minister of Australia (1988-1996) and President of the International Crisis Group (2000-2009), is currently Chancellor of the Australian National University.

He co-chairs the New York-based Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect and the Canberra-based Center for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament.

He is the author of The Responsibility to Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and For All and co-author of Nuclear Weapons: The State of Play 2015.

MAR 26, 2013 – Project Syndicate
Valuing the United Nations.

MELBOURNE – There is nothing like exposure to smart and idealistic young people to make jaded and world-weary policymakers and commentators feel better about the future. I have just had that experience meeting delegates to the 22nd World Model United Nations Conference, which brought together in Australia more than 2,000 students from every continent and major culture to debate peace, development, and human rights, and the role of the UN in securing them.

What impressed me most is how passionately this generation of future leaders felt about the relevance and capacity of the UN system. They are right: the UN can deliver when it comes to national security, human security, and human dignity. But, as I told them, they have a big task of persuasion ahead of them.

No organization in the world embodies as many dreams, yet provides so many frustrations, as the United Nations. For most of its history, the Security Council has been the prisoner of great-power maneuvering; the General Assembly a theater of empty rhetoric; the Economic and Social Council a largely dysfunctional irrelevance; and the Secretariat, for all the dedication and brilliance of a host of individuals, alarmingly inefficient.

My own efforts to advance the cause of UN reform when I was Australia’s foreign minister were about as quixotic and unproductive as anything I have ever tried to do. Overhauling Secretariat structures and processes to reduce duplication, waste, and irrelevance? Forget it. Changing the composition of the Security Council to ensure that it began to reflect the world of the twenty-first century, not that of the 1950’s? No way.

But I have also had some exhilarating experiences of the UN at its best. The peace plan for Cambodia in the early 1990’s, for example, dragged the country back from hellish decades of horrifying genocide and ugly and protracted civil war. Likewise, the Chemical Weapons Convention, steered through the UN Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, is still the most robust arms-control treaty related to weapons of mass destruction ever negotiated.

Perhaps one experience stands out above all. In 2005, on the UN’s 60th anniversary, the General Assembly, convening at head of state and government level, unanimously endorsed the concept of states’ responsibility to protect populations at risk of genocide and other mass atrocity crimes. With that vote, the international community began to eradicate the shameful indifference that accompanied the Holocaust, Rwanda, Srebrenica, Darfur, and too many similar catastrophes.

What needs to be better understood publicly is just how many different roles the UN plays. The various departments, programs, organs, and agencies within the UN system address a broad spectrum of issues, from peace and security between and within states to human rights, health, education, poverty alleviation, disaster relief, refugee protection, trafficking of people and drugs, heritage protection, climate change and the environment, and much else. What is least appreciated of all is how cost-effectively these agencies – for all their limitations – perform overall, in both absolute and comparative terms.

The UN’s core functions – leaving aside peacekeeping missions but including its operations at its New York headquarters; at offices in Geneva, Vienna, and Nairobi; and at the five regional commissions around the world – now employ 44,000 people at a cost of around $2.5 billion a year. That might sound like a lot, but the Tokyo Fire Department spends about the same amount each year, and the Australian Department of Human Services spends $3 billion more (with less staff). And that’s just two departments in two of the UN’s 193 member states.

Even including related programs and organs (like the UN Development Program and the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees), as well as peacekeeping activities (which involve more than 110,000 international military, police, and civilian personnel), the UN system’s total cost is still only around $30 billion a year. That is less than half the annual budget for New York City, and well under a third of the roughly $105 billion that the US military has been spending each year, on average, in Afghanistan. Wall Street employees received more in annual bonuses ($33.2 billion) in 2007, the year before the global financial meltdown.


The whole family of the UN Secretariat and related entities, together with current peacekeepers, adds up to around 215,000 people worldwide – not a small number, but less than one-eighth of the roughly 1.8 million staff employed by McDonald’s and its franchisees worldwide!

The bottom line, as the youngsters gathered in Melbourne fully understood, is that the UN provides fabulous value for what the world spends on it, and that if it ever ceased to exist, we would have to reinvent it. The downsides are real, but we need to remember the immortal words of Dag Hammarskjold, the UN’s second secretary-general: “The UN was created not to bring us to heaven, but to save us from hell.”

Read more at www.project-syndicate.org/comment…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 28th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

United Nations, Nations Unies

 

UN to Observe Earth Hour to Focus Global Attention on Need for Climate Action.

New York, 27 March – The UN will participate in the 2014 edition of Earth Hour on Saturday 29 March. Coming in the lead-up to the Climate Summit this September, this global initiative aims to focus attention on the need for climate action.
 
Organized by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Earth Hour encourages individuals, companies, organizations and governments throughout the world to switch off their lights for one hour at 8:30 p.m., local time worldwide.
 
The initiative started as a lights-off event in Sydney, Australia in 2007. Since then it has grown to engage over 150 countries and hundreds of millions of people last year.
 
The date traditionally coincides with the Spring and Autumn equinoxes in the northern and southern hemispheres respectively, which allows for near coincidental sunset times in both hemispheres, thereby ensuring the greatest visual impact for a global “lights out” event.
 
All UN staff members around the world have been invited to take part both in their office and home in order to demonstrate the UN’s commitment to support action on climate change, one of the top priorities of the Organization.
 
For the last few years, the UN Headquarters in New York and many other UN offices around the world have been part of the many international landmarks participating in this initiative.
 
This year the UN is going the extra mile and turning off all non-essential lights within the UN complex in New York for three hours from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Geneva and many other UN offices worldwide will also participate.
 
Earth Hour recognizes that everyone’s involvement is needed in order to make a collective impact and take accountability for their ecological footprint.
 
For more information please visit: www.un.org/climatechange

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 3rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

United Nations, Nations Unies
UAE to Host High-Level Meeting in May Leading up to the UN Secretary-General’s Climate SummitLeaders to meet in Abu Dhabi 4-5 May on Climate Action

New York, 3 February—A special two-day high- level meeting will be held from 4-5 May in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, to encourage announcements of greater action and ambition by world leaders at the Secretary-General’s Climate Summit in September, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and United Arab Emirates Minister of State and Special Envoy for Energy and Climate Change, Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, announced today.

The Climate Summit will take place on 23 September, at UN Headquarters in New York, one day before the UN General Assembly begins its General Debate.  The Secretary-General has invited leaders of government, business, finance and civil society to bring bold announcements and actions to address climate change. The Summit will focus on solutions that demonstrate how early action can result in substantial economic benefits.

The “Abu Dhabi Ascent,” as the May meeting will be called, will bring Ministers as well as business, finance, and civil society leaders together to develop a range of proposals for action and determine how their countries, businesses and organizations may become more involved in various initiatives so that partnerships can be broadened and deepened to deliver concrete action at the Summit.

The Secretary-General welcomed the UAE’s offer to host this meeting.  “The UAE initiative to host the Abu Dhabi Ascent is an important concrete contribution to the Summit. This meeting is a critical milepost on the way that will help build the momentum we need for a successful Climate Summit.  I look forward to working with all leaders to ensure that the Summit catalyzes major steps on the ground and towards an ambitious global climate agreement.”

“The United Arab Emirates is at the forefront of international efforts to mitigate climate change,” said Dr. Sultan Al Jaber. “As a key mitigation strategy, the UAE has made significant investments to develop and deploy clean energy technologies globally.”

“The high level meeting in Abu Dhabi will be integral in encouraging and enhancing commitments from the public-private sectors and ensuring the Summit in New York is a success.”

By spurring action on climate change, the Abu Dhabi Ascent leading up to the Climate Summit will complement and boost momentum toward a climate change agreement at the Paris Climate Conference in December 2015.

More  information on the Summit can be found at www.un.org/climatechange/summit2014/

For more information, please contact: Dan Shepard of the UN Department of Public Information,
1-212-963-9495, shepard@un.org

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 26th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 We just received the following release from UNEP, this after we listened to Fareed Zakaria interviewing in Davos the present Egyptian Prime Minister Hazen El Bablawi who seemed blasee to the fact that Egypt is deteriorating – just one more Arab State that seems compelled to love a dictatorship.

Iraq’s environment was destroyed by the oil industry and is now – like Syria – a global basket case. If these countries are not allowed to fall apart and reorganize along more friendly internal lines no amount of help to the environment will have any impact on their future.

Iraq’s dictator put on fire all his oil producing facilities in disregard of his people and the World at large. The best possible environmental recovery process will start with the complete closing of that oil pumping industry. Islamic extremist hot-heads will do little for life in this part of the World where some would rather worship death. Our good friend and well meaning head of UNEP – Achim Steiner – goes to Baghdad and presents the local Environment Minister with a volume in Arabic that tells him what his government could do for a purpose they do not have yet – the environment in which their people ought to be able to live while they are being bombed and shot at daily?

