LET THERE BE WATER: The Middle East, Africa, China – a remark by German Emperor Wilhelm II that is still directing Israeli Water-Diplomacy. A potential aid to the SDGs – ask the PM of Uganda Mr. Ruhakana Rugunda.. UPDATED
From: Seth M. Siegel
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.)
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:
by: Seth M. Siegel, Sept. 9 2015
Seth M. Siegel is an entrepreneur, writer, and lawyer in New York.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
“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.
At the Vienna Institute for Managing Sustainability – October 28, 2015 – a Symposium on “Evaluating the Sustainable Development Goals” that will come out from this year’s High Level UN General Assembly and move on to Paris2015. We intend to cover this process.
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
> 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.
> Registration: Please visit their website to register for the event and find out more about updates on the programme and speakers
China-US / Politics, September 5-6, 2015
People attended the UN Climate Change COP20 in Lima in December 2014.
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.
And the opposition, mainly Republicans in the US Congress, labeled it “terrible”, said it “changes nothing” and was a “waste of time.”
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
“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.
“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.
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.
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…
UPDATED – Dim views of what will happen at Paris2015 and a call to India’s participation in what was previously seen as the needed US-China leadership. Great changes, like the loss of Southern Europe, are predicted for the next 100 years. The Update is about the continuation of the UN to 2030.
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.
“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.”
The resulting gap “will not be filled in Paris,” Figueres said. “It will not be filled in January.”
Video: Kevin Rudd discusses climate change with Lord Nicholas Stern and Christiana Figueres on CNN International’s Amanpour.
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.
UN climate chief: No such thing as ideal pace for pre-Paris talks
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.
The Flury of very recent Travel between Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the US, and Syria shows that the Iran Deal has in it an opening on Syria – but nobody has yet had the courage to print that this has to do with the PRICE OF OIL.
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.
Please join us on September 1 as the Global Energy Efficiency Accelerator platform hosts a webinar on the opportunities to use building efficiency and district energy in combination to create more sustainable cities.
This webinar of the SE4ALL Global Energy Efficiency Accelerator partnership is jointly hosted by World Resources Institute (WRI), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability. Additional information on the webinar is included below and in the attached document.
Please feel free to share information about this webinar with your colleagues and partners. The primary audience for the webinar is local governments, but it is open to a general audience.
Combining Building Efficiency and District Energy for More Sustainable Cities: A Sustainable Energy for All webinar
Date: Tuesday, 1 September 2015
Times: 10:00-11:30 CEST
Location: Video conference/webinar
DTU – Dept. of Management Engineering
Xiao Wang is DTU Coordinator for
Email: xwang at dtu.dk
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Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs at mid-2015 looks at “THE UN AT 70″ – main successes and how it must be upgraded; others talk of the importance of the UN (Australian Minister Gareth Evans) and how to elect next Secretary-General.
Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs
Jeffrey D. Sachs, Professor of Sustainable Development, Professor of Health Policy and Management, and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, is also Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals. His books include The End of Poverty, Common Wealth, and, most recently, The Age of Sustainable Development.
Read more at www.project-syndicate.org/columni…
Project Syndicate – Sunday, August 23, 2015
NEW YORK –The United Nations will mark its 70th anniversary when world leaders assemble next month at its headquarters in New York. Though there will be plenty of fanfare, it will inadequately reflect the UN’s value, not only as the most important political innovation of the twentieth century, but also as the best bargain on the planet. But if the UN is to continue to fulfill its unique and vital global role in the twenty-first century, it must be upgraded in three key ways.
Fortunately, there is plenty to motivate world leaders to do what it takes. Indeed, the UN has had two major recent triumphs, with two more on the way before the end of this year.
The first triumph is the nuclear agreement with Iran. Sometimes misinterpreted as an agreement between Iran and the United States, the accord is in fact between Iran and the UN, represented by the five permanent members of the Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the US), plus Germany. An Iranian diplomat, in explaining why his country will scrupulously honor the agreement, made the point vividly: “Do you really think that Iran would dare to cheat on the very five UN Security Council permanent members that can seal our country’s fate?”
The second big triumph is the successful conclusion, after 15 years, of the Millennium Development Goals, which have underpinned the largest, longest, and most effective global poverty-reduction effort ever undertaken. Two UN Secretaries-General have overseen the MDGs: Kofi Annan, who introduced them in 2000, and Ban Ki-moon, who, since succeeding Annan at the start of 2007, has led vigorously and effectively to achieve them.
The MDGs have engendered impressive progress in poverty reduction, public health, school enrollment, gender equality in education, and other areas. Since 1990 (the reference date for the targets), the global rate of extreme poverty has been reduced by well over half – more than fulfilling the agenda’s number one goal.
Inspired by the MDGs’ success, the UN’s member countries are set to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – which will aim to end extreme poverty in all its forms everywhere, narrow inequalities, and ensure environmental sustainability by 2030 – next month. This, the UN’s third triumph of 2015, could help to bring about the fourth: a global agreement on climate control, under the auspices of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, in Paris in December.
