28 May 2013
Tuesday, 28 May 2013
08.45 – 09.00
H.E. Mr. Michael Spindelegger, Vice Chancellor and
Foreign Minister of Austria
Mr. Pavel Kabat, Director,
Mr. Kandeh Yumkella, Director General, UNIDO
09.00 – 09.15
Two pieces of music
Quartet of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
IIASA Goodwill Ambassador
09.15 – 09.45
Mr. Chad Holliday, Chairman, Bank of America
Ms. Renate Brauner, Vice-Mayor and Vice-Governor of
the City of Vienna
Message from the United Nations Secretary
General, Mr. Ban Ki
Press Conference (in parallel)
09.45 – 11.15
Ministerial and High-Level Dignitaries Segment
Ms. Nisha Pillai
H.E. Mr. Suhail Mohamed Almazroui, Minister of Ener
gy of the United Arab Emirates
H.E. Mr. Heikki Holmås, Minister of International D
evelopment of Norway
H.E. Mr. Edison Lobão, Minister of Mines and Energy
H.E. Mr. Lihua Liu, Vice Minister of Industry and I
nformation Technology of China
H.E. Mr. Anatoly Yanovskiy, Deputy Minister, Minist
ry of Energy of the Russian Federation
Mr. Peter Thomson, Permanent Representative of Fiji
to the United Nations New York and
Chairman of the G77
11.15 – 12.45
High Level Panel I:
Energy in the Post-2015 Agenda
Moderator Ms. Nisha Pillai,
General and Executive Secretary of the United Natio
Economic Commission for Europe, UNECE
Mr. Adnan Amin, Director General, IRENA
Mr. Jose Goldemberg
, Board Member, Sustainable Energy Institute
Ms. Maria van der Hoeven, Director General, Interna
tional Energy Agency
Ms. Rachel Kyte, Vice President, Sustainable Develo
pment, The World Bank
Mr. Gerhard Roiss, CEO, OMV
Ms. Elizabeth Thompson, Executive Coordinator for t
he UNCSD Rio + 20 Conference
Mr. Halil Yurdakul Yigitgüden,
ordinator of Economic and Environmental
12.45 – 14.30
Lunch hosted by OFID and IIASA (by invitation only
28 May 2013
14.30 – 16.00
High Level Panel II:
A New Action Agenda – High Level Group on Sustainab
le Energy for All
Moderator Ms. Nisha Pillai,
Mr. Alexander Bychkov, Deputy Director General, IAE
Mr. Jérôme Ferrier, President, International Gas Un
Mr. Victorio Oxilia, Executive Secretary, OLADE
Mr. N.P. Singh, Adviser, Ministry of New and Renewa
ble Energy of India
Mr. Andrew Steer, President and CEO, World Resource
Mr. Mohammed Taeb, Environmental Coordinator, OPEC
14.30 – 15.30
Special Event: Launch of the SE4ALL Global Tracking
Framework (parallel at Radetzky
Moderator Mr. Kandeh K. Yumkella
, Director General, UNIDO
Ms. Rachel Kyte, Vice
President, Sustainable Development, World Bank
Ms. Maria van der Hoeven, Director General, Intern
ational Energy Agency
Ms. Vivien Foster, Sector Manager, Sustainable Ener
gy, World Bank
Mr. Simon Trace, Executive Director, Practical Acti
16.00 – 16.30
Coffee and Tea Break
16.30 – 18.00
Special Event: Thematic Consultations on Energy (pa
rallel at Rittersaal)
16.30 – 18.00
Plenary Session 1:
Framework for Action – High Impact Opportunities
Moderator Mr. Albrecht Reuter
, Member of the Board, Fichtner IT Consulting
Mr. Albert Binger, Energy Science Advisor, Caribbea
n Community Climate Change Centre
Mr. Christoph Frei, Secretary General, World Energy
Ms. Helen Mountford, Deputy Director, OECD
Mr. Nebojsa Nakicenovic,
Deputy Director, IIASA and Professor of Energy Econ
Technical University of Vienna
Mr. Ebrima Njie, ECOWAS Commissioner for Infrastruc
Ms. Leena Shrivastava, Executive Director, The Ener
gy and Resource Institute
Mr. Arthouros Zervos, Chair of REN21and CEO and Pre
sident Public Power Corporation
Reception hosted by
EnDev and Partnership
29 May 2013
Wednesday, 29 May, 2013
08.30 – 09.00
Summary of the Previous Day
Co-President, Global Energy Assessment
09.00 – 10.00
Ministerial and High Level Segment
H.E. Mr. Marcin Korolec, Minister of Environment, P
H.E. Mr. Sospeter Muhonga, Minister of Energy and M
inerals of Tanzania
H.E. Mr. Ahmed Mostafa Emam, Minister of Electricit
y and Energy, of Egypt
H.E. Mr. Sok Siphana, Advisor of the Royal Governme
nt of Cambodia
Ms. Datuk Loo Took Gee, Secretary General of the Mi
nistry of Energy, Green Technology
and Water of Malaysia
Mr. Raúl García Barreiro, Deputy First Viceminister
of the Ministry of Energy and Mining
of the Republic of Cuba
10.00 – 11.30
Plenary Session 2:
Energy and Green Growth
Moderator Mr. Paul Hohnen
, Founder and Managing Director, Sustainability Str
Ms. Jacqueline Cramer, Director, Utrecht Sustainabi
Ms. Naoki Ishii, CEO and Chairperson, Global Enviro
Mr. Lambert Kuijpers, Co
Chair, Technology and Economic Assessment Panel of
Mr. Heinz Leuenberger, Director, Environmental Mana
gement Branch, UNIDO
Mr. Mark Radka, Head of Energy Branch, UNEP
Mr. Arthur Reijnhart, General Manager, Alternative
Energy Strategy, Shell
11.30 – 13.00
Plenary Session 3 –