It would be nice indeed if we could center governments’ attention around a worship of Nature rather then the present worship of a religious zeal that sees the enemy in humans and has no value for Nature. Strange – but with every passing day we get closer to the point that we may eventually recommend Vodou (Voodoo)  as the true rational ethics.

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UNEP NEWS: Landmark Agreement Sets in Motion Action to Restore Iraq’s Environment as New Study Outlines Magnitude of Deterioration.

Landmark Agreement Sets in Motion Action to Restore Iraq’s Environment as New Study Outlines Magnitude of Deterioration. UN Top Environment Chief in First Visit to Iraq Says Implementation of Agreement will Bolster Environmental Recovery and Peace-building.      {Peace building did he say?}

Baghdad, 26 January 2014 – In an effort to set in motion robust action to restore Iraq’s fast deteriorating environment, the Government of Iraq signed, Sunday, a landmark agreement with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) that aims to speed up recovery and support peace-building.

Iraq’s environment has suffered severe decline in recent years, exacerbated by decades of war and growing pressures on natural resources.

According to a new government study – backed by UN and World Bank data – 5 to 8 per cent of Iraq’s GDP is lost annually to environmental degradation.

At the same time, 39 per cent of Iraq’s agricultural land suffered a reduction in cropland between 2007 and 2009. Meanwhile food insecurity remains on the rise.

The report warns that the quality and quantity of the country’s water has been impacted by upstream damming, pollution, climate change and inefficient usage.

The amount of water available per person per year decreased from 5,900 cubic metres to 2,400 cubic metres between 1977 and 2009.  Decreasing water supplies were exacerbated by drought from 2005 and 2009.

The Tigris and the Euphrates, Iraq’s two major surface water sources, may dry up by 2040 if current conditions prevail.

“Achieving sustainable development is by no means a light undertaking, especially after decades of wars, sanctions and environmental degradation. Rebuilding Iraq’s environmental infrastructure underpins the country’s recovery and peace-building efforts”, said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director, on his first-ever visit to Iraq.

“The commitment of the Government to achieve environmental sustainability is clearly articulated in the vision, goals and objectives of the National Development Plan, which places the Green Economy at the heart of development and economic policies,” he added.

The new five-year Strategic Cooperation Agreement with UNEP will strengthen efforts to overcome many of Iraq’s environmental challenges.

Iraqi Minister of Environment Eng. Sargon Lazar Slewa said: ” The Government of Iraq is committed to moving ahead with plans to restore the environment as part of our National Development Plan.  The visit by Mr. Steiner and the signing of the cooperation agreement will expedite and further strengthen this process. The well-being, security and livelihoods of Iraqi’s are dependent on our success.”

Areas of cooperation defined by the agreement will focus on: environmental legislation and regulations; biodiversity conservation; green economy; cleaner production; resource efficiency; combating dust storms; and climate change reporting, mitigation and adaptation.

The signing of the agreement took place at a special event hosted by the Minister of Environment to welcome Mr. Steiner to Baghdad.

It was attended by key figures including cabinet ministers, parliamentarians, members of the diplomatic community and international organizations.

Cooperation between the Government of Iraq and UNEP dates back to 2003, immediately after the establishment of the Ministry of Environment.

Since then, UNEP has worked with the Iraqi Government on multiple projects, including: rapid post-conflict environmental assessments; environmental clean-up of highly contaminated sites; and the restoration of the Mesopotamian Marshlands.

The report, entitled “Iraq State of Environment and Outlook” is available in Arabic only. It was prepared by the Government of Iraq with support from UNDP, UNEP and WHO.

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

Facts and figures from the report:

·         Around 31 per cent of Iraq’s surface is desert. At the same time, 39 per cent of the country’s surface is estimated to have been affected by desertification, with an additional 54 per cent under threat.

·         As a result of declining soil moisture and lack of vegetative cover, recent years have witnessed an increase in the frequency of vast dust and sand storms, often originating in the western parts of Iraq.

·         Population growth is adding mounting pressure to existing food, water and energy resources.

·         By 2030, the population is expected to grow to almost 50 million people, exacerbating these pressures even further.

·         Sustainable access to safe water and sanitation remain a challenge: 83 per cent of Iraq’s wastewater is left untreated, contributing to the pollution of Iraq’s waterways and general environment.

·         Years of conflict and violence resulted in chemical pollution and unexploded ordnances, which is affecting the safety and lives of an estimated 1.6 million Iraqis.

For more information, please contact:

Shereen Zorba, Head of News and Media, UNEP, Nairobi, Tel.+254-788-526-000
or Email: shereen.zorba@unep.org/ unepnewsdesk@unep.org

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 12th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Philippines Negotiator Ties Massive Typhoon to Global Warming

 

By 350.org

 

12 November 2013

 

 

 

iplomats, negotiators and civil society representatives from around the world held their breath this afternoon at the United Nations Climate Talks in Warsaw, Poland, this afternoon as Yeb Sano, the lead negotiator for the Philippines, began to address the opening of the conference.

 

More than 10,000 people are feared dead in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, which slammed into the Philippines this weekend, causing apocalyptic devastation across a number of islands.

 

While scientists are careful not to connect any single weather event to climate change, it’s clear that global warming is loading the dice for devastating events like Typhoon Haiyan. Rising seas, warmer waters and a warmer and wetter atmosphere, all contribute to supercharge storms like Haiyan and Hurricane Sandy. Scientists have warned that extreme weather events will only increase in intensity and frequency if climate change is left unchecked.

 

Addressing the UN Climate Talks on behalf of the Philippines, Sano didn’t hesitate to connect Typhoon Haiyan to climate change and the fossil fuel industry’s role in fueling the crisis.

 

He began by thanking the global community, and especially young people, for the support and solidarity that they have shown the people of the Philippines.

 

“I thank the youth present here and the billions of young people around the world who stand steadfast behind my delegation and who are watching us shape their future,” said Sano. “I thank civil society, both who are working on the ground as we race against time in the hardest hit areas, and those who are here in Warsaw prodding us to have a sense of urgency and ambition.

 

“We are deeply moved by this manifestation of human solidarity,” Sano continued. “This outpouring of support proves to us that as a human race, we can unite; that as a species, we care.”

 

Sano spoke of the terrifying devastation that Typhoon Haiyan has wrecked upon the Philippines, before connecting the dots directly to the climate crisis.

 

“To anyone who continues to deny the reality that is climate change, I dare you to get off your ivory tower and away from the comfort of you armchair,” he said. “I dare you to go to the islands of the Pacific, the islands of the Caribbean and the islands of the Indian ocean and see the impacts of rising sea levels; to the mountainous regions of the Himalayas and the Andes to see communities confronting glacial floods, to the Arctic where communities grapple with the fast dwindling polar ice caps, to the large deltas of the Mekong, the Ganges, the Amazon and the Nile where lives and livelihoods are drowned, to the hills of Central America that confronts similar monstrous hurricanes, to the vast savannas of Africa where climate change has likewise become a matter of life and death as food and water becomes scarce.”

 

“Not to forget the massive hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern seaboard of North America,” Sano continued. “And if that is not enough, you may want to pay a visit to the Philippines right now. What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness. The climate crisis is madness.”

 

Sano said that he identified with the young people and activists around the world who are standing up to the fossil fuel industry, protesting in the streets and committing civil disobedience. He shared their frustration and appreciated their courageous action. The same sort of leadership was necessary here in Warsaw, he said.

 

“We can take drastic action now to ensure that we prevent a future where super typhoons are a way of life,” said Sano. “Because we refuse, as a nation, to accept a future where super typhoons like Haiyan become a fact of life. We refuse to accept that running away from storms, evacuating our families, suffering the devastation and misery, having to count our dead, become a way of life. We simply refuse to.”

 

Sano then went off the prepared script of his remarks that were released to the media to announce that he would be commencing a voluntary fast.

 

“In solidarity with my countrymen who are struggling to find food back home and with my brother who has not had food for the last three days, in all due respect Mr. President, and I mean no disrespect for your kind hospitality, I will now commence a voluntary fasting for the climate. This means I will voluntarily refrain from eating food during this COP until a meaningful outcome is in sight.”

 

Meaningful action, he explained would involve real commitments around climate finance.

 

“We call on this COP to pursue work until the most meaningful outcome is in sight,” Sano said further. “Until concrete pledges have been made to ensure mobilization of resources for the Green Climate Fund. Until the promise of the establishment of a loss and damage mechanism has been fulfilled; until there is assurance on finance for adaptation; until concrete pathways for reaching the committed 100 billion dollars have been made; until we see real ambition on stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations. We must put the money where our mouths are.”

