Please join us on September 1 as the Global Energy Efficiency Accelerator platform hosts a webinar on the opportunities to use building efficiency and district energy in combination to create more sustainable cities.
This webinar of the SE4ALL Global Energy Efficiency Accelerator partnership is jointly hosted by World Resources Institute (WRI), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability. Additional information on the webinar is included below and in the attached document.
Please feel free to share information about this webinar with your colleagues and partners. The primary audience for the webinar is local governments, but it is open to a general audience.
Combining Building Efficiency and District Energy for More Sustainable Cities: A Sustainable Energy for All webinar
Date: Tuesday, 1 September 2015
Times: 10:00-11:30 CEST
Location: Video conference/webinar
DTU – Dept. of Management Engineering
Xiao Wang is DTU Coordinator for
Email: xwang at dtu.dk
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Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs at mid-2015 looks at “THE UN AT 70″ – main successes and how it must be upgraded; others talk of the importance of the UN (Australian Minister Gareth Evans) and how to elect next Secretary-General.
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…
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.
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…
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.
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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.
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.
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…
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
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.
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 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…
From: UNITAR E-LEARNING TEAM
Environmental Governance Programme
United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)
Palais des Nations, CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Tel: +41 22 917 8776
The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) wishes to inform you of the launch of an e-learning training session on Green Economy (in French) which will begin next September.
For further information on the course methodology, structure, registration and fellowship opportunities, please consult the course announcement below.
The “Environmental Governance” team of UNITAR remains at your disposal should you need any additional information,
The Sunday, June 14, 2015 program started with Fareed retelling us the content of his last Friday’s Washington Post column - www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/s… /9ce1f4f8-1074-11e5-9726-49d6fa26a8c6_story.html?wpisrc=nl_opinions&wpmm=1
While some hysteria-builders in Washington are worried about a Saudi nuclear race to follow Iran, Fareed Zakaria tells us clearly that besides drilling holes to get out oil from the ground, the Saudis have actually not proven capability of doing anything else. They just do not have the people nor the education system that leads to knowledge. You can actually conclude that they are hardly a State in the normal sense of the word – though with them having a full treasury they will not fail easily – but clearly not amount to much power either. In effect they are a natural target for ISIS – so let them not bluff us.
The Saudi GDP is based 44% on oil and 90% of their revenues are from oil. Their puritanical reactionary conservative education system puts them at 73rd place in global ranking compared to the much poorer Iran that is placed 44th. Two out of three people with a job are foreigners – hardly a recommendation for capability of doing anything.
Then Fareed brought on Professor Michael Porter of Harvard who makes now a career of talking and writing about America’s unconventional energy opportunity that turned the till-2005 dependence on gas import and till 2008 dependence on oil import – to an economy now that produces $430 billion/year of oil-shale fracking gas and oil products – that he says have reduced the energy bill of an average American family by $800/year and is now being enhanced by secondary industries like the petrochemical industry.
Gas prices are now lower by one third then those in US trading-countries and he contends that even though there are environmental problems with “fracking” these problems get smaller with time as there are new technological developments leading to decrease in pollution. Oh well – this at least reduces the US dependence on Saudi good-will.
To point out some more the effect of oil on developing countries that export the stuff, Fareed brought on a New Yorker journalist who works now in Luanda, Angola, and previously worked many years in Russia. Michael Specter was fascinating in his description of the “Bizarro” World of Luanda where for four out of the last five years Luanda was the most expensive City for the “Expatriates.” The Fifth year they were second to Japan.
With a watermelon selling for $105, a Coke for $10 and a cab-ride of 20 miles costing $450 – this while the working locals make $4/day while after Nigeria Angola is now the second largest oil producer in Africa.
For a saner discussion Fareed brought on Richard Haass – a former official of the Bush administration, Advisor to Colin Powell and president of the New York City based Council on Foreign Relations since July 2003, and David Rothkopf – who worked for the Clinton Administration, Managed the Kissinger Associates, and now is CEO and Editor of the Foreign Policy Group that publishes Foreign Policy Magazine. Interesting, it was Haass who wore a blue tie and Rothkopf who wore a red tie – and to my surprise, and clearly to their own surprise – there was no difference between their positions on the issues.
The main topic was Iraq and they agreed that sending in some more advisers to keep the ongoing losing policy in place makes no sense and never did. Iraq has passed, or was handed, to Iran while the only functioning part of it are the Kurdish evolving State.
The problem is the Sunni part that will eventually be a State as well – but it depends on a change in US position if this will be the ISIS State or a conventional Sunni State. Trying to hold the three parts of Iraq together does not make sense – period.
Oh well – how we got there – ask the Bush family – now we guess – ask Jeb (John Ellis) Bush. and Fareed also pointed a finger at Senator Rick Santorum who wants to be President and says the Pope should not mix the church and science – leave science to the scientists which for him are the Climate-deniers paid by the oil industry.
Fareed pointed out to Santorum that Pope Franciscus happens to be a scientist. He was trained as chemist and worked as a chemist before reentering the seminarium for clerical studies.
This coming week the world might finally get a boost from the Catholic Church as very well described in the New York Times article by Jim Yardley of June 13, 2015: “Pope Francis to Explore Climate’s Effect on World’s Poor.”
On Thursday June 18, 2015, Pope Franciscus will release his most important Encyclical on the theme of the environment and the poor. This follows a meeting May 2014 of the Pope with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon accompanied by his Development lieutenants. This could be finally a joined effort for the good of humanity – of faith and true science.
