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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 19th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

This last Sunday, the venerable Austrian jewel – THE BURGTHEATER – once more lived up to the Brechtian concept of an ideal Theater as an arena for Ideas. Let me confess that I am not innocent when it comes to this. Back in the sixties and seventies I was part of a team that was running THE THEATER FOR IDEAS in the West Village of Manhattan, and in the summers – out of a summer house I shared in East Hampton on Long Island, the State of New York. Shirley Broughton, a former dancer and Brechtian theater person, from the days Brecht exiled himself from Nazi Germany and was active in the US,
picked up the idea after Bertolt Brecht returned to East Berlin. With the help of some family foundations she established this institution that at its best was described as a play-ground for the cream of New York intelligentia. For the 1965-1966 season, THE THEATER FOR IDEAS was awarded an OBIE Special Citation “for encouraging exploration in dramatic literature and music and providing a forum for thought in the theater.” It is the 11 am Sunday debates at the Burgtheater that remind me now of those old days.

Under the general topic of DEBATING EUROPE – and under the leadership of the Editor of DER STANDARD – Alexandra Föderl-Schmid – and with support from the ERSTE FOUNDATION and the IWM (Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen – The Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna), The Burgtheater organized a debate on the topic “Wozu brauchen wir TTIP? – What for do we need TTIP? – “The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership” – a series of trade negotiations being carried out mostly in secret between the EU and US.

The Chair of the panel was Ms. Shalini Randeria, Rector of IWM in Vienna and Research Director and Professor of Social Anthropology and Sociology at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) in Geneva.

The Panel (in seating order) included Mr. Peter-Tobias Stall, professor of public international law at the Georg August University of Göttingen; Ms. Eva Dessewffy, lecturer at the Department of European Integration and Economy-Right at the Danube University in Krems, Austria and Consultant with the Labor-Unions Headquarter, Austria; Mr. Franz Schellhorn, Head of the liberal-economy think-tank Agenda Austria and previous Economy-Journalist for Die Presse; Mr. Lutz Guellner, a German, the new elected Head for Communication in the Trade Office of the European Commission, Brussels; Ms. Petra Pinzler, in September 2015 she published a volume on un-free-trade under the domination of big companies and government officials – “Der Unfreihandel. Die heimliche Herrschaft von Konzernen und Kanzleien” (Rowohlt) – a critical review of the European Trade policy with an analysis of the rights, democracy and economy aspects of the Free-Trade planned programs such as TTIP, CETA und TISA.

As we see – the panel was well balance and all points of view present – from the self justifying European Commission and the liberal economist to the strict guardians of labor rights and honest analysts of what it means for Europe to allow itself to be dominated by American business interests based in very different legislature then any of the EU member states. So, I see no sense in repeating here the arguments, and I will now rather point out why a deal between two un-equals is just not to the Europeans’ interest.


The two un-equals are a United States – united under the banner of pure capitalism that rejects the niceties of social and environmental aspects in running the economy. This American Democracy gives people the right to earn money with money. This naturally leads to concentration of wealth and to more power to the wealthy.


On the other hand, the European Democracy has evolved as a Social Democracy that uses taxes in order to provide services to the citizens. True, Europe is not as united as it ought to be and the individual states are pursuing the social democracy goals with different levels of enthusiasm. It is the old established democracies that are better off, and have thus more advanced social norms – with some of those that more recently freed themselves from totalitarian systems lagging behind and being more susceptible to US charms.


The European Commission as such, seemingly as well, has allowed itself to be dragged into secret negotiations with the US super-business and this seems completely unacceptable to the labor unions and the environmentalists that judge correctly the immense danger from losing protective laws – laws that protect the people and the environment from the power of immense money grab and loss of judicial cover.


The goal of an economy ought to be SUSTAINABILITY rather then GROWTH – the charms of FREE-TRADE can mean that a Country with lower protective legislation – or no protective legislation at all – can by overriding in name of agreed upon expediency – simply wipe away the protection that so painstakingly has been established in a more advanced social state, that night evaluate sustainability more then the immediate financial gain that destroys the environment, lowers quality of life, and is responsible for health problems.

To be sure – I do have a personal story on this. Back in the seventies, the US decided finally that the health problems created by combustion of lead-contained gasoline where not worth the profits of the petroleum refinery – and leaded gasoline was outlawed. So what? The company that produced the Tetra-Ethyl-Lead – the compound that was used by the refiners – created a daughter company in Canada, and under THE FREE TRADE NAFTA agreement moved to export this to California where the petroleum industry was happy to buy it from them. Under NAFTA they just tried to over-ride US law. And what do you know, the US government said they had no legal means to stop this. They cannot close the border to poison because that would unravel NAFTA. California had to pay off that company to get them to desist from exporting the stuff – plain extortion on an international level. A story that should be known to all those European TTIP dreamers. What made things worse was the fact that by then there was proposed an alternative to lead – low percentages of ethanol mixed to the gasoline did provide the octane boost need to replace the lead compound – but refiners did not want this solution.

The opposition to TTIP in Austria is clear in the unwillingness to accept transnational legal system that is intended to override the Austrian and European legislation. That is clear.

Austria is fighting genetic engineering technologies and requires clear information about content of food and other products – any decrease in this sort of safeguards imposed by someone with less stringent rules is unacceptable.

Social and ecological achievements by Austria and the EU cannot be rolled back for sake of profit – that is clear.

Most countries including the EU, the US, and Canada, have accepted the 8 minimum-agreed-norms of the ILO – such as the right to collective agreements – to unionize and have an agreement; no children’s work; no forced labor; non-discrimination of any kind. Above all – no secrecy allowed. Democracy is based on transparency.

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Hoping I will get another hint to something about Europe, I went to see the Burgtheater project “Hotel Europa oder Der Antichrist” (Hotel Europe or the Anti-Christ) fashioned freely after a novel written by Joseph Roth with further inputs from other pieces and correspondence.

Moses Joseph Roth (1894 in Brody, eastern Galicia, Austria-Hungary – died in 1939 in Paris exile having committed suicide with excess drinking) was an Austrian writer and journalist.

This piece deals with someone coming back after World War I to the gates of Europe. It is possible to see in this theater event the slide to World War II. The one point I found in the direction I was looking to is Roth’s equalizing Hollywood and Hitler. Could we say that I saw there the danger from an excess that dehumanizes us? Maybe.

Whatever – this was very good theater and the four actors looked like Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph dressed as Hotel bell-hops. I guess – a bow to Mr. Roth living in hotels in exile from his Austria.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 11th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

DIA-CORE project has the pleasure to announce the DIA-CORE Regional Workshop“Best Practice Policies To Finance Renewable Energy”, to be implemented on the 29th of January 2016, in Vilnius, Lithuania, hosted by Lithuanian Energy Institute (LEI).

Main aim of the DIA-CORE Regional Workshop is to present and analyze the current policy performance and financial conditions for RES investments, as well as renewable energy support schemes in the region.

To download Workshop’s Agenda and info:  diacore.eu/news-events/events/ite…

For more information about the workshop stay tuned at the event’s webpage!

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 11th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

In a letter to all IISD readers of the Clean Energy List, Ms. Victoria Healey, the Project Leader at US NREL writes:

A representative from the Clean Energy Solutions Center (Solutions Center), Ms. Victoria Healey, will attend the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) General Assembly and the World Future Energy Summit (WFES) during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, from January 16-21, 2016. Under the joint IRENA and Solutions Center Renewable Energy Policy Advice Network (REPAN), Ms. Healey will be available to meet individually with government representatives, government affiliated practitioners, and policymakers seeking clean energy policy, program, regulation, and finance technical assistance. The REPAN was established to help developing countries to design and adopt clean energy policies and programs that support the deployment of clean energy technologies, and to identify design, and implement finance instruments that mobilize private and public sector capital, and formulate clean energy investment strategies. This support is provided free of charge. To schedule an appointment, please contact Victoria Healey at  nrel.gov.


Consultations during the IRENA General Assembly will occur at the St. Regis Saadiyat Island in a location to be determined. During the WFES the 1-on-1 consultations will take place at the IRENA networking area located in the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.