 

“Let Poland, let Warsaw, be remembered as the place where we truly cared to stop this madness,” Sano concluded. “Can humanity rise to this occasion? Mr. President, I still believe we can.”

 

At the end of his speech, the entire room here at the negotiations rose to their feet in a standing ovation. As the applause continued for minute after minute, a chant started up up in the back of the room, “We stand with you! We stand with you!”

 

The Philippines, and Yeb Sano have become a voice for the billions of people around the world who are already feeling the impacts of climate change.and are worried about their and their children’s future. Let’s hope that not only the public, but our politicians, can find the courage to stand with him and all of those pushing for action here at the talks in Warsaw.

 

Comments  

 

+4 # Fishmonkey11 2013-11-12 07:36

I Stand With You!

 

 

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 14th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

 

Transforming the Global Economic Paradigm ASAP.

 

 

Rachel’s Network “Green Leaves
Spring Newsletter 2013
Advisor Spotlight 

 

We all  know well the challenges facing us. From reversing ecological and economic collapses to meeting the development needs of seven billion (and growing) residents of our planet, we’ve got our work cut out for us.

 

But what can one person—or one organization—do?

 

A lot.

 

Join me on an adventure to transform the global economic paradigm.

 

Nations, companies, and NGOs are all seeking a new global agenda. Many of these groups are now coalescing around the United Nations’ work to replace the Millennium Development Goals—the targets set back in 2004 for poverty reduction—that expire in 2015.

 

I’ve been asked by the King of the tiny Kingdom of Bhutan to help the world shift its development model away from the current approach of increasing the throughput of stuff and money through the economy (as measured by gross national product) to an agenda of increasing human well-being, measured as “gross national happiness.” I’m part of an International Expert Working Group, convened by the King to set forth the intellectual architecture for this new paradigm.

 

Where do you come in? The Expert Group has created the Alliance for Sustainability and Prosperity, or ASAP for short, to convene the expertise needed to bring genuine prosperity and well-being to everyone on the planet.

 

ASAP seeks your ideas. The world needs help and its leaders are asking for your answers.

 

How do we encourage governments, companies, and an economy obsessed with measuring and growing gross national product to shift to maximizing total well-being? For example, a divorcing cancer patient who gets in a car wreck has added to the GNP. Is she any better off? Clearly not. If you stay home to care for your children you add nothing to the GNP, but have contributed significantly of your family’s welfare, and to a healthier society.

 

Humankind has all of the technologies needed to solve the crises facing us.

 

Why aren’t we using them? How do we overcome the gridlock of governments, and inspire the best of the private sector to take more of a leadership role?

 

Explore the ASAP site at www.asap4all.org. The “Articles” section provides pieces written by ASAP members. See, in particular, “Building a Sustainable and Desirable Economy-in-Society-in-Nature,” with lead author Robert Costanza.

 

The “Public Forum” invites your best thinking. ASAP experts have been  working on this for over three decades.

 

But the state of the world today is a testament to the fact that we can’t do it alone. The radical utopian forecast is that we can sustain business as usual. It’s not going to be like that.

 

What sort of future do you want to see for the world? How do you think we can achieve it? What is already working that should be replicated more broadly? That has to be fixed? And what’s the purpose of the economy that we’re all a part of? Do we exist to serve it, or can we transform it, instead, to serve us?

 

If you have a good idea, but no clue how to achieve it, submit it—maybe another of you has the answer you’re seeking.
ALL of us are smarter than any of us.

 

We believe that it is possible to transform the global economy into one that delivers greater human well-being and happiness, while nestling gracefully into the larger ecosystem that sustains all life. Indeed, doing this is key to ending the global economic crisis. We can’t achieve one without doing the other.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 11th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

After the briefing at the US Mission to the UN I crossed the street to the UN proper and found out that the UN had two extraordinary activities that day:

(1) The Launching of an International Year of Water Cooperation in the morning followed by a Press Conference at the Dag Hammarskjold Library Auditorium.

(2) The Launching of the United Nations Children’s Tour in the Visitor’s Lobby – to which all accredited Journalists and media affiliates were invited.

The second event was easy to reject – this because of the fact that the invitation sounded exclusive and then because we always thought that the UN was established in order to do serious business and we never liked the idea that it is being turned by its leaders into a tourist trap.

Oh well! This left the first activity which looked suspicious as well. What is it WATER COOPERATION?

As I was looking for a particular journalist I found my way to the Water Cooperation Press Conference and watched three presentation by three people – The UN Ambasssador from Hungary, Mr. Csaba Korosi, a science specialist for UNESCO Ms. Ana Persic, and Mr. Paul D. Egerton the World Meteorological Organization (Headquartered in Geneva) Representative in New York.

I understood that the UN General Assembly proclaimed 2013 as International Year for Water Cooperation in 2010 following a request by Tadjikistan that is short of water and has disputes with its neighbor Uzbekistan. Instead of looking at the political dispute and at the shortage of water in that dry part of central Asia, the UN gave the lead to the issue to UNESCO which is running UN Water – a project that looks at the importance of water in general. So what we got was a scientific presentation of climate change, droughts and tsunamis. Instead of having an Ambassador from n Asian dryland we got the Ambassador from Hungary and presentations on the importance of water for poverty reduction. We heard of Climate Security and catastrophic weather, of migration and water vulnerability – BUT WHAT ABOUT COOPERATION BETWEEN THE UZBEKS and the TADJIKS? What about international water-sharing laws and agreements?

Yes, from our experience we know that WMD does terrific scientific work as they did when we needed them to prepare information on climate change for the IPCC – but they are not a political organization – not even UNESCO can push for COOPERATION between governments, so what was this event about.

I decided to bring up what I learned just last week from the Brahmah Chellaney presentation at the Asia Society, and which I posted as:

Asia is poorer in water then Africa, and China’s Tibetan Plateau dominates Asia water supply and could impact all other States. Professor Brahma Chellaney of New Delhi publicizes these problems in his books. Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 9th, 2013

My question was about the Water-Hegemony of China because of the fact that most of the rivers originate on the Tibetan Plateau and China does not care to make water agreements with its neighbors. India is a victim of such disputes with China and the development of the whole region will stop because of lack of water and of agreements to share the water.

The answer came crystal clear – the studies will be prepared by scientists and not political people – that will be up to the governments. Let us say that if the UN is not ready to accept the task of getting countries together there is no sense in talking of cooperation – just another example that the UN cannot step up to the plate.

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

And The Revealing Inner City Press Report: UN’s Water Year Is All Wet, Distinguishing Science & Politics, Tajik Sponsors

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 11 – The year of 2013 is the year of many things, but according to the UN General Assembly it is the International Year of Water Cooperation, credited to a request by Tajikistan in 2010. Inner City Press covered that 2010 hoopla, here.

At the UN on Monday Inner City Press asked at the inevitable UN press conference about the Tajik – Uzbekistan water and dam dispute, and if the press conference panel’s singling out of Tajikistan for praise didn’t constitute taking sides in this dispute. Video here, from Minute 22:13.

The World Meteorological Organization’s Paul Egerton replied that WMO and UNESCO, whose Ana Persic was also on the panel, are both scientific organizations. “The starting point is to focus on scientific and environmental issues,” he said. “There may be discussions at the high political level, in the UN Security Council or other venues, of the political issues.”

But water cooperation is, of course, a “political” issue.

Witness the Nile Basin and an agreement signed by seven countries but not by Egypt or Sudan. Can UNESCO solve this? The Security Council seems unlikely to get involved on the Nile, much less the Uzbek – Tajik conflict.

Inner City Press began by thanking the panelists on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access. Also on the panel was Hungary’s Permanent Representative Csaba Korosi, who told Inner City Press that “we as member states cannot decide on behalf of other member states to sort out their bilateral problems.”

But that is precisely what the Security Council under Chapter VII of the UN Charter purports to do. Sudan, North Korea, Eritrea and others would like what Csaba Korosi said to be true. But it is not.

Csaba Korosi went on to say that the International Year of Water Cooperation is also “to raise awareness of solutions” and is about the “SDGs and the post 2015 development agenda.”

But isn’t everything?

Still, his answer at least acknowledged that these are political problems, and not only scientific. Now who will solve them? Watch this site.

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

Bernard Schwartz Book Award Luncheon.

THE ASIA SOCIETY, NEW YORK CITY

Water: Asia’s New Battleground, by Brahma Chellaney, was named winner of the 2012 Asia Society Bernard Schwartz Book Award for its outstanding contribution to advancing the understanding of contemporary Asia.

In his timely and insightful book, Dr. Chellaney describes water stress as Asia’s defining crisis of the 21st century, creating obstacles to continued rapid economic growth, stoking interstate tensions over shared resources, exacerbating long-time territorial disputes, and imposing further hardships on the poor.