The precise value of the peace, poverty reduction, and environmental cooperation made possible by the UN is incalculable. If we were to put it in monetary terms, however, we might estimate their value at trillions of dollars per year – at least a few percent of the world economy’s annual GDP of $100 trillion.
Yet spending on all UN bodies and activities – from the Secretariat and the Security Council to peacekeeping operations, emergency responses to epidemics, and humanitarian operations for natural disasters, famines, and refugees – totaled roughly $45 billion in 2013, roughly $6 per person on the planet. That is not just a bargain; it is a significant underinvestment. Given the rapidly growing need for global cooperation, the UN simply cannot get by on its current budget.
Given this, the first reform that I would suggest is an increase in funding, with high-income countries contributing at least $40 per capita annually, upper middle-income countries giving $8, lower-middle-income countries $2, and low-income countries $1. With these contributions – which amount to roughly 0.1% of the group’s average per capita income – the UN would have about $75 billion annually with which to strengthen the quality and reach of vital programs, beginning with those needed to achieve the SDGs. Once the world is on a robust path to achieve the SDGs, the need for, say, peacekeeping and emergency-relief operations should decline as conflicts diminish in number and scale, and natural disasters are better prevented or anticipated.
The third major reform imperative is the UN’s governance, starting with the Security Council, the composition of which no longer reflects global geopolitical realities. Indeed, the Western Europe and Other Group (WEOG) now accounts for three of the five permanent members (France, the United Kingdom, and the US). That leaves only one permanent position for the Eastern European Group (Russia), one for the Asia-Pacific Group (China), and none for Africa or Latin America.
The rotating seats on the Security Council do not adequately restore regional balance. Even with two of the ten rotating Security Council seats, the Asia-Pacific region is still massively under-represented. The Asia-Pacific region accounts for roughly 55% of the world’s population and 44% of its annual income but has just 20% (three out of 15) of the seats on the Security Council.
Asia’s inadequate representation poses a serious threat to the UN’s legitimacy, which will only increase as the world’s most dynamic and populous region assumes an increasingly important global role. One possible way to resolve the problem would be to add at least four Asian seats: one permanent seat for India, one shared by Japan and South Korea (perhaps in a two-year, one-year rotation), one for the ASEAN countries (representing the group as a single constituency), and a fourth rotating among the other Asian countries.
As the UN enters its eighth decade, it continues to inspire humanity. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights remains the world’s moral charter, and the SDGs promise to provide new guideposts for global development cooperation. Yet the UN’s ability to continue to fulfill its vast potential in a new and challenging century requires its member states to commit to support the organization with the resources, political backing, and reforms that this new era demands.
Read more at www.project-syndicate.org/comment…
By Dean Ngaire Woods and Nina Hallon, Project Syndicate, Oxford University
Ngaire Woods is Dean of the Blavatnik School of Government and Director of the Global Economic Governance Program at the University of Oxford.
Nina Hall, a post-doctoral fellow at the Hertie School of Government in Berlin, is the lead researcher on the WEF/BSG project.
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.
For starters, it is important to professionalize the selection process. For too long, backroom deals among governments have taken precedence over searching for a candidate with the relevant skills and experience. When Pascal Lamy, one of the authors of the report, was chosen to become head of the World Trade Organization, there was not even a description of the job against which his qualifications could be measured.
Ethical standards also need to be strengthened. In April, Spanish police questioned Rodrigo Rato, a former managing director of the International Monetary Fund, as part of a corruption probe. Not long before that, his successor at the IMF, Dominique Strauss Kahn, faced pimping charges in France.
Putting in place a code that sets out clear standards for identifying conflicts of interest and robust methods for dealing with complaints about a leader’s behavior is crucial. In recent years, allegations of improper behavior have led to resignations by the heads of the IMF, the World Bank, and the UN Refugee Agency.
A leader is only as good as the people who work for him, so organizations must make it a high priority to attract and retain good staff and rid themselves of those who lack professional integrity or competence. Many global agencies are introducing systematic surveys of their employees, but much remains to be improved. Crucially, international organizations must build up the capacity to resist governments’ efforts to protect their underperforming nationals. Performance evaluations should be made public, allowing outsiders to measure progress (or the lack thereof).
Organizations also need to focus more on delivering results and tracking outcomes. For decades, countries borrowing from the World Bank and regional development banks have begged for the loan process to be expedited; most cannot afford to wait more than two years to find out whether a loan has been approved. Halving the time it takes to approve a loan is the kind of operational goal that a good leader can set, and for which he or she can subsequently be held to account.
It is also important to ensure well-structured, systematic engagement with stakeholders and civil-society groups, which is necessary to ensure high-quality and innovative inputs. Adopting an ad hoc approach, as many organizations currently do, frequently yields poor results.
Finally, it is crucial that organizations learn from their mistakes. Fortunately, almost all global agencies have instituted processes for independent evaluation. Less happily, most are still grappling with how to implement lessons learned. Evaluation is important, but it needs to be followed up with strong governance reforms that require leaders to shift incentives and behavior.