Moderator Mr. Joan Clos
, Executive Director, UN HABITAT
Mr. Eddie Bet Hazavdi,
Director, Department of Energy
Conservation at Ministry of Energy
and Water of Israel
Ms. Brigitta Huckestein, Senior Manager, Communicat
ions & Government Relations
Energy and Climate Policy, BASF Group
Ms. Carina Lakovits, Advisor, International Financi
al Institutions, Austrian
Mr. Raj Liberhan, Director, Indian Habitat Centre
Mr. Thomas Madreiter, Director of the Urban Plannin
g, City of Vienna
B. Marré, Head of Division of Water, Energy, Urban
Development and the
Geoscience Sector, Federal German Ministry for Econ
omic Cooperation and Development
Mr. Marcos Pontes, UNIDO Goodwill Ambassador
13.00 – 14.30
Lunch hosted by GEF and UNIDO (by invitation only a
29 May 2013
14.30 – 16.00
Parallel Session 1 –
, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Columbia Uni
Mr. Jan Dictus, GOJA Consulting for Environment and
Mr. Wolfgang Engshuber, Chairman, Principles for Re
Mr. Michael Kelly, Deputy Managing Director, World
LP Gas Association
Ms. Richenda Van Leeuwen, Director, Energy Access I
nitiative, United Nations Foundation
Mr. Pradeep Monga, Director, Energy and Climate Cha
Mr. Lucius Mayer-Tasch, Energy Advisor, GIZ
Ms. Mary Robinson, UN Special Envoy for the Great L
akes Region of Africa
14.30 – 16.00
Parallel Session 2
– Energy Efficiency
Mr. Luis Gomez-Echeverri
, Senior Research Scholar, Transition to New Techno
Mr. Mark Hopkins, Energy Efficiency Expert, United
Ms. Doris Österreicher,
Head of Business Unit Sustainable Building Technolo
Institute of Technology
Ms. Marina Ploutakhina, Industrial Energy Efficienc
y, Unit Chief, UNIDO
Mr. Jigar V. Shah, Executive Director, Institute fo
r Industrial Productivity
Mr. David Shropshire, Section Head, Planning and Ec
onomic Studies Section, IAEA
16.00 – 16.30
Coffee and Tea Break
16.30 – 18.00
Parallel Session 3 –
Renewable Energy as a Tool for Sustainable Developm
Moderator Ms. Christine Lins,
Executive Director, REN 21
Mr. Gábor Baranyai, Deputy State Secretary, Ministr
y of Foreign Affairs of Hungary
Mr. Martin Hiller, Director General, REEEP
Mr. Mahama Kappiah, Executive Director, ECREEE
Mr. Diego Masera, Unit Chief, Renewable and Rural E
nergy Unit, UNIDO
H.E. Ms. Brigitte Öppinger-Walchshofer, Managing Di
rector, Austrian Development Agency
Mr. Jorge Samek, Director General, ITAIPU Binaciona
Mr. Peter Traupmann, Managing Director, Austrian En
16.30 – 18.00
Parallel Session 4–
Technology Transfer and Innovation
Moderator Mr. Omar El Arini,
Honorary Chief Officer, Multilateral Fund Secretari
Mr. Giovanni Federigo De Santi, Director of the Ins
titute for Energy and Transport of the Joint
Research Centre of the European Commission
Mr. Martin Krause, Regional Practice Leader for Env
Mr. David Rodgers, Senior Energy Specialist, Global
Mr. Sidi Menad Si-Ahmed, Director of Montreal Proto
col Branch, UNIDO
M.R. Mr. Pongsvas Svasti, Associate Professor, Tham
Mr. Sven Teske, Director of Renewable Energy, Green
Reception hosted by REEEP
30 May 2013
Thursday, 30 May 2013
08.30 – 09.00
Summary of the Previous Day
Co-President, Global Energy Assessment
09.00 – 10.00
Ministerial and High Level Dignitaries Segment
10.00 – 11.30
Plenary Session 4 :
Financing the Energy Future We Want
Mr. Robert Dixon, Team Leader of Climate Change and
Chemicals Team, GEF
Mr. Faris Hasan, Director of Corporate Planning and
Economic Services, OFID
Ms. Georgina Kessel, Partner, Spectron
Mr. Venkata Ramana Putti, Senior Energy Specialist,
Sustainable Energy Department, World Bank
Ms. Wang Yuan, Senior Advisor, China Development Ba
11.30 – 13.00
Plenary Session 5:
Public and Private Partnerships
Moderator Ms. Irene Giner-Reichl
, President, Global Forum on Sustainable Energy
Mr. Günter Maier, Managing Partner , MG Energy
Mr. Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman, IPCC and UNIDO Goo
Mr. Janez Podobnik, Director General, International
Centre for Promotion of Enterprises
Mr. Alexei Shevlyakov, Acting Director General, Rus
sian Energy Agency
Mr. Thomas Stelzer, Assistant Secretary
General, Policy Coordination and Inter
Affairs, United Nations Department of Economic and
Mr. Harry Verhaar, Head of Global Public and Govern
ment Affairs, Philips
13.00 – 13.30
Coffee and Tea Break
11.30 – 13.00
Parallel Session 5:
Green Mini-Grids Africa –
Sector Transformation Towards Sustainable
Energy For All
Moderator Mr. Steven Hunt
, Energy Advisor, Low Carbon Development Team, DFID
Mr. Ryan Anderson, Head of Section for Renewable En
ergy Advisory Services, Norplan
Mr. Theophillo Bwakea, Principal Engineer, Tanzania
n Rural Energy Agency
Mr. Dean Cooper, Energy Finance Programme Manager,