23 January 2013
12:00pm – 2:30pm

725 Park Ave
(at East 70th Street)
New York, NY

Honoring 2012 Winner, ‘Water: Asia’s New Battleground,’ by Brahma Chellaney
————————————————————————————————————

I read that Brahma Chellaney is professor of strategic studies at the privately funded Center for Policy Research in New Delhi.
Looking up the list of our postings on www.SustainabiliTank.info I found that in effect we have quite a few postings by him or about him.
These include:
Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011
Saturday, February 6th, 2010
Tuesday, November 17th, 2009
Tuesday, April 8th, 2008
Thursday, August 31st, 2006

This is an amazing versatility and I was glad to have the chance to listen to him in person at the Asia Society event.

Looking at the internet I found that Professor Chellaney is a Professor of Strategic Studies at the New Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research, an independent think-tank; a member of the Board of Governors of the National Book Trust of India; and a nonresident affiliate with the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization at King’s College London. He has been a Fellow at the Norwegian Nobel Institute, which through the Nobel Committee awards the Nobel Peace Prize annually. He was formerly a member of the Policy Advisory Group headed by the External Affairs Minister of India.

Professor Chellaney is widely regarded as one of India’s leading strategic thinkers and analysts, and is also a well-known newspaper and television commentator on international affairs. Stanley Weiss in the International Herald Tribune, for example, called him “one of India’s top strategic thinkers,” while The Guardian has described him as “a respected international affairs analyst and author.” He is very well known as a commentator on regional and international issues in the field of strategic affairs, including larger Asian strategic issues and non-traditional subjects like water security, energy security and climate security.

He is one of the authors of India’s nuclear doctrine and its first strategic defense review. Those contributions came when Professor Chellaney was an adviser to India’s National Security Council until January 2000, serving as convenor of the External Security Group of the National Security Advisory Board, as well as member of the Board’s Nuclear Doctrine Group.

Now Professor Chellaney became the first Bernard Schwartz awardee – an Asia Society prize – living outside the Anglosphere. The topic of his book is:

China’s Hydro-Hegemony – and this translates into the clear vision that as the Tibetan Plateau is source for most rivers in Asia, and water is resource more important then oil, China is destined to be the most important power in Asia. As simple as that.

“Water: Asia’s New Battleground” (L) by Brahma Chellaney (R).
China's grip
Map © Brahma Chellaney, “Water: Asia’s New Battleground” (Georgetown University Press)
—–
Mr. Chellaney, in his travel to publicize this last book published the following article about China in the International Herald Tribune: February 8, 2013, just several days after a posting of January 31, 2013 – “Neighbours leave India high and dry for its water supply.” Then we understand that Mr. Chellaney is already working on another volume – “ “Water, Peace, and War: Confronting the Global Water Crisis.”

ASIA is the world’s most water-stressed continent, a situation compounded by China’s hydro-supremacy in the region. Beijing’s recent decision to build a slew of giant new dams on rivers flowing to other countries is thus set to roil riparian relations.

China — which already boasts more large dams than the rest of the world put together and has unveiled a mammoth $635-billion fresh investment in water infrastructure over the next decade — has emerged as the key obstacle to building institutionalized collaboration on shared water resources in Asia.

In contrast to the bilateral water treaties between many of its neighbors, China rejects the concept of a water-sharing arrangement or joint, rules-based management of common resources.

For example, in rejecting the 1997 United Nations convention that lays down rules on shared water resources, Beijing placed on record its contention that an upstream power has the right to assert absolute territorial sovereignty over the waters on its side of the international boundary — or the right to divert as much water as it wishes for its needs, irrespective of the effects on a downriver state.

Today, by building megadams and reservoirs in its borderlands, China is working to re-engineer the flows of major rivers that are the lifeline of lower riparian states.

China is the source of transboundary river flows to the largest number of countries in the world — from Russia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan to the states in the Indochina peninsula and southern Asia. This pre-eminence resulted from its absorption of the ethnic-minority homelands that now make up 60 percent of its landmass and are the origin of all the international rivers flowing out of Chinese-held territory. No other country in the world comes close to the hydro-hegemony that China has established.

Since the last decade, China’s dam building has been moving from dam-saturated internal rivers to international rivers. Most of the new megaprojects designated recently by China’s state council as priority ventures are concentrated in the country’s seismically active southwest, which is largely populated by ethnic minorities. Such dam building is triggering new ethnic tensions over displacement and submergence.

The state council approved an array of new dams on the Salween, Brahmaputra and Mekong rivers, which originate on the Tibetan plateau and flow to southern and southeastern Asia. The unveiling of projects on the Brahmaputra evoked Indian diplomatic concern at a time when water has emerged as a new Chinese-Indian divide, while the Salween projects end the suspension of dam building on that river announced eight years ago.

The Salween — known in Chinese as Nu Jiang, or the “Angry River” — is Asia’s last largely free-flowing river, running through deep, spectacular gorges and glaciated peaks on its way to Burma and Thailand.

Its upstream basin is inhabited by at least a dozen different ethnic groups and rated as one of the world’s most biologically diverse regions, home to more than 5,000 plant species and nearly half of China’s animal species. No sooner had this stunning region, known as the Three Parallel Rivers, been added to the World Heritage List by Unesco in 2003 than Beijing unveiled plans for a cascade of dams near the area.

The international furor that followed led Prime Minister Wen Jiabao to suspend work. The reversal of that suspension, significantly, comes before Wen and President Hu Jintao step down as part of the country’s power transition.

The third international river cited by the state council in its new project approvals has already been a major target of Chinese dam building. Chinese engineers have constructed six megadams on the Mekong, including the 4,200-megawatt Xiaowan, and a greater water appropriator, the 5,850-megawatt Nuozhadu, whose first generator began producing electricity last September.

Asia needs institutionalized water cooperation because it awaits a future made hotter and drier by climate and environmental change and resource depletion. The continent’s water challenges have been exacerbated by growing consumption, unsustainable irrigation practices, rapid industrialization, pollution and geopolitical shifts.

Asia has morphed into the most likely flash point for water wars. Several countries are currently engaged in dam building on transnational rivers. The majority of these dams are being financed and built by Chinese state entities. Most Chinese-aided dam projects in Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar indeed are designed to pump electricity into China’s southern electricity grid, with the lower riparians bearing the environmental and social costs.

But it is China’s dam-building spree at home — reflected in the fact that it boasts half of the 50,000 large dams in the world — that carries the greatest international implications and obstructs the development of an Asian rules-based order.

China has made the control and manipulation of natural-river flows a fulcrum of its power and economic development. Although promoting multilateralism on the world stage, it has given the cold shoulder to multilateral cooperation among basin nations — as symbolized, for example, by the Mekong River Commission — and rebuffed efforts by states sharing its rivers to seek bilateral water-sharing arrangements.

Beijing already has significant financial, trade and political leverage over most of its neighbors. Now, by building an asymmetric control over cross-border flows, it is seeking to have its hand on Asia’s water tap.

Given China’s unique riparian position and role, it will not be possible to transform the Asian water competition into cooperation without Beijing playing a leadership role to develop a rules-based system.

———————————

Neighbours leave India high and dry for its water supply.

Posted on January 31, 2013 by

Brahma Chellaney

The National, February 1, 2013


Of all the natural resources on which the world depends, the supply and demand situation is most critical for water.
There are replacements for oil, but no substitute for water, which is essential to produce virtually all the goods in the marketplace.

Asia, not Africa, is the world’s driest continent. The gap between demand and supply is growing in China, India, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam and elsewhere in Asia.

This raises a question: can Asia remain the locomotive of the global economy if it cannot mitigate its water crisis?

India faces greater water distress than China. China’s population is not even 10 per cent larger than India’s, but its internally renewable water resources (estimated at 2,813 billion cubic metres per year) are almost twice as large as India’s. In aggregate water availability, including inflows (which are sizeable in India’s case), China has virtually 50 per cent more resources than India.

In 1960, India signed a treaty setting aside 80 per cent of the Indus-system waters for downstream Pakistan, in the most generous water-sharing pact in modern history. And its 1996 Ganges treaty with Bangladesh guarantees minimum cross-border flows in the dry season – a new principle in international water law. That treaty divides the flows of the Ganges almost equally between the two countries. And now India is under pressure to reserve about half of the Teesta River’s water for Bangladesh.

But India is downriver from China. About a dozen important rivers flow into India from the Tibetan Himalayas. Indeed, one third of India’s yearly water supply comes from Tibet, according to United Nations’ data. Nations from Afghanistan to Vietnam receive water from the Tibetan Plateau, but India’s direct dependency on Tibetan water is greater than any other country’s.

