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Posted on on June 13th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (

Is the tide turning for oceans?
by Aban Marker Kabraji | International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Establishing marine protected areas could be a key means of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and curbing climate impacts.

Covering more than 70 percent of our earth’s surface and home to 700,000 to 2 million species, the ocean is the lifeblood of our planet. Besides bringing a sense of serenity through the gentle — albeit sometimes roaring — rhythm of its waves, the deep blue employs millions of workers, feeds billions of people and generates trillions of dollars of the world’s economy.

However, despite having such a profound impact on our lives, oceans are often taken for granted. As vast as they may seem, the resources provided by our oceans are finite.

In recent decades, threats such as unsustainable and illegal fishing, tourism and climate change have increasingly threatened coastal and marine resources.

In Asia, where over 30 million people rely on these resources for their livelihoods, the stakes are high.

While the region’s exponential economic growth has benefitted its communities through higher incomes and a better quality of life, ever-increasing commercial, agricultural and industrial activity has also exacerbated threats to the region’s ecosystems. 95 percent of Southeast Asian coral reefs are at risk of being destroyed and over 80 ocean species in the region are listed as Critically Endangered and Endangered.

Scientists have warned that, as increasing amounts of CO2 are absorbed by our oceans, seawater is becoming more acidic, threatening aquatic ecosystems and organisms.

But tides might actually be turning.

The Paris Climate Agreement has united many nations in the common cause of tackling climate change by limiting global carbon emissions and thereby protecting our oceans.

The United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has made it crystal clear that a commitment to the conservation of oceans is necessary to secure a better future for all, through Sustainable Development Goal 14 — ‘Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources’.

One way to protect our vital ocean ecosystems is to increase the number, size and management effectiveness of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

MPAs are established to preserve not only coastal and marine terrain, water and the genetic diversity of associated flora and fauna, but also historical and cultural heritage.

It is important that the boundaries of MPAs are delineated through multi-stakeholder consultation and consensus, so that encroachment becomes less likely and enforcement becomes more effective. Local communities, who have traditional knowledge of their natural resources, also need to be involved in the governance of their ecosystems, to relieve the pressure on both nature and governments.

Mangroves for the Future (MFF), a regional coastal programme co-chaired by IUCN and UNDP and spanning 11 countries across Asia and the Indian Ocean, has developed Marine Protected Area (MPA) frameworks for Bangladesh, Pakistan, Cambodia and Myanmar.

MFF’s overall approach is to identify needs at priority sites. These needs are then addressed through grants and other activities that generate knowledge, empower local communities, and strengthen the governance of coastal ecosystems.

In Pakistan, Astola Island is shaping up to be the first MPA in the country. At the IUCN World Conservation Congress last September, a motion was adopted to declare the island an MPA. Since then, MFF has collaborated with the Pakistan Navy to undertake a situational analysis of the island. The next steps will be to ensure that local communities and other stakeholders at the grassroots level are included in the governance and decision-making processes related to the establishment of the new MPA.

This week, at the UN Ocean Conference in New York, IUCN will be joining the government of Pakistan as it reaffirms its pledge to protect Astola Island, thereby fulfilling its commitment at the Congress to designate at least one site in Pakistan’s territorial waters as an MPA by 2020.

Studies have shown that small MPAs that are well-managed and well-enforced are facilitating resources recovery, sustaining fisheries, improving livelihoods and promoting sustainable tourism. Yet, while MPAs can be very effective in the conservation and management of our oceans, they cannot address all threats to marine life. Complementary actions need to be implemented in parallel to make fishing and aquaculture sustainable, address climate change and reduce marine pollution.

IUCN aims to build on lessons learned from MFF – notably the effectiveness of a partnership-based focus and a governance structure that invites country-level ownership – and scale up the programme, to further improve the resilience of coastal ecosystems, support the livelihoods of millions of people, and increase carbon storage capacity by protecting and restoring mangrove habitats.

This year’s theme for World Oceans Day is “Our oceans, our future.” Despite recent setbacks such as the US administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, many other nations remain committed to the Paris Accord. Through progressive and forward-thinking policies, commitments from industrialised and developing nations alike, and a multi-sectorial approach that harnesses advancements in science, finance and development, we actually stand a chance to make our oceans truly great again.

Aban Marker Kabraji is the regional director for IUCN Asia.


Posted on on August 26th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (

Those interested in how a near 0 economy could be achieved using existing technology may find this chapter, available at…

Integrating Vehicles and the Electricity Grid to Store and Use Renewable Energy by David Hodas :

The world could be powered by renewable energy: more energy from the sun hits the earth in one hour than all of the energy consumed on our planet in an entire year.

In Delivering Energy Policy in the EU and US: A Multi-Disciplinary Reader, (Heffron and Little, eds.) (Edinburgh University Press, 2016)

Widener University Delaware Law School Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 16-13


The world could be powered by renewable energy: more energy from the sun hits the earth in one hour than all of the energy consumed on our planet in an entire year.

Achieving a low-carbon economy is less technology dependent than it is dependent on new, well-designed energy law that broadly shifts private incentives towards efficient use of renewable energy using of “game-changing” technology such as Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) motor vehicles that could shift the world to a low-carbon economy.

V2G vehicles integrate separate energy conversion systems: the electricity grid and light vehicle transportation fleet by storing electricity from the grid when it is not needed and returning it to the grid when it is needed.

The total U.S. light vehicle fleet power capacity is about 39 times the power generation capacity of the U.S. electrical generation system.

The grid could use power stored in idle V2G batteries whenever needed, yet each vehicle would be tapped only within the constraints of its drivers’ specific schedule and driving needs. 20,000,000 V2G cars (just 10% of the U.S. fleet) with an average peak power rating of only 50 Kw, would have the combined power capacity equivalent to the entire U.S. Electric grid. This fleet would be the backup system for a fully renewable (e.g., solar and wind) energy generation system.

The benefits of a V2G system could be enormous: dramatic reductions in CO2 emissions and the adverse health effects of air pollution from burning fossil fuels and a more robust electric grid. A renewable energy V2G system could replace fossil fuels in many regions of the world.

David R. Hodas
Distinguished Professor of Law
Widener University
Delaware Law School

4601 Concord Pike
Wilmington DE 19803-0474

302 477 2186 (tel)
302 477 2257 (fax)
 drhodas at…


Posted on on June 15th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Sunday, June 14, 2015 program started with Fareed retelling us the content of his last Friday’s Washington Post column –… /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.


Posted on on March 8th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

The “Hindenburg Trap”: Dump Oil, Coal & Gas Stocks if You Want to Retire

By Juan Cole, Informed Comment – posted by Reader Supported News

08 March 2015…

hat is the actual value of the oil, gas and coal fields owned by big energy corporations, which gives them their stock price and allows them to be counted as assets for borrowing purposes?

The real value of those hydrocarbon resources is zero.

Or actually it is much less than zero, since there are likely to be a lot of liability lawsuits and insurance claims for severe environmental and property damage. Coal, oil and gas are now where the cigarette companies were in 1990, on the verge of getting hit with massive penalties. Big Coal and Big Oil are dead men walking.

The only thing that stops the entire world economy, including that of the United States, from collapsing is that investors continue to pretend that what I just said is not true. Because of this pretense, some people will go on making a lot of money with hydrocarbon investments in the short and perhaps even the medium term. Much investment and assignment of value is a matter of confidence.

But the confidence is misplaced. If you are still fairly young and you or your pension fund bought a lot of petroleum or gas or coal stocks in hopes of retiring on them, think again. You will lose your shirt.

Worse, because so many loans and other investments are anchored by the supposed value of coal, oil and gas, the world is walking an economic tightrope and the gentlest of breezes could knock it off into a crisis that would make 2008-2009 look like a minor hiccup.

In particular, if a sizable ice shelf breaks off in the Antarctic, you could see a sudden sea level rise that would panic the public and possibly lead some countries to outlaw things like coal and gas.

The Bank of England is doing a big study of this problem, which economists call that of “stranded assets.” That is a fancy phrase for when you invest in something that suddenly loses its value.

For instance, say you invested in Blockbuster Video Entertainment, Inc., when people used to rent DVD’s of movies from brick and mortar stores. In 2006 it seemed a good stock to buy– it had 9000 stores and 60,000 employees (almost as many as there are coal miners). And then streaming video came along. Stranded asset. Blockbuster went bankrupt in 2010 and survives only as a streaming service of Dish satellite television, which bought it and was gradually forced to liquidate all the stores.

The same thing will happen to coal, oil and natural gas, for two big, inexorable reasons. First, burning hydrocarbons is fatal to the health of our planet– in terms of the energy it releases, it is like setting off atomic bombs constantly. After a while that would take a toll. Second, other far less destructive ways of generating electricity are every day becoming cheaper and more efficient, especially wind and solar.

That coal as an industry is a bad investment should be obvious. The Obama Environmental Protection Agency has decided finally to start actually enforcing the Clean Air and Water Act, and has also claimed the right to regulate states’ carbon dioxide emissions (in which it has been upheld by the Supreme Court). Most coal plants will likely close over the next five years. Can you say, Blockbuster Video? I’d dump those coal stocks, like yesterday, or call my pension fund and make them drop them.

Of course, there was already a social conscience argument against investing in coal, which is dirty– burning it emits mercury (a nerve poison) and other dangerous pollutants and makes people sick. It also causes acid rain. And it is a major emitter of carbon dioxide, the deadliest poison of all. It is a horrible thing.

Let’s consider what has happened in Iowa just since 2005.

In 2005, wind generated 4% of Iowa’s electricity. Coal was responsible for a whopping 79%, about 4/5s.

In 2013, wind generated 28% of Iowa’s electricity. Coal had fallen to only 59%.

Given those trend lines, in such a short period of time, does coal look like a good investment to you? Or does wind? Especially since we know what the EPA is planning for coal.

Coal isn’t just competing with wind. The conservative Deutsche Bank has just concluded that in 14 states of the US, solar power is now as inexpensive as that from coal and natural gas. Right now. That is, it would be crazy to build a new coal plant today when you could generate electricity just as cheaply with solar.

And get this: by 2016– next year! — Deutsche Bank concludes that solar will be competitive with coal and natural gas in all but three or four states. And that is not an argument based on subsidies for solar. It will be as inexpensive as coal-generated electricity just purely on a market basis (in fact, it will be even cheaper, since there are massive government subsidies for coal, gas and oil).

Critics say that the wind dies down sometimes and the sun doesn’t shine on half the earth at night. This problem is referred to as that of “intermittency.” But it isn’t an insoluble problem. For one thing, the wind often blows more at night, so turbines can take up the slack from solar plants. For another, there are now molten salt solar installations that go on generating electricity for six hours after sunset. As batteries improve in efficiency and fall in price (both things are happening already, big time), the problem of intermittency will fade into insignificance, likely within a decade.

Another drag is that the electricity grid in many states needs to be redone. Wires need to be laid from the Thumb in Michigan where the wind is to the Detroit metropolitan area where most of the electricity is used. But it really is a relatively minor expense, and since the fuel for wind turbines is free, it would pay for itself fairly quickly. That is just a matter of having a state government that is on the ball and sees where the future profits are to be made. Cheap wind- and solar- generated electricity will allow factories to save money on energy and make their products more inexpensively, allowing them to compete on the world market. A solar facility is helping power the Volkswagon plant in Chattanooga. They’re not paying for coal or gas to produce that portion of their power, because the sunlight is free, and that will make their cars more competitive in price. Some buyers may throw their business to Volkswagen because they are greener. All factory owners will quickly move in this direction over the next few years.

So there isn’t any doubt about it. Buying stocks in coal, gas and oil companies is like buying stocks in zeppelins. They are outmoded and prone to crashing and burning, a Hindenburg waiting to happen. (Zeppelins were good investments once, too; they carried tens of thousands of people across the Atlantic and the top of the Empire State Building was designed to anchor them; but they became a stranded asset.)

It is therefore absolutely amazing that institutions of higher education like Harvard often refuse to divest from oil, gas and coal companies. The science and the economics are clear as day– burning hydrocarbons is disastrous for a city like Boston over time, and holding stranded assets is a one way ticket to bankruptcy court. I couldn’t tell you whether this decision is made out of short-sightedness or out of ethical and moral corruption (universities live nowadays on donors’ donations and don’t want to anger generous alumni who make their living purveying coal, gas and oil).

But those hydrocarbon stocks, and loans made on the basis of those worthless assets, are endangering the economic health of us all. Buying and holding them is the equivalent of refusing to vaccinate your children against measles. It is an individual decision that imperils the rest of the public. You and I may not be able to do much about the Koch brothers’ hold on state legislatures, or about the mysterious insidiousness of the Harvard regents. But most of us have some say in what stocks are in our pension funds or 401ks. There shouldn’t be any coal, gas or oil securities in there. Unless you like the idea of working backbreaking minimum wage jobs into your 80s.



0 # brycenuc 2015-03-08 18:03
Juan Cole needs a course in basic science. It is no accident that Germany and Denmark who have the highest percentage of renewable electricity generation also have the highest electricity prices in the world. When the taxpayers and rate payers tire of paying for the exorbitant government subsidy required to keep them running, “renewable” energy will become the stranded asset. Where did Germany turn, when it realized it had to have a more reliable source of electricity? IT TURNED TO COAL. Germany’s conversion to more “renewable” energy has caused its carbon emissions to increase.

Incidentally, the huge volume of emissions shown in the photograph accompanying Cole’s message is not from gas, oil, or coal; it is from steam.



Posted on on February 24th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

Strategy: How 16 Of The Oldest Companies On Earth Have Been Making Money For Centuries

Drake Baer

Aug. 1, 2014

Most companies live between 40 and 50 years.

So there must be something about the businesses that have persisted for 300, 500, or 1,300 years.

When we dove into the data on the world’s oldest companies, a few themes became clear — like that people have wanted to eat food, get drunk, learn things, and maybe kill each other once in a while for a really long time.

Here’s a list of companies with timelines that dwarf that of the U.S. itself, because startups have lots to learn from their elders.

Read more:…

Some of the examples quoted:

705 — Nisiyama Onsen Keiunkan in Yamanashi, Japan

The hot spring hotel has been in operation since 705, making it the oldest running hotel in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

The inn has been run by the same family for 52 generations, according to Japan Page, the English-language expat site. The secret to its success is a sense of inter-generational pride, the report says:

… There are even some staff whose families have held the same post for generations, passing it from parent to child to grandchild. All the same, the staff are committed and courteous, earning wages for themselves and their families. They put their all into offering a spirit of service that stems from a shared desire to protect the inn. This unflagging commitment and hospitality is drawing attention from the hotel industries worldwide.

In management-speak, we call that alignment. Generations of it.

Read more:…

This restaurant inside St. Peter’s Abbey in Salzburg, Austria, may be the oldest continuously running restaurant in Europe, and perhaps the world.

Its reputation precedes it. The classy dining spot was written about by Alcuin, a follower of the world-conquering emperor Charlemagne back in 803. According to Atlas Obscura, “the restaurant has also been host to countless dignitaries over its 1,200-year history, including cardinals, kings, and in more modern times Bill Clinton and Clint Eastwood.”

900 — Sean’s Bar in Athlone, Ireland

Sean’s Bar is one of the oldest bars in Ireland and also in Europe. Fun fact: Excavations have revealed mugs and coins from centuries of carousing.

The secret of its success? Location, location, location From the bar’s site:

… Sean’s Bar is located in the very heart of Ireland, on the banks of the beautiful River Shannon at its intersection with the Esker Riada – the ancient route carved by glaciers that allowed travelers safe passage across the bog for thousands of years. You can find us just next to Athlone Castle, a 12th century Norman Castle whose residents may have frequented the pub!