Pressure for change is mounting. In November 2014, Avaaz, the United Nations Association, and other NGOs launched a campaign to reform the selection process by which the UN secretary-general is chosen, replacing an opaque process dominated by the permanent members of the Security Council with a transparent one, in which all countries have a say. Among their demands are a clear job description for the role, public scrutiny of candidates, and a shortlist with more than one candidate.
Progress is being made in some agencies. The UN High Commission for Refugees now describes its objectives in its Global Strategic Priorities and evaluates progress toward them annually. And all senior UN officials must file an annual financial-disclosure statement with the organization’s ethics office.
One notably successful agency in this regard is the African Development Bank (AfDB), which has introduced an organization-wide whistle-blowing policy, an anti-corruption and fraud framework, and an office to investigate disclosures. The AfDB will choose a new president in May, and it has not only defined the job clearly; it has also identified eight candidates and asked each to set out their strategy in advance of the election.
The world relies on international organizations to coordinate the global response to a host of critical threats, from pandemics to financial crises. An effective UN leader needs to be able to persuade member states to cooperate, manage the organization well, and deliver results. Without good leadership, any organization – even the UN – is destined to fail.
Read more at www.project-syndicate.org/comment…
Gareth Evans, former Foreign Minister of Australia (1988-1996) and President of the International Crisis Group (2000-2009), is currently Chancellor of the Australian National University.
He co-chairs the New York-based Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect and the Canberra-based Center for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament.
He is the author of The Responsibility to Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and For All and co-author of Nuclear Weapons: The State of Play 2015.
MAR 26, 2013 – Project Syndicate
MELBOURNE – There is nothing like exposure to smart and idealistic young people to make jaded and world-weary policymakers and commentators feel better about the future. I have just had that experience meeting delegates to the 22nd World Model United Nations Conference, which brought together in Australia more than 2,000 students from every continent and major culture to debate peace, development, and human rights, and the role of the UN in securing them.
What impressed me most is how passionately this generation of future leaders felt about the relevance and capacity of the UN system. They are right: the UN can deliver when it comes to national security, human security, and human dignity. But, as I told them, they have a big task of persuasion ahead of them.
My own efforts to advance the cause of UN reform when I was Australia’s foreign minister were about as quixotic and unproductive as anything I have ever tried to do. Overhauling Secretariat structures and processes to reduce duplication, waste, and irrelevance? Forget it. Changing the composition of the Security Council to ensure that it began to reflect the world of the twenty-first century, not that of the 1950’s? No way.
But I have also had some exhilarating experiences of the UN at its best. The peace plan for Cambodia in the early 1990’s, for example, dragged the country back from hellish decades of horrifying genocide and ugly and protracted civil war. Likewise, the Chemical Weapons Convention, steered through the UN Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, is still the most robust arms-control treaty related to weapons of mass destruction ever negotiated.
Perhaps one experience stands out above all. In 2005, on the UN’s 60th anniversary, the General Assembly, convening at head of state and government level, unanimously endorsed the concept of states’ responsibility to protect populations at risk of genocide and other mass atrocity crimes. With that vote, the international community began to eradicate the shameful indifference that accompanied the Holocaust, Rwanda, Srebrenica, Darfur, and too many similar catastrophes.
What needs to be better understood publicly is just how many different roles the UN plays. The various departments, programs, organs, and agencies within the UN system address a broad spectrum of issues, from peace and security between and within states to human rights, health, education, poverty alleviation, disaster relief, refugee protection, trafficking of people and drugs, heritage protection, climate change and the environment, and much else. What is least appreciated of all is how cost-effectively these agencies – for all their limitations – perform overall, in both absolute and comparative terms.
The UN’s core functions – leaving aside peacekeeping missions but including its operations at its New York headquarters; at offices in Geneva, Vienna, and Nairobi; and at the five regional commissions around the world – now employ 44,000 people at a cost of around $2.5 billion a year. That might sound like a lot, but the Tokyo Fire Department spends about the same amount each year, and the Australian Department of Human Services spends $3 billion more (with less staff). And that’s just two departments in two of the UN’s 193 member states.
Even including related programs and organs (like the UN Development Program and the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees), as well as peacekeeping activities (which involve more than 110,000 international military, police, and civilian personnel), the UN system’s total cost is still only around $30 billion a year. That is less than half the annual budget for New York City, and well under a third of the roughly $105 billion that the US military has been spending each year, on average, in Afghanistan. Wall Street employees received more in annual bonuses ($33.2 billion) in 2007, the year before the global financial meltdown.
The bottom line, as the youngsters gathered in Melbourne fully understood, is that the UN provides fabulous value for what the world spends on it, and that if it ever ceased to exist, we would have to reinvent it. The downsides are real, but we need to remember the immortal words of Dag Hammarskjold, the UN’s second secretary-general: “The UN was created not to bring us to heaven, but to save us from hell.”
Read more at www.project-syndicate.org/comment…
At UNGA 2015 – September 25-27 – at UN hqtrs. in New York – with very limited access those days – Vienna based “Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) will campaign to make sure that SDG 7 on Energy will be funded indeed.
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.
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
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
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.
Climate Plans in the Lead-up to Paris: Where Do We Stand?