But Beijing, far from emulating India’s water munificence, rejects the very concept of water sharing and is building large dams on rivers flowing to other nations, with little regard for downriver interests. An extensive Chinese water infrastructure in Tibet will have a serious effect on India.

So India faces difficult choices. Its ambitious plan to link up its major rivers has remained on paper for more than a decade. The idea was to connect 37 Himalayan and peninsular rivers in a pan-Indian water grid, to fight shortages.

Although the grid was ridiculed by the ruling party’s heir-apparent Rahul Gandhi as a “disastrous idea”, the Supreme Court ordered last year that it be implemented in “a time-bound manner”. Will that really happen?

The experience of the Supreme Court-overseen Narmada dam project in Gujarat doesn’t leave much room for optimism. India has struggled for decades to complete Narmada, and yet it is designed to produce less than 7 per cent as much hydropower as China’s Three Gorges Dam, completed last year.

With water increasingly at the centre of inter-provincial feuds in India, the Supreme Court has struggled for years with water cases, but the parties keep returning to litigate again on new grounds.

Plans for large water projects in India usually run into stiff opposition from influential non-government organisations, so that it has become virtually impossible to build a large dam, blighting the promise of hydropower.

Proof of this was New Delhi’s 2010 decision to abandon three dam projects on the Bhagirathi River, a source stream of the Ganges in the Himalayas. One of these was already half-built; hundreds of millions of dollars were wasted.

The largest dam India has built since independence is the 2,000 megawatt Tehri on the Bhagirathi. Compare that with China’s 18,300 megawatt Three Gorges. China’s proposed Metog Dam, almost on the disputed border with India, is to produce nearly twice as much power as Three Gorges Dam. China is also building on the Mekong River.

Meanwhile India’s proposed river-linking plan seems like a dream: a colossal network to handle 178 billion cubic metres of water transfers a year in12,500km of new canals, generating 34 gigawatts of hydropower, creating 35 million hectares of irrigated land and expanding inland navigation. This is the kind of programme that only an autocracy like China can implement.

Government agencies say that by 2050 India must nearly double grain production, to over 450 million tons a year, to meet the demands of prosperity and population growth. Unless it has more irrigated land and adopts new plant varieties and farming techniques, India is likely to become a net food importer before long – a change that will roil world food markets.

More fundamentally, growing water shortages threaten to slow Indian economic growth and fuel social tensions. The government must fix its disjointed policy approach and develop a long-term vision for water resources.

India must treat water as a strategic issue and focus on three key areas. One is achieving greater water efficiency and productivity gains. Another is using clean-water technologies to open up new supply sources, including ocean and brackish waters and recycled wastewater. The third is expanding and enhancing water infrastructure to correct regional and seasonal imbalances in water availability, and to harvest rainwater, which can be a new supply source to ease shortages.

Boosting water supplies demands tapping unconventional sources and adopting non-traditional approaches, as well as improving the old ways of water-supply management.

————————-

In the discussion that followed the January 23rd presentation at the Asia Society it became clear that these presentations had one major flaw. Mr. Chellaney, though clearly in full knowledge of the topic, in his eagerness to present water and the fact that we waste water, and grab water from our neighbors, did not present the technologies that will help us overcome such shortages in the future.

In fact, if we do not talk about new technologies of water desalination, and of water saving, it is as if we were saying that when talking about energy – that it is all about oil.
In reality it is new forms of energy supply that will save the day in the energy area, and desalination projects will help us overcome the described water shortages.

Nevertheless, the book and the presentations are valuable because they describe the magnitude of the problem and send us off to look for possible solutions before the shortages hit us with full force.

We will get back to this point in another posting that will deal with A UNESCO newly established Graduate School in Delft, Holland, that will be training development professionals with knowledge in water technologies as well.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 21st, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Now the questions are – will UNEP speak for Science and the Global Environment rather then bow, as until now, to the few leading Member States interested in keeping it low and far?

Back in 1972 it was sent off to far away Nairobi so it would not impact the ongoing in New York or Geneva. The result was indeed that the Environment continued to be left out from discussions of the Development and Social Agendas.

The UN celebrates now: “United Nations Environment Programme Upgraded to Universal Membership Following Rio+20” and that is not funny. They also say now:

“UN General Assembly Strengthens UNEP Role in Addressing Global Environmental Challenges.
Renewed Focus on Improving Access to Technology and Capacity Building” says the UN.

Will ECOSOC – the Economic and Social Council – be allowed now to embrace this newly empowered UNEP and be upgraded to a body that is UNIVERSAL as well, and deals with Sustainability including all three legs of SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT – the Environment, Social Development and Economic Development? This at a time that sees the closing of the useless Commission – the UN CSD?

Will the new UNEP be charged to promote SUSTAINABLE ENERGY in the UN effort to provide Energy-4-All, the post RIO+20 other effort that will have its hub in Vienna? Sustainable Energy and the Global Environment are the twin pillars that will hold our arch to Future Generations.




New York / Nairobi, 21 December 2012 –
Another step forward to the ‘Future We Want’ was put in place today with a decision by the General Assembly of the United Nations to ‘strengthen and upgrade’ the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and establish universal membership of its governing body.


The landmark resolution, aimed at increasing the role of UNEP as the leading environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, was adopted 40 years after UNEP was established by the General Assembly, following the 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment.


The General Assembly resolution also provides for UNEP to receive secure, stable and increased financial resources from the regular budget of the UN, and calls for other UNEP donors to increase their voluntary funding.


The decision allows full participation of all 193 UN member states at the UNEP Governing Council in February 2013, and follows commitments by world leaders at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) last June to improve the institutional framework for sustainable development.


The provisions contained in the resolution are among the first practical steps by the UN General Assembly to implement the outcomes of Rio+20.


“The decision by the General Assembly to strengthen and upgrade UNEP is a watershed moment. Universal membership of UNEP’s Governing Council establishes a new, fully-representative platform to strengthen the environmental dimension of sustainable development, and provides all governments with an equal voice on the decisions and actions needed to support the global environment, and ensure a fairer share of the world’s resources for all,” said United Nations Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.


“The resolution reaffirms UNEP’s role as the UN’s authority on the environment, and provides the mandate to enhance our ongoing work on bringing the latest science to policy-makers, directly supporting national and regional environmental efforts, improving access to technology, and other key areas. For UNEP and the environmental community, this is a truly historic day,” added Mr. Steiner.


Improved governance for the global environment


In the forty years since UNEP was established, the environmental challenges facing communities around the world – from diminishing water resources and desertification, to climate change and hazardous chemicals – have increased in number and complexity.


Yet international responses to such challenges are often fragmented and weak.


The latest edition of UNEP’s Global Environment Outlook report, released in June 2012, assessed 90 of the most important environmental goals agreed by the international community, and found that significant progress had only been made in four.


The report warns that if current trends continue, several critical thresholds may be exceeded, beyond which irreversible changes to the life-support functions of the planet could occur.


The General Assembly decision reflects the commitment of member states to improve global cooperation on the environment in order to meet such challenges, and to promote the integration of the social, economic, and environmental pillars of sustainable development, as well as improving coordination within the UN system.


Prior to the new resolution, UNEP’s Governing Council consisted of 58 members only. Previous efforts to ensure wider representation in the running of UNEP resulted in the creation of the Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GMEF), which brought together the world’s environment ministers for high-level meetings in parallel with the Governing Council.


Member states will have the role of implementing the provisions of the General Assembly resolution – including arrangements for the future of the GMEF – at the first meeting of the newly-enlarged Governing Council at UNEP headquarters in Nairobi on 18-22 February 2013. The meeting will be held under the theme ‘Rio+20: From Outcome to Implementation’.


The General Assembly also stressed the important role of UNEP in providing the international community with comprehensive, science-based, policy-relevant global environmental assessments, such as the Global Environment Outlook (GEO) series, and others.


By endorsing the Rio+20 outcome document ‘The Future We Want’ in July 2012, and adopting the new resolution on UNEP
, the General Assembly underlined the need for UNEP to work more closely with non-governmental organizations, youth, women, indigenous peoples, local governments, business, and other interest groups, and to formalize their participation at the UNEP Governing Council and in global environmental decision-making overall.



UNEP is also tasked with further strengthening the vital link between policy-makers and the scientific community.


In a separate resolution relating to another Rio+20 outcome, the General Assembly welcomed the adoption of the ten-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production patterns (10YFP), to which UNEP provides the secretariat.


The 10YFP is a global framework of action to enhance international cooperation on accelerating the shift towards sustainable consumption and production in developed and developing countries. The framework will support capacity building, and provide technical and financial assistance to developing countries.


The General Assembly also tasked UNEP with establishing a trust fund for sustainable consumption and production programmes in order to mobilize voluntary contributions
from donors, the private sector, foundations, and other sources.