Mr. Bertrand Deprez, European Affairs Manager, Schn
Mr. Mike Enskat, Senior Programme Manager, GIZ
Mr. Patrick Theuret, Access to Energy Programme, ED
13.30 – 14.30
Adoption of VEF 2013 Declaration: Energy Goals Beyo
Moderator Ged Davis
, Co-President, Global Energy Assessment
Closing remarks by Co-organisers
ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA: Business Partnerships – An effective instrument for development cooperation
How innovative cooperation supports the development of markets for renewable energy
Date – 28 May 2013
Time – 14:30 to 16:00
Location – Rittersaal
This side-event discusses innovative forms of cooperation between the private sector and established structures of development cooperation to develop new markets. Examples from the renewable energy sector show how both recipient countries and companies can utilize the opportunities of business partnerships. Traditional development cooperation faces many challenges, so alternative approaches are required. As business and development belong together, partnerships with the private sector are getting more and more important. Join the discussion on business partnerships and the development of renewable energy markets!
European Commission Joint Research Centre: Creating and sharing knowledge together on African Renewable Energy Sources
Date: 28 May 2013
Time: 16:00 – 17:30
Location: Mittlere Lounge
On the occasion of the Vienna Energy Forum 2013, JRC will release findings from the newest report “The availability of Renewable Energies in a changing Africa”. This report follows and extends the 2011 JRC report “Renewable energies in Africa” and focuses on the climatic, demographic and technological changes expecting to involve Africa in next decades and how they will impact the Renewable Energy production and deployment opportunities in the continent. This side event will explore to what extent climate change has affect the ability of the renewable energy sources to deliver their important resources to this goal and will look at the potential of the available options. Come and join the second report presentation, discuss issues with authors, and test the latest online tool developed to visualize off-grid electricity production options in Africa.
GFSE: Sustainable Energy Solutions for All: Made in Austria
Date – 29 May 2013
Time – 09:00 to 11:00
Location – Trabantenstube
Austrian know-how and technologies have a lot to offer to make inclusive sustainable energy solutions a reality. In this side event, the Austrian experience in the fields of renewable energy and energy efficiency will be presented. The event also seeks to facilitate the identification of cooperation opportunities for different actors in the context of SE4All. It will also highlight the value-added of multi-stakeholder networks in enabling joint action. We would be delighted if you could join the discussion.
IIASA: Multiple Benefits of the Global Energy Transformation Recent Research Findings
Date – 29 May 2013
Time – 09:30 to 13:00
Location – Künstlerzimmer
The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) is organizing the VEF side event “Multiple Benefits of the Global Energy Transformations: Recent Research Findings”. The main global problem areas of research at IIASA – energy and climate change, food and water, and poverty and equity – are among the greatest challenges facing humanity today. The side event will present recent research findings – focusing on energy and technology – and their relevance to the Post 2015 Development Agenda. The Global Energy Assessment (GEA), completed in 2012, was an important component of the energy-related activities at IIASA and some of the new research activities at IIASA are building upon the findings of GEA.
IAEA: Promoting a Sustainable Energy Future: the Role of the International Atomic Energy Agency
Date – 29 May 2013
Time – 10:00 to 12:00
Location – Mittlere Lounge
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) supports its Member States in their efforts towards a sustainable energy future. In this side event, IAEA representatives will showcase the successful contribution of the Agency to build capacity, disseminate information, raise awareness and foster cooperation within and among Member States to help them make informed decisions regarding the most appropriate energy strategies. Topics discussed will include the sustainability of nuclear power as a clean energy solution, capacity building activities, the role of innovative technology solutions and the critical steps to introduce or expand a nuclear power programme.
EUEI PDF: Africa-EU Private Sector Cooperation: Matchmaking for win-win business opportunities in the renewables sector?