Above is not completely new. Already the last two popes started to investigate the moral choices of development. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI already wrote about the role of industrial pollution in destroying the environment. Francis went further – and on his January 2015 trip to the Philippines expressed his being convinced that global warming was “most;y” a human-made phenomenon. Now he is expected in the September trip to Cuba and New York, to bring the encyclical to the UN General Assembly and encourage the Heads of States to bring the issue to a positive conclusion at the December Climate Convention meting in Paris. The driving force of this Pope is his experience in Latin America with an agenda of poverty and Unsustainable Consumption that reveals ethical issues. He can be expected to reject the American conservative interests underwritten by oil industry interests that send to his doorsteps folks like Marc Morano and the Heartland Foundation with Republican Skeptics found in the US Senate of James Inhofe of Oklahoma.
Fareed also mentioned on his program the fact that coincidentally it was June 15, 1215 that King John released the First Magna Carta that was shortly thereafter declared “Null and Void for all validity for-ever” by Pope Innocent II. A new Magna Carta was instituted later and it is the 2025 version that is the basis for the Constitutions of many States – including the USA. Pope Francis’s Encyclical might be viewed by future generations as the Magna Carta for the Earth – we hope the term SUSTAINABILITY will be brought into full focus – so ought to be “sustainable development.”
One last issue of this State of the World program was about the dwindling population in all European States and in many Asian States as well. It is only the USA that is growing – this thanks to immigration and some might say energy autarky?. The subject needs more linking to the rest of the program ingredients and we expect this will be done eventually.
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD); United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD); the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Potsdam, Germany; Biovision Foundation in Zurich, Switzerland; and Millennium Institute in Washington DC, USA organize, a few days before the May session of the Post?2015 Intergovernmental negotiations on follow?up and review, titled “Follow?up and Review Mechanisms for Natural Resource Management and Governance to Achieve the SDGs.”
They will address some key issues associated with this topic. The event’s main focus is on the management and governance of natural resources, but the options presented could be further developed and applied to other thematic and cross-cutting areas.
“A High?Level Event on Follow?Up and Review Mechanisms for Natural Resource Management and Governance to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.”
at the Millennium Broadway Hotel New York, 145 West 44th Street, New York.
This High?Level Event aims at providing a platform for UN Member States, UN organizations, ministries, non-governmental organisations, academia, civil society, and the private sector – to discuss options for follow?up and review mechanisms connecting national, regional and global levels.
It is an invitation only event – and for more information, please visit the event’s website: globalsoilweek.org/thematic-areas…
A scientific “World Symposium on Climate Change Adaptation” – Manchester, UK, 2-4 September 2015 – deadline for abstracts extended tells us US scientist Walter Leal – whole new sessions like on the Arctic Region and Environment Governance are still possible.
“World Symposium on Climate Change Adaptation”, Manchester, UK, 2-4 September 2015: deadline for abstracts extended.
Preparations for the “World Symposium on Climate Change Adaptation” (WSCCA), to be held Manchester, UK, on
Organised by Manchester Metropolitan University (UK) and the Research and Transfer Centre “Applications of Life Sciences” of the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (Germany), WSCCA entails cooperation with world´s leading climate organisations, such as the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), World Health Organisation (WHO) the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the International Council of Local Environment Initiatives (ICLE), the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Developmentof (ICIMOD), the International Climate Change Information Programme (ICCIP), the United Nations University initiative “Regional Centres of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development” (RCE), and other agencies. The Symposium will be a truly interdisciplinary event, covering some of the key areas in the field of climate change adaptation.
A set of presentations, divided into six main themes will be organised, distributed over parallel sessions dealing with some of the key issues of strategic value in the field of climate change adaptation. These are:
Session 1: Technological approaches to Climate Change Adaptation
The organisers also welcome suggestions of special sessions, and so far special sessions on “Climate Change in the Artic” and “Climate Change Governance” and others, have been received.
To secure the highest possible quality, all papers are subject to peer-review. Accepted papers will be published in a special issue of the International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management
(fully indexed) or at the book “Innovative Approaches to Implement Climate Change Adaptation”.
This will be a further volume of the award-winning book series “Climate Change Management”
Further details can be seen at: www.haw-hamburg.de/en/wscca-2015….
WAMSR – the Waste-Annihilating Molten Salt Reactor – is this going to make the Nuclear Fission Reactor acceptable to environmentalists providing an alternate way to decrease carbon emissions? The Dewan & Lester new horizon of the Transatomic MIT offshoot.
Transatomic is a MIT spinoff and could save us with Molten Salt Nuclear Reactors that can use wastes from Water Cooled Reactors for useful purpose.
Transatomic Power’s advanced molten salt reactor consumes spent nuclear fuel cleanly and completely, unlocking vast amounts of cheap, carbon-free energy. It solves four of the most pressing problems facing the nuclear industry: ecological stewardship, public safety, non-proliferation, and cost-efficiency. Only an advanced reactor that meets all four goals at once can truly change the nuclear fission game and allow for broad adoption of nuclear power.
A technical white paper gives a more detailed description of the reactor design.
This reactor can be powered by nuclear waste because it uses radically different technology from conventional plants. Instead of using solid fuel pins, they dissolve the nuclear waste into a molten salt. Suspending the fuel in a liquid (the mo;ten salt) allows it to be kept in the reactor longer, and therefore capture more of its energy. Conventional nuclear reactors can utilize only about 3% – 5% of the potential fission energy in a given amount of uranium before it has to be removed from the reactor. This design captures 96% of this remaining energy.