40 Years of UNEP


The General Assembly resolution marks the first major structural change to UNEP in its four-decade history.


The first UN agency to be headquartered in a developing country, UNEP is the voice of the environment in the UN system. Its mandate is to coordinate the development of environmental policy consensus by keeping the global environment under review, and bringing emerging issues to the attention of governments and the international community for action.


UNEP also administers many multilateral environmental agreements and conventions, including the Ozone Secretariat and the Montreal Protocol’s Multilateral Fund, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and a growing family of chemicals-related agreements, among others.


Major UNEP landmarks and achievements over the past forty years include:


·
1979: Bonn Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) established. The agreement involves 116 member states and has overseen binding agreements and action plans to protect 120 migratory species.

·
1987: Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer established. One of the most successful multilateral agreements in UN history, the protocol has overseen a 98 per cent reduction of controlled ozone depleting substances, and delivered multiple health benefits, including millions of avoided cases of cancer and eye cataracts.

·
1988: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) established by UNEP and the World Meteorological Organization. The panel delivers the world’s most influential, comprehensive and scientifically-reviewed reports on climate change.

·
1995: Basel Ban Amendment barring export of hazardous wastes adopted. Ratified by 70 countries and the EU, the agreement established a regime for minimization of health and environmental impacts of waste.

·
2002: Launch of Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles. Among other activities, the project has assisted countries in Sub-Saharan Africa to successfully phase out or begin the phase-out of leaded fuel. Associated health savings for the continent are estimated at US$92 billion per year.

·
2012: Launch of Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants: Voluntary initiative to reduce emissions of black carbon, methane, low-level ozone, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), and other short-lived climate pollutants, to tackle climate change and improve human health. In less than 12 months, some 25 governments and additional partners have joined the coalition.

More UNEP milestones can be viewed at:
www.unep.org/40th


Texts of all resolutions of the 67th session of the UN General Assembly are available at:
www.un.org/en/ga/67/resolutions.shtml

Video: Adoption of the UN General Assembly resolution on UNEP universal membership:

webtv.un.org/live-now/watch/general-assembly:-60th-plenary-meeting/1580695591001/

Rio+20 outcome document ‘The Future We Want’ (strengthening and upgrading of UNEP outlined in paragraph 88):
www.uncsd2012.org/content/documents/727The%20Future%20We%20Want%2019%20June%201230pm.pdf

More information on the 10 Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production is available at:

www.unep.fr/scp/marrakech/10yfp.htm


For more information, please contact:


Nick Nuttall, Acting Director, UNEP Division of Communications and Public Information, on Tel. +254 733 632 755 /+41 79 596 5737, E-mail:
nick.nuttall@unep.org

Bryan Coll, UNEP Newsdesk (Nairobi) on Tel. +254 20 7623088 / +254 731666214, E-mail:
unepnewsdesk@unep.org

***********************************
Jim Sniffen
Programme Officer
UN Environment Programme
New York
tel: +1-212-963-8094
Email: sniffenj at un.org/jsniffen88 at gmail.com
www.unep.org

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 5th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The following comes from a BBC posting of October 30, 2012 via a UNWIRE posting of November 5, 2012.

The issue is that global warming and climate change in many developing countries, situated in the tropics – maize, rice and wheat will be replaced by lower calorie content cowpeas, cassava, barley. As well, potatoes will be replaced by higher altitude banana varieties.

—————————————————————–

Bananas could replace potatoes in warming world.

By Matt McGrath Science reporter, BBC World Service

Developing-world yields of the world’s top three calorie-rich crops — corn, wheat and rice — could decline because of climate change, prompting changes to diets and a move to hardier crops including cassava, yam and barley, according to researchers from the CGIAR agricultural partnership. The potato also is likely to suffer against higher temperatures, paving the way for banana varieties as a replacement, researchers said.

Bananas on the way to market from the Mount Kenya region
Bananas could take the place of potatoes in some developing countries

Climate change could lead to crops from the banana family becoming a critical food source for millions of people, a new report says.

Researchers from the CGIAR agricultural partnership say the fruit might replace potatoes in some developing countries.

Cassava and the little-known cowpea plant could be much more important food crops as temperatures rise.

People will have to adapt to new and varied menus as traditional crops struggle, say the authors.

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

When the farmers see the problems they are having with production, they really are willing to shift”

End Quote Bruce Campbell CCAFS

Responding to a request from the United Nations’ committee on world food security, a group of experts in the field looked at the projected effects of climate change on 22 of the world’s most important agricultural commodities.

They predict that the world’s three biggest crops in terms of calories provided – maize, rice and wheat – will decrease in many developing countries.

They suggest that the potato, which grows best in cooler climates, could also suffer as temperatures increase and weather becomes more volatile.

The authors argue that these changes “could provide an opening for cultivating certain varieties of bananas” at higher altitudes, even in those places that currently grow potatoes.

Cassava Cassava could help meet food needs in South Asia

Dr Philip Thornton is one of those behind the report. He told BBC News that while bananas and plantains also have limiting factors, they may be a good substitute for potatoes in certain locations.

“It’s not necessarily a silver bullet, but there may be places where as temperatures increase, bananas might be one option that small-holders could start to look at.”

The report describes wheat as the world’s most important plant-derived protein and calorie source.

But according to this research, wheat will face a difficult future in the developing world, where higher prices for cotton, maize and soybeans have pushed wheat to marginal land, making it more vulnerable to stresses induced by climate change.

One substitute, especially in South Asia, could be cassava – which is known to be tolerant to a range of climate stresses.

But how easy will it be to get people to adjust to new crops and new diets?

Bruce Campbell is programme director of the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security research group (CCAFS) which co-ordinates work among leading institutions around the world. He told BBC News that the types of changes that will happen in the future have already happened in the past.

Protein under pressure

“Two decades ago there was almost no rice consumption in certain areas of Africa, now there is. People have changed because of the pricing: it’s easier to get, it’s easier to cook. I think those sort of shifts do occur and I think they will in future.”

Continue reading the main story

About bananas

  • There are hundreds of types of banana plants but not all actually produce fruit
  • They grow on plants that are giant herbs and are part of the Musaceae family
  • Plantains are starchy like a potato, not sweet like a regular banana
  • Organised banana plantations have been traced back to China in 200 AD
  • Alexander the Great brought them back from India after his conquest in 327 BC
  • Over the centuries they have been called banna, ghana and funana

Source: Dole

One of the big concerns among researchers is how to tackle the need for protein in the diet. Soybeans are one of the most common sources but are very susceptible to temperature changes.

The scientists say that the cowpea, which is known in sub-Saharan Africa as the “poor man’s meat” is drought-tolerant and prefers warmer weather and could be a reasonable alternative to soya. The vines of the cowpea can also be used as a feed for livestock.

In some countries, including Nigeria and Niger, farmers have already moved away from cotton production to growing cowpeas.

There are also likely to be developments in animal protein sources says the report, including a shift to smaller livestock.

“This is an example of something that’s happening already,” said Dr Campbell. “There’s been quite a shift from cattle keeping to goat keeping in southern Africa in face of droughts – when the farmers see the problems they are having with production, they really are willing to shift.

“Change is really possible. It’s not just a crazy notion.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 29th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

from
rreburiano.consultant@adb.org                       

Dear All,
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is looking for an Environment Communications Specialist (code: SC 101064 REG). For more information, please visit this page.

Thank you.
Rhea B. Reburiano
Consultant for Environment Community of Practice
Asian Development Bank

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 25th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

RECEIVED October 25-th:

Reminder: Global online consultation: High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the post-2015 development agenda (19-26 October)  ???

The High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the post-2015 development agenda will hold its first substantive meeting in London from 31 October to 2 November 2012, and will focus on the issue of household poverty.

As part of the Panel’s efforts to reach out to civil society and other stakeholders, a global online consultation was being held from 19-26 October around the same framing questions the Panel will address, namely on:

1. Human development; and
2. Jobs and livelihoods.

Interested organizations and networks are invited to participate in the consultation here: www.worldwewant2015.org/Post2015HLP. Translations into French and Spanish will be available on Wednesday 24 October.

Substantive contributions will be compiled and synthesized by the UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS) and inform the Panel discussions in London.

This process is expected to be repeated for the subsequent Panel meetings, where more lead-time will be given for groups to be able to develop submissions
this we guess because the present event was not well publicized to the point we wonder if this was not a case that home office undermines change that was suggested by the outreach effort.

Subsequent High-level Panel meetings (dates to be confirmed) will be held in Monrovia (Liberia) and Bali (Indonesia) on the following topics:

•        Monrovia: national development
•        Bali: global partnerships

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

See – The Everest peak and the Dead Sea Low – decorated with Nepal and Israeli flags – now that is a good view of planetary reality!