Date – 29 May 2013
Time – 11:30 to 13:00
Location – Trabantenstube
The Africa-EU Renewable Energy Cooperation Programme (RECP) is a multi-donor and multi-implementer programme that aims to accelerate the use of renewable energy in Africa. It was launched by more than 35 African and European Ministers at the First High-Level Meeting of the Africa-EU Energy Partnership (AEEP) in Vienna in September 2010. While the programme has already launched a number of support interventions in the area of policy advisory services, this side event aims at reflecting on the types of support interventions necessary to foster an active exchange and linking of African and European private sectors actors, as well as highlighting some of the positive examples where European and African actors have successfully worked together.
Launch of the SE4All Global Tracking Framework
Date – 28 May 2013
Time: 14:00 to 14:45
Location – Radetzkysaal II
Prepared by a team of energy experts from 15 agencies under the leadership of the World Bank and the International Energy Agency, the report provides a comprehensive snapshot of over 180 countries’ status with respect to action on energy access, energy efficiency and renewable energy, as well as energy consumption. As the Millennium Development Goals process has clearly demonstrated, measurable goals that enjoy widespread consensus can mobilize commitments to action, strategic partnerships and widespread support from key stakeholders and whole societies. For many, the Sustainable Energy for All initiative is an illustration of what a Sustainable Development Goal for the energy sector would look like. However, it is well known that measure progress is critical to achieving goals and getting results. The Global Tracking Framework Report is the answer to the challenge of measuring and reporting progress towards achieving the Sustainable Energy for All goals and objectives.. The report’s framework for data collection and analysis will enable us to monitor progress on the SE4ALL objectives from now to 2030.
The Energy Future We Want – Including Water & Food in the Energy Debate
Date – 29 May 2013
Time – 14:30 to 16:00
Location – Radetzky II
The side-event will provide a global platform to discuss recent international undertakings and progress on the water-energy-food nexus. The side-event will stimulate contributions and insights from institutions and individual experts on strategies to include water and food in the energy debate as nations around the world develop new energy policies and evaluate the options they want to follow in response to the SE4All initiative. Contribute to the nexus debate by sharing your experience and expertise with representatives from the private sector, researchers, policy makers and water/energy experts around the world on the intricate links between water, energy and food.
Regional Sustainable Energy Centers in Africa: Creating Regional Markets to Support the Decade of Sustainable Energy For All (SE4ALL)
Date – 29 May 2013
Time – 14:30 to 18:00
Location – Trabantenstube
The Energy and Climate Change Branch of UNIDO, in close collaboration with the ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) and the Global Forum on Sustainable Energy (GFSE), are organizing the VEF side event “Regional Sustainable Energy Centers in Africa: Creating Regional Markets to Support the Decade of Sustainable Energy For All (SE4ALL)”. The side event will facilitate discussions on the added value and possible actions of a south-south cooperation network between regional sustainable energy promotion centers in Africa. It will highlight the roles of the Centers as part of the institutional structure of the SE4ALL initiative. In a learning event, the ECOWAS Observatory for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECOWREX), one of the flag-ship programs of ECREEE will be introduced to the audience. Finally, a new publication on Renewable Energy Status and Trends in West Africa will be presented.
UNIDO: Women’s Leadership on Energy Justice in Productive Sectors
Date – 29 May 2013
Time – 15:00 to 17:00; Networking Drinks from 17:00
Location – Künstlerzimmer
Increasing energy access for productive use will generate opportunities for women to earn a living for themselves and their families, but the debate thus far has been mainly focused on women’s domestic needs. At this side-event, we will look beyond the household door and discuss how to empower women to become active producers, managers, promoters, sellers and leaders of modern energy services for a truly sustainable solution to energy poverty. We would be delighted if you could join us to share your experiences and expertise in this debate.
Register for the event here
A continuing Climate Lobby: Energy Policy & Climate Program at Johns Hopkins University, Washington DC and the German Ecologic Think Tank with offices in Berlin, Brussels and Vienna in the EU, and Washington DC and San Mateo, CA in the US. The Climate Action Network (CAN) is a worldwide network of over 850 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in more than 90 countries.
Ecologic Institute: An International Think Tank for Environment and Development.
Climate Action Network (CAN) is a worldwide network of over 850 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in more than 90 countries, working to promote government and individual action to limit human-induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels.
CAN members work to achieve this goal through information exchange and the coordinated development of NGO strategy on international, regional, and national climate issues. CAN has regional network hubs that coordinate these efforts around the world.
CAN members place a high priority on both a healthy environment and development that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Brundtland Commission). CAN’s vision is to protect the atmosphere while allowing for sustainable and equitable development worldwide.
Ecologic Institute is a private not-for-profit think tank for applied environmental research, policy analysis and consultancy with offices in Berlin, Brussels and Vienna in the EU, and Washington DC and San Mateo, CA in the US.