Why it’s different
Molten salt reactors are not a new technology – they were originally developed and tested at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. In many respects, Transatomic’s reactor is similar to these early designs. It uses similar safety mechanisms (such as freeze valves), chemical processing techniques (such as off-gas sparging), and corrosion tolerant alloys (such as modified Hastelloy-N). These similarities to previous designs allowed Transatomic to build on an established body of research and reduce the uncertainty associated with the design.
The main differences between Transatomic Power’s molten salt reactor and previous molten salt reactors are the metal hydride moderator and LiF-(Heavy metal)F4 fuel salt. These features allow to make the reactor more compact and generate electricity at lower cost than other designs. Furthermore, previous molten salt reactors, such as the Oak Ridge Molten Salt Reactor Experiment, used uranium enriched to 33% U-235.
The newly proposed reactor can operate using fresh fuel enriched to just a minimum of 1.8% U-235, or light water reactor waste.
The above comes with MIT research and was brought to our attention in today’s CNN/GPS program by Fareed Zakaria (August 17, 2014) who had as guest recently graduated PHD student Dr.Dewan.
In effect – Transatomic, is a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) spinoff intent to commercialize a safer fission nuclear reactor designed to overcome major barriers to nuclear power. For the anti-nuclear folks the design offers to burn up the existing spent fuel from the world’s fleet of nuclear reactors in a design that doesn’t offer a chance for a meltdown. That should be nirvana for those alarmed about atomic energy and weapons proliferation.
We found an old article by Brian Westenhaus of March 17, 2013 from which we picked:
Transatomic, founded by a pair of very smart and innovative young nuclear engineers, has updated the molten-salt reactor, a reactor type that’s highly resistant to meltdowns. Molten-salt reactors were demonstrated in the 1960s at Oak Ridge National Lab, where one test reactor ran for six years. What remains is raising $5 million to run five experiments to help validate the new basic design.
Russ Wilcox, Transatomic’s new CEO estimates that it will take eight years to build a prototype reactor at a cost of $200 million. The company has already raised $1 million in seed funding, including some from Ray Rothrock, a partner at the venture capital firm Venrock.
The cofounders, Mark Massie and Leslie Dewan, who we met here in April last year, are still PhD candidates at MIT. Yet the design has attracted some top advisors, including Regis Matzie, the former CTO of the major nuclear power plant supplier Westinghouse Electric, and Richard Lester, the head of the nuclear engineering department at MIT.
The new reactor design called the Waste-Annihilating Molten Salt Reactor (WAMSR) so far exists only on paper.
Background – today’s conventional nuclear power plant is cooled by water, which boils at 100º C a temperature far below the 2,000° C at the core of a fuel pellet. Even after the reactor is shut down, it must be continuously cooled by pumping in water until the whole internal core apparatus is below 100º C. The inability to do that properly is what has caused the problems at troubled plants. Oddly, the nuclear industry and regulatory agencies haven’t come to realize the notion of mixing water and nuclear fuel is the dangerous matter.
The big problems can be solved by using molten salt, instead of water as the coolant, which is mixed in with the fuel. Molten salt has a boiling point higher than the operating temperature of the fuel. That way the reactor has a built-in thermostat – if it starts to heat up, the salt expands, spreading out the fuel and slowing the reactions cooling the thing off.
In the event of a power outage where cooling circulation would stop carrying away the heat, a plug at the bottom of the reactor melts and the fuel and salt mixture flows by gravity into a holding tank, where the fuel spreads out enough for the reactions to stop. The salt then cools and solidifies, encapsulating the radioactive materials.
Ms Dewan now the company’s chief science officer says, “It’s walk-away safe, if you lose electricity, even if there are no operators on site to pull levers, it will coast to a stop.”
She needs only $5 million to prove it, she said.
Technology – Transatomic’s design improves on the original molten-salt reactor by changing the internal geometry and using different materials. Transatomic is keeping many of the proprietary design details to itself, but one change involves eliminating the graphite that made up 90% of the volume of the Oak Ridge reactor. The company has also modified conditions in the reactor to produce faster neutrons, which makes it possible to burn most of the material that is ordinarily discarded as waste.
The design offers a couple other real strong incentives. Because it runs at atmospheric pressure rather than the high pressures required in conventional reactors the amount of steel and concrete needed to guard against accidents is greatly reduced. The technical approach will work for uranium or for the future thorium fuels as well.
Related article: Will Japan Embrace Geothermal Power to Move Away from Nuclear?
Here is the comparison that should light up the hearts of the antinuclear crowd. A conventional 1,000-megawatt reactor produces about 20 metric tons (44,000 lbs.) of high-level waste a year, and that material needs to be safely stored for 100,000 years. The 500-megawatt Transatomic reactor will produce only four kilograms (8.8 lbs.) of such waste a year, along with 250 kilograms (550 lbs.) of waste that has to be stored for a few hundred years.
In the presentation the duo projects some warming numbers for both the low cost power and the anti nuclear folks. Conventional nuclear reactors can utilize only about 3% of the potential fission energy in a given amount of uranium before it has to be removed from the reactor. The Transatomic design captures 98% of this remaining energy. A fully deployed Transatomic reactor fleet could use existing stockpiles of nuclear waste to satisfy the world’s electricity needs for 70 years, now through 2083 when about 99.2% of today’s dangerous spent fuel – would be burned away.