About the Renewable Energy Policy Advice Network, the Clean Energy Finance Solutions Center, and the Clean Energy Solutions Center:

The Clean Energy Solutions Center and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) joined forces in 2013 to launch the Renewable Energy Policy Advice Network (REPAN)—a collaboration that leverages both organizations’ resources by coordinating a global network of experts and practitioners to help countries design and implement renewable energy policies and programs. To learn more visit cleanenergysolutions.org/expert/…

The Clean Energy Finance Solutions Center of NREL assists governments and practitioners with identifying appropriate finance mechanisms and designing and implementing policies to reduce risk and encourage private sector investment; helping to achieve the transition to clean energy at the speed and scale necessary to meet local development needs and address global challenges. The CEFSC is an expanded and dedicated resource that is part of the Clean Energy Solutions Center, a Clean Energy Ministerial initiative that helps governments design and adopt policies and programs that support deployment of clean energy technologies.

signed:
Victoria Healey,
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Project Leader for the Clean Energy Solutions Center

To learn more about how these initiatives can assist in meeting countries’ clean energy objectives, please visit cleanenergysolutions.org and finance.cleanenergysolutions.org…, and follow us on Facebook www.facebook.com/CleanEnergySolu… and Twitter twitter.com/Clean_Energy_SC

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 10th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

IRENA’s two added workshops during World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, UAE, that will be held January 16-21, 2016.

from: Virginia Yu

Sun, Jan 10, 2016 at 2:22 PM

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) announces two side events at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, UAE – 1) Global Atlas for Renewable Energy Workshop on Medium-term Strategy, 18 January, and 2) Solar Resource Assessment Workshop for Policy Makers, 19 January.

1) The Global Atlas for Renewable Energy Workshop on Medium-term Strategy will take place on 18th January, 2016 at ADNEC (Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre) – future home of World Fair 2020), Abu Dhabi. The purpose of this workshop is to gather information and ideas from stakeholders that can feed into IRENA’s development of the medium-term strategy (1-2 years) for the Global Atlas. Workshop participants will engage in a practical discussion around how the Global Atlas can help overcome barriers to renewable energy development, generate ideas for more effective communication on the Global Atlas, and investigate the needs and ideas of data providers.

To register, please send an email to  potentials at irena.org by 13th January. For further information on the event and location, please read the final event concept note and announcement. Please connect to:  www.irena.org
prior to the meeting.

2) The Solar Resource Assessment Workshop for Policy Makers, in collaboration with DLR will take place on 19th January, 2016 at IRENA Headquarters, Masdar City, Abu Dhabi.

With this training, IRENA gives an introduction of the capabilities of such tools and how they may be used to improve the design of policies for solar energy. To register, please send an email to  carsten.hoyer-klick at dlr.de. We would be grateful to receive your confirmation by 13th January. For further information on the event and location, please see the attached PDF.

IRENA Headquarters, Masdar City | P.O. Box 236 | Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates | Tel: +97124179988 | Mob: +971566161584 | www.irena.org

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Solar-Med-Atlas Workshop for Policy Makers.pdf 164K


Solar Resource Assessment for Policy Makers:


Date: Tuesday, January 19th, 2016, 10-16h Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Venue: IRENA Headquarters, Masdar City

Solar resource is “fuel” for solar energy technologies and the availability of accurate solar data is a key parameter in planning solar power systems. Solar resource assessment portals as the Solar-Med- Atlas and the IRENA Global Atlas have been developed to ease access to this data, to improve planning of policies and implementation of solar energy systems.
With this training we want to give you an introduction of the capabilities of such tools and how they may be used to improve the design of policies for solar energy.

Training Schedule 10:00h – 10:45h
10:45h – 12:15h
12:15h – 13:15h 13:15h – 14:15h
14:15h – 15:45h
15:45h – 16:00h

- Introduction and expectations of the participants
- Getting information from solar resource portals, hands on experience on using the Solar-Med-Atlas and the Global Atlas for Renewable Energies

Lunch Break

- Analysis of the data in Geographical information systems (demonstration) – Interpretation of results
What is a good nationwide solar resource assessment – requirements for a successful campaign.

- Conclusions and further questions. Short assessment of the Global Atlas

Please bring along your laptops, to be able to participate in the hands on exercises.
Please register your participation at:  carsten.hoyer-klick at dlr.de

Transportation: Shuttle bus will be provided from ADNEC at 9:15am going to IRENA HQ, then leaving again at 4:00 pm from IRENA HQ going to ADNEC

We thank IRENA for hosting the workshop in their headquarters.

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THE IRENA 6-TH ASSEMBLY IS SCHEDULED FOR JANUARY 16-17, 2016 AND WILL START ON JANUARY 16TH WITH A MINISTERIAL ROUNDTABLE TITLED: “AFTER COP 21 – CONCERTED ACTION TOWARDS RENEWABLE ENERGY DEPLOYMENT.”

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Posted in Abu Dhabi, Archives, Copenhagen COP15, Future Events, Futurism, Geneva, Germany, Nairobi, Paris, UAE, Vienna

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 29th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We note the complete daily “DER STANDARD” of Vienna and several serious articles in The Sunday New York Times.

“The negotiators gathering in Paris will not be discussing any plan that comes close to meeting their own stated goal of limiting the increase of global temperatures to a reasonably safe level.” AND WE SAY – THIS IS JUST FINE – this is the result of completely unrealizable goals the UN-speak fed us for all those years since 1992 Rio Conference on Sustainable Development.

Recommendation from scientists, made several years ago, talked of setting a cap on total greenhouse gases as a way to achieve the goal of limiting Climate Change to what they said was possibly an acceptable level, and then figure out how to allocate the emissions fairly. This simply was impossible as it required in UN fashion work by consensus – and your luck does not hold out an agreement of all UN membership to anything.

Now we have a situation of voluntary pledges that countries are making that in most nations came up as a compromise between the desire to be ambitious and the perceived cost and political difficulty of emissions cutbacks. AND THAT IS THE BEST WE CAN GET – SO THIS IS TREMENDOUS PROGRESS THAT BEATS NOTHING.

In 1992, more than 150 nations agreed at a meeting in Rio de Janeiro to take steps to stabilize greenhouse gases at a level that would “prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system” — United Nations-speak for global warming.

Innumerable follow-up meetings have been held since, with some 30,000 pe0ple spinning around the globe, with little to show for themselves. Emissions of greenhouse gases have steadily risen, as have atmospheric temperatures, while the consequences of unchecked warming — persistent droughts, melting glaciers and ice caps, dying corals, a slow but inexorable sea level rise — have become ever more pronounced.

On Monday, in Paris, the signatories to the Rio treaty (now 196), will try once again to fashion an international climate change agreement that might actually slow, then reduce, emissions and prevent the world from tipping over into full-scale catastrophe late in this century. As with other climate meetings, notably Kyoto in 1997 and Copenhagen in 2009, Paris is being advertised as a watershed event — “our last hope,” in the words of Fatih Birol, the new director of the International Energy Agency. As President François Hollande of France put it recently, “We are duty-bound to succeed.”

Paris will almost certainly not produce an ironclad, planet-saving agreement. But it could succeed in an important way that earlier meetings have not — by fostering collective responsibility, a strong sense among countries large and small, rich and poor, that all must play a part in finding a global solution to a global problem.

Kyoto failed because it imposed emissions reduction targets only on developed countries, giving developing nations like China, India and Brazil a free pass. Kyoto was actually a fraud imposed on us by Al Gore who got the Nobel prize for his showings. As a former member of the Senate – knew it was doomed in the United States Senate. Copenhagen attracted wider participation, but it broke up in disarray, in part because of continuing frictions with the developing countries.

The organizers of the Paris conference have learned a lot from past mistakes. Instead of pursuing a top-down agreement with mandated targets, they have asked every country to submit a national voluntary plan that lays out how and by how much they plan to reduce emissions in the years ahead. So far, more than 170 countries, accounting for over 90 percent of global greenhouse emissions, have submitted pledges, and more may emerge in Paris.

But UN-speak that confounds wishful thinking with reality – as we observed this last Monday at a debate following the showing of a documentary “Ice & Sky” that was provided by the French Mission to the UN in Vienna – had even an Austrian delegate to the Paris 2015 Conference talk about the upcoming “Paris Agreement.” And when I objected saying that we must learn to accept the fact that there will be no agreed outcome – but rather a collection of country declarations – I felt once more like an intruder to this pie-in-the-sky refusal to project honest thinking by those accustomed to spin the globe on clouds.