Ecologic Institute was founded in 1995 as an independent research institute. Since its founding, Ecologic Institute has built a reputation for excellence in transdisciplinary and policy-relevant research. Through its participation in large-scale international collaborations, Ecologic Institute increases the relevance of its project results and improves communication among scientists, policymakers and the public. Ecologic Institute also provides ongoing expert advice on emerging issues through its framework agreements with the European Parliament
The insights of Ecologic’s staff provide practical ways forward for policymakers seeking to address complex challenges. Over the years, Ecologic’s work has informed the decision-making processes of a wide variety of international institutions, national ministries, sub-national and local authorities and non-profit organizations.
43/44 Pfalzburger Strabe
Phone: +49 (30) 86880-0
Matthias Duwe of the German Think Tank Ecologic recently spoke on the future of European climate policy making as part of our EPC Forum Speakers Series. The presentation is available on our You Tube channel: www.youtube.com/watch?
Dr. Wil Burns, Associate Director
Master of Science, Energy Policy & Climate Program
Johns Hopkins University
1717 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20036
Skype ID: Wil.Burns
Blog: Teaching Climate & Energy Law & Policy, www.teachingclimatelaw.
In Vienna there is a bit of the Mediterranean – a Citrus hot house at the Schoenbrunn Palace Orangery; then we found that in Koernten (Carinthia) there is even an active commercial Citrus Garden. Say – Austria wants part of the Mediterranean as well.
The Schoenbrunn Palace in Vienna has, since the Emperors’ days, hot-houses under the Orangery name, as seemingly the Emperors were keen of the citrus plants. Here you find a large collection of citrus varieties and fruit was produced for the Emperor’s Court.
May 17-20, 2013, were citrus-festival days at the Orangery of the Schoenbrunn Palace.
Sunday May 19th there was what amounted to a Citrus tasting class where Katharina Seiser, an Eating-culture specialist and culinary journalist, explained the three kinds of Citrus plants – the Lemon, the Mandarin and the Pamplemousse father of the Grapefruit. We were told that there was also a fourth line – that of the Asian Ichang-Papeda which was not presented. We got to taste some two dozen different varieties and a few secondary products such as marmalade and sweets. I clearly got convinced that a fresh-picked kumquat tastes immensely better then the market bought produce.
The Buddha’s Hand is a very strange looking species – tastes good.
Some other lemons were the size of cantaloupes – we saw them on trees on display.
Life Minister of the Austrian Federal Government, Mr.Niki Berlakovich, was the honorary chairman of the festival.
In Koernten (Carinthia), at Faaker Sea (Lake) one finds an actual Mediterranean Citrus Garden -
– that markets locally produced Lemon marmalade, Orange cakes and other products you would not expect to get from locally produced fruit in Austria. www.Zitrusgarten.at
At second thought – above should not surprise us,. In the Center of Vienna, on the cement floor at the side of the Danube canal, there is also a Tel-Aviv Beach were in the summer young people play paddle ball like on the Tel-Aviv beaches.
Looking up the Ichang-Papeda on the internet – I found:
The Ichang Papeda (Citrus ichangensis) is the hardiest of the evergreen citrus, said to withstand temperatures down to 0 degrees F. It is a tough, spiny, small tree growing wild on steep hillsides in the Himalayan foothills. Though its fruit is marginally edible, small, thick skinned, seedy and somewhat bitter with limited juice, it does make an interesting and attractive ornamental. Its most important use is in hybridizing with other citrus species to create super cold hardy, yet highly edible varieties.
One of our favorites of these here on the farm is the Shangjuan. It is a natural cross originating in China of Citrus ichangensis and C. maxima, the pummelo. Also called the Ichang Lemon, the Shangjuan, which means “fragrant ball” in Chinese, produces masses of large, juicy, yellow lemon like fruit. Somewhat rough skinned and with a generous amount of seeds that can be easily removed, each fruit can give up to ½ cup of good quality juice that can be used for fresh or for cooking and desserts. These fruits ripen October- January for us, starting a full month before our Meyer lemons, giving us an abundant supply of high vitamin C juice at a time when it is most needed. When fully ripe the fruits have a good grapefruit taste and can be eaten as such, especially with a little sweetening. This easy to grow vigorous evergreen tree makes a great ornamental, its broad glossy dark green leaves giving year round beauty. Fragrant white spring blooms are followed by a heavy crop of fruit in the fall. The Shangjuan is considered hardy down to 5 to 10 degrees, which gives it adaptability to many areas where commercial citrus cannot be grown.
Another popular hybrid is the Yuzu, an ancient natural cross of Citrus ichangensis X C.reticulata. In the past it was called C.junos. The Yuzu originated in east Asia and grows wild in central China and Tibet. It was introduced to Japan and Korea during the Tang dynasty and has become a very popular fruit in these countries. The fruit ripens in the fall and is about the size of a tangerine. It has a fragrant juice similar to a lemon that is much esteemed in Japanese cooking. The spicy rind is also used as a flavoring. In Japan several fruits are wrapped in cheesecloth and floated in a hot bath for their relaxing scent. In Korea a syrup is made from the fruit and added to hot water as a remedy for the common cold and other winter illnesses. The upright evergreen tree is very hardy, able to withstand temperatures in the 5 to 10 degree F range. Even if defoliated the fruiting wood can survive to bear the next year. Like the Shangjuan it has lustrous green leaves, fragrant white flowers, showy fruit and many thorns.