Even though the basic idea of a molten-salt reactor has been demonstrated the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) certification process is set up around light-water reactors. NRC spokesman Scott Burnell said for the next few years, the NRC will be focused on certifying the more conventional designs for SMNRs. But he also said that the commission is aware of Transatomic’s concept but that designs haven’t been submitted for review yet. The certification process for Transatomic will take at least five years once the company submits a detailed design, with additional review needed specifically for issues related to fuel and waste management.
The detailed design is years and $4 million more dollars away. Wilcox estimated that it will take eight years to build a prototype reactor – at a cost of $200 million. Low cost power customers and the antinuclear folks might want to coordinate getting the Congress to rewrite the NRC’s procedures to speed things up.
After all, China is reported to be investing $350 million over five years to develop molten-salt reactors of its own. It plans to build a two-megawatt test reactor by 2020.
It’d be a pity to miss out on a trillion dollar industrial market and trillions more in electricity savings. Plus get rid of all that weapons ready, costly to store used fuel.
By. Brian Westenhaus — Original source: The Nuke The Anti Nuke Crowd Should Love
High-level Dialogue on Sustainable Cities, Transport and Tourism (HLD) and Global Forum on Human Settlements (GHFS): As a follow-up event to commemorate the second anniversary of the Rio+20 Conference and implement its decisions, the HLD and GHFS aim to support the rapid and effective implementation of the Rio+20 decisions. The objectives of the HLD and GHFS include: providing a platform for information exchange; highlighting proven policies and measures and identifying best practices; facilitating capacity building through exchanges of information; and contributing to the discussions under the post-2015 UN development agenda and Sustainable Development Goals. dates: 10-12 August 2014 location: Bogotá, Colombia contact: Carolina Chica Builes phone: +57-1-335-8000 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www: www.idu.gov.co/web/
WHO Conference on Health and Climate: This three-day conference, hosted by the WHO, will bring together leading experts in the fields of health and climate change, to discuss: strengthening health system resilience to climate risks; and promoting health while mitigating climate change. dates: 27-29 August 2014 location: Geneva, Switzerland contact: Marina Maiero phone: +41-22-791-2402 email: email@example.com www: www.who.int/
International Solid Waste Association 2014 Solid Waste World Congress: This event will convene under the theme of “(Re)Discovering a New World: Sustainable Solutions for a healthy future,” and is intended to provide the opportunity for the international community to exchange ideas, integrate solutions and develop a common vision for the future of a sustainable and healthy world. dates: 8-11 September 2014 location: Sao Paulo, Brazil phone: +55-11-3056-6000 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org www: iswa2014.org/
2014 Climate Summit: This event is being organized by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with the aim of mobilizing political will for an ambitious legal agreement through the UNFCCC process. date: 23 September 2014 location: UN Headquarters, New York www: www.un.org/
At the UN – the train towards Planet post-2015 and the UNFCCC meeting in Paris in 2015, is making progres. The last stop of the “Open Working Group” will be in New York City – July 9-18, 2014 – it is just leaving the pen-ultimate stop this June.
From the IISD Reporting, June 23, 2014:
Twelfth session of the UN General Assembly’s (UNGA) Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
16-20 June 2014 | UN Headquarters, New York, United States of America
The twelfth session of the UN Ge, 2014neral Assembly Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) took place from 16-20 June 2014, at UN Headquarters in New York. Macharia Kamau, Permanent Representative of Kenya, and Csaba K?rösi, Permanent Representative of Hungary, continued in their roles as Co-Chairs of the OWG at the second to last session of the OWG, which is mandated to develop a set of sustainable development goals and targets.
OWG-12 represented the first OWG meeting during which delegates worked primarily in informal sessions. Following opening remarks during a formal session on Monday morning, delegates considered proposed goals 7-17 in informal sessions during day and evening sessions from Monday through Friday. The discussion on goals 1-6 had taken place in “informal-informal” consultations from 9-11 June. The Co-Chairs also presented a set of revised goals, based on the informal-informal discussions, for comment on Monday night. On Tuesday night, the Co-Chairs distributed a new set of targets for proposed goal 1 on ending poverty. However, delegates said they did not want to discuss any revisions until they had a chance to review the complete package of revised goals and targets.
On Friday afternoon, Co-Chair Kamau opened the second formal session of OWG-12, noting that the Group had made “amazing progress” during the week. He announced that there would be another set of “informal-informals” from 9-11 July, to be followed by the final meeting of the OWG from 14-18 July. He said a revised version of the zero draft should be ready by 30 June, and that it will have fewer targets, and be a more refined, balanced and “tighter” document. He expressed the Co-Chairs’ confidence that the OWG will successfully conclude its work on 18 July and agree on a set of goals and targets.
The Summary of this meeting is now available in PDF format
A BRIEF ANALYSIS OF OWG-12
“Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance.”
Mufasa, The Lion King
As OWG-12 opened on Monday, 16 June, OWG Co-Chair Macharia Kamau highlighted a critical challenge for the Group as he presented the “zero draft.” He stressed the difficulty in achieving a balance among the issues and government positions while drafting the 17 goals and 212 targets in that document. Throughout the week, delegates’ discussions revealed the challenge that remains to achieve a balanced, consensus outcome. During OWG-12, many options were presented for each proposed goal and target, and delegates worked to weigh the tradeoffs, formulations and difficult decisions they must make to arrive at a final set of SDGs and targets at the close of OWG-13.