Halfway through the year in which the world is slated to adopt a new international climate agreement, countries responsible for more than half of global greenhouse gas emissions have now released their post-2020 climate action plans. The rest of the world’s nations are expected to submit their own plans, or “intended nationally determined contributions” (INDCs) between now and December, with many expected before October 1st.
So the big questions are: How do these INDCs stack up, and what impact will they have in reining in climate change?
We’ve been tracking INDCs as they come in, attempting to understand what they mean for the Paris negotiations, and evaluating whether they are transparent enough to allow us to gauge global progress on climate action. Here’s a comprehensive look at progress so far on mitigation, equity and transparency. A separate blog post takes stock of progress on adaptation.
For the full article and the imgraphics – please go to:
WITH THE NEW SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS AND THE SUPPORTING ADDIS ABABA NEW FINANCING FOR DEVELOPMENT, THE UN IS READY FOR THE SEPTEMBER GENERAL ASSEMBLY HEADS OF STATE BLESSING THE ROAD TO PARIS 2015.
UN DESA WRITES AUGUST 3, 2015: The world marked a momentous event in international development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, last month, as Governments adopted a new global framework for financing sustainable development. The Addis Ababa Action Agenda was adopted at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FFD3), held on 13-16 July in the Ethiopian capital. It establishes a strong foundation to support the implementation of future development efforts.
The Addis Ababa Conference was the first in a series of landmark events leading up to the adoption of a new development agenda and a universal agreement on climate change by the end of this year.
“Financing needs for sustainable development are high, but the challenges are surmountable,” said UN secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the opening of the Conference. “The Addis Ababa Action agenda will help to turn these needs into investment opportunities.”
Addis_FFD3closing2At FFD3, governments agreed on a package of over 100 concrete measures that draw upon all sources of finance, technology, innovation, trade and data and that will support the implementation of a new set of Sustainable Development Goals to be adopted at a UN Summit in New York in September.
“This framework is a basis both for financing sustainable development and for developing sustainable finance,” said Mr Wu Hongbo, UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General and Conference Secretary-General.
Through plenary meetings, round tables, bilateral meetings and almost 200 side events, the various stakeholders in international development – Governments, financial and trade institutions, civil society and business sector entities – got the opportunity to collaborate on the formation of breakthrough commitments and goals across the development spectrum.
As part of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, countries committed to a new social compact to provide social protection and essential public services for all; a global infrastructure forum to bridge the infrastructure gap; an ‘LDC package’ to support the poorest countries; a Technology Facilitation Mechanism to advance to the SDGs; enhanced international tax cooperation to assist in raising resources domestically; and mainstreaming women’s empowerment into financing for development.
FFD3_outcomeThroughout the week, stakeholders from developed and developing countries alike weighed in on the measures that Member States could and should take to lift millions out of poverty, ensure a sustainable future for our planet and make sure that nobody is left behind.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn acknowledged the relative success that the Millennium Development Goals — that were adopted in 2000 and will expire this year — has had within the African region.
“We are in a very different world to the one by which the MDGs were drawn up,” Desalegn said. “Much has been achieved; now, we need to build on that success. And we will need to make radical breakthroughs, too – because a business as usual approach will not take us anywhere near achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
The adoption of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda was one of those historical breakthroughs, an agreement by stakeholders across the board setting the world on a renewed pathway to sustainability and prosperity for all.
Making Addis a turning point for development
“The target date for the realization of the SDGs may seem far and yet close, depending the perspective,” said Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia, in her address during the plenary meeting. ”What is certain is that the world has the resources and capacity to achieve every goal, We have an opportunity to make Addis Ababa a turning point in the scope and character of global framework for development cooperation. Indeed many of the measures incorporated […] are long sought after goals.”
Many heads of UN agencies and senior representatives of international organizations attended as well. In addition, more than 600 civil society organizations and networks and more than 400 business representatives took part in the Conference.
“This has been a historic Conference and a historic success – held on African soil, and delivering an outcome document that meets the high expectations of people around the world,” said Mr. Wu.
As the world sets sail onward to the two other events that will shape 2015 into a year of global change – the adoption of the Post 2015 development agenda in New York in September, and the United Nations Conference on climate change in Paris, in December – the international community can look back on the FFD3 Conference and the signing of the outcome document, as a first milestone to realize a sustainable future for all.
Storify on FFD3
The current world population of 7.3 billion is expected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100, according to the “World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision”, launched on 29 July. “Understanding the demographic changes […], as well as the challenges and opportunities that they present for achieving sustainable development, is key to the design and implementation of the new development agenda,” said Wu Hongbo, UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General.
Most of the projected increase in the world’s population can be attributed to a short list of high-fertility countries, mainly in Africa, or countries with already large populations.
During 2015-2050, half of the world’s population growth is expected to be concentrated in nine countries: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, United Republic of Tanzania, United States of America (USA), Indonesia and Uganda, listed according to the size of their contribution to the total growth.
Currently, among the largest countries in the world, one is in Africa (Nigeria), five are in Asia (Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, and Pakistan), two are in Latin America (Brazil and Mexico), one is in Northern America (USA), and one is in Europe (Russian Federation).