1040 — Weihenstephan Brewery in Freising, Germany

Beer has been made at the Weihenstephan Abbey in Bavaria for nearly a thousand years, making it the oldest brewery in the world. Its secret is obvious: The brewery makes incredibly delicious beer — the original brew has an absurd 98% rating on BeerAdvocate, the site for beer nerds.

The taste? A mixture of bananas, bubblegum, and magic.

1270 — Frapin in Segonzac, France
Jim Budd/flickr

Some of the finest cognac in the world — and one of the oldest distilleries still around — is found in the southwest of France, where the Frapin family has been using the same vineyards since it opened.

The result is the highest quality spirit.

“Unlike many of its fellow producers, Frapin does not turn to outside growers for grapes and is able to apply the most exacting standards of quality control at every level of production, starting on the vines,” remarks Palm Bay International Spirits. “Frapin cognacs are, as a result, the epitome of excellence.”

1498 — The Shore Porters Society in Aberdeen, Scotland

If you’ve needed anything moved in the past 500 years in Aberdeen, Scotland, you could reach out to the Shore Porters Society. They’ve hauled people’s junk around the world since the time Columbus was making trips to America.

Guardian columnist Paul May professed his love for the Shore Porters in 2004:

The company was about 100 years too late to make it into Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, but The Shore Porter’s Tale has a ring to it. …

What I love most about the Shore Porters Society is that they haven’t made any attempt to update their brand since they dropped Middle Scots. They’re not suddenly going to call themselves “Porta” or lose the simple block lettering. They’re just going to keep on trucking for the next 500-odd years.

So if you ever go off to find the New World, talk to the Shore Porters.

1526 — Beretta in Gardone, Italy

If you have been shot by a gun in the past half-millennium or so, there’s a good chance it came from the barrel of a Beretta. The arms company got its start when the Arsenal of Venice needed 185 barrels for the arquebus, a gentlemanly ol’ hand cannon.

A few factors have been in the world’s oldest gun manufacturer’s favor: Its hometown is nestled among iron-rich mountains, and the company has been family-run all 400+ years.

1534 — Cambridge University Press in Cambridge, England
Richie/Wikimedia Commons

The CUP is the world’s oldest publishing house, working out of the ridiculously prestigious university that bears its name. None other than Henry the VIII gave the press permission to print “all manner of books.”

A few of the Press’s greatest hits:

“Principia Mathematica” by Sir Isaac Newtown
“Lycidas” by John Milton
“Radio-activity” by Ernest Rutherford
“Language and Mind” by Noam Chomsky

Producing widely read and cited books seems to be a sound strategy.

1570 — Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London, England
spirit of america /

The Whitechapel Bell Foundry has been making the world’s finest bells for a while now.

“Whitechapel Bell Foundry’s long history spans the reigns of 27 English monarchs,” the company says, “and among the royal visitors to the foundry were King George V and Queen Mary who came to witness the casting of two bells for Westminster Abbey.”

Of course, the city of Philadelphia may have a few complaints around durability, as the Foundry made the Liberty Bell, which famously cracked when rang.

1608 — Bushmills in County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Daniel Goodman / Business Insider

Bushmills lays claim to being the oldest whiskey distillery on the planet. King James I — he with the Bible who bears his name — gave a certain Sir Thomas Philip the ability to distill whiskey in the April 20, 1608, according to the company.

The company has remained relevant all the while, with James Joyce giving a nod to Bushmills in epic “Ulysses”:

He never forgot himself when I was there sending me out of the room on some blind excuse paying his compliments to Bushmills whisky talking of course but hed do the same to the next woman that came along I suppose he died of galloping drink ages ago.

1623 — Zildjian in Istanbul, Turkey

One of America’s oldest companies started in the Ottoman Empire: Zildjian, the world’s leader in cymbals, was founded by Avedis Zildjian in Istanbul before his family brought the percussionist company to the States.

And it’s got star power. Some of the best drummers in history have crashed Zildjian cymbals, including Ringo Star of the Beatles, Neil Pert of Rush, and Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones.

Plus, the company has become a part of American identity: The U.S. government granted the manufacturer permission to buy copper during the resource-starved period of World War II.

1637 — Gekkeikan sake in Kyoto, Japan

Holding about 25% of the U.S. sake market, Gekkeikan is one of the most famous sake producers on earth.

The 370-year-old secret is the neighborhood of Kyoto that Gekkeikan lives in, called Fushimi. The Kyoto Project explains:

Fushimi is an ideal place for sake brewing because of its natural environment. Appropriate temperatures and good-quality water are required to brew sake. In Fushimi, both of these important factors exist.

The city of Kyoto is set in a basin, surrounded by mountains on the north, east, and west. These mountains keep Kyoto very chilly in wintertime. A cool temperature of around 5? is important to mature sake in a brewery. So cold winter temperatures created by Kyoto’s natural basin is why sakebrewing became so deeply rooted here.

To learn (and taste) firsthand, visit the Gekkeikan Sake Museum the next time you’re in Kyoto.

1638 — Shirley Plantation in Charles City, Virginia

America’s oldest family-owned business is the Shirley Plantation on the James River in Virginia. According to the Plantation’s self-described history, it has “survived Indian uprisings, Bacon’s Rebellion, the American Revolution, the American Civil War, and the Great Depression.”

The family moved here only six years after the first permanent English settlement at Jamestown, and the 11 generations that have operated the plantation seem to maintain the work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit of America’s first settlers.
1653 — Royal Delft earthenware in Delft, the Netherlands
1653 — Royal Delft earthenware in Delft, the Netherlands

The fanciest pottery on the planet comes from a single earthenware factory in the fairytale town of Delft, Holland. The style is so intertwined with the city that you call it Delftware, and the only company with a seal approval from the Dutch Royal Family is Royal Delft.

The elegant blue-and-white vases, pots, and bowls are a part of Dutch identity.

CEO Henk Schouten told CNN that commitment is at the core of the company’s long-running success.

“We just want to produce high level products,” Schouten said, “because there are many other factories who produce the mass products … that kind of product you can buy it very cheap in all kinds of shops. When you see a product here hand-painted then I think three quarters of the price is craftsmanship and only a quarter of the price is the cost price of all kinds of material.”

1706 — Twinings Tea in London, England
1706 — Twinings Tea in London, England

Imagining Britain without Twinings Tea is like imaging America without Cheetos: absent of its innermost consumer experience.

Founder Thomas Twining made bank on his intermingling with British cultural identity. According to reports, his Gunpowder Green Tea was selling for the equivalent of $260 per 100 grams back in the 18th century.

Twinings has longevity in more than one way: The company has been located at the same London address since it opened in 1706, and it has the oldest corporate logo still in use.

“Twinings’ logo is a simple, classy, and timeless serif font,” writes design blogger Tina Mailhot-Roberge. “Although it is not particularly dynamic, it matches its industry, product, and communicates its historical background with success.”
1744 — Sotheby’s in London, England
1744 — Sotheby’s in London, England
Lisa Maree Williams/Getty

English bookseller Samuel Baker changed the world when he held an auction of books in 1744. That was the beginning of Sotheby’s, a name now synonymous with high-brow spending.

A key to Sotheby’s success is its ability to stay ahead of the trends in where the wealthy wanted to spend: coins, high-brow art, and real estate, among a few.


Posted on on February 6th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

From: Beyt Tikkun Synagogue  shul at via – this comes from Oakland, California and shows the Jewish way of love for Planet Earth and all Creation. You do not have to be religious to see this – and we are not religious.


*When: Saturday, February 07 2015 @ 11:00 AM – – 12:00PM


No rain: Frank Ogawa Plaza nr. the Rotuda near the 15th & Broadway entry to the Plaza
In case of Rain: 685 14th Street (the Unitarian Church


We davven the morning service first at Rabbi Lerner’s home from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. then go to Frank Ogawa Plaza at Broadway and 15th street in Downtown Oakland to set up for a short (one hour) Tu B’shvat Seder.
If you can get there by 10:30 a.m. to help us set up, that would be sweet.

We will have a few tables and a few chairs in the alley way near the Rotunda on the other side of the plaza from City Hall, assuming it isn’t raining heavily. Please bring a chair to sit on it if you can, and something delicious to nosh, or just come–we’ll have fruit and grape juice for the seder if you tell us you are coming BEFORE Friday 10 a.m. Feb. 6th so we can buy enough!! But if you haven’t done so, come anyway, but get there by 11 a.m. (which requires that you also give yourself at least 15-20 minutes to park if you come by car–there are big parking structures down there around 11 th and 12th streets–but environmentally best to come via the BART).

Rain is predicted but we have no way of knowing whether that is going to be like the heavy rain expected for Friday, or a much lighter rain that won’t be a big deal.

If the rain in heavy, the 1st Unitarian Church of Oakland, at 685 14th street, has graciously agreed to let us hold the seder in their building in their Wendte Hall (NOT the main sanctuary, where something else is happening).

After the Seder we will march up to where the march is happening (a mere four blocks away), and meet up with our already-drenched allies for the march. Be sure to bring clothing and umbrellas just in case.

Please let us know that you plan to attend and please spread the word to your non-Jewish friends as well–The Seder for the Earth is free and a wonderful way to begin the environmental march that will begin at noon at the same place.


TIKKUN IS PART OF THE NETWORK OF SPIRITUAL PROGRESSIVES (NSP) – they like to talk of “rEVOLution” for how to EVOLVE into a a decent world. Their kind of true revolution comes about with a little “r” with large “EVOL” so there is no blood-shedding.…



Posted on on February 5th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

my correspondence with Kaveh following RIO II

It came up when I googled for Ahmad Fawzi in pursuit of content for another article – and decided that this was an exchange in 2012 that has renewed value today.

Afrasiabi gained a PhD in Political Science from Boston University in 1988, under the supervision of Professor Howard Zinn, with a thesis titled “State and Populism in Iran.”

Afrasiabi has taught political science at the University of Tehran, Boston University, and Bentley University. Afrasiabi has been a visiting scholar at Harvard University (1989-1990), University of California, Berkeley (2000-2001), Binghamton University (2001-2002) and the Center for Strategic Research, Tehran. During 2004-2005, Afrasiabi was involved in Iran as an advisor to Iran’s nuclear negotiation team.

Afrasiabi is a former consultant to the United Nations “Dialogue Among Civilizations”, for which he interviewed the former Iranian president, Mohammad Khatami.

Afrasiabi is a member of the advisory board of the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran. Afrasiabi has authored numerous articles in scholarly journals and newspapers, including Harvard Theological Review, Harvard International Review, UN Chronicle, Boston Globe, Global Dialogue, Middle East Journal, Mediterranean Affairs, Brown’s Journal of World Affairs, International Herald Tribune, Der Tageszeit, Der Tagesspiegel, Journal of International Affairs, Telos, Nation Magazine, Asia times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Monthly Review, as well as dozens of articles and letters in The New York Times. Afrasiabi has made dozens of television appearances as a Middle East expert on CNN, Aljazeera, Voice of America, PBS, BBC, PressTV, Russia Today, and other networks.

Selected works by Afrasiabi:
After Khomeini: New Directions in Iran’s Foreign Policy (1994)
Nir/North: A Cinematic Story about the Iran-Contra Affair (1996)
Infringements (1998)
Islam and Ecology (2003)
Iran’s Nuclear Program: Debating Facts Versus Fiction (2006)
Reading in Iran’s Foreign Policy After September 11 (2008)
Looking For Rights At Harvard (2010)
UN Management Reform (2011)
Iran Phobia and US Terror Plot: A Legal Deconstruction (2012)

A Controversy with Harvard that blew out of proportion in Boston:

Afrasiabi v. Mottahedeh

From 1996 to 2003, Afrasiabi was involved in a legal conflict with Roy Mottahedeh, former director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University, who had been his superior during Afrasiabi’s time as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard, and Harvard University itself.

The conflict started with an alleged extortion against Mottahedeh’s subordinates and a “pre-dawn” arrest of Afrasiabi by Harvard police, and terminated in 2003 with a civil rights case against Harvard, Mottahedeh and the Supreme Court of the United States, in which Afrasiabi acted as his own attorney. During associated controversies, Afrasiabi was supported by Mike Wallace of the US television program 60 Minutes, author David Mamet, linguist Noam Chomsky, and political scientist Howard Zinn, and former deputy prime minister of Iran, Farhang Mehr. In a video deposition, Mr. Wallace has defended Afrasiabi and accused professor Mottahedeh of making false statements to him about Afrasiabi. His “David and Goliath” battle with Harvard has been praised by Mike Wallace, who has stated “I admire Dr. Afrasiabi. He has been wronged. The cannons of Harvard are lined up against a pea shooter.”

June 2010 incident

On June 27, 2010, Afrasiabi went to the Zuzu restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts. According to Afrasiabi, employees there showed “racist and indecent behavior” and “treated him unprofessionally”, after which he exited the restaurant without finishing his meal nor paying for it. He approached some police standing nearby. A restaurant employee approached the police. The police then arrested Afrasiabi, on the basis of an outstanding warrant. Afrasiabi claims the warrant was issued in error, based on a 1986 unregistered vehicle incident, for which he had already paid the fines. The police claim it originated from an incident in 1999. Afrasiabi described the arrest taking place with “a racist attitude.” While in custody, Afrasiabi claims that he was denied the right to a telephone call to contact his family and/or a lawyer. He said that the police officers were racist and brutal, stating, “If I had blond hair and blue eyes and had an American-sounding last name, no, I wouldn’t have been subjected to this. They did this to me because they’re racist.”

In July 2010, Afrasiabi filed a formal complaint against Cambridge police alleging racism and physical injury in the hands of Cambridge police, who placed him under arrest after he had approached them to complain of being mistreated at a restaurant.[20] The basis for his arrest was an outstanding warrant for a 1986 ticket, which Afrasiabi claimed to have paid at the time. A judge in Newton, Massachusetts agreed with Afrasiabi and dismissed the warrant without imposing any fines. Afrasiabi has alleged that while being transported to a court the next day, he was deliberately injured when the police van slammed the break after driving in full speed, resulting in Afrasiabi’s multiple visits to hospitals. The Cambridge police initially claimed that Afrasiabi had walked out of a restaurant without paying and then changed their story, deleting any reference to the restaurant. In a letter to The Cambridge Chronicle, Afrasiabi has demanded an apology from the police for what he alleges is their racist and brutal mistreatment of him.


Upton, Geoffrey C. (1996-02-08). “Former Post-Doc Will Stand Trial; Afrasiabi Denies Extortion Charge, Cites ‘Mind-Blowing Conspiracy'”. Harvard University. Archived from the original on 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2009-06-04.……

Fathi, Nazila (2004-11-28). “Iran Reasserts Its Right to Enrich Uranium as Standoff Persists”. The New York Times.

Khatami, Mohammad; Kaveh L. Afrasiabi (2006-09-11). “Mohammad Khatami on the Dialogue Among Civilizations”. United Nations. Archived from the original on 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2009-06-03.

Afrasiabi, Kaveh L. (2005-02-17). “A letter to America”. Asia Times. Archived from the original on 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2009-06-03.

“KAVEH L. AFRASIABI, Plaintiff, Appellant, v. HARVARD UNIVERSITY; HARVARD UNIVERSITY POLICE DEPARTMENT; RICHARD W. MEDEROS; FRANCIS RILEY; LAUREEN DONAHUE; CENTER FOR MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES; ROY P. MOTTAHEDEH; REZA ALAVI and SHOBHANA RANA, Defendants, Appellees.”. United States Court of Appeals. 2002-07-01. Archived from the original on 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2009-06-04.