Underlying the SDGs themselves is an overarching goal to promote balanced, sustainable development. Inherent in the definition of sustainable development is the concern that meeting the needs of future generations and reducing poverty depends on how well humans balance social, economic, and environmental objectives—or needs—when making decisions today. It is also known that human activities in a number of sectors, including agriculture, industry, fisheries, urbanization and travel, have disturbed the balance of nature and have threatened species and ecosystems.
During OWG-12, the discussions were framed around balance along different axes: conceptual (between universality and differentiation), temporal (between historical and present responsibilities), procedural (between comprehensiveness and duplication), substantive (among the three pillars of sustainable development), and presentational (between specificity and “crispiness”). This brief analysis assesses the state of the OWG’s deliberations amid the challenges of fulfilling its mandate, given in The Future We Want adopted two years ago, by ensuring the sustainable development goals achieve a delicate balance.
BALANCE BETWEEN UNIVERSALITY AND DIFFERENTIATION
The SDGs are expected to be “global in nature and universally applicable to all countries,” according to Paragraph 247 of The Future We Want. At the same time, their effective implementation requires differentiation in accordance with specific national circumstances. Throughout the week, delegates struggled to find balance between universality and differentiation. This struggle was most apparent during discussions on proposed Goal 12: Promote sustainable consumption and production patterns. Despite the mandate of universality, some delegates said the targets for this goal should be differentiated between the efforts that developed and developing countries should undertake, with many insisting that developed countries have to take the lead. For example, target 12.6 says that “by 2030 at least halve per capita food waste at retail and consumer level, particularly in developed countries and countries with high per capita food waste.” While most recognized that such action would achieve a great deal, some also noted related efforts in developing countries. As some argued, this is in fact a universally relevant goal because there is also a lot of food waste on the production and distribution side in developing countries.
On proposed Goal 13 on climate change, the question of balance between universality and differentiation focused on historical and current responsibilities. Developing countries argued that, if a goal on climate change is to be included in the SDGs, it must be based on the principles under the UNFCCC, and therefore differentiate between the countries that are historically responsible for greenhouse gas emissions (developed countries) and those that are not (developing countries). The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) forms the basis of the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol, which only mandate that developed countries (Annex I countries) reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. However, as some developed countries note, there are non-Annex I countries whose current emissions are greater than some of the Annex I countries, and there can be no meaningful reduction of CO2 emissions without the participation of all major emitters. Since the SDGs will be in place for 15 years, some argue, a goal on climate change should recognize the scope for further changes in emission profiles and not lock in UNFCCC country groupings from the 1990s.
A third issue relates to the larger issue of CBDR and the legacy of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit “bargain,” according to which developing countries would pursue environmentally sustainable development in exchange for greater assistance from developed countries. This assistance was expected to come in the form of financial resources, technology transfer and capacity building—the so-called means of implementation. Given their disappointment with how this grand bargain played out in the twenty years following the Rio Earth Summit, the Group of 77 and China has been firm during the SDGs negotiations that each goal must have its own designated means of implementation. Some countries went so far as to indicate that absence of MOI could be a deal breaker on the SDGs. Yet, other countries argue that if the SDGs are supposed to be universal, how can the MOI targets focus on differentiated responsibilities among groups of countries, such as Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, LDCs, LLDCs, and SIDS? As the discussion on proposed Goal 17 (MOI) began on Friday, the statements mirrored those that were heard at the beginning of the OWG process, not to mention similar themes that have been heard for over twenty years about the responsibility of developed countries to provide MOI. There appeared to be some progress, however, as several governments across groupings called for an inclusive global partnership for development that involves the public, private and civil society sectors, and addresses the need for triangular cooperation and South-South cooperation.
BALANCE AMONG THE THREE DIMENSIONS OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
The OWG has faced another recurring question of balance in fulfilling its mandate, this time from Paragraph 246 of The Future We Want: “The goals should address and incorporate in a balanced way all three dimensions of sustainable development and their interlinkages.” What would such a balance mean for each dimension, and how would the balance be embedded in the SDG framework?
For many developing countries, balance should be reflected in the number of goals dedicated to each dimension. One delegate shared his assessment that out of the proposed substantive goals, there are two on the economic dimension, five or six on the social dimension, and four or five on the environment. Developing countries, in particular, expressed concern that currently only two goals are “dedicated” to the economic dimension: proposed Goals 8 (sustainable economic growth) and 9 (industrialization). When some suggested merging these two goals, these countries rejected the notion as it would leave only one “economic goal.” Yet at the same time, one delegation said the three explicitly environmental goals should be consolidated into two, noting that three goals for one theme are too many.
On the other hand, some developed countries have expressed a different vision of balance among the three dimensions of sustainable development, calling for each goal to reflect a “three-dimensional” approach to sustainable development, through targets that address economic, social, and environmental aspects. Regarding the same Goals 8 and 9 that were welcomed by developing countries as ensuring an economic development dimension to the SDGs, developed country delegations critiqued the current drafting of these goals as lacking a vision of inclusive and environmentally friendly growth. Some delegations thought that integrated goals would do a better job at ensuring ministries and UN and other international organizations and agencies work together and get out of their traditional “silos.”