The Ichang Papeda is also used in breeding programs to develop cold hardy citrus. It has been found to have a better ability to convey cold hardiness without compromising fruit quality than its deciduous relative the Trifoliate orange. Who knows what interesting and useful Ichang hybrids await us in the future.”
Which means to me – forget now the Mediterranean – Asia gives us the possibility to enlarge indeed citrus growing to colder climates as well!
Thomas Friedman tells the world that the current uphevals in Syria started from lack of water, enhanced by the fast growing population ruled by a represive corrupt regime with outside money fomenting sectarian and religious passions. Then Assad’s cronies bought up the small farms, drilled for water, drove the farmers to the cities where they found it hard to make a living – so they rebelled. They say the drought came from Allah, but the misery from Assad and his Alawites.
Without Water, Revolution.
Published: May 18, 2013 12 Comments
TEL ABYAD, Syria — I just spent a day in this northeast Syrian town. It was terrifying — much more so than I anticipated — but not because we were threatened in any way by the Free Syrian Army soldiers who took us around or by the Islamist Jabhet al-Nusra fighters who stayed hidden in the shadows. It was the local school that shook me up.
Thomas L. Friedman by Josh Haner/The New York Times
As we were driving back to the Turkish border, I noticed a school and asked the driver to turn around so I could explore it. It was empty — of students. But war refugees had occupied the classrooms and little kids’ shirts and pants were drying on a line strung across the playground. The basketball backboard was rusted, and a local parent volunteered to give me a tour of the bathrooms, which he described as disgusting. Classes had not been held in two years. And that is what terrified me. Men with guns I’m used to. But kids without books, teachers or classes for a long time — that’s trouble. Big trouble.
They grow up to be teenagers with too many guns and too much free time, and I saw a lot of them in Tel Abyad. They are the law of the land here now, but no two of them wear the same uniform, and many are just in jeans. These boys bravely joined the adults of their town to liberate it from the murderous tyranny of Bashar al-Assad, but now the war has ground to a stalemate, so here, as in so many towns across Syria, life is frozen in a no-man’s land between order and chaos. There is just enough patched-up order for people to live — some families have even rigged up bootleg stills that refine crude oil into gasoline to keep cars running — but not enough order to really rebuild, to send kids to school or to start businesses.
So Syria as a whole is slowly bleeding to death of self-inflicted gunshot wounds. You can’t help but ask whether it will ever be a unified country again and what kind of human disaster will play out here if a whole generation grows up without school.
“Syria is becoming Somalia,” said Zakaria Zakaria, a 28-year-old Syrian who graduated from college with a major in English and who acted as our guide. “Students have now lost two years of school, and there is no light at the end of the tunnel, and if this goes on for two more years it will be like Somalia, a failed country. But Somalia is off somewhere in the Indian Ocean. Syria is the heart of the Middle East. I don’t want this to happen to my country. But the more it goes on, the worse it will be.”
This is the agony of Syria today. You can’t imagine the war here continuing for another year, let alone five. But when you feel the depth of the rage against the Assad government and contemplate the sporadic but barbaric sect-on-sect violence, you can’t imagine any peace deal happening or holding — not without international peacekeepers on the ground to enforce it. Eventually, we will all have to have that conversation, because this is no ordinary war.
THIS Syrian disaster is like a superstorm. It’s what happens when an extreme weather event, the worst drought in Syria’s modern history, combines with a fast-growing population and a repressive and corrupt regime and unleashes extreme sectarian and religious passions, fueled by money from rival outside powers — Iran and Hezbollah on one side, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar on the other, each of which have an extreme interest in its Syrian allies’ defeating the other’s allies — all at a time when America, in its post-Iraq/Afghanistan phase, is extremely wary of getting involved.
I came here to write my column and work on a film for the Showtime series, “Years of Living Dangerously,” about the “Jafaf,” or drought, one of the key drivers of the Syrian war. In an age of climate change, we’re likely to see many more such conflicts.
“The drought did not cause Syria’s civil war,” said the Syrian economist Samir Aita, but, he added, the failure of the government to respond to the drought played a huge role in fueling the uprising. What happened, Aita explained, was that after Assad took over in 2000 he opened up the regulated agricultural sector in Syria for big farmers, many of them government cronies, to buy up land and drill as much water as they wanted, eventually severely diminishing the water table. This began driving small farmers off the land into towns, where they had to scrounge for work.
Because of the population explosion that started here in the 1980s and 1990s thanks to better health care, those leaving the countryside came with huge families and settled in towns around cities like Aleppo. Some of those small towns swelled from 2,000 people to 400,000 in a decade or so. The government failed to provide proper schools, jobs or services for this youth bulge, which hit its teens and 20s right when the revolution erupted.