“Between Mike Wallace and Me”.

“The David Mamet Society”.

“Reading Kafka at Harvard”.…

“Abused scholar: US police conspiring against me”. Press TV. 2010-07-01. Archived from the original on 2010-07-11. Retrieved 2010-07-11.

Guha, Auditi; Jen Thomas (2010-07-08). “Iranian pundit claims ‘police brutality’ in Cambridge”. Cambridge Chronicle. Archived from the original on 2010-07-11. Retrieved 2010-07-11.

“Veteran Iranian-American Professor Talks of US Police Brutality Against Him”. Hamsayeh.Net. 2010-07-02. Archived from the original on 2010-07-11. Retrieved 2010-07-10.……,…

So, of real interest is:

Kaveh L. Afrasiabi | Al Jazeera America
Kaveh L. Afrasiabi was an adviser to Iran’s nuclear negotiation team from 2004 to 2006 and is a co-author of the forthcoming book “Nuclear Iran: Accord and Détente Since the Geneva Agreement of 2013.”

He also wrote:

Aljazeera : Iran uses Hamas for leverage in nuclear negotiations
by Kaveh L. Afrasiabi & Nader Entessar August 13, 2014

Clinching a final deal with Iran
by Kaveh L. Afrasiabi May 20, 2014
Attachments area
Preview YouTube video Mike Wallace Defends Dr. Kaveh Afrasiabi

Afrasiabi’s correspondence with me – his showing interest in Sustainability, Sustainable Development, and Climate Change:

On May 16, 2012 I received the following e-mail:

Hello I am working on an article for UN Chronicle on Rio and after reading your article, can you please answer the following questions:
1. In your opinion, what will be the likely achievement of Rio?
2. What are the key dividing issues between north and south countries with respect to Rio + 20?
3. Can Rio actually reach a breakthrough on the unfulfilled commitments and if so how?
4. Is Rio destined to be another huge talking shop with lengthy resolutions for UN archives?

thank you.
Kaveh Afrasiabi

Those days, as always and even today, my argument was that Iran ought to be one of the leading nations on many positive issues including on Climate Change and the development of renewable energy. I argued thsi even with the man who is now Foreign Minister and was earlier Iran’s Ambassador to the UN. I said to him at the time that Iran stands to gain much more by being a leader in renewables then in posturing on the nuclear issue. Seemingly this came to the attention of Dr. Arasiabi.

My Immediate answer of May 17, 2012 Was:

1. In your opinion, what will be the likely achievement of Rio?
2. What are the key dividing issues between north and south countries with respect to Rio + 20?
3. Can Rio actually reach a breakthrough on the unfulfilled commitments and if so how?
4. Is Rio destined to be another huge talking shop with lengthy resolutions for UN archives?

I note that you probably think that the UN wants achievements and that there is a North and a South, and in this structure the North is wrong and the South is right.

You see, I was involved in the subjects of sustainability and planet earth since before these subjects became popular – actually I was fighting at the UN – the UN – because UN people planted in the system by home interests, like Ahmad Fawzi who was then high official at UN DPI, preferred to sweep away from sight any comment brought up by curious journalists that might have had implications regarding sales of oil.

So, to the point – it is all about Energy for All but Energy, as much as possible, that does not harm the Environment. Sustainability is the word behind Sustainable Development, and Sustainability is about future generations and not about our generation.

Because of a confluence of many different unrelated political and scientific events, in 1992, at Rio, indeed there were breakthroughs and good results – there was an Agenda 21 – intended for our present century, there were three conventions, there were excellent important Principles etc. After RIO 1992 – the apex of efforts – there was only decline. There was a Commission established for Sustainable Development so built that it slowly killed the subject – to the point that what was supposed to be in 2012 – the twenty year review of that RIO meeting – is not even mentioning Agenda 21.

What started as RIO+20 is a totally different event that reinvents the wheel and will start us on another set of negotiations rather then checking out what is still missing from implementation of Agenda 21.

How did we get here and who is to blame? Everybody is to blame. The old developed countries which are now in decline – they did not make space at the table, the G77 leadership – they had no use for Sustainability or any interest in the environment now – or future generations – that is the future. For them it was DEVELOPMENT NOW and nothing else.

So, now you have the BRIC countries – China, Brazil, India, Russia – in this order – no S yet for South Africa – that are the new Money Rich countries that dominate the old industrialized countries, and you have a new list of evolving countries – Korea, Mexico, Indonesia, Turkey, Poland – add to this others like UAE, Singapore, Hong Kong and you get interests that are very different from those of Bangladesh, Mauritius, Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina, Grenada, Fiji, etc. who are liberating themselves from what nominally is still the G77 – this because they feel betrayed and left to fend for themselves on the issue of climate change. Civil Society is also waking up and there are calls for bringing back the UN to “We the people” from we the despot governments.”

If you read up to here you will see that your questions had a wrong base.

Now to specifics in your questions – and if you want to use this in the UN Chronicle – please use the introductory logic as well.

1. Rio will achieve a lot – it will show the governments nakedness.

2. There is no North-South divide in Rio of 2012. There is a divide between uncontrolled development and readjusted development that satisfies needs. We will see the start of moves to displace the GDP fixture from ways of measuring growth. We will hear of human needs, of continuing the MDGs with a set of SDGs. We will hear from those afflicted with climate change to have us all start on a path of culture change with an eye to Mother Earth.

3. What you call the North is financially bankrupt. Financial commitments will have to be shared and development will have to mean local development – like production of local foods and undoing some of the effects of giveaways that ruined local economies in the South – specially the previously rather successful small farms. In the North they will have to relearn manufacturing.

4. Yes, the intent was to have a talk fest – but this is being curtailed as what was a two week event in 1992 is now a three days event. The talking will have to be done ahead of those days June 20-22, 2012. If the document will not have been whittled down to a concise set of principles, the Brazilians have in reserve the June 16-19, 2012 days of the RioDialogues that will produce 30 recommendations chiseled in Civil Society negotiations. The Heads of State that will spend 2 days in Rio will have the opportunity to create new content – government based and civil society based – and give birth to a product – right there or via a future process to be started in September at the GA.

So, will there be clear decisions? Not so fast.
Will there be a modicum of success – Yes.
Will the UN stay the same – No! and that is the main achievement of this misnamed event that the UN calls Rio+20.
Will governments learn that people count? Any misbehavior has its price – even if change comes slow.

So, that is what I think.

All the best to you,
Pincas Jawetz



 afrasiabik at to me May 17, 2012

Thanks so here s my real question;
What can third world leaders from iran bolivia etc do to make a real splash in rio? I would appreciate an answer. I was thinking of an ad hoc sub group making joint statement beyond the resolution etc.

Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

and my answer:

Real fast answer – as you can see from my website – I do not shy away from the two countries you mention – an ALBA button is right there in front of my website. Having made that remark – I would suggest that specifically these two countries would be best advised to keep out of the limelight.

For AlLBA – it is Ecuador with some help from Argentina and Chile – that speaks up and that is perfect.

Then, for the best of the countries in trouble spoke recently Bangladesh, Fiji, Grenada, Costa Rica, even Mexico.

Subjects like the issue of going to the International Court of Justice for transnational pollution and climate change, and the effects on the poorest countries – these are subjects that can make a splash.

Also, backing A SMALL OFFICE of a UN Commissioner for Future Generations and the need to do away with the GDP as yardstick for Growth, and some reference to Well Being and Happiness that are not based on consumption (the Bhutan concept) are good topics where your two named countries could be seconds if someone else leeds.

Bolivia has done very well in the past by pushing the Pacha Mama, but Iran has never understood that it had a great pre-Islamic past and thus failed to establish real leadership of any kind.

While Bolivia’s problem is that it pushed too hard, Iran’ problem is that it did not push at all its culture of the past and militancy is not what the UN is about. In both cases what I really talk about – is a real push of culture for the 21-st century.


and the third round of that day:

From Kaveh Afrasiabi to me:

How about int environmental court championed by morales?
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

and my answer:

I really think now that I gave you enough, and basically – all that material is indeed on my web because these are the things that made me decide to keep the site going. In my book – Copenhagen was the last place that saw progress – and that was thanks to Obama who brought in the Chinese for the first time, and they brought in the IBSA as well.



followed by:

Many thanks i will quote you in my piece and send y link
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

and the following day:

I have a small book on un reform it s’at un bookshop. Fyi
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

Having found this by accident, I intend now to restart that contact
to find out what the gentleman is doing these days.



Posted on on January 25th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

from: Martin Indyk
please reply to:  foreign_policy at

Subject: Brookings Search for a New Energy Security and Climate Initiative Director


Dear Colleague,

We hope you can help spread the word about an exciting career opportunity at The Brookings Institution. We are currently searching for a new director of our Energy Security and Climate Initiative, who will also serve as a senior fellow in the Foreign Policy Program at Brookings. The candidate should have expertise in energy security, energy economics or climate policy, as well as a detailed knowledge of U.S. and international energy markets. An expertise in the geopolitics of energy, energy sustainability and/or climate change are essential, and regional expertise in Asia or the Middle East is preferred. Outstanding written and oral communication skills in English are required; fluency in relevant regional languages is desirable.

Applicants must apply online, submitting a full resume complete with a list of publications plus a description of research interests and priorities. For more information about this position, go to:….

Please share this job posting with qualified candidates. We appreciate your help in getting the word out to qualified candidates in the energy security and climate policy communities.

Best Regards,

Martin Indyk
Vice President and Director, Foreign Policy
The Brookings Institution


Posted on on September 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (

Environment – The Guardian / By Fiona Harvey

Lord Stern Report: Transform Global Economy to Fight Climate Change: One of the most influential voices on global warming releases a plan to fight climate change while growing the global economy.

September 16, 2014 |

The world can still act in time to stave off the worst effects of climate change, and enjoy the fruits of continued economic growth as long as the global economy can be transformed within the next 15 years, a group of the world’s leading economists and political leaders will argue on Tuesday.

Tackling climate change can be a boon to prosperity, rather than a brake, according to the study involving a roll-call of the globe’s biggest institutions, including the UN, the OECD group of rich countries, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and co-authored by Lord Stern, one of the world’s most influential voices on climate economics.

The report comes ahead of a UN-convened summit of world leaders on global warming next week at which David Cameron has pledged to lead calls for strong action.

“Reducing emissions is not only compatible with economic growth and development – if done well it can actually generate better growth than the old high-carbon model,” said Stern.

It is his most significant intervention in climate politics since the landmark 2006 Stern review of the economics of climate change, which made the case that tackling climate change as a matter of urgency will be cheaper than attempting to deal with the effects of the problem decades in the future. That report marked a revolution in thinking on global warming, and was a major factor in the agreements forged in Copenhagen in 2009 by which developed and major developing countries for the first time set out joint measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The economic transformation proposed in the new report will improve the lives of billions, the authors argue, from people suffering from air pollution in crowded cities to farmers struggling with poor soils in developing countries, the authors found. But achieving this change will require strong political action to set limits on carbon dioxide emissions, while promoting alternatives such as renewable energy, sustainable cities, teaching modern farming techniques and better-designed transport.

The world is expected to add billions of people to the global population in the next two decades, and trillions of dollars in economic growth – but if the massive expected growth of developing world cities is poorly managed, and global investment is poured into existing high-carbon infrastructure, then a unique opportunity to change the pattern of prosperity will have been lost, and billions of people will be left the poorer as a result, the report warns.

Stern gave the example of cities, which if designed on public transport can have more efficient economies – because people aren’t spending hours commuting and polluting, with its attendant effects on health – as well as better quality of life and lower carbon emissions.

The energy and climate change secretary, Ed Davey, told the Guardian that the UK has already seen benefits from focusing on clean development, and was committed to helping developing countries do the same. He said: “It has required UK business and international investors to recognize the costs of failure and the benefits of change and it has been sustained by a strong, vocal and committed network of NGOs, pressure groups and activists who have been instrumental in sustaining political will and public acceptance.”

At next week’s climate summit, the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, will convene heads of state and government from around the world to discuss climate change for the first time since the 2009 Copenhagen conference, which produced the first commitments from major developing countries such as China and India to curb emissions, and marked the first time the US agreed to binding emissions targets, but was widely derided for the scenes of chaos that accompanied it.

Convening world leaders again is a risky strategy, but is seen by the UN as essential to lay the ground for a crunch meeting in Paris next year, at which world governments will attempt to forge a new agreement that will cut global greenhouse gas emissions after 2020, when current pledges run out. The EU has vowed to cut emissions by 40% by 2030, compared with 1990 levels, but is the only major developed country bloc to have laid out clear plans.

Today’s report, the New Climate Economy, from the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, says that although technological “fixes” to climate change – such as renewable energy, low-carbon fuels, better urban design and better use of agricultural land – are growing fast, they are currently nowhere near enough to produce the transformation needed. As new power stations, cities and transport networks are built today, they are still being engineered on a high-carbon basis – coal-fired power plants, roads rather than public transport, slums without facilities rather than planned developments – and once these are built they lock in high carbon emissions for decades to come. Breaking that cycle requires a coordinated effort, from rich and poor countries, that prioritizes sustainability and penalizes high-carbon growth, for instance through a price on carbon.

Such efforts will come at a price, but this is far outweighed by the benefits in economic growth and improvements in health, the report suggests. For instance, reducing the world’s dependence on coal and other dirty fuels will cut air pollution and remove a key source of strain on healthcare systems.

The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, launched a year ago by the UK along with six other countries, has involved the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the OECD, the International Energy Agency and the UN, as well as several research institutes, and former world premiers. It has been chaired by the Mexican president, Felipe Calderón, and advised by leading economists including Lord Stern and Nobel prize winners Daniel Kahneman and Michael Spence.

Ottmar Edenhofer, chief economist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and an adviser to the report, said: “Economic growth and emissions reductions can be achieved together, the report clearly confirms …

Pricing CO2 is key. The heaven above us today is a waste dump for gases that harm our climate system. Wealthy states are disposing of them, free of charge, at the expense of all of us. If emitting CO2 came at a reasonable price, this would stabilize investors’ expectations so they can push forward the innovation of climate friendly technologies.”


Posted on on June 2nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (

 ADVISORYInformation as of 29 May 2014
UN Secretary-General convenes leaders of government, business and civil society to mobilize investment and action for sustainable energy for all.
Forum to advance on-the-ground solutions; launch UN Decade with focus on energy for women and children’s health; contribute to post-2015 development agenda.
Website:  The latest Forum programme, speakers and other resources will be posted and updated   at
The first annual SUSTAINABLE ENERGY FOR ALL FORUM (4-6 June) will assess results thus far from the billions of dollars in commitments made at Rio+20 towards targets on energy access, efficiency and renewables, and mobilize further action. The Forum will launch the UN Decade on Sustainable Energy for All with a two-year focus on energy for women and children’s health, build momentum on solutions ahead of the September Climate Summit and contribute to shaping the direction of energy policy for the crucial decades to come.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his Special Representative Kandeh Yumkella will be joined by several Heads of State, over 20 Ministers of energy, development and other relevant portfolios, heads of UN System agencies, development banks and other international organizations, CEOs of private sector partners and leaders from broader civil society, including from the research, innovation and investment communities, as well as women’s and youth groups active on energy issues.WHEN and HOW:4 June – Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships Day.  To review progress and advance sustainable energy solutions, in areas ranging from renewable energy – both on and off grid – to modern cooking fuels and cookstoves and energy-efficient buildings, appliances and transportation.
4 June – Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships Day.  To review progress and advance sustainable energy solutions, in areas ranging from renewable energy – both on and off grid – to modern cooking fuels and cookstoves and energy-efficient buildings, appliances and transportation. [THIS IS A LATE ADDITION of today]

5 June – Global Leaders Dialogue.  Global launch of the UN Decade on Sustainable Energy for All 2014-2024. High-level presentations and dialogues to catalyze action on finance and investment, universal energy access, energy efficiency and renewable energy.6 June – Ministerial Dialogue on the role of energy in the post-2015 development agenda.WHERE:   
United Nations Headquarters, New York.