Of these, Nigeria’s population, currently the seventh largest in the world, is growing the most rapidly. Consequently, the population of Nigeria is projected to surpass that of the United States by about 2050, at which point it would become the third largest country in the world. By 2050, six countries are expected to exceed 300 million: China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and the USA.
Growing population in Africa
With the highest rate of population growth, Africa is expected to account for more than half of the world’s population growth between 2015 and 2050.
During this period, the populations of 28 African countries are projected to more than double, and by 2100, ten African countries are projected to have increased by at least a factor of five: Angola, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mali, Niger, Somalia, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia.
We believe says UN DESA – While there is always some degree of uncertainty surrounding any projection, the large number of young people in Africa, who will reach adulthood in the coming years and start having children of their own, ensures that the region will play a central role in shaping the size and distribution of the world’s population over the coming decades.
“Understanding the demographic changes that are likely to unfold over the coming years, as well as the challenges and opportunities that they present for achieving sustainable development, is key to the design and implementation of the new development agenda”
Future population growth is highly dependent on the path that future fertility will take, as relatively small changes in fertility behaviour, when projected over decades, can generate large differences in total population.
The slowdown in population growth, due to the overall reduction in fertility, causes the proportion of older persons to increase over time. Globally the number of persons aged 60 or above is expected to more than double by 2050 and more than triple by 2100.
Higher life expectancy and the contribution of the MDGs
While significant differences in life expectancy across major areas and income groups are projected to continue, they are expected to diminish significantly by 2045-2050.
Reducing under-five mortality, one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) targets, has been very significant and wide-reaching in recent years.
Between 2000-2005 and 2010-2015, under-five mortality fell by more than 30% in 86 countries, of which 13 countries saw a decline of more than 50%. In the same time period, the rate decreased by more than 20% in 156 countries.
Young population creates opportunity to capture demographic dividend
Latin America and the Caribbean and Asia, which have seen greater declines in fertility, have smaller percentages of children (26 and 24 %, respectively) and similar percentages of youth (17 and 16%, respectively). In total, these three regions are home to 1.7 billion children and 1.1 billion young persons in 2015.
These children and young people are future workers and parents, who can help to build a brighter future for their countries. Providing them with health care, education and employment opportunities, particularly in the poorest countries and groups, will be a critical focus of the new sustainable development agenda.
The 2015 Revision of World Population Prospects is the 24th round of official UN population estimates and projections that have been prepared by UN DESA’s Population Division. For more information: World Population Prospects: 2015 Revision
Youth civic engagement, a main goal of the United Nations System-Wide Action Plan on Youth, seeks to promote young people’s effective inclusive participation at all levels in society. There has been recent increasing attention and policy and programming focus on this issue by governments, UN entities, regional and multilateral organizations, CSOs, youth and researchers. This is also why the International Youth Day (IYD) celebrations will put this theme center stage this year.
Youth participation critical for achieving new development agenda
By 2030, the target date for the new proposed sustainable development goals, the number of youth is projected to have grown by about 7 per cent, to nearly 1.3 billion.
“The world now has the largest generation of young people in history,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as he addressed a high-level event on the demographic dividend and youth employment earlier this summer.
“I place great hopes in their power to shape our future. They are part of the first generation that can end poverty and the last that can avoid the worst impacts of climate change,” he said, also underscoring the necessity for the active involvement of youth in the global efforts to achieve sustainable development.
UN DESA, through the Focal Point on Youth, and the Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development, promotes a multi-dimensional approach to addressing the challenges young people face to have a full and effective participation in their social life and in decision-making while promoting social inclusion to enable all young people to achieve their aspirations and goals.
useyourcameraThe Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development, led by the co-chairs UN DESA and UNDP, is running an online campaign in the lead up to International Youth Day on 12 August. With the overarching aim of promoting youth participation at the political and public levels, leading to young people being able to fulfill their aspirations in life and contribute to society, the campaign provides a space for youth to share their stories and ideas on civic engagement activities.
Throughout the campaign, young people have been asked to submit photos and/or messages illustrating how they can get involved in their societies. Selected entries will be participating in the #YouthDay competition on the UN4Youth Facebook account. The winning photo will be the entry with the most Facebook “likes” and it will be showcased at the International Youth Day event at UN headquarters. It may also be used for the World Youth Report 2015 on Youth Civic Engagement.
Taking place in the ECOSOC Chamber at UN Headquarters from 10 am to 1 pm on 12 August, the IYD event is being organized by the Inter-agency Network on Youth Development and is co-sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Portugal and the Permanent Mission of the Dominican Republic. It will bring together young people, youth organizations, Member State representatives, civil society, and UN entities to discuss the issue of youth civic engagement in particular looking at new and emerging issues and approaches to social and political engagement in different parts of the world.
Following opening remarks by the Secretary-General and high-level representatives, the event will highlight both traditional and emerging forms of civic engagement in the form of panel discussions. The first panel will bring new insights into the participation of young people in local and national political process and in the second panel, panelists will discuss the power of youth as global citizens.
Running until August 12, the Inter-agency Network on Youth Development #YouthDay campaign is still encouraging young people to organize events to celebrate International Youth Day.