Then, between 2006 and 2011, some 60 percent of Syria’s land mass was ravaged by the drought and, with the water table already too low and river irrigation shrunken, it wiped out the livelihoods of 800,000 Syrian farmers and herders, the United Nations reported. “Half the population in Syria between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers left the land” for urban areas during the last decade, said Aita. And with Assad doing nothing to help the drought refugees, a lot of very simple farmers and their kids got politicized. “State and government was invented in this part of the world, in ancient Mesopotamia, precisely to manage irrigation and crop growing,” said Aita, “and Assad failed in that basic task.”
Young people and farmers starved for jobs — and land starved for water — were a prescription for revolution. Just ask those who were here, starting with Faten, whom I met in her simple flat in Sanliurfa, a Turkish city near the Syrian border. Faten, 38, a Sunni, fled there with her son Mohammed, 19, a member of the Free Syrian Army, who was badly wounded in a firefight a few months ago. Raised in the northeastern Syrian farming village of Mohasen, Faten, who asked me not to use her last name, told me her story.
She and her husband “used to own farmland,” said Faten. “We tended annual crops. We had wheat, barley and everyday food — vegetables, cucumbers, anything we could plant instead of buying in the market. Thank God there were rains, and the harvests were very good before. And then suddenly, the drought happened.”
What did it look like? “To see the land made us very sad,” she said. “The land became like a desert, like salt.” Everything turned yellow.
Did Assad’s government help? “They didn’t do anything,” she said. “We asked for help, but they didn’t care. They didn’t care about this subject. Never, never. We had to solve our problems ourselves.”
So what did you do? “When the drought happened, we could handle it for two years, and then we said, ‘It’s enough.’ So we decided to move to the city. I got a government job as a nurse, and my husband opened a shop. It was hard. The majority of people left the village and went to the city to find jobs, anything to make a living to eat.” The drought was particularly hard on young men who wanted to study or marry but could no longer afford either, she added. Families married off daughters at earlier ages because they couldn’t support them.
Faten, her head conservatively covered in a black scarf, said the drought and the government’s total lack of response radicalized her. So when the first spark of revolutionary protest was ignited in the small southern Syrian town of Dara’a, in March 2011, Faten and other drought refugees couldn’t wait to sign on. “Since the first cry of ‘Allahu akbar,’ we all joined the revolution. Right away.” Was this about the drought? “Of course,” she said, “the drought and unemployment were important in pushing people toward revolution.”
ZAKARIA ZAKARIA was a teenager in nearby Hasakah Province when the drought hit and he recalled the way it turned proud farmers, masters of their own little plots of land, into humiliated day laborers, working for meager wages in the towns “just to get some money to eat.” What was most galling to many, said Zakaria, was that if you wanted a steady government job you had to bribe a bureaucrat or know someone in the state intelligence agency.
The best jobs in Hasakah Province, Syria’s oil-producing region, were with the oil companies. But drought refugees, virtually all of whom were Sunni Muslims, could only dream of getting hired there. “Most of those jobs went to Alawites from Tartous and Latakia,” said Zakaria, referring to the minority sect to which President Assad belongs and which is concentrated in these coastal cities. “It made people even more angry. The best jobs on our lands in our province were not for us, but for people who come from outside.”
Only in the spring of 2011, after the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, did the Assad government start to worry about the drought refugees, said Zakaria, because on March 11 — a few days before the Syrian uprising would start in Dara’a — Assad visited Hasakah, a very rare event. “So I posted on my Facebook page, ‘Let him see how people are living,’ ” recalled Zakaria. “My friends said I should delete it right away, because it was dangerous. I wouldn’t. They didn’t care how people lived.”
Abu Khalil, 48, is one of those who didn’t just protest. A former cotton farmer who had to become a smuggler to make ends meet for his 16 children after the drought wiped out their farm, he is now the Free Syrian Army commander in the Tel Abyad area. We met at a crushed Syrian Army checkpoint. After being introduced by our Syrian go-between, Abu Khalil, who was built like a tough little boxer, introduced me to his fighting unit. He did not introduce them by rank but by blood, pointing to each of the armed men around him and saying: “My nephew, my cousin, my brother, my cousin, my nephew, my son, my cousin …”
Free Syrian Army units are often family affairs. In a country where the government for decades wanted no one to trust anyone else, it’s no surprise.
“We could accept the drought because it was from Allah,” said Abu Khalil, “but we could not accept that the government would do nothing.”
Before we parted, he pulled me aside to say that all that his men needed were anti-tank and antiaircraft weapons and they could finish Assad off. “Couldn’t Obama just let the Mafia send them to us?” he asked. “Don’t worry, we won’t use them against Israel.”
As part of our film we’ve been following a Syrian woman who is a political activist, Farah Nasif, a 27-year-old Damascus University graduate from Deir-az-Zour, whose family’s farm was also wiped out in the drought.
Nasif typifies the secular, connected, newly urbanized young people who spearheaded the democracy uprisings here and in Egypt, Yemen and Tunisia. They all have two things in common: they no longer fear their governments or their parents, and they want to live like citizens, with equal rights — not as sects with equal fears.
If this new generation had a motto, noted Aita, the Syrian economist, it would actually be the same one Syrians used in their 1925 war of independence from France: “Religion is for God, and the country is for everyone.”