The UN Secretary-General launched the Sustainable Energy for All initiative in 2011, with three global targets:

a) to ensure universal access to modern energy services,

(b) double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency and

(c) double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix, all by 2030.


At the Rio+20 Conference in 2012, businesses, investors and others committed billions of dollars towards these objectives. Currently, 1.3 billion people worldwide lack access to electricity, and 2.6 billion use traditional fuels for cooking and heating, causing the premature deaths of 4.3 million people each year, mostly women and children, from the effects of indoor smoke.


Press Briefings

3 June, 11:00 11:30am – Launch of Renewables 2014 Global Status Report, with Christine Lins, Executive Secretary, REN21.  Providing a comprehensive overview of renewable energy markets, industry, investment and policy developments worldwide, the report, produced annually since 2005, has become the most frequently referenced publication on renewable energy business and policy. Produced collaboratively with regional research and UN system partners, and input from over 500 contributors and reviewers.
Contact: Laura Williamson,, tel +33-1-44375099; Jim Sniffen, UNEP,, tel 212-963-8094, Press briefing room S-237.

4 June, 11:00 –11:30am – Prospects for energy access & launch of Poor People’s Energy Outlook report.  With Simon Trace, CEO, and Aaron Leopold, Global Energy Advocate, Practical Action; and Susan McDade, Country Team Leader, SE4ALL. Launch of Poor People’s Energy Outlook report and framework for scaling up action to end energy poverty, followed by review of country-level action towards universal access to modern energy services.
Contact:  Nick Milton,, mob: +44 (0) 7880 622059; Pragati Pascale,, mob (917) 744-2114. Press briefing room S-237.

5 June, 12:30 – 1:00pm – Sustainable Energy for All: Achieving Results and Shaping the Future.
With Kandeh Yumkella, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and CEO of SE4ALL;
Naoko Ishii, CEO of the Global Environment Facility; Andris Piebalgs, European Commissioner for Development (tbc).
Contact: Anthony Kamara,, Pragati Pascale,, tel (917) 744-2114. Press briefing room S-237.

5 June, 1:00 1:30pm – Launch of REmap 2030: A Renewable Energy Roadmap. With Adnan Amin, Director-General, Director General of Abu Dhabi based International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), others.
How to reach the target of doubling the share of renewables in the global energy mix by 2030. 
Contact: Tim Hurst,, tel +971 2 417 9966, Press briefing room S-237.


Other Key Events
The most up-to-date full listing of events and speakers can be found at:

4 June –  Multi-stakeholder Partnerships Day – featuring on-the-ground work.

Over 40 events will showcase and assess innovative work and projects on energy access, efficiency and renewables, and provide a forum for civil society, business and other stakeholders to share their views. This program did not originate with the UN as such and there is no reason to expect the UN to take responsibility over what is said here.
A full programme with details of events, speakers and rooms, and a full list of media contacts, can be found at Below are a few highlights.

Modern Cooking Appliances and Fuels – Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (, tel 202-864-5158)
Global Gas Flaring Reduction Initiative – Partners include Statoil and the World Bank (Chris Neale,, tel 202-473-2049)
Mini-Grids – Partners include UK DFID (Steven Hunt,
Sustainable Bio-energy – Partners include Novozymes ( Frederik Bjørndal,, mobile +44 (0) 7976 138 265)

Civil society and business events — media contacts:
Practical Action,, Mob: +44 (0) 7880 622059
World Energy Council, Monique Tsang,, tel (+44) 20 314 0616
Student Energy, Sean Collins,
Energia, Sheila Oparaocha, s.oparaocha@ETCNL.NL
Energy Access Practitioners Network, Mahalakshmi Mahadevan,    , tel (202) 864-5159

5 June – Global Leadership Dialogue on Sustainable Energy for All
(in Trusteeship Council unless otherwise stated)

10:00am — Global Launch of the UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All 2014-2024.  Including statements by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; General Assembly President John Ashe; World Bank President Jim Yong Kim (by video); President of Iceland, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson.

10:25-10:45 am – Inventing and Investing in a Sustainable Future
Statements by Andris Piebalgs, EU Commissioner for Development; Helen Clark, Administrator, UNDP; Luis Alberto Moreno, President, Inter-American Development Bank; Sir Suma Chakrabarti, President, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

10:45-11:25 am – Sustainable Energy for All: Achieving Results and Shaping the Future
SE4ALL achievements to date: Kandeh Yumkella, SRSG, and Chad Holliday, Bank of America,
Co-chairs of Executive Committee. SE4ALL high-level Advisory Board members outline opportunities and solutions on energy finance, access, efficiency and renewables.

11:35 am – 12:45 pm — Global Leaders Panels
I. Catalyzing Large-Scale Financing and Investment for SE4ALL
(moderator: Rachel Kyte, World Bank).
Lightning round kick starter with Purna Saggurti, Chairman, Global Corporate & Investment Banking, Bank of America. Followed by dialogue with high-level representatives from China, Mozambique, Nicaragua, United States; Bank of America Merrill Lynch; Brazil Development Bank; Citigroup; Eni SpA; European Investment Bank; Global Environment Facility; Morgan Stanley; United Nations; World Energy Council; others.


II. Energy Linkages (moderator: Laura Trevelyan, BBC America).
Lightning round kick starter conversation with Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women, and Kathy Calvin, UN Foundation.  Followed by dialogue with high-level representatives of Barbados; Burundi; Greenland, Holy See, Madagascar, Sierra Leone; Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves; Itapu Binacional Brasil; Practical Action; We Care Solar; World Energy Council; others. (Conference Room 1)

1:10 – 2:20 pm – World Environment Day special event on Small Island Developing States and clean energy.
With John Ashe, President of the UN General Assembly; Lord Ma’fu, Minister, Tonga; Ravinesh Nand, Fiji Department of Energy; Venkat Ramana Putti, World Bank; Sheila Watson, FIA Foundation; others. Contact:, tel 212-963-8094.

2:40 – 3:20 pm – Energy, Women, Children and Health
Global campaign announcement with Lynne Featherstone, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for International Development, United Kingdom (by video); Sir Mark Lyall Grant, Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the UN; followed by UN Leadership Panel, with senior officials from UNDP, UNFPA, WHO, Norway, others. (Trusteeship)

3:45-4:55 pm – Global Leaders Panels (cont.)
III. Doubling the Share of Renewables in the Global Energy Mix
(moderator: Matthew Bishop, The Economist).
Lightning round kick starter with Jose Manuel Entrecanales, CEO, Acciona, and Francesco Starace, CEO, Enel SpA. Followed by dialogue with high-level representatives from Brazil, China, Ecuador, New Zealand, Tonga, United Kingdom; First Solar; Global Wind Energy Council; International Solar Energy Society; IRENA; Moroccan Solar Power Agency; REN21; SkyPower; others. (Trusteeship)

IV. Ensuring Universal Access to Modern Energy Services
(moderator: Elizabeth Thompson, Senior Advisor, SE4ALL).
Lightning round kick starter with Kandeh Yumkella, SRSG and CEO of SE4ALL; Mohammed Wakil, Minister of State for Power, Nigeria; and James E. Rogers, Retired Chairman, Duke Energy. Dialogue with high-level representatives of Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Myanmar, Norway, Pakistan, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia; African Development Bank; Alliance for Rural Electrification; Bank of America Merrill Lynch; Energia; Eskom; EuropeAid, EC; Global Electricity Initiative; Islamic Development Bank; Royal Dutch Shell; Self-Employed Women’s Association; others (Conference Room 1).

5:00 – 6:10pm – Global Leaders Panels (cont.)
V. Doubling the Global Rate of Improvement in Energy Efficiency
(moderator: Chad Holliday, Bank of America). Lightning round kick starter with Manhattan Comprehensive Night and Day High School, Zayed Future Energy Prize 2014 Global High School Finalist. Followed by dialogue with high-level representatives of Japan, Ireland, Peru, Romania, Slovakia; ABB North America; Union for the Mediterranean; AFG Consultores; Business Council for Sustainable Energy; EBRD; IKEA; Industrial Promotion Services; Kenya Assoc. of Manufacturers; Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership; Statoil; UN Foundation; WWF China; others (Trusteeship).

VI. Catalyzing Bottom-Up Financing and Investment for SE4ALL (moderator: Boason Omofaye, Bloomberg TV Africa) Lightning round kick starter with Harish Hande, Managing Director, SELCO India.  Followed by dialogue with high-level representatives of Nepal, Senegal, Tanzania; Arc Finance; Deutsche Bank; Global LPG Partnerships; KITE; Rockefeller Foundation; Self-Employed Women’s Association; UN OHRLLS; WWF USA; others (Conference Room 1).

6 June — High-level Ministerial Dialogue: Energy in the post-2015 Development Agenda

9:00 am – 12:40 pm. Including remarks by Heads of State and Ministers, CEOs and leaders of civil society organizations and international organizations. (ECOSOC Chamber)

12:40 – 1:00 pm. Closing Plenary: Mobilizing All Stakeholders Towards SE4ALL with UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson (tbc); Jose Angel Gurria, Secretary-General, OECD (tbc); Fred Krupp, President Environmental Defense Fund; Kandeh Yumkella, SE4ALL. (ECOSOC Chamber)


——————————Media Accreditation                    
Media representatives who wish to be accredited to cover the Forum on-site at UN Head-quarters should submit a request and required documentation to the UN Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit.  Full guidelines as well as accreditation forms are available at For questions regarding accreditation, e-mail or phone (212) 963-6934.
——————————————–Media Resources
Press conferences.  An updated schedule of press events and briefings will be available the night before in the daily Media Alert at The latest Forum programme, speakers and other resources will be posted and updated at and Social Media. The Forum will be live-tweeted using #SE4ALLForum. In addition, +Social Good (, a digital platform run by the UN Foundation and UNDP, will feature original interviews and content for digital media, using #socialgood
(contact:,, Reporting Services will provide daily bulletins and digital coverage as well as a summary report of the Forum, including photographs. Coverage of the Forum will be available online at from 4 June 2014 and will be sent out on social media using @IISDRS.Multimedia.  Selected photographs of the Forum will be available from UN Photo online, along with other multimedia materials, at  Additional photos and high-resolution files can be obtained by contacting the UN Photo Library at  Most of the Forum will be webcast, live and on-demand, at, including all events in the larger conference rooms and all press briefings.

Broadcast. UNTV will cover the Forum live in HD, 4-6 June, schedule at, information tel. 212 963-7650.
TV packages will be available to broadcasters through Broadcast quality video files can be requested from

Media Contacts
Pragati Pascale,, tel +1 917-587-8549
Anthony Kamara,, tel (+43-699) 1458-3402
Wynne Boelt,, tel +1 212-963-8264
Ornesha Reagan,, tel +1 347-651-9521
Media contacts for SE4ALL partners can be found at








Posted on on May 25th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (


Buying Insurance Against Climate Change.




The Alliance of Small Island States has been arguing for an international approach to dealing with losses from climate change. Here, Tarawa in Kiribati, an alliance member battling rising sea levels.       Credit Kadir Van Lohuizen/NOOR



He writes here:


The third National Climate Assessment report — released on May 6 by the White House, and representing the work of more than 240 scientists — warns us about our hazardous future and offers many good ideas for dealing with it. But a most important point may be lost in the crowd.

After discussing how to mitigate the coming dangers, the report says, “Commercially available mechanisms such as insurance can also play a role in providing protection against losses due to climate change.” That sentence should have been in big, bold letters and underlined.

{PJ – editor of SustainabiliTank}   

That’s because of the substantial risk that efforts to stop global warming will fail. The implications are staggering, and we must encourage private innovation and government support to insure against the devastating financial losses that will result.

The problem is an age-old one: Each country has a strong individual incentive to take a free ride on the rest of the world — to find self-serving or nationalistic justifications for adding carbon dioxide and other pollutants to the global air supply. Such behavior, which in some ways might benefit the individual country while hurting everyone else, is known in economics as an externality problem, and the world has never solved one of this magnitude. We must face facts: There is a real risk of new kinds of climate-related disaster.E BLAMED 


In his latest book, “The Climate Casino: Risk, Uncertainty and Economics for a Warming World” (Yale University Press), my Yale colleague William D. Nordhaus describes the uncertainty of global warming’s specific effects around the world. We are taking major gambles with our environment, he says. Expect surprises.

In March, a United Nations report identified with “high confidence” a number of risks that will be visited on different people unequally. It spoke of the “risk of death, injury, ill health or disrupted livelihoods” in low-lying coastal zones and on small islands — and that is just the start. Food systems may break down. There may not be enough water for drinking and irrigation. Ecosystems may be shattered.

In short, we need to worry about the potential for greater-than-expected disasters, especially those that concentrate their fury on specific places or circumstances, many of which we cannot now predict.

That’s why global warming needs to be addressed by the private institutions of risk management, such as insurance and securitization. They have deep experience in smoothing out disasters’ effects by sharing them among large numbers of people. The people or entities that are hit hardest are helped by those less badly damaged.


But these institutions need ways to deal with such grand-scale issues. Governments should recognize that by giving these businesses a profit incentive to prepare for these unevenly distributed disasters. After all, fire insurance does no good unless you buy it before the house burns down. And you have to diversify your portfolio before the stock market crashes.

Fortunately, we aren’t too late to take action to insure against some climate risks. And yet this has not been a major element in most of the climate debate.

We already have weather derivatives that can help, like the 50 contracts in 13 countries offered by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. A ski resort can already buy protection against inadequate snowfall and a city can buy protection against too much snowfall next winter by, in effect, taking the opposite side of the same futures contract (through the exchange), thereby pooling their opposite risks.


There are also catastrophe bonds, like the three-year, $1.5 billion Everglades Re Ltd. issue sponsored this month by the Citizens Property Insurance Corporation. It would provide relief to the insurer of Floridians hit by a bad hurricane; in such an event, the bond holders would bear losses.

But there is a problem with instruments like these: They tend to focus on relatively short-term risks, and don’t hedge against the increasing cost of disasters over distant future years. Yet if the problems of global warming become more serious, they will very likely be long-lasting, raising some complex, tough-to-quantify issues. Some kinds of crises, like hurricanes, may remain intermittent, but their tendency toward severity may build in a slow, hard-to-predict process and in complex geographical patterns.


Psychologically, it’s hard for most of us to take the initiative on long-term, ill-defined risks. Three scholars — Howard C. Kunreuther and Mark V. Pauly of the University of Pennsylvania and Stacey McMorrow of the Urban Institute — show this in their book, “Insurance and Behavioral Economics: Improving Decisions in the Most Misunderstood Industry” (Cambridge University Press). But they argue that if we’re aware of them, these psychological impediments can be reduced, and they urge the innovation of long-term risk management contracts that address the problem of climate change.

Some progress is being made: The Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility is one recent example of institutional sharing of climate risks. Then there is the Alliance of Small Island States, formed in 1990 as a response to climate change. The group represents 5 percent of the world’s population, and its island members are scattered around the globe. But if sea levels rise substantially, all of them will be affected. These countries generally aren’t big enough to have a heartland that can help coastal dwellers in a climate catastrophe. The alliance has been arguing for an international approach to dealing with such loss and damage.