The IYD toolkit gives some ideas on what to do to commemorate the Day. Young people and UN entities are also encouraged to send their plans to youth at un.org, so they can be mapped on the IYD Map of Events. Efforts are needed to raise awareness about the benefits of youth civic engagement to the individual as well as to society.
For more information:
International Youth Day 2015 Send inquiries to youth at un.org
System-Wide Action Plan on Youth Engage in the #YouthDay campaign via social media:
Millenium Development Goals
LATEST DESA PUBLICATIONS
The World Population Prospects: 2015 Revision
Saturday Aug. 1′st 2015
Google has own idea of what ‘right to be forgotten’ means
By Peter Teffer The EUObserver, Brussels.
Since a landmark ruling on the so-called ‘right to be forgotten’ by the Court of Justice of the European Union, Google has received requests to remove over a million website links from its search results in Europe.
Of those 1,057,561 uniform resource locators (URLs), it deleted 370,112, or 41.3 percent, Google says.
The court had ruled in May 2014 that if an internet search into an EU citizen’s name yielded results which were “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant”, that citizen may request the search engine to have those removed from the list of results.
For example, Google complied with a request from a Belgian whose conviction of a crime was quashed on appeal to remove an article about them. It also removed an article about a rape victim in Germany.
However, it did so only for the European versions of its search engine. That means the articles can still be found by those using google.com. This has come to the attention of the French data protection authority.
It sent Google a formal notice in June, saying “delisting must be carried out on all extensions of the search engine”.
On Thursday, the US company asked the French data watchdog to withdraw the notice. It interprets the court ruling as obliging Google only to apply the ‘right to be forgotten’ on its European versions of Google Search.
“While the ‘right to be forgotten’ may now be the law in Europe, it is not the law globally”, Google’s global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer wrote in a blog post.
However, in its ruling the EU court did not differentiate between the worldwide and national versions of the search engine.
Google, in its blogpost, also noted that the French order “is disproportionate and unnecessary, given that the overwhelming majority of French internet users—currently around 97%—access a European version of Google’s search engine like google.fr, rather than Google.com or any other version of Google”.
But this statement is misleading at best. Many people don’t use a national variant of Google instead of the global one, but in addition to it.
According estimates, Facebook has about 26 million users, and Youtube around 22 million, in France.
While calculation methods may vary, this means that Google.com is used by, roughly, between 22 and 26 million French internet users – or along the lines of between 40 and 47 percent.
The picture is similar all over Europe, where the national version of Google is the most popular website, and the international version ranks as high as number two in the UK, Spain and the Netherlands, number three in Poland.
Google did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.
Fleischer also argued that if the French data protection authority CNIL had its way, this would affect internet users in the rest of the world.
“If the CNIL’s proposed approach were to be embraced as the standard for Internet regulation, we would find ourselves in a race to the bottom. In the end, the Internet would only be as free as the world’s least free place,” he wrote.
Google warned of a risk of “serious chilling effects on the web”, noting examples of content that is illegal in one country but which is legal in others.
“Thailand criminalises some speech that is critical of its King, Turkey criminalises some speech that is critical of Ataturk, and Russia outlaws some speech that is deemed to be “gay propaganda.””, he wrote.
But Fleischer is overstating the effect a national – or in the EU case regional – court order has on the wider development of the Internet.
In 2002, there were similar fears after a ruling in an Australian libel case against American company Dow Jones over the publication of an online article from its business magazine Barron’s. The highest Australian court decided that because the article was available in Australia, the subject could sue for defamation there.
Following the decision, the New York Times wrote in an editorial the case “could strike a devastating blow to free speech online”.
But the conclusion of authors Jack Goldsmith and Tim Wu in their 2006 book “Who controls the Internet?, Illusions of a Borderless World”, that the predicted devastation has been held off, is still valid today.
Moreover, they criticised the US-centrism that is present among Internet freedom activists as much as in the rhetoric of American companies like Google.
Goldsmith and Wu wrote that “the First Amendment does not reflect universal values … and they are certainly not written into the Internet’s architecture”.
However, some of the most used websites worldwide are American, and they inherently carry some of those American values, which slightly differ from European values, where privacy is generally regarded as much more important.
Google said it disagreed with the French data protection authority “as a matter of principle”.
But it could well be that part of the company’s motivation comes from the costs that would be involved with extending the right to be forgotten to its other domain names.
Technically, it is not impossible for Google to do it. But it may reduce the public company’s profit margin.
As Goldberg and Wu noted, “national Internet laws are no more burdensome than the scores of conflicting national laws that multinational firms typically face”. In return, companies gain access to an enormous market.
Having to adhere to different laws when providing services around the world, is part of the deal for running a global company. Even online.
Seventy years since the bombs were dropped on Japan, have we learned that the bomb does not have to be used but could just be a Peace Guarantor as a deterrent? The topic of a debate at OIIP, Vienna, Austria.
70 years after Hiroshima & Nagasaki, Are we smarter? Are we more human? That was the question!