The true realists are Bill McKibben and his 350.org folks who, like Patrick Sciarratta’s Civil Society that with some help from UN Member States – show us that what works is the impact of ordinary people on their governments – be this in the US or China – and then those governments are moved to make pledges. It would have been the impact of a demonstration in Paris like the 400.000 people that showed up in New York September 22, 2014, that could have moved some heads of State. This was reduced to the much smaller last minute events held today in many cities of the world. That large event in Paris was cancelled because of the act of terrorism pf Friday the 13th. But let me in this respect throw in here one last remark that surely will get some to say that I am nuts. So what – UN folks are saying this about me for lesser reasons. I want to mention that the bands presenting themselves as Islamic State were in effect funded by Saudi oil money, like the Taliban and the Al Qaeda before them. Why not believe that it was not Satanism that propelled them (Friday the 13th) but rather an effort to help their bosses in Riyadh. After all – Climate Change came about because of excessive use of cheap oil – and oil sellers do not want to lose their market.

Also, today I sat for three hours at a meeting at the Economy University of Vienna with Professor Joseph E. Stiglitz of New York.
He just released two books: “The Great Divide” and “Re-Writing The Rules of the American Economy.” These ought to be assigned reading for anyone assuming he is part of a Think Tank.

The New York Times editorial concludes with “The test of success for this much-anticipated summit meeting is whether it produces not only stronger commitments but also a shared sense of urgency at all levels to meet them.”

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

The night of November 27, 2015 at the venerable Wiener Koncerthaus – the Mecca for Music of the Austrian Empire.
I got home after mid-night from this great celebration of life in Paris – the city that lives best at night.

Valerie Sajdik was born in Vienna April 2, 1978 to the family of a great Austrian diplomat. Her birth was not an April joke but she started her early education in Moscow in the Soviet days – then Ambassadorships to China, Mongolia, North Korea, Paris, and New York – and the education created a multi lingual – multi cultural – young woman who eventually fell for Paris.

In 2008 young Valerie opened her Valerie’s Salon at the Fledermaus Cabaret in Vienna. In November 2013 she produces “Les Nuits Blanche” about her memories of Russia and since she resides in Paris. She takes her large world by storm.

Ambassador Martin Sajdik since beginning of 2012 becomes Austria’s Representative to the UN – a job he held till June 2015, and upon retirement does not choose to stay in New York in some position UN related. He prefers to return to Vienna and becomes the OSZE Special Representative for the Ukraine. I remember him since I met him when he just arrived to New York. He seemed not to have illusions about his new post.

Ambassador Sajdik just missed Austria’s membership of the UN Security Council 2009-2010, but was there at the time of the preparation of the SDGs and the UN material for Paris2015 and COP 21 of the UNFCCC, though he will not be next week at the actual deliberations in Paris. The family is thus very aware of the process, and Valerie was now thrown into the hopper of consequences.
Her celebration of Paris was prepared well in advance – but reality picked up on her and last night measured up with this reality very well. Without changing a thing in the long prepared program, she harvested a few more French artists that became available because of the events – without their names appearing in the originally printed program – she just wove them into that program – be this a Jaques Brel kind of singer or a tap dancing lady that is also a great hand clapper – them and their pianist. They did fit magically in with her two accompanying ladies, the lady accordionist and the lady violinist, who together with her band are now her music group. It all sounded like a bunch of Parisian friends celebrating life – in that city that never sleeps.

So why did those acts of terror happen in Paris that prepared itself for the great event that was billed as the last chance to save the future of the Planet? Yes – we have opinions on that – but here is not the place to put them before you. Tonight is the time just to celebrate the city that will not be put down. Vive Paris – Vive la Liberte and to hell with those that tried to harm this city in order to get to those that try to save the planet.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 28th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

AG Globale Verantwortung, Dreikönigsaktion, IUFE, KOO, Paulo Freire Zentrum.

Die Transformation unserer Welt? Die Umsetzung der UN-Ziele für Nachhaltige Entwicklung in Österreich und Europa

29.10.2015, 19 Uhr, VHS Urania, Dachgeschoß, Uraniastraße 1, 1010 Wien

Anmeldung unter: www.pfz.at/article1780.htm

Details  www.globaleverantwortung.at/start…)

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 25th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The movie was shown this weekend twice (23rd and 25th of October) to sold out audiences at Vienna’s Film Festival – the Viennale. Another Israeli movie- maker plaid it safer – he showed killings in Indonesia. In an interview with the “Wienner Zeitung” – Gitai said that he does not want to end up the same way as Rabin.

The problem is that in the Middle East there seems to be a practical alliance between those that do not want peace. Be those extremist Palestinians or extremist Jews.

The movie includes that stairway scene where Rabin was supposed to pass to the car waiting for him after he spoke at the peace rally. The media film showed in real time the killer coming towards him and shooting.

Every action and every word uttered in the film to be released is what really happened and what was said. Gitai says he checked everything for at least two sources. The film is therefore freitening in its truth that extends to today’s situation in the Middle East.

Let me mention here that Vienna these days is also the locus where the situation in Syria is openly on the operational table and not much hope is there either. The Austrians, after years of denial to themselves – are now clearly embracing the guilt of the Holocaust and this puts them in a situation that they will not be themselves if rejecting true refugees that escape the Middle East mayhem. All this points at this movie becoming a true document
and those in Israel that hatted Rabin for his attempt to lead to peace, can be counted on hating this retelling of their deeds.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 17th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The movie starts in 1956 – in those past World War II days – in the 1950s and 1960s when technology advances that occurred during the war years were turned to other uses and peace was predicted as coming with a United Nations Organization.

The hero of the movie turned to exploration of the Antarctica. The poles were rather unknown areas and maping out the Antarctic continent was a clear target – so was starting scientific work at the poles using vehicles and ships derived from the war effort and a newly freed sense of adventurism. The movie does not try to depict history – it rather goes the route of explaining the drive to understand our planet by going to areas unknown.

At the Arctic Circle Assembly we keep being told that what happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic – thus by understanding processes of the Arctic and of the Antarctica, does help us understand what happens in our own parts of the world and this year it is President Hollande who undertook to help us manage our own world by hosting the PARIS2015 Conference whose symbol is in the shape of a falling drop of water of green and yellow sun color with the ubiquitous Eiffel tower in the center.

Luc Jacquet the originator of the movie, at hand for the showing, as part of the French delegation to the Arctic Circle Assembly, did stress that it is only 60 years since we turned from exploration to the clear need of management of the poles.

President Hollande said that thinking that the disappearance of Arctic ice makes it easier to reach out for the minerals, oil and gas, that are now under the ice cover, is a benefit to us is something positive is untrue – this because economics cannot be based on environmental disasters.

THe run-up to the Paris2015 meeting has already produced over 150 single country commitments for action – this is 150 out of the 193 member states of the UN, but as we know this covers already 85% of the fossil carbon emissions. Hollande did not call for a 100% coverage but seems to be content to go ahead and work with the committed and get them to improve their commitments so we can reach the goal of a global warming that is not higher then 2 degrees Celsius – a goal we are still from ith the present commitments. Ms. Christiana Figueres t, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) hat was supposed to be in Reykjavik as well, did not come. We would have liked to hear from her further details about the 150 plus that did make those commitments so far – and what is even more interesting – who are those 40 members of the UN that made no commitments yet. Are they indeed part of our planet?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 21st, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

UN Watch Briefing
Latest from the United Nations —- Vol. 549 | September 20, 2015


BREAKING NEWS: EXPOSED BY UN WATCH

Again: Saudis Elected Chair of UN Human Rights Council Panel.

GENEVA, September 20, 2015 – U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power and EU foreign minister Federica Mogherini should condemn and work to reverse the appointment of Saudi Arabia as chair of a key UN Human Rights Council panel, with the power to select top officials who shape international human rights standards and report on violations worldwide, said UN Watch, a non-governmental human rights organization based in Geneva.


“It’s scandalous that the UN chose a country that has beheaded more people this year than ISIS to be head of a key human rights panel,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer. “Petro-dollars and politics have trumped human rights.”