BALANCE BETWEEN WORDINESS AND “CRISPINESS”
Throughout the week, the Co-Chairs urged delegates to achieve “crispiness,” using a term popularized by Co-Chair K?rösi, amid the desire for an all-encompassing yet concrete set of goals. In other words, delegates face the challenge of crafting goals that are clear, coherent, concrete and comprehensive (the four C’s). The quest for this need for balance took on various forms.
First, there was a concern about the titles of the goals themselves in substantive as well as presentational terms. Using the MDGs as an example, observers noted that the wording, formatting and number of MDGs made the goals conducive to iconographic representation and visually compelling packaging that was used in effective advocacy and outreach campaigns. This helped to generate traction within and beyond the development arena. Both Co-Chairs consistently reminded delegates that these goals and targets have to make sense to people beyond the walls of the United Nations and, thus, need to be “crispy”, translatable and easy to understand
The OWG has also recognized that the number of goals to be adopted will be an important consideration. At previous OWG meetings, some, including Jeffrey Sachs and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, called for a set of ten goals—a sort of “ten commandments” for sustainable development. Similarly, others have previously called for twelve goals to allow an equal number of goals for each of the three dimensions of sustainable development. Overall, many speakers at many sessions conceded that the power of the goals will be in focusing international attention on a set of priorities, which would be lost if the list of priorities become too unwieldy. The Co-Chairs tried to reduce the number of proposed goals to 15 and distributed a new suggested list of goals on Monday night, but their effort did not immediately gain traction.
There is still uncertainty about retaining at least three of the proposed goals—10 (reduce inequality), 13 (climate change) and 16 (peaceful and inclusive societies, rule of law and effective and capable institutions)—while strong support was expressed for maintaining the separation among the current Goals 8 (sustainable economic growth and work for all) and 9 (sustainable industrialization), and among Goals 14 (conservation and sustainable use of marine resources, oceans and seas) and 15 (terrestrial ecosystems and biodiversity). As a result, it is still not clear how many goals will constitute the final package of SDGs and how they will be balanced.
At the same time, delegates expressed concern about creating strong targets that are action-oriented and measurable. For the first time during the OWG, delegates at OWG-12 seemed to focus on whether proposed targets were achievable and how implementation could be monitored and reported. While some delegates continued to propose new targets, many more noted that certain targets were better placed as indicators, and others should be deleted because they were highly aspirational but not achievable. This has become yet another challenge for the OWG—how to achieve a balance between what they want to accomplish and what can realistically be accomplished by 2030.
TWELVE DOWN, ONE TO GO
With twelve sessions completed, the OWG has only eight days left to complete its work, including the three days of “informal-informal” consultations that will precede OWG-13. As the Co-Chairs noted, the time has come to reach agreement on the final package of SDGs to submit to the UN General Assembly to be taken into consideration as part of the deliberations on the post-2015 development agenda.
With so little time remaining before 18 July—the final day of OWG-13—delegates emerged from the ECOSOC Chamber on Friday evening exhausted from an intense week of work, yet curious about what will happen between now and 18 July. Some wondered how the Co-Chairs will manage the OWG’s final session and related consultations to enable delegates to produce a balanced set of SDGs that are universal, “crispy,” action-oriented, and reflective of the three dimensions of sustainable development. Others asked themselves if OWG members can bridge the North-South divide and create a new framework that truly operationalizes sustainable development and anchors a truly transformative agenda. Still others wondered if the 13 OWG sessions and the Co-Chairs’ careful management of the process will enable governments to arrive at a consensus outcome in an increasingly challenging political environment for multilateral negotiations. In the end, after 18 months, the OWG has just a few days left to show that it can create a package of SDGs that will exist together in a delicate balance.
Afghanistan, Bhutan, Chile, Colombia, Honduras and Pakistan are the first six countries to submit requests for help from the newly created, Copenhagen based, technology oriented – Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN).
(Copenhagen/Bonn, 2 June 2014):
Developing countries are now beginning to make active use of the UN’s new global network for climate technology solutions, the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN). This constitutes a promising signal that momentum for climate action is building ahead of a new, universal climate agreement in 2015.
So far this year, six countries have submitted eight requests for technology assistance to the CTCN, which is headquartered in Copenhagen.
These include – Afghanistan, Bhutan, Chile, Colombia, Honduras and Pakistan.
The requests for support relate to a broad range of climate action, from renewable energy policies to public transportation, and from biodiversity monitoring to saving mangrove forests for coastal protection.
Welcoming the development, Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said:
“Innovation is the engine of development, and replacing current technologies
According to Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the Bonn based UN
“As countries work towards a universal climate agreement in Paris in 2015,
Last week, the board of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) completed the
Meanwhile, the CTCN has put all central requirements for the transfer of
Since its launch in late 2013, over 80 countries have established national
A side event on the progress to date of the Technology Mechanism and the
This side event is organized collaboratively by the Technology Executive
More information: goo.gl/PUK0Kp.
For more information, please contact:
Nick Nuttall, Coordinator, Communications and Outreach: +49 228 815 1400
About the UNFCCC
About the CTCN
See also: <unfccc.int/press/
Bonn based UN Climate Chief says UN Registry shows huge potential to scale up support to developing world for climate action. Ms. Figueres gives as an example the binational cooperation between Austria and Georgia.
As per UNFCCC website:
UN NAMA Registry records first matched support exercize – came up with the cooperation between Austria and Georgia:
(Bonn, 23 May 2014) – A new UN Registry which records and matches offers of
“This first success highlights the enormous potential of the new registry
The online NAMA Registry was designed and is operated by the UNFCCC
Its objectives are to facilitate the matching of finance, technology, and
In the first recorded match in the registry, Georgia has received a grant
“I congratulate Georgia and Austria on entering their information into the
About the UNFCCC
With 196 Parties, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
See also: <unfccc.int/press/
UNEP and China collaboration to help Global South fight climate change.