An unusual event took place on Tuesday, July 21, 2015 at the OIIP (Austrian Institute for International Politics. In spite of the unusual high temperatures and a very feeble AC, the room was almost full. I will try to present the essence of that event.
The panel included:
- Ms.Judith Brandner, Since 1984 radio journalist and radio producer for Ö1, but also on DRS2, D-RADIO and SWR2.
Ambassador Kmentt, who started his career at the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs in 1994 and has been a leading disarmament diplomat for many years, was recognized for organizing the third International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, Dec. 8-9, 2014 in Vienna, which drew delegations representing 158 states, the United Nations, and civil society.
- Prof. Heinz Gärtner OIIP, Professor at the University of Vienna, His research priorities include international and European security; US foreign and security policy; Theories of international politics; Developments in world politics; Arms control.
- Hakan Akbulut, Research Assistant at OIIP, Areas of Research: Nuclear proliferation,Turkish foreign and security policy .
The moderator was Fabio Polly, who has been with the Austrian Radio ORF for more than 30 years. He was head of the ORF young journalists training in 1996. Since then, in the radio’s external policy, with temporary interruptions as moderator of various information programs (among others Ö1-journals).
He spent a total of four years as a correspondent in Germany and in the US. Focus of Reporting: international security, disarmament, nuclear weapons and the Middle East; Travel to Afghanistan (Kabul) to Iraq (Baghdad), to South Africa (Johannesburg).
The main concern of all the panelists was that 70 years after the Atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the problem of nuclear weapons has not been solved. Even the reasons for that terrible event have not been completely clear until now, and may never be fully known. Those two cities were totally destroyed, ten thousands of people killed, and the aftermath was immense. Those events emphasized how dangerous those weapons are.
Ms. Brandner talked about her personal experience visiting universities in Japan and interviewing people who have relatives who still remember the Hiroshima & Nagasaki events and still have psychological scars from that day. One student talked about her Grandfather who lived through this nightmare and for years after could not talk about it. He then came to be interviewed, opened up and talked for two hours non stops about the horrors of that day. He spoke about the slow deaths of the people, the stifling heat and the stench, the burning corpses lying on the streets for days. The Grandfather lived to be 88 years old but carried this trauma with him all his life.
Ambassador Kmentt stressed the fact that human error can be the most dangerous factor in having nuclear weapons. He compared it to a pilot in a plane who, if he makes a mistake and pushes the wrong button, the plane goes down and all passengers and crew will die. If a wrong button is pushed or any button is pushed for some reason on a nuclear weapon the consequences are unimaginable. The system has too many risks.
Prof. Gärtner believes a deterrent is only effective if it is believable by both sides that the weapons would be used.
Touching on the Iran deal which was signed in Vienna only a few days earlier the speakers agreed that Iran should be given a chance to prove itself worthy of the confidence that the Allies have put into that deal. The Iran deal will define what is for peace and what is for war. On a questions from the audience how can one be certain that technically the weapons are not to be used for war, the answer was that one cannot be 100% sure of it, but one has to trust the Iranians to some extent.
I would like to elaborate a bit on one aspect which was mentioned a few times during the conversation. It was the fact that nine nations — the United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea — possess approximately 16,300 nuclear weapons. in total. Under the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START), Russia and the United States have reduced their inventories but still account for more than 93% of all operational nuclear warheads. Opened for signature in 1968, the Treaty entered into force in 1970. On 11 May 1995, the Treaty was extended indefinitely. More countries have adhered to the NPT than any other arms limitation and disarmament agreement, a testament to the Treaty’s significance.
A total of 191 states have joined the Treaty, though North Korea, which acceded to the NPT in 1985 but never came into compliance, announced its withdrawal in 2003. Four UN member states have never joined the NPT: India, Israel, Pakistan and South Sudan.
In contrast to those countries, New Zealand is one small country which in 1984 barred nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed ships from using New Zealand ports or entering New Zealand waters. Under the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act of 1987, territorial sea, land and airspace of New Zealand became nuclear-free zones. This has since remained a part of New Zealand’s foreign policy.
The debate went on for a long time with no clear answer to the topic question: 70 years after: Are we smarter, are we more human? Nuclear weapons are basically only safe if used as a deterrent, but they are extremely dangerous if actually used.
Being a deterrent when two opposing sides are both nuclear armed – the certainty of a second strike becomes in effect an insurance of peace. That was the concept of M.A.D. (Mutually Assured Destruction) that lowered animosity between the two sides in the Cold War. The destruction caused in the two events in Japan – big as they were are nevertheless small compared to what, relatively, the new arms could do. The question is indeed, watching today’s ideological enemies, are they mellow enough to take the M.A.D. idea seriously? Will it always be a Head of State that has the nuclear button, or could it be that a device ends up with a group of insurgents?
The Sunday, June 14, 2015 program started with Fareed retelling us the content of his last Friday’s Washington Post column - www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/s… /9ce1f4f8-1074-11e5-9726-49d6fa26a8c6_story.html?wpisrc=nl_opinions&wpmm=1
While some hysteria-builders in Washington are worried about a Saudi nuclear race to follow Iran, Fareed Zakaria tells us clearly that besides drilling holes to get out oil from the ground, the Saudis have actually not proven capability of doing anything else. They just do not have the people nor the education system that leads to knowledge. You can actually conclude that they are hardly a State in the normal sense of the word – though with them having a full treasury they will not fail easily – but clearly not amount to much power either. In effect they are a natural target for ISIS – so let them not bluff us.