“Saudi Arabia has arguably the worst record in the world when it comes to religious freedom and women’s rights, and continues to imprison the innocent blogger Raif Badawi,” Neuer added.

“This UN appointment is like making a pyromaniac into the town fire chief, and underscores the credibility deficit of a human rights council that already counts Russia, Cuba, China, Qatar and Venezuela among its elected members.”

According to UNHRC documents obtained by UN Watch, Saudi Arabia was chosen to head a 5-member group of ambassadors, known as the Consultative Group, which has the power to select applicants from around the world for more than 77 positions dealing with country-specific and thematic human rights mandates.

“The UN often describes these experts as the ‘crown jewels’ of its Human Rights Council, yet the world body only undermines their legitimacy by picking a fundamentalist theocracy that oppresses women and minorities to preside over the experts’ appointment.”

Saudi Arabia Re-elected to Key Panel: A UN report dated September 17th reports that Faisal Trad, Saudi Arabia’s envoy to the UNHRC, was selected to chair the panel for appointments to be made in the current 30th session of the council, which opened on Monday and will last for another two weeks. The Saudi ambassador was first elected to the post ahead of the recent June 2015 session, yet Geneva diplomats chose to keep silent and that initial election went unreported until now.

Deal for Dropping Saudi Presidency Bid?

Neuer expressed concern that the Saudis may have been handed the position in a backroom deal, in exchange for dropping the regime’s controversial bid to become president of the entire 47-nation council. “I urge Ambassador Power and High Commissioner Mogherini to confirm that this is not the case,” he said.

Riyadh pulled out from seeking the council presidency in June following UN Watch’s protest campaign, covered in newspapers worldwide.


U.S. & EU Were Silent When Saudi Arabia Was Elected to UNHRC in 2013: “We cannot forget that the U.S. and the EU refused to utter a word of protest when we urged them, together with Saudi dissidents, to oppose the monarchy’s election in 2013. It’s a sad comment on our world that oil continues to trump basic human rights principles.”

“It’s bad enough that Saudi Arabia is a member of the council, but for the UN to go and name the regime as chair of a key panel only pours salt in the wounds for dissidents languishing in Saudi prisons, like human rights activist Raif Badawi.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 18th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From: Seth M. Siegel <seth@sethmsiegel.com>
Sent: Thu, Sep 17, 2015 3:30 pm
Subject: A Milestone in My Life

Earlier this week, my book Let There Be Water: Israel’s Solution for a Water-Starved World was released. Thanks to significant pre-sales and a smart sales executive at my publisher, Barnes & Noble agreed to put the book on the New Non-Fiction table found at the entrance to all of the bookseller’s stores. Walking in and seeing the stack of books was a remarkable experience, a milestone. (See photo.)
Let There Be Water is, I believe, an inspiring book, and I hope many more readers find their way to it. Not only does every concerned citizen need to learn about the coming water crisis. As Israel has shown, we also need to know that concerted action can lead to great outcomes. It is what binds society together. At a time of cynicism and distrust of government, the renewal of our water systems can be a vehicle for renewing trust and faith in our institutional ability to take on a major task and get something important done.
Aside from the already great joy this project has brought me, if Let There Be Water plays some role in getting people to think about water policy and, from that, changes in how we manage our water occurs, I could have no greater reward for my efforts.
Seth M. Siegel

PRAISE FOR LET THERE BE WATER: Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Prime Minister of Uganda Ruhakana Rugunda, Edito-in-Chieg Arianna Huffington, co-author of Start-UP Nation Dan Senior and former US Diplomat.

THE SEPTEMBER 9th POSTING:


From Africa to China, How Israel Helps Quench the Developing World’s Thirst: The untold story of Israeli hydrodiplomacy, from the 1950s until now.

by: Seth M. Siegel, Sept. 9 2015

Seth M. Siegel is an entrepreneur, writer, and lawyer in New York.


In November 1898, Theodor Herzl arranged a meeting with the German emperor, Wilhelm II, to obtain help in creating a Jewish state in the land of Israel. In their conversation, the Kaiser praised the work of the Zionist pioneers, telling Herzl that, above all else, “water and shade trees” would restore the land to its ancient glory. Four years later, Herzl had a lead character in his political tract-cum-novel Altneuland (“Old-New Land”) say of Jewish settlement in Palestine: “This country needs nothing but water and shade to have a great future.” Another character predicts that the water engineers of the Jewish homeland will be its heroes.

Utopian novels set the bar high, and Altneuland is nothing if not a utopian novel. Yet even before statehood, Zionists made remarkable strides in putting the land’s limited water resources to good use. They drained swamps, drilled wells, and developed irrigation systems. By the 1960s, Israel had developed a nationwide system of underground pipes to transport water from the relatively water-rich north to the Negev desert in the south. Israeli engineers also developed the system known as drip irrigation, which simultaneously conserves water and increases crop yields. Later, Israel would pioneer desalination technology. Combining scientific advances with efficient management, the Jewish state is now in no danger of running out of water. In fact, it provides large amounts from its own supplies to the West Bank, Gaza, and Jordan, while each year exporting billions of dollars’ worth of peppers, tomatoes, melons, and other water-intensive produce.

Herzl imagined something else, too, in Altneuland. Following the establishment of a Jewish national home, his protagonist announces, Jews will need to come to the aid of the suffering people of Africa, whose “problem, in all its horror, . . . only a Jew can fathom.” Israel’s founding generation took this admonition to heart. In 1958, Golda Meir, then Israel’s foreign minister, created a department whose mission was to help developing countries—particularly in Africa—overcome problems of water, irrigation, agriculture, education, and women’s status. The department, whose name translates loosely as loosely Center for International Cooperation, was known by the Hebrew acronym Mashav.

In its early years, the Mashav initiative was warmly embraced by African states as well as countries in Asia and South America. When she became Israel’s prime minister in 1969, Meir saw to it that the African program continued to get the support it needed. But then came the 1973 Yom Kippur war, in the aftermath of which, at the urging of the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, every sub-Saharan nation broke diplomatic relations with Israel and expelled the Mashav specialists. Traumatic as it was for Meir—she “had been messianic about her African program,” writes Yehuda Avner in The Prime Ministers—it was a much greater misfortune for the many Africans who had benefited from the now abruptly terminated programs.

In the 1980s, some African countries expressed interest in renewing ties. Ethiopia restored relations in 1989, and the rest of sub-Saharan Africa followed suit in 1993 with the signing of the first Oslo agreement. Today, Israel provides training in water management, irrigation, and other areas for specialists from more than 100 countries, 29 of them in Africa.


Moreover, Israeli water innovation for the developing world is no longer only the province of government.
Consider, for example, Sivan Yaari: a diminutive thirty-something whose NGO utilizes solar power and Israeli technology to help bring clean water and electric power to people living in small and often remote African villages. Born in Israel, raised in France, and educated in the U.S., Yaari spent a summer working for the UN in isolated parts of Senegal, where water pumps were either broken or in disuse because villagers had no money for the fuel needed to run them. “They ended up digging bore holes a few kilometers away,” Yaari says, “to get filthy water they had to carry back to their villages.”

Her answer was Innovation: Africa (in shorthand, i:A), an organization that installs not only water pumps but similarly solar-powered electricity for light bulbs and vaccine refrigerators in medical clinics. It now runs water projects in seven African countries, and Yaari has plans for expansion. “It turns out,” she explains, that

there is a lot of underground water in Africa. You just have to know where to look for it. The bigger problem facing African water-assistance programs is that as soon as the aid professionals leave the villages, the systems begin to break down and the people are no better off than before.

To overcome this, Innovation: Africa has created a system that seems impervious to breakdown, vandalism, or theft—and that can be run remotely from Israel. The concept is deceptively simple. Once a source of potable underground water is located, a rented diesel-powered drill is brought in to reach it, a water pump is inserted into the shaft, properly sized solar panels are installed and connected, and water is drawn out and deposited into an adjacent water tower, from where gravity propels it to destinations all around the village. In addition, the waterlines are connected to a drip-irrigation system installed alongside the solar panels, enabling the villagers to plant seeds and harvest the produce.