Israelisch-nepalesische Briefmarke vorgestellt
Was haben Israel und Nepal gemeinsam? Sie lieben die Extreme – jedenfalls, was Höhe angeht.

Die beiden Länder haben eine gemeinsame Briefmarke herausgegeben, die den höchsten und den tiefsten Punkt der Erde vorstellt.

Die Briefmarke, die in Israel den Wert von fünf Shekeln (etwa ein Euro) hat, trägt ein Bild des 8.848 Meter hohen Mount Everest und des Toten Meeres, das 422 Meter unter dem Meeresspiegel liegt.

Die Briefmarke wird außerdem von der nepalesischen und der israelischen Flagge geziert und ist auf Hebräisch, Nepalesisch, Arabisch und Englisch beschriftet.

(Haaretz, 06.09.12)

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 7th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We did not go to Bangkok and we contemplate if to go to Doha, Qatar, November 2012 – in Rio we were inclined to go to Doha.

On the Climate Change UNFCCC runway we stopped counting at the Copenhagen meeting which was the Conference of the Parties – COP 15. Doha will be COP 18. The in-between Cancun and Durban meetings produced documents that did not move the subject forward. (We call them Copenhagen +1 and Copenhagen +2.) Now we all know that the first period of the Kyoto Protocol (COP 3) ends in 2015. (COP 1 was in Berlin in 1995). What next? If nothing is put forward as an alternative to Kyoto then the whole process will deserve a marker that says R.I.P. – Rest in Peace.

These days there is going on a save the convention – UNFCCC Climate Change meeting – 30 August–5 September 2012 in Bangkok, Thailand. We follow this by reading the faithful reportings of the IISD [ www.iisd.ca/climate/ccwg17i/ ] and the ECO reports of  Kyle Gracey of www.Sustainus.org

And the latter, in issue #4 has the following talk about the elephant in the room – this is an overhang of 13 billion tons of CO2 surplus AAUs that are supposed to be moved on to next Kyoto period. But this is equal to almost three times the total emissions of the EU, so this would lead to no decrease in CO2 emissions whatsoever by bringing in a suppply of hot air larger then the current commitment of the EU countries. Even without allowing the Russian hot air – this still will be a death blow to reductions beyond business as usual and thus no hope for the future.

{An Assigned Amount Unit (AAU) is a tradable ‘Kyoto unit’ or ‘carbon credit‘ representing an allowance to emit greenhouse gases comprising one metric tonne of carbon dioxide equivalents calculated using their Global Warming Potential.[1] [2] Assigned Amount Units are issued up to the level of initial “assigned amount” of anAnnex 1 Party to the Kyoto Protocol.[3][4]

The “assigned amounts” are the Kyoto Protocol Annex B emission targets  (or “quantified emission limitation and reduction objectives”) expressed as levels of allowed emissions over the 2008-2012 commitment period.[5]}

————————————-

We suggest to those interested in a positive outcome on climate negotiations to review carefully the outcome from Bangkok and search for an indication of the recognition that the Kyoto Protocol led – in all honesty – to no results – and thus there is an imediate need to find an alternative. We say – one alternative and not a new slate of alternatives that lead to a new series of climate travels. Only a Bangkok outcome that shows that there is such an alternative will avoid this new Doha collapse.

————————————

Rio+20 Rio+20 – UNCSD coverage
Rio+20 Rio+20: Third PrepCom and the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD)
Rio+20 - Side Events Coverage of Selected Side Events at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or Rio+20)
Rio Conventions Pavilion Rio Conventions Pavilion
Sustainable Development Dialogue Days Sustainable Development Dialogue Days

– If interested in the negotiations at Rio+20 that opened the way to a switch of negotiation-rails to something yet undefined – but clearly to something new after twenty years of talks that did not lead to real results on Sustainability as part of Sustainable Development – this as an example of what is needed in the Climate Change negotiations as well – please see – IISD Reporting Service Daily Rio+20/ENB Web Coverage.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 17th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Dark Side of Globalization
Laura-Anca Parepa*

“The Dark Side of Globalization” , by Jorge Heine and Ramesh Thakur, editors
Abstract
This is an excellent collection of fourteen articles, written by specialists coming from different countries, various fields and having very diverse backgrounds: professors, diplomats, journalists, researchers, and UN officers.


With a preface by Saskia Sassen, suggestively called “In the penumbra of globalization”, introduction and conclusion by Jorge Heine (CIGI-Center for International Governance Innovation – distinguished fellow and chair of global governance at the Balsillie School of International Affairs) and Ramesh Thakur (Professor of International Relations in the Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy, Australian National University and Adjunct Professor in the Institute of Ethics, Governance and Law at Griffith University), the book is divided into three parts, entitled “Domination and fragmentation”, “Challenges” and “Responses”, each comprising the different articles as follows: Part I: “Globalization, imperialism and violence” (William D. Coleman); “New state structures in South America” (Edgardo Lander); “The African connection” (Garth le Pere and Brendan Vickers); Part II: “Arms trafficking in West Africa” (Dorcas Ettang); “Organized crime in Southern Africa” (Charles Goredema); “Maoism in a globalizing India” (Ajay K. Mehra); “Globalization and South Asian insurgencies” (S. D. Muni); “Terrorism and political movement in Kashmir” (Rekha Chowdhary); “Jihad in the age of globalization” (Nasra Hassan); “Security challenges in a unipolar globalized world” (M. J. Akbar); Part III: “Regional integration as a response to globalization” (Luk Van Langenhove and Tiziana Scaramagli); “Civil society and trade protests in the Americas” (Marisa von Bülow); “Global production, local protest and the Uruguay River pulp mills project” (Ricardo A. Gutiérrez and Gustavo Almeira); “Actors and activities in the anti-human trafficking movement” (Kirsten Foot); “Conclusions: A bumpy ride to globalization, Google and jihad” (Jorge Heine and Ramesh Thakur).


The aim of this book is to focus attention on the so-called dark side of globalization represented by undesirable consequences caused by the globalization process.
Considered as an inevitable and absolutely necessary process by some, or destructive and better to be avoided by others, globalization continues to create controversy and heated debate, as well as to attract the attention of scholars working in various fields.


Early in the 1980s, globalization was seen as a process that would create opportunities and lead to progress in numerous fields, as it could contribute to the spread and assimilation of new technologies and communication systems, as well as to internationalize business and to speed up the integration of capital and financial markets, favoring the rapid movement of goods and people, the growth of income and employment.
Unfortunately, these last years have shown the various unexpected and undesirable faces of globalization, such as higher risks, decline of income, rising unemployment rates, financial and economic crises. The strong integration of capital markets and business, the highly interdependent economies, all create a vicious circle in which the decline of one player may lead to another’s slowing-down or stopping – the recent Greek crisis is perhaps the most eloquent example in this respect.


Bringing to the fore the negative effects of globalization has been avoided for a long period of time, or even if they were identified they were ignored (deliberately or not). They are less visible, but extremely dangerous for the security and stability of the entire world through their diversity and ingenuity in exploiting the opportunities and benefits of globalization for their own purposes.


In an article published in Foreign Policy (2003: 29), Moisés Naím called “the illegal trade in drugs, arms, intellectual property, people and money” as “the five wars of globalization”. Together with terrorism, he added, these types of war will continue to represent a huge challenge to governments.


The present book, edited by Jorge Heine and Ramesh Thakur, comes as a demonstration of this statement, showing that even if these challenges are not entirely new phenomena in the world, the novelty is represented by the fast rate of their spread, the extent of their support networks and the sophisticated communication and technology that they use in their actions.


Described as ‘deviant globalization’ by Nils Gilman or as an ‘uncivil society’ by Kofi Annan all these negative outcomes of the globalization process can be very harmful and can affect, in the long term, the desirable consequences of globalization.


The book sheds light on all these dangers, trying to understand how they manifest, evolve and use the benefits of globalization in their own interest, as well as how they exploit the weaknesses of governments and international organizations. Various examples of global flows of illicit trafficking of goods, people, drugs, weapons, mineral resources, counterfeit products are given in the second part of the book. Arms trafficking in West Africa, organized crime in Southern Africa, insurgencies in South Asian countries, terrorism and political movement in Kashmir, militant Islamism, Jihad or Al Qaida, Iran nuclear activities, all are presented and analyzed exhaustively.