These are only beginnings. We have a crucial need to bring innovation to our risk-management institutions. We need to make them flexible, to clarify their long-term international legal status, to develop mechanisms and indexes that can be the basis of long-term risk management contracts and to educate the public about them. Most important, we need concrete action now to build a mechanism that will provide real help for the victims of climate-change disasters.



ROBERT J. SHILLER is Sterling Professor of Economics at Yale.

A version of this article appears in print on May 25, 2014, on page BU6 of the New York edition with the headline: Buying Insurance Against Climate Change



Some  Comments:



I too, think this article misses the point. What is going to happen is that insurance companies will simply STOP insuring industries and…


Tom Stoltz

Change can be bad, but change can be good. Dr. Shiller (like most) focus on the down side of a warmer climate, “The people … that are hit…




The costs should be put on the corporate masters & their politician toadies who have been denying climate change for decades. Once…



Posted on on April 15th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (


International Business


China Takes On Big Risks in Its Push for Shale Gas.


Continue reading the main story      

Chinese Fireball Mystery – Jonah M. Kessel, The New York Times, Photography.


China’s largest energy company has made the country’s first commercially viable shale gas discovery, but the path to energy independence is fraught with risks, as one town has seen first-hand.


JIAOSHIZHEN, China — Residents of this isolated mountain valley of terraced cornfields were just going to sleep last April when they were jolted by an enormous roar, followed by a tower of flames. A shock wave rolled across the valley, rattling windows in farmhouses and village shops, and a mysterious, pungent gas swiftly pervaded homes.

“It was so scary — everyone who had a car fled the village and the rest of us without cars just stayed and waited to die,” said Zhang Mengsu, a hardware store owner.

All too quickly, residents realized the source of the midnight fireball: a shale gas drilling rig in their tiny rural hamlet.

This verdant valley represents the latest frontier in the worldwide hunt for shale gas retrievable by the technology of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. It is a drilling boom that has upended the energy industry and spurred billions of dollars of investment.

Like the United States and Europe, China wants to wean itself from its dependence on energy imports — and in Jiaoshizhen, the Chinese energy giant Sinopec says it has made the country’s first commercially viable shale gas discovery. Its efforts could also help address another urgent issue, as Beijing looks to curb an overwhelming reliance on coal that has blackened skies and made China the largest contributor to global warming.


Huge drilling projects can be seen embedded into farm land outside of Fuling, China. Shale gas has been discovered in the region. Credit Jonah M. Kessel for The New York Times


But the path to energy independence and a cleaner fossil fuel is fraught with potential pitfalls. Threats to workplace safety, public health and the environment all loom large in the shale gas debate — and the question is whether those short-term risks threaten to undermine China’s long-term goal.

The energy industry around the world has faced criticism about the economic viability of vast shale projects and the environmental impact of the fracking process. But interviews with residents of six hamlets here where drilling is being done, as well as with executives and experts in Beijing, the United States and Europe, suggest that China’s search poses even greater challenges.

In China, companies must drill two to three times as deep as in the United States, making the process significantly more expensive, noisier and potentially more dangerous. Chinese energy giants also operate in strict secrecy; they rarely engage with local communities, and accidents claim a high death toll.

The still-disputed incident in Jiaoshizhen has raised serious concerns among its residents.

Villagers said that employees at the time told them that eight workers died when the rig exploded that night. Sinopec officials and village leaders then ordered residents not to discuss the event, according to the villagers. Now villagers complain of fouled streams and polluted fields.

“There was a huge ball of fire,” said Liu Jiazhen, a mustard greens farmer with three children who lives a five-minute walk from the site. “The managers here all raced for their lives up the hill.”

Ms. Liu said that the flames rose higher than the pines on a nearby ridge, covering the steel frame of the rig, which is nearly 100 feet high. The flames burned for hours, she said.

Sinopec describes the incident as a controlled flaring of gas and denies that anybody died. While the company would not speak in detail about its shale projects, Sinopec said it ran its operations safely and without harm to the environment.

Li Chunguang, the president of Sinopec, said in an interview in late March that nothing had gone wrong in Jiaoshizhen. “There is no basis for this,” he said.

The bustling activity in Jiaoshizhen indicates a significant find for Sinopec.

Feeder pipes connect some of the dozen or so drilling sites, and 100 more wells are planned. Bright blue, boxy equipment for gas compression is being installed on large, flat lots next to at least two of the drilling rigs. A two-lane road has been paved across a mountain pass from Fuling, the nearest city, to help carry the 1,100 truckloads of steel, cement and other supplies needed for each well.

The valley has been so isolated for centuries that residents of its 16 hamlets still speak a dialect that is distinct even from Fuling, 13 miles away. Jiaoshizhen had only two-story concrete buildings and single-story mud brick farmhouses last August; Sinopec workers lived in trailers while managers rented the upstairs of concrete homes. On a visit six months later, at least 20 tower cranes were erecting high-rises.

The gas field in Jiaoshizhen “is the closest we have in China to a breakthrough project,” said Gavin Thompson, the head of Asia and Pacific gas and power research at Wood Mackenzie, one of the largest energy consulting companies. He noted, however, that Sinopec was providing few details and that he, like most Western experts, had not been able to visit the valley.

Chris Faulkner, the chief executive and president of Breitling Energy, a Dallas company that has advised Sinopec on its drilling in western China for four years, said that the energy giants’ reluctance to have open discussions about health, safety and environmental issues might prompt communities to fear the worst.

“If they think that they’re going to go out and drill 1,000 wells, and no one is going to Google ‘fracking,’ they’re fools,” he said, adding that even in China, “the days of ‘shut up and be quiet’ are gone.”

The Chinese energy giants have plenty of money to fund their efforts. Sinopec has one million employees and is the world’s fourth-largest company by revenue after Royal Dutch Shell, Walmart and Exxon Mobil; the fifth-largest is China National Petroleum. With their deep pockets, the companies have been investing heavily in North American shale businesses; Sinopec paid $2.2 billion in 2012 for a 30 percent stake in Devon Energy’s shale gas and oil operations in the United States.

In China, workplace safety is a significant concern. Thousands die each year in coal mines, according to government statistics that have prompted a successful national crackdown over the last decade.

Scant information is publicly available about the safety and environmental records of the politically powerful, mostly state-owned oil and gas industry. But Sinopec has acknowledged two deadly accidents in the last year, albeit not related to fracking. An oil pipeline explosion in Qingdao killed 62 and injured 136, and a cooking gas explosion in Dongguan killed one.

In Jiaoshizhen, after the blast, worries linger about the impact on the residents’ health and their fields.

Villagers said in interviews in August and February that the fast-spreading gas they encountered last year had been foul-smelling. Sinopec said that it had done air tests and not found any toxic pollution, although it declined to identify the gas.

The gas evoked particular fear here because drilling by China National Petroleum in 2003 about 120 miles to the northeast released toxic gases that killed 243 people and sickened thousands. That accident involved conventional gas exploration, however, not fracking.

Residents here also worry about diesel runoff from the drilling sites, tainting local streams and at least one shallow well. The drilling “makes so much noise and the water that comes down the mountain has become so much dirtier to drink; now it smells of diesel,” said Tian Shiao Yung, a farmer.

Sinopec said that it temporarily provided drinking water to residents after drilling foam surfaced in a nearby cave last spring, and it changed its drilling practice. The company said that subsequent tests had shown the local water to be “drinkable.”


Despite her complaints, Ms. Tian, like every other resident interviewed, welcomed the drilling for one reason: money.

Sinopec rents land from farmers for 9,000 renminbi, or $1,475, per acre each year. Farmers earn that much money from growing crops only in the best years, and then after hundreds of hours of labor.

“Farmers don’t mind; now they can buy their rice instead of having to grow it,” Ms. Tian said, adding: “I’m still drinking the water.”

A version of this article appears in print on April 12, 2014, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: China Takes On Big Risks in Its Push for Shale Gas.


Posted on on April 3rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (

Is The Latest Climate Report Too Much Of A Downer?

March 31, 2014

According to a new report, unless more is done to combat climate change, extreme weather like the drought now gripping California will only grow more common.

According to a new report, unless more is done to combat climate change, extreme weather like the drought now gripping California will only grow more common.  Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

Reading through the from the U.N.-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), it’s hard not to feel despondent about the state of the world.

The report’s colorful charts and tables tell of droughts and fires; depleted fisheries and strained cropland; a world in which heat-related disease is on the rise and freshwater is growing scarce.

“It’s risk, risk, risk, risk, risk,” says , a climate economist at the University of Sussex. “Climate change is dangerous, and we’re all going to die, and we’re all going to starve.”

Tol is a coordinating lead author on about the economic impacts of climate change, but he doesn’t believe climate change will be as destructive as the report might lead some to believe. He took his name off the dire because he felt it didn’t accurately account for human ingenuity.

Take crop yields, for example. The report says climate change will cause them to fall by a few percent per decade. But Tol says technological innovation will likely raise crop yields by 10 percent or more each decade.

“So it’s not that crop yields are going to fall, but they’re going to rise more slowly because of climate change,” he says. “And then of course it doesn’t sound as alarming.”

Tol adds, “Sea-level rise may be quite dramatic, if it weren’t for the fact that somebody in China invented the dike 3,000 years ago.” The Netherlands has been able to hold off the sea for more than a century, and others could do the same with proven technology.

Now to be clear: Tol still believes in climate change, and he still thinks it’s a serious problem. In fact, that’s why he’s speaking out — he thinks this report will split believers and deniers at just the time there needs to be a consensus on how to keep the world from getting even warmer.

“I think there is a real risk of this draft further polarizing the climate debate,” he says. And if people don’t work together to lower carbon emissions, he says, things will get even worse in the long term.

The report’s other authors say its gloomy tone is entirely justified. “Richard’s a great guy; I love him. But he’s not in the center of the scientific community,” says , who co-chaired the full report. He says Tol is one of more than 300 lead authors.

Field thinks the report appropriately warns of some difficult times ahead. The world’s poorest will be especially vulnerable, he says.

But Field acknowledges that predicting exactly what will happen is difficult, because people aren’t like melting glaciers. They don’t just sit there; they adapt.

“People have a tendency of changing what they do when they realize they have a problem; that’s the core essence of adaptation,” he says.

The new report does say adaptation could make climate change much less damaging to society. For instance, most projections point to a rise in global temperature of at least 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century. But Field thinks improved transportation infrastructure, better disaster response and health care could all help lessen the rise’s impact.

And adapting won’t necessarily cost a lot, adds , director of based in Bangladesh.

Preparing for extreme weather like floods and cyclones doesn’t always mean building huge barriers against the ocean. “In most cases, it’s just societal preparedness,” Huq says. “It’s people having shelters to go to.”

“The rich don’t have any particular advantage here. It’s not technology that makes a difference,” Huq adds.

Tol, Huq and Field all agree: Climate change is happening. Humans aren’t helpless; they can adapt. But society will also need to make changes to avoid further warming.

Otherwise, things will get even more depressing.


U.N. Report Raises Climate Change Warning, Points To Opportunities

“The effects of climate change are already occurring on all continents and across the oceans,” and the world is mostly “ill-prepared” for the risks that the sweeping changes present, .

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's report.

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report.

The report also wastes no time in pointing a finger toward who is responsible: “Human interference with the climate system is occurring,” reads the first sentence .

As NPR’s tells our Newscast Desk, the panel “includes hundreds of scientists from around the world. Its past reports have made gloomy predictions about the impact of climate on humans. This time around, they’re also trying to prepare us. Chris Field, the co-chair of the new report, says improving health systems, making transportation more efficient, and beefing up disaster response can make a difference.”

“Things we should be doing to build a better world are also things we should be doing to protect against climate change,” Field says.

In the summary of its findings and recommendations, for instance, the panel suggests that ongoing efforts to improve energy efficiency, switch to cleaner energy sources, make cities “greener” and reduce water consumption will make life better today and could help reduce mankind’s effect on climate change in the future. While all people will continue to feel the effects of climate change, the report concludes that the world’s poorest populations will suffer the most from rising temperatures and rising seas unless action is taken.

Still, the report concludes that climate change is “already having effects in real time — melting sea ice and thawing permafrost in the Arctic, killing off coral reefs in the oceans, and leading to heat waves, heavy rains and mega-disasters. And the worst was yet to come. Climate change posed a threat to global food stocks, and to human security, the blockbuster report said.”

“Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change,” says Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC.

The BBC calls the Report:
“the most comprehensive assessment to date of the impacts of climate change on the world.”



Posted on on April 1st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (

UN Climate Change Secretariat to Showcase Worldwide Climate

Action: Momentum for Change Call for Applications Now Open

Read the release on our website:

(Bonn, 31 March 2014) – Starting today, communities, cities, businesses and
governments that are taking the lead on tackling climate change can apply
to have their game-changing initiatives recognized by the UN Climate Change

The secretariat officially opened the call for applications for its 2014
Lighthouse Activities today as part of wider efforts to mobilize action and
ambition as national governments work toward a new universal climate
agreement in 2015.

“This year, we are looking to do things a little differently,” said UNFCCC
Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres. “We will still shine a light on
small, entrepreneurial solutions that are changing communities, as well as
large initiatives that are transforming cities, businesses and governments.
But we’re also looking to highlight initiatives with a bigger impact than
ever before. Effectively addressing climate change requires action from all
levels of society and from every sector, with efforts that are both small
and large.”

The 2014 Lighthouse Activities will be selected by an 18-member,
international advisory panel as part of the secretariat’s Momentum for
Change initiative. Launched in 2011, Momentum for Change shines a light on
the groundswell of activities underway across the globe to address climate
change. This provides a positive context for international climate
negotiations, showing that action on climate change is not only possible
but that it is already happening – in the hopes of inspiring others to do
the same.

Winning activities will be announced in November 2014 and officially
recognized and celebrated during a series of special events in December at
the UN Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru.

The high visibility of the annual UN climate change negotiations creates a
prominent platform on which the Lighthouse Activities are showcased and
publicized – resulting in spin-off benefits that help the activities expand
even further. For example, 2013 Lighthouse Activity winner Bernice Dapaah,
whose organization builds bamboo bicycles in Ghana, was recently named a
2014 Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. Demand for her bamboo
bicycles has spiked so dramatically she can barely keep up with orders
pouring in from across the globe.

“Seeing these activities scale up and replicate is the really exciting
part,” said Ms. Figueres. “It shows that climate action is increasing and
picking up momentum as it goes.”

Applications for the 2014 Lighthouse Activities are being accepted until 23
May 2014 at

Please note that UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres will host a
Google Hangout today (31 March) from 15:00 to 15:30 (CEST) to talk about
the call for applications with previous Lighthouse Activity winners. Watch
live at

For more information, please contact:
Sarah Marchildon, Communications Officer, United Nations Climate Change
Secretariat, at: | +49 228 815 1065

Learn more:
Momentum for Change on Facebook: unfcccmomentum
Momentum for Change on Twitter: @Momentum_UNFCCC
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres on Twitter: @CFigueres

Digital assets:
High-resolution images of the 2013 Lighthouse Activities are available at:

Short videos of the 2013 Lighthouse Activities are available at:


Posted on on March 1st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (


Annual Progressive Economy Forum, 5-6 March 2014

Full programme

December 2013 Parliamentary Conference

Progressive Economy organised a first annual Progressive Economy Parliamentary Conference in Brussels on Wednesday 4 December and Thursday 5 December 2013.
Read more »

New events

Wed, 05/03/2014 – 14:30
Brussels, Belgium



Posted on on March 1st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (

Administrative Unit,
Climate Investment Funds

T: 1.202.458.1801 | F: 1.202.522.2937 |
1818 H St. NW, Washington D.C. 20433 | Follow us on @CIF_Action

Recent updates to the CIF Voices (blogs), videos  and news articles on CIF projects:

Snakes, Tomatoes, and Other Take Aways from the Asia-Pacific Dialogue on the GCF
Martha Stein-Sochas, CIF AU, Feb 26
Last week at the Asia-Pacific Dialogue on the Green Climate Fund (GCF), I heard many helpful suggestions and ideas from private sector participants on the GCF’s future Private Sector Facility, which aims to provide financing for climate action in the private sector.  But no advice was more powerful than that of Paul Needham, President and Co-founder of Simpa Networks, who related to us the need to move quickly, take risks, and be catalytic.