Thousands of miles away, in Tel Aviv, i:A’s technology chief Meir Yaacoby has created a device to monitor and manage each African water system from the office. By means of whatever wireless service is available locally (Yaari: “They may not have shoes, but the adults have cell phones”), frequent messages keep Yaacoby updated with key information on, among other things, the quantity of water in the tower and any problems with the equipment. He also receives a constant Internet feed on local weather conditions. If it the outlook is for hotter weather than usual, or if a cloudy spell threatens to block solar rays, he can pump more water into the tower as a precaution; if rain is in the offing, he can stop and restart drip irrigation as needed by a particular crop at any given stage in its growing cycle. If the system itself develops a mechanical problem, he is apprised within minutes and can send detailed information for repairing it to a local engineer. Every part of the system can also be automated, making it infinitely scalable.

These drip-irrigation systems are having another, unexpected effect. Yaari cites a village in Uganda as a representative case study. Beyond providing more food for the village and relief from hunger, the system has enabled the villagers to sell their surplus at the market. “With the extra money, they’ve bought chickens and developed a poultry farm,” she reports. In addition, “Once you begin providing water, the children aren’t filling jerry cans with muddy water and they can wash. They also stay healthy; a large number of the children had been getting sick from drinking unclean water.” And there are still other benefits: “The children, especially the girls, had been walking two to three hours a day fetching water,” she says. “They would come back exhausted and filthy. Now, with water being pumped, they can go to school.”


If the animating humanitarian spirit of Mashav is alive and flourishing in 2015, bringing sustenance to destitute and water-deprived people around the world, Israel has also used its water knowhow to improve its commercial prospects and ameliorate its diplomatic isolation. To date, more than 150 countries have welcomed Israeli assistance or technology in addressing their water problems. One notable one is China.

Despite the country’s enormous natural resources, the PRC has long been plagued with water problems. Many farming regions are inefficient and wasteful when it comes to water usage; infrastructure is overburdened and superannuated, losing enormous amounts in leaks; sewage treatment is often inadequate; and lax enforcement of environmental laws has led to the severe deterioration of many sources of freshwater.

In the early 1980s, having previously rebuffed decades of diplomatic overtures from Israel, the PRC permitted teams of Israeli water engineers to come—secretly—to survey collective farms in the southern province of Guangxi. The engineers recommended the use of drip irrigation, as well as Israeli seeds that would be better suited to the soil and climate. The Chinese agreed, but demanded that any markings suggestive of Israeli origin be removed from the equipment and seed packaging. Three years later, again in secret, a team of Israeli hydrologists and geologists was invited to help develop an irrigation plan for the semiarid Wuwei district south of the Gobi desert. In time, creeping closer to recognition, the Chinese proposed that Israel send an irrigation and water-utilization expert to Beijing and in return they would send a tourism specialist to Israel.


From these highly guarded beginnings, formal diplomatic ties were finally established in 1992. When, twenty years later, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Beijing to meet with his counterpart Li Keqiang, water management was still high on the Chinese agenda, but now openly so. To Netanyahu’s proposal that, as a pilot project, an Israeli consortium be engaged to redo the entire water infrastructure of a small Chinese city, Li replied by designating one of his ministers to assist in picking the city. A little over a year later, a joint Israeli-Chinese committee announced the selection of Shouguang, a city of slightly more than one million people—small, by Chinese standards—as the test site.

“I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves,” said one senior Israeli official, “but if we perform well here, we will have the opportunity to help rebuild the water systems of cities all over China.” Whatever one’s view of Communist China’s domestic behavior or global ambitions, the potential economic benefits to Israel of such an enterprise are undeniable—to say nothing of the independent moral value of significantly improving the living conditions of millions of ordinary Chinese citizens.

This essay is adapted from Let There Be Water: Israel’s Solution for a Water-Starved World by Seth M. Siegel, to be published next week by Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press. Copyright © 2015 by the author.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 7th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Fwd: Invitation to join the SDG Symposium on ‘Evaluating the Sustainable Development Goals – New Challenges for Research, Policy and Business’ on 28 October 2015

From: Jingchao zhou of the Society for International Development (SID), Vienna, Austria.

The Institute for Managing Sustainability was originally founded by S.I.D. vice-president Uwe Schubert
>
> ———- Forwarded message ———-
> From: Institute for Managing Sustainability <sustainability@sustainability.eu>
> Date: Fri, Sep 4, 2015 at 10:32 AM

> Subject: Invitation to join the SDG Symposium on ‘Evaluating the Sustainable Development Goals – New Challenges for Research, Policy and Business’ on 28 October 2015 at the University of Economics and Business (Wirtschaftsuniversitaet) Institute for Managinng Sustainability.
>
>
> Invitation to join the SDG Symposium on Evaluating the Sustainable Development Goals – New Challenges for Research, Policy and Business
>

> Organised by the WU Institute for Managing Sustainability at Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU) in collaboration with the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) and the European Evaluation Society (EES)
>
> Date: 28 October 2015


> Location: Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU), Welthandelsplatz 1, 1020 Vienna, Austria

> Registration: Please visit their website to register for the event and find out more about updates on the programme and speakers
>
> The WU Institute for Managing Sustainability at Vienna University of Economics and Business in collaboration with the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) and the European Evaluation Society (EES) is pleased to invite you to a symposium on “Evaluating the Sustainable Development Goals – New Challenges for Research, Policy and Business”.

>
> With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the United Nations in September 2015, a new set of objectives for global sustainable development will guide the global development agenda. The SDGs provide a comprehensive approach, ensuring a high level of ambition for achieving results, involving development agencies and governments, international organisations, civil society and business.

>
> Coinciding with 2015 as the International Year of Evaluation and the European Year of Development the symposium aims to be a forum for discussion on the implications of the SDGs for the impact evaluation of policies, programmes and projects across sectors.
>
> The symposium will address the central question of how the SDGs may inform research and practice in evaluation. We cordially invite you to join the symposium and

>
> Find out more about the contribution of evaluation, research and practice to the effective implementation and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals
> Discuss the implications of the new international development agenda on evaluation research and practice across sectors (policy, civil society, business, academia)
> Engage in a dialogue with key actors and experts from research, business, policy, international organizations and civil society
>
> Watch the conference website for updates on the programme, speakers and registration.

>
>
> André Martinuzzi
> Institute for Managing Sustainability, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business,
> email:  andre.martinuzzi at wu.ac.at
>
> Patricia Schindler
> Institute for Managing Sustainability, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business,
> email:  patricia.schindler at wu.ac.at
>
> Norma Schönherr
> Institute for Managing Sustainability, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business,
> email:  norma.schoenherr at wu.ac.at
>
>
> This newsflash is being published by
>
> Institute for Managing Sustainability
> Vienna University of Economics and Business
> Welthandelsplatz 1, A-1020 Vienna, Austria
>
> phone: +43-1-31336-4698
> fax: +43-1-31336-90-4698
> www: ” title=”http://www.sustainability.eu” target=”_blank”>, Vienna

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 5th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

China-US / Politics, September 5-6, 2015
ON THE ROAD TO PARIS 2015.
Updated: 2015-09-05 02:54
By Amy He(China Daily USA)
Contact the writer at  amyhe at chinadailyusa.com
 usa.chinadaily.com.cn/us/2015-09/…

People attended the UN Climate Change COP20 in Lima in December 2014.
France will host this year’s conference, COP 21, also known as “Paris 2015”, from Nov 30 to Dec 11.

COP21 will seek to achieve a new international agreement on the climate, applicable to all countries, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°Celsius.


Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to the United States this month is expected to include further talks with US President Barack Obama on climate change as the world’s two biggest polluting countries prepare for a UN-led conference in Paris in December to reach a global climate agreement, AMY HE reports from New York.


Supporters of the deal called it a “game-changer”, “this century’s most significant agreement”.
The news headlines called it “historic” and “ambitious”.

And the opposition, mainly Republicans in the US Congress, labeled it “terrible”, said it “changes nothing” and was a “waste of time.”

But everyone was in agreement on one word: “unexpected”. The agreement announced on Nov 11, 2014, in Beijing by US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping to cut greenhouse emissions surprised the world.

Worked out after months of quiet negotiations and a letter from Obama to Xi proposing a joint approach, the agreement called for the United States to cut its 2005 level of carbon emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent before 2025. China would peak its carbon emissions by 2030, and will also aim to get 20 percent of its energy from zero-carbon emission sources by the same year.