The book shows how all these transnational non-state actors are adopting the new technology and communications systems, using them to spread their network across the world and to achieve their objectives at the expense of states and their citizens.
As shown, the beginning of the twenty-first century brought various changes to society and our world. Communication and technology have grown rapidly leading to an active movement of goods, people and capital across national borders. This movement reshaped social and economic relations both at the national and international level. Unfortunately, transnational criminal groups have made better use of these changes. As Moisés Naím remarked, crime becomes a global phenomenon “transforming the international system, upending the rules, creating new players, and reconfiguring power in international politics and economics.” (Naím 2005: 5)


How should humanity deal with these challenges? The book attempts to answer this question in the last part, in which the various responses to these new problems are examined. Regional integration, regional governance, the necessity of cooperation between civil society organizations (CSO) and national governments, the variety and importance of the roles of CSO in supporting and shaping “the conduct of all actors engaged” in global governance are just some of the possible answers to the problems that the international community is facing.


This is an extremely useful book for those who wish to understand globalization as a complex, double-faced process with desirable effects, but also with unexpected negative consequences that bring new challenges to humanity.
*Member of the Global Negotiation Program, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Japan.

________________________________________________________________
This and all “other news” issues can be found at www.other-net.info/index.php

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 9th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

9 August 2012
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:“We Risk Creating a ‘Lost Generation’ of Squandered Talent and Dreams”

Message on International Youth Day,
12 August 2012


VIENNA, 12 August (UN Information Service) – Today’s generation of youth — the largest the world has ever known, and the vast majority of whom live in developing countries — has unprecedented potential to advance the well-being of the entire human family. Yet too many young people, including those who are highly educated, suffer from low-wage, dead-end work and record levels of unemployment. The global economic crisis has hit youth the hardest, and many are understandably discouraged by rising inequalities. A large number have no immediate prospects and are disenfranchised from the political, social and development processes in their countries. Without urgent measures, we risk creating a “lost generation” of squandered talent and dreams.

Working with and for young people is one of my top priorities. Youth are a transformative force; they are creative, resourceful and enthusiastic agents of change, be it in public squares or cyberspace. From their pivotal role in efforts to achieve freedom, democracy and equality, to their global mobilization in support of the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, youth have energetically demonstrated yet again their capacity and desire to turn the tide of history and tackle global challenges.

Young men and women are not passive beneficiaries, but equal and effective partners. Their aspirations extend far beyond jobs; youth also want a seat at the table – a real voice in shaping the policies that shape their lives. We need to listen to and engage with young people. We need to establish more and stronger mechanisms for youth participation. The time has come to integrate youth voices more meaningfully into decision-making processes at all levels.

Around the world, there is growing recognition of the need to strengthen policies and investments involving young people. On International Youth Day, I call on Governments, the private sector, civil society and academia to open doors for young people and strengthen partnerships with youth-led organizations. Youth can determine whether this era moves toward greater peril or more positive change. Let us support the young people of our world so they grow into adults who raise yet more generations of productive and powerful leaders.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 1st, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

GOING TO THE UN 67th UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY – THIS SEPTEMBER – 2012 PLEASE NOTE:

Building on Rio is vitally important, we must not let the momentum end nor the plethora of good ideas wither. But there is also a need to push the boundaries of sustainability into new frontiers to make it the holistic, integrated approach it needs to be if we are to see the real results and benefits it can deliver.

THE MAIN ACHIEVEMENT OF RIO+20 OR “THE FUTURE WE WANT” WAS THE COMING ON BOARD OF THE MANDATE TO THE UN SECRETARY-GENERAL TO TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION the “PROMOTING INTERGENERATIONAL SOLIDARITY FOR THE ACHIEVEMENT OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, TAKING INTO ACCOUNT THE NEEDS OF FUTURE GENERATIONS, INCLUDING BY INVITING THE SECRETARY GENERAL TO PRESENT A REPORT ON THIS ISSUE.” (paragraph 86 of OUR COMMON VISION.

We learned today that the UN Secretariat has started on a path that does not yet take into account the above mandate – so we are compelled to point out that without attention to above, there is no gain from RIO+20.

###

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

Bhutan calls for a mindful revolution at the United Nations.

by  | May 12, 2012
Bhutan’s Prime Minister Jigme Thinley (left) and Costa Rican president Laura Chinchilla at the UN, via AFP.

The monks of South Asia have been chanting on behalf of the happiness and well-being of all creatures for 2,500 years. Now, the spirit of those mantras has marched out of the monastery and into the streets, even into the halls of the United Nations.

Calling for nothing less than nonviolent resistance against the failed global economic system, the tiny Himalayan nation of Bhutan, sandwiched between India and China, took to the world stage last month by leading a “High Level Meeting on Happiness and Well-Being.” Its recommendation: Replace the Bretton Woods economic paradigm, imposed on the world by the United States in the wake of World War II, with an entirely new and inherently more just system.

The prime minister of Bhutan, Jigme Thinley, called on the people of the world to demand a change. Scholars, Nobel laureates, political actors, U.N. officials and staff, and spiritual and civil society leaders, many from the Global South, affirmed that the current system serves neither the human community nor other creatures on the planet.

“The GDP-led development model,” Thinley told the gathering, “compels boundless growth on a planet with limited resources.” Moreover, “it no longer makes economic sense. It is the cause of our irresponsible, immoral and self-destructive actions.” Finally, the prime minister concluded, “The purpose of development must be to create enabling conditions through public policy for the pursuit of the ultimate goal of happiness by all citizens.”

Most of the 600 in attendance shared Bhutan’s vision. Indian activist Vandana Shiva emphasized the importance of such a basic human need as food, the source of profit for a few and misery for many. As she has noted before, “The poor are not those who have been ‘left behind’; they are the ones who have been robbed.” The current paradigm creates a flow of financial, social, human and natural capital to the United States and other rich nations at the expense of everyone else.

Although Bhutan has faced criticism in the past for its treatment of Nepalese immigrants and the jailing of smokers, it has made considerable progress in recent years by establishing a new democracy and implementing creative efforts to measure its citizens’ well-being and happiness. The concept of Gross National Happiness was coined by the former King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, who abdicated in 2006 and set the democratization process in motion. To its credit, Bhutan is setting high standards for itself that may be difficult to reach, but the country is not alone in this endeavor.

Costa Rica’s President Laura Chinchilla gave the keynote address, sharing the experience of her country, noting, “In 1948 we decided to consolidate the best of our civic values, and abolished the army. We chose to solve our disputes through the ballots, not the bullets; we decided to invest in schools and teachers, not garrisons and soldiers.” Rather than decreasing the national security, “This uninterrupted path turned Costa Rica into the most stable and longest living democracy in Latin America.”

Interfaith spiritual leaders at the meeting, including the moderator of the Church of Canada and the Buddhist supreme patriarch of Thailand, as well as representatives from major religious traditions, issued their own statement calling for a new economic paradigm “based upon compassion, altruism, balance, and peace, dedicated to the well-being, happiness, dignity and sacredness of all forms of life.”

Meanwhile, economists John Helliwell, Richard Layard and Jeffrey Sachs distributed copies of the World Happiness Report. They argue, “We live in an age of stark contradictions. The world enjoys technologies of unimaginable sophistication; yet has at least one billion people without enough to eat each day.”

The official statement that came out of the meeting calls for a new paradigm with four pillars: ecological sustainability, happiness and well-being for all, fair distribution, and efficient use of resources. An unexpected 200 participants remained at the U.N. for two additional days to clarify what the new paradigm would look like, to propose new solutions, and to strategize how to mobilize a global movement in civil society to resist the current one and implement the change. Relevant civil society, educational, spiritual and activist organizations worldwide are being informed about the process, with an eye toward a 2014 convention that would replace Bretton Woods.

Widespread civil resistance movements would be a vital component in bringing about a shift toward so radically different a paradigm as this. Yet the meeting suggests that insufficient use has been made of the United Nations as a venue by change activists. Despite the U.N.’s obvious shortcomings — for instance, OWS recently protested the influence of corporations on environmental proceedings— it is nonetheless an infrastructure where every nation has a voice, at least in theory. Paradoxically, Global South elites who are also victims of the current economic paradigm provide an entrée into the system for grassroots activists, and this meeting demonstrates that the U.N. can offer a venue for radical critique. But the U.N. will only work on behalf of the people if the people insist that it does and begin to explore the possibilities that it might offer as a space for challenging injustice at a global level.

Dutch Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp, a long-time veteran of international meetings, observed that this one had “a different spirit” and that the time was ripe for unprecedented change. His call for a 0.01 percent donation of everyone’s income, especially from the rich nations, was received with enthusiasm by the civil society working group, which is creating a World Happiness Bank (a tentative name) that would promote and model the new economic paradigm.

This change will not happen, of course, without the mobilization of a nonviolent resistance movement. That’s where we come in; we have a new opportunity to act against a system that is robbing humanity and its fellow creatures through what the meeting’s statement calls the “private capture of the common wealth.” And we can do so by following the lead of the marginalized.

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