Lessons from the field on CIF results monitoring and reporting
Emmanuel Kouadio, CIF AU, Feb 14
For the Climate Investment Funds (CIF), understanding the tangible results of its funding is essential to learning and accountability. It has been no small task to make monitoring and reporting (M&R) a reality across the four programs and 48 countries that comprise the CIF. But this year, 2014, all CIF pilot countries will report on results and annually thereafter.

World Bank, Government of Samoa Launch Climate Resilience Program
World Bank, February 6
“The World Bank is committed to helping small island states manage pressing risks from natural disasters and climate change,” said Drees-Gross. “Through the Climate Investment Funds, we are proud to support Samoa in critical efforts to increase the resilience of coastal communities and infrastructure, which could help protect their very survival as well as long-term development.”
Keeping Partnership Strong as PPCR Planning Turns to Action in Samoa
Litara Taulealo, Ministry of Finance, Samoa, Feb 18
Last week the government of Samoa and the World Bank announced the launch of a new project to support climate change adaptation measures for coastal communities. Our Enhancing the Climate Resilience of Coastal Resources and Communities Project, supported by $14.6 million from the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR), will assist 45,000 Samoans in coastal communities in adapting to climate change and climate variability, protect coastal infrastructure, and increase awareness about climate change impacts and adaptation activities among communities, civil society, and government entities.


Drawing lessons from Turkey’s energy use, emissions and fuel mix
Sandy Ferguson, EBRD, Feb 5
One thing jumps out when looking at the Turkish Sustainable Energy Financing Facility (TurSEFF) report: with the right combination of financing, one can achieve substantial changes in energy use, emissions, and fuel mix in middle income countries.

Transforming Waste to Energy in Nepal
Nepal is part of the larger effort to expand energy access and markets for renewable energy in the world’s poorest countries. Today, Nepal is using SREP to develop large-scale commercial, institutional, and municipal bioenergy projects

Menengai Geothermal Power Plant in Kenya
Africa Express stopped in Kenya to learn more about geothermal power development at Menengai. SREP $25 million is supporting development of Menengai which envisions 120 wells injecting 400 megawatts of electricity into the national grid

AfDB facilitates private sector finance for climate-readiness in Niger, Mozambique and Zambia
AfDB, February 26
Over US $30 million in concessional funds has been made available for innovative private sector projects that seek to improve climate change adaptation or readiness in Niger, Mozambique and Zambia. This financing is part of the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR), a financing window of the Climate Investment Funds (CIF)

Open Call to Private Sector
CIF AU, Feb 20
Access over $65 million in concessional financing set aside for innovative private sector projects in PPCR and SREP pilot countries. Proposals being accepted until March 31 (SREP) and April 30 (PPCR). Read more.

Rooted in Learning, Growing with Results
CIF AU, February 17
2013 was a year of growth for the CIF. The 2013 CIF Annual Report highlights emerging results, key lessons learned, and the momentum we are building for climate-smart development.

USELF Boosts Ukraine’s Renewable Energy Sector
EBRD, February 14
The first phase of the EBRD’s Ukraine Sustainable Energy Lending Facility (USELF) will deliver 200 GWh of renewable energy through an innovative combination of EBRD commercial financing, dedicated technical assistance support and

AfDB affirms its support for Power Africa, with a commitment of more than US $600 million
AfDB, February 13
In addition, under the aegis of the Climate Investment Funds, the Bank has led work on the Scaling-up Renewable Energy Program (SREP) Investment Plan for Tanzania and prepared jointly with the World Bank the Scaling-up Renewable Energy Program (SREP) Investment Plan for Liberia. This will lead to projects in both countries.

AfDB supports Ghana local communities with $14.55 million to reduce deforestation
AfDB, February 4
The project, called Engaging Local Communities in Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) /Enhancement of Carbon Stocks, benefits from the support from the Climate Investment Funds’ (CIF) Forest Investment Program (FIP).  It will directly benefit 12,000 people, half of them women, by providing capacity building, seeds and equipment, and financial incentives through benefit-sharing agreements to develop forestry, agroforestry and alternative livelihoods. The project will also indirectly benefit 175,000 people in the two regions.


Posted on on February 23rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (



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Published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)

Volume 221 Number 1 – Monday, 24 February 2014
20 FEBRUARY 2014
The workshop on ‘Making the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development Work: How to build an effective “Review Mechanism”’ took place in New York, US, on 20 February 2014.

The workshop was sponsored by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and Permanent Missions of seven governments: Egypt, Liechtenstein, Norway, Peru, Pakistan, the Republic of Korea and Switzerland, with invited participants from other governments, the UN Secretariat, including an Assistant Secretary-General from the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and NGOs, as well as two expert commenters.

The workshop sought to create an open discussion around the review mechanism that will begin in 2016, ahead of the intergovernmental process on this issue. The UN General Assembly (UNGA) established the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) in 2012 when it adopted the outcome of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). In 2013, the UNGA decided that the HLPF should conduct regular reviews, starting in 2016, on the follow-up and implementation of sustainable development commitments and objectives, including those related to the means of implementation, within the context of the post-2015 development agenda. The aim of this workshop was to identify potential “landing zones” where consensus on the design of the review mechanism could be detected and strengthened.

During the workshop, participants engaged in an exchange of views and ideas about the possible elements, purpose and outcome of the review process. At the end of the workshop, the moderator noted that “integration” and “coherence” where two of the most frequently used words during the workshop, and predicted that “the world will apply these yardsticks to the review mechanism.”

This briefing note summarizes the presentations and discussions during the workshop. The workshop was held under the Chatham House Rule and this briefing note therefore does not identify speakers.



The workshop opened on Thursday morning, 20 February, with the Permanent Representative of Norway welcoming participants on behalf of the seven sponsoring missions.

The Permanent Representatives of Egypt, Norway, Pakistan and Peru spoke in opening remarks. Among other things, they stated that: the HLPF is regarded as the home for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and that a robust review mechanism is needed to fulfill this role; each time an SDG target is decided, the need to measure progress must be remembered; transparency and accountability for implementation are critical, and should apply to both developing and developed countries; and the review should be linked with the Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) to avoid duplication.

The Permanent Representations further commented that: the review should cover a large number of countries; there is a need to help developing countries with implementation and to create incentives; the review should enable developing countries to showcase their achievements; and the process should be simple, flexible and allow for “learning by doing.”

A representative of IISD said the workshop aimed to provide a platform for participants to express their hopes and concerns about the design of the review mechanism. Another IISD representative presented the background paper for the workshop, ‘Building an Effective Review Mechanism: Lessons for the HLPF,’ highlighting six questions about the review: who is to be reviewed; by whom; about what; through what process; using what standards; and what is the review to achieve: learning, policy changes, and/or access to means of implementation? He stressed that participants on both sides of a review process must see its benefits.


During the interactive segment of the workshop, participants responded to the opening remarks, posed questions to each other, and received input from the moderator regarding possible themes, preferences and concerns.

Many participants expressed appreciation for the background paper prepared by IISD. Some offered suggestions, such as including the climate change system in the list of examples of existing review mechanisms, noting that it reflects the concept of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities.

Several participants called for the review mechanism to take an innovative approach, highlighting the innovative nature of the HLPF itself, the opportunity to craft something “fresh and modern,” and the need to learn from problems with existing review mechanisms such as the Annual Ministerial Review.

Some participants expressed a preference for a positive, inspirational review process that celebrates achievement, avoids finger-pointing, and is non-threatening. Others opposed this view, suggesting that a review that is “too soft” would not help, and underlining that both developed and developing countries need to be more serious about implementing commitments. Another noted that the SDGs will be political commitments, not legal ones, making national-level implementation key to their success.

Some echoed the emphasis on a learning-focused, iterative approach highlighted in opening comments, with one noting that “we learn best from failure” and should therefore identify barriers to implementation. A note of caution was sounded by some about shifting the goalposts at every HLPF meeting. One participant suggested that for the three years when the HLPF convenes, diplomatic energy should be spent on implementation. In the fourth year of the cycle, however, when it meets at a higher level, the Forum could look at the lessons learned and shift the goal posts if needed.

One expert commenter said an emphasis on learning does not mean the review mechanism can only showcase achievements. He noted that learning also occurs by looking at cause-effect relationships between policies and outcomes.

Some participants cited the need for coherence and cautioned against crafting new things without links to what is already happening, with several noting that the work of the DCF and other bodies should not be duplicated. To this end, one expert commenter suggested that the review could be a decentralized process, with the HLPF playing a role to ensure higher-level accountability and comparability among processes.

One participant recalled the words of Sha Zukang, former Secretary-General of Rio+20, that “implementation, integration and coherence” are the key gaps that Rio+20 tried to address, and where big impact is needed. An expert commenter affirmed that the HLPF has an explicit mandate to focus on coherence and integration, noting this makes it unique and should drive the review process.

Regarding “who is being reviewed,” some countries suggested working at multiple levels, for example holding an internal review at the national level, followed by regional and then international reviews. Others suggested having small groups of countries review each other first, organized according to region or other criteria.

One participant argued for reviewing all countries, in order for each country to feel comfortable with the process. Another participant said, however, that, if countries present their reports during high-level ministers’ segments – “prime time” – there would only be time to review a few countries each year. He added that ministerial-level reviews also could result in a “rosy picture” rather than a critical examination of lessons learned.

One participant asked how developed countries could go beyond reporting just on their international development efforts and include their domestic efforts to promote sustainable development. Another participant stressed the importance of countries regarding the review mechanism as being in their interest. One commenter said developing countries should be supported to report and participate in the review, and that means of implementation must therefore be subject to the review.

On the question of “by whom,” that is, who will conduct the review, one participant suggested that this did not need to be either “horizontal” (peer) or “vertical” (hierarchical), but that it could be a state-led, neutral review with broad participation from stakeholders.

Some participants asked what arrangements would be politically feasible, given the “political contestation” over the HLPF’s nature, and legal and structural identity.

One participant argued that, contrary to one of the sponsoring governments’ opening remarks, the HLPF will not be the sole institutional home for the post-2015 development agenda. He said that instead, there should be multiple institutional bases of support for the agenda, including at national levels and in multilateral institutions, although the UN could provide a “center of gravity” for the agenda.

An expert commenter said participants had identified four purposes of a review: measuring, learning, enabling, and holding to account. One participant said the purposes of the review should be to ensure accountability on implementation, and promote policy changes.

An expert commenter also noted four challenges the design process would need to overcome: enabling participation and ensuring the benefits of participation are clear to participants; balancing the broad sustainability agenda with the need for focused review, which could perhaps be resolved by using the SDGs as a focus; ensuring coherence among the dimensions of sustainable development and among existing processes; and deciding whether the review would be a mutual one, and whether it would promote accountability on voluntary commitments.

Some participants suggested that the review design process must take into account an additional question that was not asked in the Background Paper: the question of “to whom,” or on whose behalf the review would be conducted.

One participant said stakeholders would provide accountability and legitimacy for the review, both by helping collect data on progress, and by attending the review meetings and offering feedback on the results. Another participant said the focus on accountability reflects frustration with the failure to fulfil commitments and that clarity about the causes of this failure would be useful.

A UN system representative highlighted the Global Reporting Initiative as the “gold standard” for sustainability reporting. He said the business community is becoming more proactive about issues that are “material for financial success,” such as supply chain issues, transparency and corruption. He added that, since “you can no longer hide dark sides deep in your supply chain,” private investment has gained a stronger focus on building markets, which creates greater overlap among private and public interests. Another participant stressed that private businesses are the primary producers of waste, not UN entities or governments, but that yet, they are rarely held accountable.

Participants also commented that: the review should not focus too much on environmental issues, but should bring the three dimensions of sustainable development to bear; each possible review mechanism should include its “price tag,” since the UNGA’s Fifth Committee will ask for this before approving the mechanism; and there is a need for high-quality data and analysis, and accompanying capacity building.

The moderator suggested that the discussion had raised the need for four “balancing acts” between: celebration and seriousness of the review; the broad mandate of sustainable development and a narrower focus for implementation; inspiration and the practical concerns to be addressed; and effort, which is easier to measure, and impact, which is the “great promise.”

He also said the list of words used most often during the discussion includes “integration” and “coherence,” predicting that the world will apply these yardsticks to the review mechanism.


In closing remarks, an IISD representative said there had been a call for governments to be accountable both to their citizens, and – at the global level – to all people including generations unborn. He described the challenge as a kind of “Rubik’s cube” because of remaining uncertainties about the HLPF.

He also noted the challenge of financing frequent reviews, but highlighted the need for enough frequency to have feedback loops of learning, and suggested two ways to resolve this: having a regional review process that would feed reports to the HLPF annual sessions; or having a UN Secretariat report pull together other relevant reviews for discussion in the HLPF. Finally, he observed a lack of discussion around the Global Sustainable Development Report.

Another IISD representative observed a strong sense among participants that they must get the review mechanism right. He said they were in the “discovery phase” of putting everything on the table, seeing how things can be organized, and boiling it down to the key elements that Member States must discuss and agree upon. He explained that the next steps for IISD would be to distill this conversation and hopefully help identify landing zones, which would enable the process to “come to earth at some point.”

Following concluding remarks and thanks from the Permanent Representative of Switzerland, the workshop was brought to a close shortly after 1 pm.


Posted on on February 14th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (


Fair-trade olive oil supplier has origins in Jenin, The Palestinian Authority on the West Bank.

Bottles of olive oil are displayed at the Canaan Fair Trade company in the village Burqin, near Jenin, Oct. 17, 2009.  (photo by SAIF DAHLAH/AFP/Getty Images)

World’s largest fair-trade olive oil supplier has origins in Jenin

Various fair-trade initiatives have begun in Israel over the past decade and even before; however, most of them have failed. Only a few stores in Israel sell fair-trade products (primarily, the Achoti shop in Tel Aviv). And the local movement that sought to promote the use of fair-trade vouchers has shut down business. The concept has not seeped in and has not been adopted by the major Israeli manufacturers, and contrary to the global trend, it is not used as a marketing tool locally. It seems that Israeli consumers do not really care.

Summary? Print Few in Israel have heard of the Canaan Fair Trade commercial enterprise; however, in the West it is a well-known brand name, a Palestinian venture that has succeeded where its Israeli counterparts have failed.
Author Gil Kelian Posted February 13, 2014

Translator(s)Hanni Manor
Original Article ????? ??????? ??????

Given the failure of the fair-trade cause in Israel, the success of Canaan Fair Trade, based in the West Bank Palestinian city of Jenin, is particularly notable. The fair-trade supplier of olive oil and other Palestinian agricultural products has clients all over the world, including international corporations like Ben & Jerry’s, LUSH Cosmetics and the giant retailers Whole Foods, Williams-Sonoma and Sainsbury’s.