The agreement amounted to an announcement to the world and to the nearly 200 other countries that will meet in Paris at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in December: The world’s two biggest polluters were committed to climate change.

All countries attending the talks are to present to the UN their own plans for curbing greenhouse-gas emissions. The goal is to put the world on track to cap global average temperatures at no more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.

Though congressional approval is not needed for the Obama-Xi agreement, when it was announced, congressional Republicans criticized the deal and Democrats praised it.

Republican Senator James M. Inhofe, a leading global warming skeptic, called the pledges by Obama and Xi “hollow and not believable”.

Governor Jerry Brown of California, a Democrat, took aim at critics of efforts to reach climate-change agreements, saying at a climate summit in Toronto in July: “There are a lot of people out there who don’t get it. They’re asleep. They’re on the Titanic, and they’re drinking champagne, and they’re about to crash.”

THE US PLAN:

At the end of March, the US submitted its plan to the United Nations to combat climate change. The US repeated its goal to cut emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels, making best efforts to achieve 28 percent cuts by 2025.

It committed the country to doubling the pace of carbon pollution reduction from 1.2 percent a year on average between 2005 to 2020 to 2.3 to 2.8 percent between 2020 and 2025.

“This ambitious target is grounded in intensive analysis of cost-effective carbon pollution reductions achievable under existing law and will keep the United States on the pathway to achieve deep economy-wide reductions of 80 percent or more by 2050,” it said in a release about the plan.

The World Resources Institute praised the US plan, saying that it shows that the country is ready to lead on the climate and through its proposed steps will be able to save money and grow its economy.

“This is a serious and achievable commitment. WRI research finds that under its existing federal authority, the United States can reach its proposed target to cut emissions 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025,” said Jennifer Morgan, global director of the climate program at WRI.


THE CHINA PLAN:

On June 30, China submitted its climate change goals to the UN, setting a new, loftier goal for energy efficiency.

The plan said that by 2030, the carbon intensity of China’s economy would fall by 60 to 65 percent compared with 2005. It previously had said 40 to 45 percent by 2020. And it said it would increase its share of non-fossil fuel in energy consumption to about 20 percent, and increase forest stock volume by 4.5 billion cubic meters compared to 2005 levels. “A one-thousand-mile journey starts from the first step,” China said in its INDC (intended nationally determined contributions).

Environmental advocates welcomed the development as the latest sign of China’s determination to clean up its energy sector, backing away from coal and favoring wind and solar power.

“China is largely motivated by its strong national interests to tackle persistent air pollution problems, limit climate impacts and expand its renewable energy job force,” said Jennifer Morgan of the World Resources Institute.

The Obama administration praised China’s plan, saying it “helps to provide continued momentum” toward reaching a climate agreement in December.

And on Aug 28, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon lauded China’s efforts to address climate problems.

“China has already taken a hugely important global championing leadership,” he said. “Together with the United States last year, it has [made] a historic, huge impact-giving statement,” he said in a meeting with Chinese media representatives at UN headquarters.

Climate change experts interviewed by China Daily said that China’s climate goals are realistic and achievable, and said its plan was a significant step for the country and for the Paris climate negotiations.

Solidifying their goal to peak emissions is an “extremely constructive step,” said Joanna Lewis, associate professor of science and technology at Georgetown University. “I think the pledges they reported are all aggressive and will be challenging to meet each in their own way.”

Shuiyan Tang, professor of public administration at the University of Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy, said, “In a way, you might say that China has a stronger national consensus about environmental protection — and even carbon emission — than in the US.

“In the US, there are a lot of conservative Republicans who almost wouldn’t even want to admit climate change,” Tang said. “So in this sense, China is stronger in terms of coming to a national consensus.”

The Paris discussions will be particularly important because it will be the first time in 20 years that all the nations in the world will strive to reach a universal agreement on post-2020 climate action.

Leading up to the Paris talks are many other meetings that will include discussions between heads of state and finance ministers. The most prominent one will be this month when heads of state attend the UN’s General Assembly meeting where climate change will be on the agenda. Xi will be attending that meeting as part of his official state visit to the US.

POLITICAL CONSENSUS:

“I think the aim of the New York summit is not to get detailed actions from each country, but more to just secure a strong political consensus (from them),” said Haibing Ma, China program manager at the Worldwatch Institute.

“It’s to further build up the momentum to the Paris agreement at the end of the year — it’s not to negotiate. They come here as a symbol and show the world they have this strong commitment and strong willingness to limit carbon emissions in the future. I think it’s more like a universal political gesture than a detailed action plan,” he said.

“Any conversations which can take place in advance of the actual talks is extremely constructive, so that we can avoid any misunderstandings along the lines of what we may have experienced in Copenhagen,” she said. Lewis is referring to the climate talks in 2005 in the European city that failed to yield more than two pages of the Copenhagen Accord, where nations agreed to discuss climate again in the future and to reach a decision then.

“My understanding is President François Hollande and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will be holding a lunch or dinner with some of the leaders to talk about climate, but I don’t think anyone expects breakthroughs in New York in September on these issues,” Meyer said.

“But because you have so many of these leaders in one place at one time, there’s an opportunity for a lot of bilateral conversations between leaders that can help increase understanding. You’re more likely to get signals coming out of the finance ministers in October or the G20 meeting in November, or some of the gatherings after New York, than you are at the General Assembly,” he added.


INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATION:


During the Paris talks, the experts expect that each country will lay out a detailed climate plan and an estimation of collective global efforts. Worldwatch Institute’s Ma said that more information is expected on the measurement, reporting and verification systems, which are systems that countries have in place to monitor and collect data on carbon emissions.

In addition, further talks are expected on the Green Climate Fund (GFC), a fund within the UNFCCC that collects and distributes money from developed economies to aid in climate efforts of developing economies.

“Among the climate community here, we’re expecting strong progress on the finance side. We expect the Green Climate Fund to be fully operational with a large chunk of money that will be ready to be directed to countries that most need it. We expect to see a clearer text within the agreement on how the developing countries should be supported from the international community,” Ma said.

The Green Climate Fund, which has headquarters in Incheon, South Korea, was established in 2010, with developed countries pledging to raise $100 billion every year by 2020 to help developing countries tackle climate change problems.

Some developing economies, like India, have said that they do not believe the current amounts being generated for the fund are enough to fight climate change.

The US has pledged it will contribute $3 billion to the fund, and 10 other countries have pledged $3 billion toward the fund as well. The fund is expected to be up and running before the Paris talks, according to Ban.

“I think it’s too early to say for sure what will be achieved in Paris, but now that most of the major economies have either already put forth their INDCs or signaled that they’re on the way, that we’re moving in the right direction,” said Georgetown’s Lewis.

Though China’s INDC proposal has been well-received, experts agree that there are challenges ahead.

China said it would peak emissions but did not provide an absolute cap, and instead said it will aim to reduce carbon emission per unit of GDP, meaning that the amount of emissions will fluctuate depending on the economy’s growth.

“From a global carbon budget perspective, it’s hard to know how to score China’s commitment on that front, because you don’t know how the economy is going to perform over the next 15 years. You can make assumptions based on current projected growth rates, but of course there’s no guarantee that those won’t be higher or lower,” Meyer said.

Price’s Tang said that it “makes sense” for a country of China’s size to not focus on absolute total reduction. “You don’t want to impose an absolute amount of reduction — that is not viable, because China simply cannot do that,” he said.

The country said in its INDC that by 2014, carbon emissions per unit of GDP have already been lowered by 33.8 percent compared to 2005 levels.


US STANDARD:


The US, on the other hand, has proposed absolute reduction in its INDC by 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

“This is easier for the US to do, because it’s expecting maybe 2 or 3 percent GDP growth for whatever foreseeable future. For them, you’re not talking about a big increase in the total economy, year after year, so it’s easier for them to pledge to achieve total reduction. As long as you increase efficiency for each GDP output unit, you can easily achieve absolute reduction,” Tang said.

Another obstacle that the Chinese government may face is in the enforcement of climate change-related regulation, which is currently set out by the central government but is enforced at the provincial and city levels. Officials who often have to hit economic growth targets as well as environmental ones sometimes prioritize over climate-related ones.