14 May 2014 | William Brittlebank | Finance & The Green Economy, Policy & Legislation, Africa, Asia
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and China have agreed to assist Global South countries in fighting climate change.
The new agreement was endorsed last week in Nairobi by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.
Mr. Steiner said: “This new agreement sends another powerful message that China is committed to combating climate change, not only within its borders, but across the Global South – and that in doing so, it count on UNEP’s unflagging support.”
Chinese Premier Li said: “China would like to continue to collaborate with UNEP to enhance green development and sustainable environmental management. China has contributed US$6 million to the UNEP trust fund and will continue to make contributions to that fund into the future. China also wants to enhance communication, cooperation and coordination with UNEP and multilateral environmental agreements in support of global environmental sustainability and action to combat climate change at the national and global levels.”
During the discussions, efforts to accelerate China’s transition to a green economy were also addressed.
They also discussed China’s newly declared “war” on air pollution and the top issues on the agenda of the inaugural United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), that is will be held in Nairobi in June.
UNEP and China have collaborated with countries across Africa and Asia on climate adaptation projects since 2008 which have been financed by the Global Environment Facility and the Chinese government.
Mr. Steiner currently serves as Vice-Chairperson of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED), of which Premier Li was the former Chair.
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.
ENVIRONMENT: TOP STORIES THIS WEEK – March 26, 2014
Posted: 15 Feb 2014 09:23 PM PST
El Gouna, a resort city on Egypt’s Red Sea Riviera, is set to become the first carbon-neutral city in that nation, in Africa, and likely the entire Middle East North Africa (MENA) region. Masdar City, in continuing development in Abu Dhabi, initially targeted zero-carbon status, but has yet to hit that goal.
The ambitious development agreement was signed last week by the Egyptian Ministry of State for Environmental Affairs, the Italian Ministry of Environment and El Gouna City.
Dr. Laila Iskandar, Egyptian Minister of State for Environmental Affairs, told Trade Arabia, “This agreement will help the Egyptian government to achieve a significant breakthrough in the fields of environment and tourism, enhancing Egypt’s global image and opening the door for Egyptian tourism projects and cities to rank among the leading carbon-neutral entities.”
El Gouna is already hailed as Egypt’s most environmentally-friendly vacation destination. It’s captured Green Globe and Travelife certifications and was selected as the pilot location for the Green Star Hotel Initiative (GSHI).
Launched in 2007, GSHI is a cooperative effort between public and private sectors, the Egyptian and German tourism industries, and supported by key technical consultants. They promote use of environmental management systems and environmentally sound operations to improve environmental performance and to increase competitiveness of the Egyptian hotel industry.
Priority projects include conservation of natural resources such as clean beaches, healthy marine life and protected areas, which are the backbone of the Red Sea Riviera and the nation’s eco-tourism market.
Mr. Hisham Zaazou, Egyptian Minister of Tourism, told Trade Arabia, “We will also be working on implementing this project in other Egyptian cities.”
Her panel included – in order of them speaking – Ambassador Dr. Mamadou Tangara of Gambia, Dr. T.A. Elias-Fatile, Senior Councellor for General Assembly Affairs representing Ambassador Professor U. Joy Ogwu of Nigeria, Ambassador Dr. Richard Nduhuura of Uganda, Ambassador of South Africa, The Ambassador from Mozambique was scheduled, could not make it, and so the unscheduled Ambassador from South Africa took over that slot. Also unanounced – for a short appearance we listened to Mageed A.Abdelaziz, United Nations Secretary-General‘s Special Adviser on Africa at the level of Under-Secretary-General. He was an Egyptian diplomat who had been Egypt’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations since January 2005 – he left after his presentation.
The 1990 were discussed – the conflicts – the genocides of 1994 – the Convention to Combat African corruption and the talk of an Agenda of Sustainable Development. The Ambassador for Gambia, an academic Social Economist – reminded the audience that Kenya was ahead of south Korea and where are they now? I admire South Korea ad am angree about Kenya, he said. The source of the conflicts are the riches of natural resources – take Liberia, Sierra Leone he said – we had mercenaries taking the diamonds. Unfortunately we see ourselves through the eyes of others – even in education we need money from the outside and they ask us to “put in things we want you to put in” – he said.
The talk is about Nation Building and the outsiders think they know more then the Africans themselves
The Ugandan spoke of African ownership, the South African about regional integration - then why does an Egyptian advise the UN Secretary-General on Africa – we ask?
Ms. Bailey asked – how do we Africans see ourselves this day when we say African Solutions for African Problems? Sharing lessons among ourselves – What have we achieved for Africans? Success issues of peace Keeping in Somalia? Investments? – How to get it? The naked ingredients for peace The promotion of regional cooperation with inter-African exchange of assets and concluded with the need for better financing.
An African Student at Columbia University wanted to know – When do we have an African Charter on Human Rights? HE ALSO CORRECTLY MENTIONED – “WE ARE NET EXPORTERS OF DOLLARS!”
A lady born in Nigeria and who serves now in New York as a promoter of the rich African Culture here – Ms. Joyce Adewumi – spoke of the women of Africa – i”t seems we are ashamed now of our culture and of what we are doing” – she said. We buy foreign goods – we do not support our own products – We do not Support African Solutions she said to the Ambassadors without flinching. We are ashamed of being Africans!