A world renowned venture unknown in Israel

Canaan Fair Trade came into being and has grown and flourished entirely removed from the Israeli efforts in this domain, and it has actually surpassed the Israeli initiatives, going unnoticed by the local food industry. Canaan is virtually unknown in the Israeli arena of food companies and retailers. And if you wonder where it is known; well, the brand name is widely recognized among international bodies engaged in fair trade and social investments.

Since it began operations in 2005, Canaan Fair Trade has succeeded in bringing 2,149 Palestinian farmers under its umbrella. Its sales volume for 2013 reached 321 tons of olive oil, yielding revenues of $4.1 million. Yet, impressive as the figures may seem, they represent a certain decline compared to Canaan’s peak year of 2011, when its sales volume totaled 440 tons of olive oil, yielding revenues of $4.7 million. These figures make Canaan the largest fair-trade venture in Israel — or in Palestine — its officially announced base of operations. In fact, according to its founder and managing director, Palestinian-American businessman Nasser Abufarha, Canaan Fair Trade is the largest fair-trade enterprise in the Middle East, and the largest fair-trade supplier of olive oil in the world.

Canaan Fair Trade was conceived in 2003, at a conference organized by Abufarha on behalf of local olive growers in the Palestinian Authority. Many of the olive growers attending the conference voiced their interest in the model presented by Abufarha, who had been exposed to the model of fair trade in the course of his doctoral studies at the University of Wisconsin in the Unites States. Abufarha then went on to establish Canaan, basing it on three fundamental guidelines — the traditional principle of financial profitability, supplemented by the guiding principles of social profitability and environmental sustainability.

An increase in profits that makes all the difference for the growers and their families

Among the first investors financing the activities of Canaan Fair Trade was the American soap manufacturer Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, a family-owned-and-operated company founded by Emmanuel Bronner, a scion of soap makers. The Bronners’ company was one of the pioneers of fair trade in the cosmetics industry (which rendered its products highly popular in the United States in the 1960s), and to this day it has remained a family-owned company that promotes business ethics. Through the years, Bronner emphasized the association between the family company and the establishment of the State of Israel, and he even painted his first product blue and white. What’s more, the company has taken care not to limit its purchases to Palestinian olive oil, but rather makes it a point to buy Israeli-made oil for the manufacture of its soaps.

Drawing on the capital it raised from the Bronners, coupled with the financial support it received from the Palestinian Authority and the funding by the Dutch government, Canaan Fair Trade was able to invest $5 million in infrastructures for the production, bottling and marketing of olive oil and other agricultural products. The funds were also used for the acquisition of a building in Jenin and the establishment of the Palestinian Fair Trade Association.

The branding strategy of the products it resells as fair-trade products has made it possible for Canaan Fair Trade to charge a higher price for the produce, and it has thus managed to triple the income of farming families taking part in the venture. Abufarha said that before Canaan entered into the market, the price per ton of olive oil was approximately NIS 9,000 [about $2,560] in the open market, while the Palestinian olive oil growers could get through Canaan no less than NIS 24,000 [more than $6,800] per ton. “For a farmer producing 4 to 5 tons of olive oil a year, these amounts can make all the difference,” he notes.

The price the farmer receives for his produce is the focal point of any fair-trade activity. As a matter of fact, the fair-trade movement was initially formed to tackle situations where farmers in the Third World could not receive a fair price for their produce that would provide them and their families with a dignified existence.

Setting a fair price for the farmer is the fundamental principle at the base of the social and economic activity of Canaan, which was a global pioneer in fair-trade marketing of olive oil. The price the farmer receives for 1 liter of olive oil is currently fixed at NIS 15 [roughly $4.25], and Canaan would never pay the farmer less than that.

Given that price, one can understand why the Israeli farmer operates as a rule under fair-trade conditions, even though no such framework has been officially defined in this case. The Olive Board in the Israeli Plants Production & Marketing Board sets a recommended price for the farmer, which stands at NIS 18 [just over $5.10] per liter. While Israeli farmers do not always get the recommended price, it seems that the Palestinian floor price is applicable to them. too, in the majority of cases, at least. That price is guaranteed to Israeli farmers primarily by virtue of import and customs barriers.

According to Abufarha, fair-trade ideology is not as relevant to the Israeli farmer as it is to his Palestinian counterpart, since it is an ideology primarily intended to strengthen Third World farmers who have to cope with global conglomerates, while the Israeli farmer lives in the First World.

The profits are used to buy computers for schools

Canaan’s business model involves the sale of products officially labeled as fair-trade products, enabling the company to collect a certain premium from the consumer. Its customers are for the most part socially aware consumers who are willing to pay a little more for the produce, realizing that their personal consumption serves to promote a social cause. In fact, 22.4% of the retail price set per a bottle of olive oil marketed by Canaan represents a “social premium.”

Of this the social premium, 50% directly forwarded to the farmer, 25% is funneled to the agricultural cooperative the farmer is associated with, while the remaining 25% is invested in upgrading the education system and other infrastructures serving the Palestinian farmers.

There is a whole range of infrastructures that benefit from the social premium — from farming tools to computers for the schools attended by the farmers’ children. The improvement of infrastructure has also helped to improve the olive oil quality. When Canaan launched its operations, only 15% of the olive oil marketed was extra virgin oil, whereas at present, 80% of the oil produced is of the highest (and most expensive) quality.

Canaan is also active in promoting the cooperatives of Palestinian women who find a source of income in handling agricultural produce. There are currently 200 such cooperatives organized under the auspices of Canaan, which produce a variety of products — dried tomatoes, hyssop and coconut soap, to name but a few. Over the years, Canaan has diversified its product offerings, and in addition to olive oil, it is currently marketing a range of other agricultural products, including canned food, spreads, sesame, honey and more.


Posted on on February 13th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (

Mr. Robert Orr is Assistant Secretary-General for Strategic Planning with the Executive Office of the Secretary General.

Mr. Orr pointed out that the September 23 date was carved out by moving back by one day the UN General Assembly which makes for great timing because on the day of September 22 there are two additional High Level meetings at the UN – so it is convenient for having the largest number of Heads of State present.

The three hours briefing to the Missions to the UN was held Monday February 10, 2014 10:00 -13:00 by Mr. Orr flanked by principals from UNISDR (International Strategy for Disaster Reduction), UN Habitat, UNEP, UNDP, and the World Bank.

ISDR was created in December 1999 as part of the UN Secretariat with the purpose of ensuring the implementation of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction. We assume that finding ways to avoid the effects of Climate Change because of Global Warming ought to be one of their main concerns. Among the topics they seem to focus on at this time are: Climate Resilient Cities (partnering with Habitat); Worldwide Initiative for Safe Schools and Health Facilities; and Innovations in Finance for Resilience – “Public and Private Finance Sector Tools and Instruments that Promote Resilience to Disasters.” Their office in New York will collect ideas about innovations in the Financial System, in Accounting, in microfinancing – here specially in helping governments work with their farmers with an eye on food and hunger. They want to have partnerships already in preparatory meetings.
Their point man is Mr. Glenn Dolcemascolo and he can be reached at

I start my reporting with ISDR first, not because they were the first to speak – no they were not – but because I felt that they showed best the intent of the September Summit. They were all business – making it clear that to attack the subject of “risk” this is a private business issue and will have to be tackled with partnerships. They work with Insurance companies, investment funds and the UN affiliated global compact.

Mr. Orr kept stressing that the Summit will be a solutions-focused Summit. It will not have a negotiated outcome but it will be an enabling tool on the UNFCCC negotiating process.

Amazingly – he expects to fit into this single day four different components:

(1) A Plenary where Heads of State can put forward bold programs they intend for their States or for groups of States.  As there are 193 Heads of State and not much time available – it seems the organizers hope for Groups of State Spokesmen and only short announcements from those that have action examples to report on.

(2) Action Platforms for government, finance, business, and civil society announcements. It seems he hopes to have here technical people announcing “concrete” multi-lateral initiatives.

(3) Thematic Sessions to enable the sharing of innovative practice and policy on CLIMATE.

(4) An Outreach and Engagement Platform for “Communications and Networking” – this in order to reach “Beyond the UN walls.”

The Summit will pay attention to geography and will provide balance between mitigation and adaptation drawn from the “potential announcements available.”

The criteria for inclusion are:

(i) contributes to new, substantive, scalable and/or replicable actions to reduce emissions or strengthen resiliency;

(ii) drives to a low-carbon economy, reduces economic risks, advances economic opportunities;

(iii) takes a multi-stakeholder approach, engages governments, finance, business, and civil society

(iv) builds on existing efforts, initiatives, programmes.


The participant for UNDP Development Policy, the first to speak after Mr. Orr,  spoke mainly on the Forest Fund and their attention is on Land Use and Forests. The target being changing effects of deforestation with the help of private forestry and enhanced pledges to avoid deforestation.  Their point man in the process towards the September Summit is our old friend Mr. Charles McNeill


They were followed by UNEP’s New York Representative who started by saying that CH4 is 84 times more potent then CO2 – so their focus for September is on Methane and black carbon from gas operations and motor-vehicle tail-pipes. They have already three oil companies, and others  committed and he mentioned also the Royal Bank of Sweden. They stressed the importance of working with the Oil & Gas industry and kept mentioning that some of the companies start to cooperate. This was a very unusual UNEP. Nevertheless, they also spoke of Green Trade Global System to reduce trade of Black Carbon with industry targets.

Also – a second topic for UNEP is Energy Efficiency and the vision that it has a positive economic impact. With existing technologies – lighting, buildings, transportation, made more efficient, can save a lot of oil – and figures were mentioned. This was closer to the old UNEP. The point person for September at UNEP is Ms. Merlyn Van Voore Merlyn,


Now spoke UNISDR – then followed by UN HABITAT.       Yamina Djacta, Deputy Director General and Officer in Charge of the HABITAT New York Office, started by mentioning Mayor Bloomberg’s visit recently, on behalf of the UN, at the meeting of local governments that was held in Johannesburg and said that the centrality of business is being recognized now in cities. Local authorities in cities can contribute to National targets she said – and also to save resources. Cities plan to decrease emissions and we will see Climate Action commitments prepared for September. Habitat is calling for low carbon targets reporting by local/subnational authorities. This in itself is quite revolutionary at the UN.

Also, with ISDR, Habitat works on 500 Climate Resilient Species to help build resilient cities she said.
The point person for UN HABITAT for September isMr. Robert Kehew

Next, and last was the World Bank. The spokesperson was Jane Olga Ebinger, an Energy Specialist – Health, Safety and Environment – and now manager for the Climate Policy and Finance Team of the Bank. She was the only one that is not a New York City resident and in effect also not a direct UN person. This was made clear several times.

The Bank’s interest is in “Public-Private partnerships and innovative market mechanisms to unlock climate finance.” The bank will try to focus the minds of finance ministers and of private financial institutions – via the economic “drivers” for climate finance.

She wants to build country coalitions to make climate smart economic and business decisions – To help evaluate climate favorable stock, she said. Potential partners are the insurance companies and financial investors. Her horizon includes Incentives for Green Investments, Efficiency, Environmental Stability – Sustainability. She talks of Green Funds and of having met recently at Davos with peers at the World Economic Forum to get low Carbon Funds on country level. The Bank initiated at Davos conversations with a number of governments.
The point person for the World Bank is: Mr. Patrick Verkooijen  pverkooijen at

Mr. Orr added here an additional announcement – this that in addition to the route to the September 23, 2014 meeting we heard up to now, that the UN Secretary-General has accepted the offer from the U.A.E. to have an Abu-Dhabi May 4-5, 2014 meeting as well – the ABU DHABI ASCENT – a high-level meeting to generate momentum for the 23 September Climate Summit being convened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The two-day meeting will bring together ministers, as well as leaders from business, finance and civil society, to develop proposals for action and determine how their countries, businesses and organizations can increase their participation in initiatives that broaden and deepen partnerships, in order to deliver concrete action at the September Summit.  

We looked this up in “Green Prophet” and found – “Albeit one of the world’s largest oil producers, which also had the highest environmental footprint per capita for three years in a row, the Emirate continues to assert itself as a leading voice for dramatic environmental change.” – See more at:…

Yes, we know that the UN event is being planned with conventional energy industry at heart – but these added news, which we had in effect already February 5th, quite bother us. We know that without getting on board the oil producers there will be no UN agreement on substance – but placing the design of energy policy in the hands of oil producers doe not promise meaningful achievements on decarbonizing energy. So, let us make it clear – the September event is good public relations that will at best achieve a strengthening of the Natural gas market – in the sense that we will convince that it makes sense to oil producers to monetize their gas rather then flaring it or venting it to the atmosphere. We doubt that this will excite the environmentalists among us – who though glad with a reduction of the release of cH4, still want to see a decrease in CO2.

The UN has already witnessed the placement of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in Abu Dhabi and it held  this year  – the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, 19-22 January 2014,   and the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) hosted by MASDAR, that was described as the largest gathering on sustainability in the Middle East, and a significant platform for international dialogue and cooperation  – January 18-25, 2014 – but we never could warm up to these events as more then the study of potential investments for the oil money – we just cannot dance around this in a Halleluiah dance.

The policy reason for IRENA’s involvement is given in the provided material as: “RENEWABLE READINESS ASSESSMENT NETWORK: Assessment of country renewable energy potential and securing deployment.”
The point person for the UNSG effort at IRENA is Ms. Elisabeth Press


1. A Commission on Economic Action;

2. The benefit of Climate Change Action on specific areas like health;
3. Science via the IPCCC new report to come out before the meeting in september;
4.Innovation announcements;
5. Sustainable Life Cycles and Livelihoods;
6. he invited the audience to come up with other subjects like devising Low Carbon Growth working with the Global Compact – that is the UN home for corporations large and small – he said.
HIS BOTTOM LINE FOR THE SEPTEMBER 23rd MEETING WAS: “We Can Offer the Platform But It Will Depend On Your Leaders To Provide The Substance.”

He Concluded with: THERE IS AMPLE TIME TO PREPARE and provided the site:



The first question came from Ambassador Peter Thompson of Fiji, former head of G77  and China, spokesman for the SIDS, Landlocked and Developing Countries with Lowest income, and for 2014 he was elected President of the Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations Office of Project Services (UNOPS). He was the architect of the name-change effective 2011 of the UN’s Group of Asian States to the new name of the Asia-Pacific Group.

Ambassador Thompson remarked  skeptically about 193 Heads of Government and 3-7 minutes each – and the integration of the Oil & Gas Industry for a “Meaningful Commitment.” Then he said – This is a Meaningful Opportunity and we do not want to Second Guess.

He obviously targeted the Abu Dhabi Ascent and wanted to know how we lift the ambitions. Then he pointed out that the US President in the State of the Union said this January that “The Future of Our Grandchildren is at Stake!”

Others wanted to know how the private sector can be engaged in $the 100 Billion Fund that is suposed to kick in soon in order to help the Developing countries starting 2015.

Ambassador Patriota of Brazil continued pointing out the difference in responsibility between countries and issues of Transfer of Technology – the scope of economic drivers and the responsibility for pollution. In short – THERE ARE QUESTIONS OF DRIVERS, he said.

Further – we should avoid reopening issues that were already tackled in other places – like land use and deforestation questions – these will not let us move forward. He sees the basis in the list of the Annex 2 for the responsibility of nations as the starting point.

His conclusion was that the negotiated decisions should be rather under the UNFCCC and not a UNSG one day backed Summit.

The Ambassador from the Solomon Islands, Mr. Colin Beck, reminded us that the ocean acidification and the sea-level rise are here – it will be helpful if we talk on these issues. We would like to know these for Political involvement – he pointed out.