“The most difficult types of regulatory enforcement are really those that are really local in nature. So one example is water pollution. That’s very difficult for the national government to deal with because a lot of it is really local. If you have one really bad factory in the local river system that is polluting everything, then it’s very difficult for Beijing to do anything.

In China, whatever agreements the national government has, at the end of the day, implementation is going to be at the provincial, county, city level,” said Tang, who studies Chinese governance.


Clayton Munnings, research associate at Resources for the Future, said that China’s challenge lies not necessarily in creating policies that will help it peak emissions, but ensuring effective implementation and coordination of policies already in place.

“Seven regions in China now operate cap and trade pilots with the intention of informing the design of a national cap and trade program, slated to launch in 2016,” he told China Daily.

“While local policymakers have done an impressive job in designing and implementing these regional cap and trade markets in a remarkably short amount of time, the pilots risk overallocation of allowances, suffer from low liquidity and have faced difficulties in ensuring compliance.”

A national cap and trade program — a market-based approach used to give economic incentives to those who achieve pollutant reductions — is needed at the national level, Munnings said. Price’s Tang agreed that many of China’s climate policies need to be enforced at the national level, but the nature of the governing system makes that difficult.

“It’s part of the Chinese governance system. China’s system works where one level pushes another level — ultimately it’s not just environmental protection, it’s almost any policy area, it’s the nature of the system where the central government makes policy, sets up targets, and relies on provincial, city and county township governments to do the job,” he said.

Climate experts said that Xi’s state visit to the US will signal US and China’s further bilateral cooperation. It will be another chance for the two presidents to touch base heading into Paris and talk about how the two largest economies and two largest emitters can continue to play a leadership role “as two of the most pivotal countries” making sure that the Paris talks reach a constructive outcome, Georgetown’s Lewis said.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 5th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Dr Kandeh K. Yumkella – since 2013 – is Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Chief Executive for the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative (SE4All). In this position, he tried to mobilize action toward a sustainable energy future and accelerate the implementation of the Secretary-General’s initiative as well as engaging with the leadership of relevant stakeholders in government, businesses, academia and civil society at the highest level – to advocate for and promote sustainable energy for all.

He is a former Chairman of UN-Energy and a two-term former Director-General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

In June 2009, Yumkella was appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to chair a new Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change. The members of the Group, comprising international experts, industry leaders and United Nations system representatives, advise on energy issues critical to the new global climate change deal and beyond.

Yumkella is the Chairman of UN-Energy, a United Nations system coordination body dealing with energy-related issues.

He is also a member of the China Council of International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED)

Yumkella was a Member of the Rio+20 Principals Group, which played a crucial role in the preparations for the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development. Since 2008, he has also been an active member of the UN Development Group, which helps to set and coordinate the global development priorities of the United Nations. Under his leadership as Director-General, UNIDO has maintained a role as the largest provider of trade-related technical assistance to developing countries in the UN system.

From 2005 to 2013 he was the Director-General of UNIDO – a high level Vienna-based position he relinquished in order to help create the new Vienna-based SE4All. He was highly regarded by the Austrian hosts and all Vienna based energy institutions.

Prior to assuming the mantle of leadership at UNIDO, he worked in different high-level policy positions, including as Special Adviser to two previous Director-Generals of UNIDO and as Representative and Director of the UNIDO Regional Office in Nigeria.

From 1994 to 1995 he was Minister for Trade, Industry and State Enterprises of Sierra Leone.

March 12, 2015, SE4All CEO Yumkella told in a letter to the SE4All Advisory Board of his intended departure.

Sierra Leone elects on national level – by vote of the people – a president and a legislature. The president is elected for a five-year term. The last elections were held in 2012 – so next elections are scheduled for 2017.

Sierra Leone has a multi-party system, with two or three strong parties.

The House of Representatives has 124 members, 112 members elected through plurality vote in single-member constituencies to serve 5-year terms and 12 members are elected by indirect vote to serve 5-year terms.

Back in March 2015, I heard from Dr. Yumkella himself that he intends to return to Sierra Leone and run in the 2017 Presidential Elections. He clearly has an advantage there because of his involvement n global Affairs at a level and on topics that can help his home State.

In the letter to his Board , he also said: “Almost three years after world leaders at Rio+20 declared that “we are all determined to act to make sustainable energy for all a reality”, 2015 provides an historic opportunity for SE4All and all of us to be drivers for change to achieve the future Sustainable Development Goals and climate change agreements. SE4All is already engaged to support relevant processes, including the post-2015 deliberations, Financing for Development, G20 efforts and COP 21. Our annual UN Sustainable Energy for All Forum will provide a platform to spread our vision, share innovations and inspire all stakeholders to take bold actions.”

“There’s a saying that it takes a village to raise a child. I like to think we’ve been that village, together raising Sustainable Energy for All to become a strong, mature voice in the world, one that can galvanise real action to improve lives. Individuals come and go, but the village carries on. Under your guidance, and with the dedication of its small staff and huge network of partners, I know the SE4All movement will continue to grow and flourish.”

————————————–

OK – Yumkella is leading SE4All to the Paris2015 event that will end up tasking SE4All with the handling of major parts of the outcome. Yumkella seemingly thought that this will be the right time to pass on leadership to someone new.

Our posting highlights that we think this new incoming person will be of major importance to the follow up for the Paris outcome presumably titled — “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” – See more at: www.sustainabilitank.info/2015/09…
We also wrote in above posting that we think Dr. Christiana Figueres, for similar reasons, would be a good selection for next UN Secretary-General.
Above two appointments/selections are thus of main importance to the post 2015 period at the 70 years old UN.
Yesterday I inquired at the UN New York Headquarters – and was told that in effect there were several candidates to take over the Yumkella position and seemingly the selection was already made – and will be announced shortly.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 5th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


In the run-up to Paris2015 Kevin Rudd of the New York based Asia Society argues that “U.S., China, and India Must Lead Together for a Climate Deal in Paris,” Lord Nicholas Stern said that there will be a complete change in what the planet will look like in 100 years from now, and Christiana Figueres said that what countries have prepared for Paris is insufficient, but she hopes that in those 100 coming years they will be more forthcoming.

On August 28, 2015 – on CNN International’s Amanpour – Kevin Rudd, the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) President, discussed the effects of climate change – with Lord Nicholas Stern, chairman of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, and international climate policy, with Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Noting that projected levels of greenhouse gas emissions would cause average temperatures to rise by three-and-a-half to four degrees Celsius over the next 100 years, Lord Stern said “that is very dangerous territory” that the planet hasn’t seen “for around three million years,” since the end of the last Ice Age.

“These kinds of temperature increases are just enormous and would rewrite where we could live, where the rivers are, where the seashores are, what the weather is like,” said Lord Stern.

The poorest areas of the world would be “hit strongest and earliest,” he added. “Probably most of Southern Europe would look like the Sahara Desert.”


Figueres said that countries’ national climate change plans, which governments have been announcing ahead of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris this December, will fall short of “where we should be, according to science, to be on the two degree [temperature increase] pathway.”

The resulting gap “will not be filled in Paris,” Figueres said. “It will not be filled in January.”

She noted that the Paris climate agreement “is being constructed, actually, as a progressive effort over a certain period of timeframes, during which countries need, and will be able to, because of increased technology and further capital flows … increase their contribution to the solution.”

Video: Kevin Rudd discusses climate change with Lord Nicholas Stern and Christiana Figueres on CNN International’s Amanpour.

Related Links
Kevin Rudd on CNBC: Don’t Confuse the Chinese Stock Market with Overall Economy
Kevin Rudd in the New York Times: U.S., China, and India Must Lead Together for a Climate Deal in Paris

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THE UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 5, 2015


Ms. Christiana Figueres – the Executive Secretary of UNFCCC will end her contract at the end of this year after the conclusion of the Paris 2015 meeting – having guided the organization through all this preparatory years. It is being suggested that her candidacy be submitted for the 2016 selection process for next UN Secretary-General position. She would be the best informed person to lead the UN in the crucial 2017-2026 period when Climate Change and Sustainability become main UN topics under the incoming title from Paris – “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

The UN is in need of another period of reform, so it is ‘fit for purpose’ in ensuring that the new Sustainable Development Goals become the agenda of all its organs over the next 15 years.