The Saudi GDP is based 44% on oil and 90% of their revenues are from oil. Their puritanical reactionary conservative education system puts them at 73rd place in global ranking compared to the much poorer Iran that is placed 44th. Two out of three people with a job are foreigners – hardly a recommendation for capability of doing anything.
Then Fareed brought on Professor Michael Porter of Harvard who makes now a career of talking and writing about America’s unconventional energy opportunity that turned the till-2005 dependence on gas import and till 2008 dependence on oil import – to an economy now that produces $430 billion/year of oil-shale fracking gas and oil products – that he says have reduced the energy bill of an average American family by $800/year and is now being enhanced by secondary industries like the petrochemical industry.
Gas prices are now lower by one third then those in US trading-countries and he contends that even though there are environmental problems with “fracking” these problems get smaller with time as there are new technological developments leading to decrease in pollution. Oh well – this at least reduces the US dependence on Saudi good-will.
To point out some more the effect of oil on developing countries that export the stuff, Fareed brought on a New Yorker journalist who works now in Luanda, Angola, and previously worked many years in Russia. Michael Specter was fascinating in his description of the “Bizarro” World of Luanda where for four out of the last five years Luanda was the most expensive City for the “Expatriates.” The Fifth year they were second to Japan.
With a watermelon selling for $105, a Coke for $10 and a cab-ride of 20 miles costing $450 – this while the working locals make $4/day while after Nigeria Angola is now the second largest oil producer in Africa.
For a saner discussion Fareed brought on Richard Haass – a former official of the Bush administration, Advisor to Colin Powell and president of the New York City based Council on Foreign Relations since July 2003, and David Rothkopf – who worked for the Clinton Administration, Managed the Kissinger Associates, and now is CEO and Editor of the Foreign Policy Group that publishes Foreign Policy Magazine. Interesting, it was Haass who wore a blue tie and Rothkopf who wore a red tie – and to my surprise, and clearly to their own surprise – there was no difference between their positions on the issues.
The main topic was Iraq and they agreed that sending in some more advisers to keep the ongoing losing policy in place makes no sense and never did. Iraq has passed, or was handed, to Iran while the only functioning part of it are the Kurdish evolving State.
The problem is the Sunni part that will eventually be a State as well – but it depends on a change in US position if this will be the ISIS State or a conventional Sunni State. Trying to hold the three parts of Iraq together does not make sense – period.
Oh well – how we got there – ask the Bush family – now we guess – ask Jeb (John Ellis) Bush. and Fareed also pointed a finger at Senator Rick Santorum who wants to be President and says the Pope should not mix the church and science – leave science to the scientists which for him are the Climate-deniers paid by the oil industry.
Fareed pointed out to Santorum that Pope Franciscus happens to be a scientist. He was trained as chemist and worked as a chemist before reentering the seminarium for clerical studies.
This coming week the world might finally get a boost from the Catholic Church as very well described in the New York Times article by Jim Yardley of June 13, 2015: “Pope Francis to Explore Climate’s Effect on World’s Poor.”
On Thursday June 18, 2015, Pope Franciscus will release his most important Encyclical on the theme of the environment and the poor. This follows a meeting May 2014 of the Pope with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon accompanied by his Development lieutenants. This could be finally a joined effort for the good of humanity – of faith and true science.
Above is not completely new. Already the last two popes started to investigate the moral choices of development. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI already wrote about the role of industrial pollution in destroying the environment. Francis went further – and on his January 2015 trip to the Philippines expressed his being convinced that global warming was “most;y” a human-made phenomenon. Now he is expected in the September trip to Cuba and New York, to bring the encyclical to the UN General Assembly and encourage the Heads of States to bring the issue to a positive conclusion at the December Climate Convention meting in Paris. The driving force of this Pope is his experience in Latin America with an agenda of poverty and Unsustainable Consumption that reveals ethical issues. He can be expected to reject the American conservative interests underwritten by oil industry interests that send to his doorsteps folks like Marc Morano and the Heartland Foundation with Republican Skeptics found in the US Senate of James Inhofe of Oklahoma.
Fareed also mentioned on his program the fact that coincidentally it was June 15, 1215 that King John released the First Magna Carta that was shortly thereafter declared “Null and Void for all validity for-ever” by Pope Innocent II. A new Magna Carta was instituted later and it is the 2025 version that is the basis for the Constitutions of many States – including the USA. Pope Francis’s Encyclical might be viewed by future generations as the Magna Carta for the Earth – we hope the term SUSTAINABILITY will be brought into full focus – so ought to be “sustainable development.”
One last issue of this State of the World program was about the dwindling population in all European States and in many Asian States as well. It is only the USA that is growing – this thanks to immigration and some might say energy autarky?. The subject needs more linking to the rest of the program ingredients and we expect this will be done eventually.