Then we heard from Claudine Mukamabano, a beautiful young woman, a genocide orphan survivor who turned a life of hardship into one of leadership and advocacy. She has the recognition of the Assembly of the State of New York for what she is doing for refugees from Africa. “How can we resolve the ethic problems in our continent” she asked? What has the African Union done to prevent genocide, she asked?
When the answers came we heard how an EU good-doer could not provide the rather small amount of money that was needed to provide drinkable water to a particular community – this because there was no existing way to provide small grants. She had to push the EU to go for bigger projects. I was flabbergasted – where were the Africans themselves – why do they not get off the corruption bags and do something for their people? The basic human problem is that the colonizers put in our head that we are inferior and it stayed there.
The Ugandan said that the Security Council will act on Genocide. He wants Peace Enforcement – Not Just Peace Keeping. The problem with elections – you do not get ideology but tribalism. They’ll make a constitution and go for elections later – then what? The idea is – let’s have the healing before the elections. Quite right but this does not even start to scratch the problem.
Why detest the colonial powers when the actual states they created along Administrative lines are themselves the reason for the in-fighting. If truly independent why not reorganize the continent along lines more acceptable to the population – with attention to the traditional leaders? Why wait for the Security Council where the former colonial powers hold power today and have continuing business interests in their former colonies and are tied to some of the new country leaders? Why not organize rather an African Union intervention force. Why not a minimum caring for the people before they are pushed to flee their homes?
Why not talk some more to these refugees living now in the diaspora and listen to their wisdom more often – like in this event at the Peace Islands Institute in New York?
Present at Peace Islands was also Ethiopian Professor Ephraim Isaac who teaches African languages and Religion at East Coast Ivy League Universities. He did not voice opinions but eagerly followed the discussion. He proudly showed me that Harvard is now awarding a yearly prize to honor him on his name – to a promising student in African languages.
Germane to the event at Peace Islands, is also our previous posting about the High-Level Panel on the Illicit outflow of funds from Africa – about $50 Billion/year as presented by former President of South Africa, Mr. Thabo Mbeki, on February 6, 2014.
Camels Had No Business in Genesis.
There are too many camels in the Bible, out of time and out of place.
Camels probably had little or no role in the lives of such early Jewish patriarchs as Abraham, Jacob and Joseph, who lived in the first half of the second millennium B.C., and yet stories about them mention these domesticated pack animals more than 20 times. Genesis 24, for example, tells of Abraham’s servant going by camel on a mission to find a wife for Isaac.
These anachronisms are telling evidence that the Bible was written or edited long after the events it narrates and is not always reliable as verifiable history. These camel stories “do not encapsulate memories from the second millennium,” said Noam Mizrahi, an Israeli biblical scholar, “but should be viewed as back-projections from a much later period.”
Dr. Mizrahi likened the practice to a historical account of medieval events that veers off to a description of “how people in the Middle Ages used semitrailers in order to transport goods from one European kingdom to another.”
For two archaeologists at Tel Aviv University, the anachronisms were motivation to dig for camel bones at an ancient copper smelting camp in the Aravah Valley in Israel and in Wadi Finan in Jordan. They sought evidence of when domesticated camels were first introduced into the land of Israel and the surrounding region.
The archaeologists, Erez Ben-Yosef and Lidar Sapir-Hen, used radiocarbon dating to pinpoint the earliest known domesticated camels in Israel to the last third of the 10th century B.C. — centuries after the patriarchs lived and decades after the kingdom of David, according to the Bible. Some bones in deeper sediments, they said, probably belonged to wild camels that people hunted for their meat. Dr. Sapir-Hen could identify a domesticated animal by signs in leg bones that it had carried heavy loads.
The findings were published recently in the journal Tel Aviv and in a news release from Tel Aviv University. The archaeologists said that the origin of the domesticated camel was probably in the Arabian Peninsula, which borders the Aravah Valley. Egyptians exploited the copper resources there and probably had a hand in introducing the camels. Earlier, people in the region relied on mules and donkeys as their beasts of burden.
“The introduction of the camel to our region was a very important economic and social development,” Dr. Ben-Yosef said in a telephone interview. “The camel enabled long-distance trade for the first time, all the way to India, and perfume trade with Arabia. It’s unlikely that mules and donkeys could have traversed the distance from one desert oasis to the next.”
Dr. Mizrahi, a professor of Hebrew culture studies at Tel Aviv University who was not directly involved in the research, said that by the seventh century B.C. camels had become widely employed in trade and travel in Israel and through the Middle East, from Africa as far as India. The camel’s influence on biblical research was profound, if confusing, for that happened to be the time that the patriarchal stories were committed to writing and eventually canonized as part of the Hebrew Bible.
“One should be careful not to rush to the conclusion that the new archaeological findings automatically deny any historical value from the biblical stories,” Dr. Mizrahi said in an email. “Rather, they established that these traditions were indeed reformulated in relatively late periods after camels had been integrated into the Near Eastern economic system. But this does not mean that these very traditions cannot capture other details that have an older historical background.”
Moreover, for anyone who grew up with Sunday school images of the Three Wise Men from the East arriving astride camels at the manger in Bethlehem, whatever uncertainties there may be of that story, at least one thing is clear: By then the camel in the service of human life was no longer an anachronism.