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UN climate chief: No such thing as ideal pace for pre-Paris talks

By EUOBSERVER
4. Sep, 13:47
 euobserver.com/tickers/130117

UN climate chief Christiana Figueres countered criticism that preliminary talks for a Paris climate treaty were moving too slowly. “There is no such thing as an objective [ideal] pace of negotiations that everyone can agree on”, she said at a press conference Friday after a round of talks in Bonn.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 25th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We react here to the New York Times Editorial of August 24, 2015 that seemingly wants us to believe that Putin and the Ayatollahs found religion when they heard that 250,000 Arabs were killed in Syria. Really – why should they care?

Let us suggest that “THE DEAL” has turned the interest of Iran to revive its International Banking if the Sanctions are removed – and that is the real driving force that eventually can bring Putin and the Ayatollahs to the table IN EXCHANGE FOR A SAUDI AND THE OTHER GULF STATES OIL EXPORTERS PROMISE TO REDUCE THEIR EXPORTS OF OIL.

YES – the US and the Europeans are driven by humanitarian concepts – the Russians and the Iranians think of the PRICE OF OIL that hit them hard in their economies. The US and the Europeans enjoyed the lowering of the price of oil – based on the high supply figures and a decreasing demand that resulted from GREEN ACTIVITIES – higher efficiency and alternate sources of energy.
But also these two developing energy topics can only benefit from a higher price for oil. So what the heck – let us help the Syrians and save whatever cultural monuments the Islamic State has not destroyed yet. We know that one way or another – the Christian population of Syria and Iraq is doomed and the Lebanese Maronites strive already decades in Brazil like the Iraqi Jews who spread all over the globe – from the Far East to the Far West. But let the enlightened world deal with the problem – and explain to the Saudis that time has come for them to listen to the global woes and do their part by selling less oil !!!

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 24th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


A Department of Management Engineering at UN City in Copenhagen, Denmark is a UNEP Collaborating Centre Advisory on Energy, Climate, and Sustainable Development. They work with SE4All, WRI, and ICLEI – Local Government for Sustainability – as a global Energy Efficiency Accelerator Platform. They will conduct a webinar September 1, 2015.

An announcement:

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

Language: English
Registration: attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/3055…

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UN City
Marmorvej 51, 2100 Copenhagen Ø, Denmark

DTU – Dept. of Management Engineering

Xiao Wang is DTU Coordinator for
Global Energy Efficiency Accelerator Platform

Email:  xwang at dtu.dk
Direct: +45 4533 5314

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Posted in Archives, Copenhagen COP15, Denmark, European Union, Finland, Future Events, Futurism, Green is Possible, Nairobi, Obama Styling, Paris, Real World's News, Scandinavia, Vienna

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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 August 19th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Last night – August 18, 2015 – in New York City – we went to Philharmonic Hall at Lincoln Center to listen to a performance of perfection – Joshua Bell playing Bach – the Chaconne dating from 1720 and the Violin concerto in E major dating to “before 1730.”

I thought this became a subject for our website because of an article by Lars Gustafsson that was part of the printed program brochure that was handed out to us. The title “THE STILLNESS OF THE WORLD BEFORE BACH” – the fact that we might think that it might seem there was no great music before Bach – BUT THERE MUST HAVE BEN SOMETHING THERE BEFORE 1720.

Then I thought = wait the steam engine was developed over a period of about a hundred years by three British inventors. The first crude steam powered machine was built by Thomas Savery, of England, in 1698. Savery built his machine to help pump water out of coal mines – only in 1781 James Watt patented a steam engine that produced continuous rotary motion.

So we can say that the development of the steam engine, that brought about the industrial revolution, went on in parallel with the development of music that started with Bach and if we may say continued with Haydn, Beethoven and Mozart.

Could we say that some form of life did exist before we started to use coal en-masse and invented concepts of economic growth and development? What was the life we replaced? What was the cultural expressions we lost when accepting the progress in music?
The Gustafsson article stimulates our thoughts.

Gustafsson – since the late 1950s has produced poetry, novels, short stories, critical essays, and editorials. He gained international recognition as a Swedish writer with literary awards such as the Prix International Charles Veillon des Essais in 1983, the Heinrich Steffens Preis in 1986, Una Vita per la Litteratura in 1989, a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship for poetry in 1994, and several others. He has been nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature. His major works have been translated into fifteen languages, and Harold Bloom includes Gustafsson in The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages (1994). John Updike offered high praise for Gustafsson’s The Death of a Beekeeper in his collection of criticism, Hugging The Shore.

Gustafsson said once “I listen. I listen and I look. Creativity knows no rules. You can get an idea for a novel from a little something someone says, or just a face you see. A rabbi once told me that when God spoke to Moses in that bush, it wasn’t in a thundering voice; it was in a very weak voice. You have to listen carefully for that voice. You have to be very sharp.”

In May 2009, Lars Gustafsson declared that he would vote for the Pirate Party in the upcoming elections for the European Parliament

Lars Gustafsson: The Stillness of the World Before Bach

There must have been a world before
the Trio Sonata in D, a world before the A minor partita,
but what kind of a world?

A Europe of vast empty spaces, unresounding,
everywhere unawakened instruments
where the Musical Offering, the Well-Tempered Clavier
never passed across the keys.

Isolated churches
where the soprano line of the Passion
never in helpless love twined round
the gentler movements of the flute,
broad soft landscapes
where nothing breaks the stillness
but old woodcutters’ axes
the healthy barking of strong dogs in winter
and, like a bell, skates biting into fresh ice;
the swallows whirring through summer air,
the shell resounding at the child’s ear
and nowhere Bach nowhere Bach
the world in a skater’s stillness before Bach.

published in New Directions Paperback NDP656, “The Stillness of the World Before Bach: New Selected Poems” by Lars Gustafsson.

Yes – there was a harmonious world even without the sound of Bach – that is what I took from the above poem.
Surely, I did not transform this into a feeling that this was a better world – simply I picked up that it was still a livable world that could exist with simpler pleasures.

Nevertheless we are thankful to Bach for having shown us the way to perhaps a higher level of civilized pleasures. How does this translate to the Steam-engine thought that we understand today as a step backwards – because of the dependence on fossil fuels?

But this would be a wrong conclusion – it would be more correct to see that we can get all those benefits from higher technologies like we get from Bach’s music, if we only opt to use Renewable Energy and even higher tech methods that allow us similar results without that pesky dependence on oil and coal. Gustafsson was right in in opting for the Pirates in his search for true enlightenment in a corrupt world.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 19th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The following is very important information that makes for interesting days in New York the end of this September.

But let us mention here also other events in New York those days – events that will turn New York City into the impossible city.

Pope Francis will be here the same days as SE4All – September 24-28 and let us say in common language – the Pope will steal the show.

Also, that Saturday there will be a “humongous” musical festival on the Great Lawn in Central Park, and starting Monday the 28th the UN General Assembly will be opened with President Obama and most major World Leaders present. They will arrive that Weekend – so traffic jams, closed roads, and closed doors – will be everywhere. Many NGOs and Press to the UN will just not be able to get in – passes will be revoked. So, please temper expectations with above in mind – and realize that many experienced people will skip town.

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From SE4All:

The Sustainable Development Goal 7 on Energy has been set; now it’s time to show how to achieve it by 2030.

A series of high-level Sustainable Energy for All events around the United Nations Summit will discuss how to finance, implement and track progress on SDG7.

Leaders of governments, businesses, civil society and international organizations are invited to join the thousands of SE4All partners who are already geared up to make sure the Energy SDG succeeds in the crucial years to come.

1. Financing and Tracking Progress of Sustainable Energy for All

Date and Time, Venue (TBC)

2. Role of Partnerships in Achieving Sustainable Energy for All
(co-hosted by the Government of Denmark with SE4All)

Date and Time: Sunday, 27 September 2015, 08:00-09:30

Venue: Conference Room 2, United Nations Headquarters, New York

3. Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 7 on Energy by 2030: Implementation of Sustainable Energy for All

Date and Time: Sunday, 27 September 2015, 11.00-13.00

Venue: Conference Room 2, United Nations Headquarters, New York

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More information on these events – SEEMINGLY NIT AVAILABLE NOW – and any other engagements related to Sustainable Energy for All – will be available shortly on www.se4all.org.

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