The answers started to point further that if the September event is intended just as a UN gloss-over it will fail.

Mr. Orr said that the Thematic areas are important not those few minute short statements by the Heads of State – everybody can speak but we hope there will be those that will present a “big program” he said and also used the word preference. He also said “we would like to have rather “group Statements.” He also remarked that “we would like Oil & Gas companies not just for political but FINANCIAL topics – we are engaged with them. {is this in the sense that he expects the oil money to finance the industry’s demise ior only the development of a new gas market}. T

The speaker for UNEP answered Brazil: WE HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY TO REDUCE AT LEAST CH4 emissions – so this is an area we can relly on the science and existing technology – especially in the Oil and Gas industry – it helps to improve their image as well. The CH4 and the black carbon from tail-pipes. If we do this we start withserious improvements.

Mr. Orr added to the answer to Brazil that “all we do here is no substitute to UNFCCC – it is for them to cash in what we do here and do the text,” he said.

Also, when we talk of finance – many actors will be here and not in Lima or Paris. {that is to those places he expects again just environment ministers while the Finance and Economy Ministers show up in New York.}

Further, We want to unlock the private funding – there is plenty around that does not go where it is needed.

The Secretary-General talks of the Green Finance Fund – if we get at the Summit a start on this – the Capitalization of The Green Fund –  we could get positive financing agreements in Lima and Paris, he said.
The Pointman for The Green Climate Fund Secretariat is – Mr. Marcelo Jordan

On Innovation he said that there will be WIPO interest in green technologies and he does not think we should open this discussion again. This is a topic for the UNFCCC. and the creation of a marketplace to accelerate green technology innovation and transfer has a pointman for September – MrJoe Bradley   Joe.Bradley at


The second round of questions/comments started with the Ambassador from Kiribati –  Ms. Makurita Baaro. She addressed the issue of resilience and pointed out that we speak about everything except what really counts – the people. Only ISDR had something on this about cities. For us – the Canaries in the Mine? The Ambassador was told her comment was right.

On Adaptation and Resilience Mr. Orr said we must have a “balanced view” for September and the specific areas must be brought up, He said that Land Use and Forests are helpful to the program – I take that the extreme cases today – should get preference.

The UN Representative for the European Commission reminded the meeting that President Baroso  is expected by the time of the meeting of the European Council on March 21st to have the eU proposals that wil be used also for the run-up to September and for the platforms intended for Lima and Paris.

Further comments dealt with Mitigation, Adaptation and Reductions of Risk and Loss and Damage provisions to be advanced at the September Summit – but Palau warned that there should be no duplication of UNFCCC.

There is blooming an issue of Stranded Assets – Various investments will be worth less if we do not do something to reduce risk. These are areas that cause him to hope that this will be a topic at the Global Compact lunch that will be populated with lots of business people – so here we have it – business is expected to save the planet for its own interest and this is fine with us.
Surinam spoke his hope that there will be a shorter list of speakers and most willing to listen. Groups will be speaking with the Summit being just an extra – some countries saying – “we can do this without committing ourselves.

Addressing the Abu-Dhabi Ascent – Surinam, a country that has still 90% of its trees standing, can commit to let the trees standing and “We need Partners” to develop such programs. If we can go there and propose this – the Summit might help.

Mr. Orr got the point that this also means funding travel gave a general anwer that these proposals will have to be fleshed out and that the Ascent is part of a two stage strategy – y in the following negotiations. That is exactly where Climate Finance and Forest Finance come in. The need to achieve this so we like to see this happen. We felt that finally we were hearing serious thoughts and money where it is now – in the hands of the oil people – might help improve the image of the oil industry and be the real reason why they want to be part of these Olympics.

Climate Finance and Sustainable Development Finance overlap. How do you work now so that they reinforce?

Pension Funds that do not invest in our topics but should – and will. Ms. Jane Ebinger said that this is the way the Bank works with the Asian Development Bank and the OECD – and gets to see joint benefits with flows to Climate change and other issues.

So, there is a method here at play – not a blind-leads-blind anymore – but money being led so that it saves money and makes more money – strange enough – but that is how the real world works – the SIDS and others among the poor nations do not have much of a chance unless there are suitors ready to find an interesting angle in them helping in image making.

One last comment – this one just from me. The highly touted UN SE4All (thin the e Sustainable Energy for All UN office headquartered at the UN in Vienna) was mentioned only in the two-sheet handout – but not mentioned once in the 3 hour long meeting. Seemingly business has not yet discovered how to make directly money out of them.

The Papers give for SE4All as challenge – Country Energy Action and Implementation  and as pointman we have Minoru Takada


another UN reference for the 2014 Climate Summit:

About | Summits on Climate Change

United Nations website on climate change summits. UN icon in English by the Climate Change Support Team (CCST) working closely with the UN System.




Posted on on February 1st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (



Kerala bags an United Nations award for sustainable tourism initiatives.

Published on : Friday, January 24, 2014

Kerala Backwaters      Kerala, God’s own country is recognized for its sustainable tourism policies by the United Nations. Kerala tourism is awarded by the United Nations for creating innovative initiatives in sustainable tourism.

This is the first ever UN award for any state in India.

The coveted award from the United Nations was mostly influenced by the sustainable  development initiative in the world famous backwater resort of Kumarakom. According to a press release from the Kerala tourism, they received the award at the UNWTO Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Tourism held in Madrid, Spain.



Kerala won the UNWTO Ulysses Award for Innovation in Public Policy and Governance, the highest honour given to the government bodies for shaping global tourism policies through innovative initiatives.

Kerala Tourism was chosen for the honour for its path-breaking ‘Responsible Tourism’ project in Kumarakom, which has successfully linked the local community with the Hospitality industry and government departments, thereby creating a model for empowerment and development of the people in the area while sustaining eco-friendly tourism.

The Kumarakom initiative had earlier won the National Award for Best Rural Tourism Project in March last year and also the PATA Grand Award for Environment.


Dr. Tej Vir Singh awarded the UNWTO Ulysses Prize for the Creation and Dissemination of Knowledge.

Dr. Tej Vir Singh, professor and Founding Director of the Centre for Tourism Research & Development (CTRD) in India, has been named winner of the 2013 UNWTO Ulysses Prize for Excellence in the Creation and Dissemination of Knowledge. The Award honors outstanding members of the academia for their significant contribution to the development of tourism education and research.

Dr. Singh, the Founding Editor of Tourism Recreation Research, the oldest and highly respected, international tourism journal in Asia, is a pioneer in introducing extensive tourism research in the region. A specialist in Himalayan tourism, Dr. Singh has produced several books on tourism and many papers on tourism development and its impacts.

“I would like to commend Dr. Singh´s lifelong dedication to tourism research and his pioneering the concept and practice of sustainability in the field of tourism. His work has inspired many other academicians to develop their own research in the field, contributing greatly to the advancement of tourism education and of the tourism sector as a whole,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.

As the Founding Director of the Institute of Himalayan Studies and Regional Development at the University of Garhwal, Dr. Singh started the first Himalayan tourism training course. In 1976, he established the CTRD, a non-government organization devoted to the cause of tourism academics and research, with a special focus on India. Under his leadership, the Centre started an outreach programme that included education, training, research guidance, consultancy, curriculum design, and tourism programme initiation to several Indian universities, management institutions and colleges. Today, the CTRD is recognized for the generation and publication of valuable research on recreation and tourism, and is well-known as a leading organization for developing and disseminating scholarships in tourism in India.

The UNWTO Ulysses Prize for Excellence in the Creation and Dissemination of Knowledge will be presented during the UNWTO Awards Ceremony to be held on 22 January 2014, within the framework of the International Tourism Trade Fair (FITUR) in Madrid, Spain.


Volatile Bangkok turns out positive for Indian tourism.

Published on : Thursday, January 23, 2014

bangkok-shutdown        While Bangkok faces a tourism fall due to the ongoing political crisis, Indian tourism reaps the dividends. Thailand government’s decision to impose emergency in Bangkok is supposed to cause a loss of almost B10 billion for the Thailand tourism industry. On the contrary, foreign tourists are preferring to book a holiday in India.
According to the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), the volatile political condition in Bangkok has spurred a huge interest of international travelers seeking holiday escapades in Indian. Political volatility has been on the rise in Bangkok, especially in the past few days. A couple of bomb blasts took place in the capital amidst wide protests. Protesters have been trying for more than two months to bring down the government. The Indian embassy in Thailand too is continuously tracking the situation and coming up with updates.
The global tourism industry has seen such shift of choices due to political and violent condition in a particular destination. To site an example, Spain tourism had a major share of international travelers last year owing to the political strife in Egypt. While Bangkok is one of the most popular destinations in Asia, India enjoys the advantage of volatile currency and a plethora of destination choices. In fact, domestic tourism also got a boost as many Indians are also going for home holidays rather than opting for Bangkok as every year about 500,000 Indians visit Bangkok.




Tourism can foster sustainable development in Central America – UN General Assembly.


Published on : Friday, January 24, 2014


unwto GNSustainable tourism is an ally of poverty eradication in Central America and the three dimensions of sustainable development – social, economic and environmental – as reflected in the UN resolution on “Sustainable tourism and sustainable development in Central America”.

The 193-member UN General Assembly adopted the resolution unanimously during its 68th session. This represents an important step towards mainstreaming sustainable tourism in the international development agenda and the post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (New York, USA, 22 December 2013).


Emphasizing that sustainable tourism in Central America is a cross-cutting activity with close linkages to other sectors and thus generating trade opportunities, the UN General Assembly recognizes tourism as a fundamental pillar of regional integration and an engine of social and economic development, income, investment and hard currency in the region. The resolution further “encourages giving appropriate consideration to the issue of sustainable tourism in the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda”, which will follow the deadline of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Against this backdrop, the UN General Assembly invites States and other stakeholders, as well as the World Tourism Organization, to continue to support the activities undertaken by the Central American countries for the promotion of responsible and sustainable tourism and extend the benefits of tourism to all sectors of society, in particular the most vulnerable and marginalized groups of the population.


International tourism in Central America grew significantly in recent years. In 2012, Central America received almost 9 million international tourists who generated US$ 8 billion in revenues, up from, respectively, 4.3 million arrivals and US$ 3 billion in 2000. Today, international tourism accounts for as much as 17% of all Central American exports.


The UN resolution was sponsored by 51 Member States: Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Canada, Cape Vert, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Maldives, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, United States of America, Ukraine and Uruguay.


Central America poised for tourism growth: SITCA

Published on : Sunday, September 15, 2013

centeral America          The Secretariat of Central American Tourism Integration (SITCA), along with the tourism authorities of the seven Central American countries – Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvado r, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama – have conducted a study on the evolution of the tourism sector in the region over the past 12 years and found a positive forecast of expected 6.1 per cent growth for this year.

       In the period between 2000 and 2012, tourism to Central America has grown by 122.8 per cent from 4.23 million visitors in 2000 to 9.39 visitors in 2012, an annual increase of seven per cent on average stated the study.

Domestic tourism from within the region accounts for 40 per cent while North America accounts for between 35 per cent and 40 per cent of visitors.
Costa Rica and Guatemala received the highest number of visitors, but Nicaragua and Panama have registered the biggest growth in the period covered by the study, moving from fifth and sixth position (in terms of the total number of visitors received) to fourth and third respectively.

The average spend by tourists has also grown considerably over the last 12 years, thanks to an increase in the amount of products consumed, moving from an average spend per person of US$700 in 2000 to US$1,016 in 2012.
Based on the results of the study, it is expected that the number of visitors will increase by 6.1 per cent this year compared to last year, with an expected total of 9.96 million visitors.

For 2013, the average spend per tourist is expected to reach US$1,016.63, compared to US$1,016.18 in 2012. Revenue from tourism revenue is expected to be highest in Panama and lowest in Nicaragua.
The data presented by SITCA shows that the tourism sector in Central America is becoming the main source of revenue for all seven countries and a true driver for the economic growth of the region.




International tourism exceeds expectations with arrivals up by 52 million in 2013.


International tourist arrivals grew by 5% in 2013, reaching a record 1,087 million arrivals, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. Despite global economic challenges, international tourism results were well above expectations, with an additional 52 million international tourists travelling the world in 2013. For 2014, UNWTO forecasts 4% to 4.5% growth – again, above the long term projections.

Demand for international tourism was strongest for destinations in Asia and the Pacific (+6%), Africa (+6%) and Europe (+5%). The leading sub-regions were South-East Asia (+10%), Central and Eastern Europe (+7%), Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+6%) and North Africa (+6%).

“2013 was an excellent year for international tourism” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. “The tourism sector has shown a remarkable capacity to adjust to the changing market conditions, fuelling growth and job creation around the world, despite the lingering economic and geopolitical challenges. Indeed, tourism has been among the few sectors generating positive news for many economies”, he added.

UNWTO forecasts international arrivals to increase by 4% to 4.5% in 2014, again above its long-term forecast of +3.8% per year between 2010 and 2020. The UNWTO Confidence Index, based on the feedback from over 300 experts worldwide, confirms this outlook with prospects for 2014 higher than in previous years

“The positive results of 2013, and the expected global economic improvement in 2014, set the scene for another positive year for international tourism. Against this backdrop, UNWTO calls upon national governments to increasingly set up national strategies that support the sector and to deliver on their commitment to fair and sustainable growth”, added Mr Rifai.

2014 regional prospects are strongest for Asia and the Pacific (+5% to +6%) and Africa (+4% to +6%), followed by Europe and the Americas (both +3% to +4%). In the Middle East (0% to +5%) prospects are positive yet volatile.


Europe welcomes most of the new arrivals

Europe led growth in absolute terms, welcoming an additional 29 million international tourist arrivals in 2013, raising the total to 563 million. Growth (+5%) exceeded the forecast for 2013 and is double the region’s average for the period 2005-2012 (+2.5% a year). This is particularly remarkable in view of the regional economic situation and as it follows an already robust 2011 and 2012. By sub-region, Central and Eastern Europe (+7%) and Southern Mediterranean Europe (+6%) experienced the best results.

In relative terms, growth was strongest in Asia and the Pacific (+6%), where the number of international tourists grew by 14 million to reach 248 million. South-East Asia (+10%) was the best performing sub-region, while growth was comparatively more moderate in South Asia (+5%), Oceania and North-East Asia (+4% each).

The Americas (+4%) saw an increase of six million arrivals, reaching a total of 169 million. Leading growth were destinations in North and Central America (+4% each), while South America (+2%) and the Caribbean (+1%) showed some slowdown as compared to 2012.

Africa (+6%) attracted three million additional arrivals, reaching a new record of 56 million, reflecting the on-going rebound in North Africa (+6%) and the sustained growth of Sub-Saharan destinations (+5%). Results in the Middle East (+0% at 52 million) were rather mixed and volatile.


Russia and China – leading in growth in 2013

Among the ten most important source markets in the world, Russia and China clearly stand out. China, which became the largest outbound market in 2012 with an expenditure of US$ 102 billion, saw an increase in expenditure of 28% in the first three quarters of 2013. The Russian Federation, the 5th largest outbound market, reported 26% growth through September.

The performance of key advanced economy source markets was comparatively more modest. France (+6%) recovered from a weak 2012 and the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia all grew at 3%. In contrast, Germany, Japan and Italy reported declines in outbound expenditure.

Emerging markets with substantial growth in outbound expenditure were Turkey (+24%), Qatar (+18%), Philippines (+18%), Kuwait (+15%), Indonesia (+15%), Ukraine (+15%) and Brazil (+14%).


Source: PATA