But Nasif is torn right now. She wants Assad gone and all political prisoners released, but she knows that more war “will only destroy the rest of the country.” And her gut tells her that even once Assad is gone, there is no agreement on who or what should come next. So every option worries her — more war, a cease-fire, the present and the future. This is the agony of Syria today — and why the closer you get to it, the less certain you are how to fix it.
The Vienna Solar Table-of-Friends took up Thursday May 16, 2013 – to obvious acclaim – THE PROBLEM OF THE SHRINKING AGRICULTURE-BASED VILLAGES in Austria. We present a platform that makes the use of the land and the power from the sun – the main movers of the economy.
The Vienna Solarstammtisch that meets at the “Zum Hagenthaler” Restaurant at Wallgasse 32, 1060 Wien, every third Thursday of the month, is a creation of Eurosolar Austria. www.eurosolar.at
It is led by Professor Franz Niessler, and the information is usually conveyed by Eng. Herbert Eberhardt herbert.ebergardt at eurosolar.at
Many of the the Solar Table participants own electric vehicles and live in energy-saving homes equiped for use of solar energy.
At the May 2013 meeting, the First presenter was Rosemarie Dietz, a Green visionary from Perchtoldsdorf NO, who related her experiences when crossing on foot the length of Lower Austria (Niederoesterreich) looking for the implementation of renewable energy on her path. She was looking for location of wind-mills and for the use of photovoltaic use of solar energy, but she also found that there were no-more small local restaurants on her way where one could have stopped for a meal and a drink. The villages are shrinking and the young people move to the large cities. The small scale agriculture that was the base of the rural sector has vanished and everything is bought at the large supper markets like in the city – much of it imported from long distance.
The moderator was Gerhard Kohlmaier and the main speaker Professor Hannes Bauer who is now with the Union of Retirees of Lower Austria, Head of the Political and Economic Futures Forum and building an effort for change. His target is the economic security of the individual in a growing strength of the European Union. He clearly sees in providing safeguards for the communities in villages – people living on and from the land – the best way of providing this security – and it clearly grabs our attention because this is also our belief.
Dr. Bauer looked at the ethics of high social, ecological and democratic values as strength for Austria in the EU context – Quality of Life and the Social Security of the citizens are the goals of his sort of politics.
Dr. Hannes Bauer is not a newcomer to Austrian Politics. During the years 1989-1991 and 2000-2008 he was a Socialist Party member of the Austrian Parliament and 1986-1987 State Secretary in the Ministry of Trades, Industry, and Labor. His background is economics – business development. Having started out from the State Government of Lower Austria and entering in 1991 the Leadership of at the the Federal level of the Austrian Socialist Party. He belongs to the Chancellor Bruno Kreisky School of active policy-oriented Socialism.
The meeting of the Solar-Table May meeting was amazing. Besides the Austrian political Reds and Greens, present were also the Blacks, Blues, and the new Stronach Yellow – and all got involved in the conversation. Needless to say that all were for solar energy but had difficulty accepting each-others honesty in pursuing the goal of a decentralized, community-based, small-town or village based economy – though all adhered to such a goal.
Energy was a main topic. How do we build back an agriculture that will provide biofuels, and how do we do so that the villages rely on photovoltaic solar energy and windmills – being independent of big corporation electricity grids, and even able to supply energy to the National grid? How do we convince the governing powers that there is no need of shale-fracking – this beyond the obvious that fracking is dangerous to the environment? How does one handle American intervention in EU economy planning?
I will now do something unusual – I am going to put forward the ideas I voiced at the meeting and which I felt summarized the different points of view in an event that sounded like a political competition, but that could easily be turned into a united National front for independence from outside economic forces. All what is needed now is a single party to come up with such ideas in its platform and invite the others to join in.
Let us start now:
The thesis is that what grows on the land is sustainable and positive, what comes from the inside of the earth will not endure, is unsustainable, and negative.
Planting for food and fuel, for animal feed and industrial feed-stocks, for human and animal life, is all based on the continuous energy that reaches the earth from the sun – thus non depleting. This is done by people living in small communities on the land – this activity if cared for, with the help of appropriate National policies, will keep people on the land and avoid their migration to magnet-cities something the topic of the evening was aimed to achieve.
Planting wind mills and solar collectors, like the photovoltaic collectors, on the land or roof-tops, is just another act of reaping results with the help of solar energy – exactly like growing vegetation or animals. We see no difference here.
Looking under the land for riches deposited in the past, the likes of fossil fuels of all sorts – coal, shale, oil, gas, and figuring out technologies to extract them from underground, amounts to using up in a short time of natures bank-deposits. On top of this it gave us the CO2 problem and clear climate-change – both avoidable if we refrain from using fossil fuels.
ERGO: Working the land revives the villages and provides us with what we need. Searching ways to obtain products out of fossil deposits, destroys the land, the population living on the land, and eventually the whole economy, because of the way it effects the environment, the social and economic development of the State, and the security of the people who lose their direct relationship to the land.
What political party will have the courage to put a return to a land policy of growth on its election banner?
Mr. Eberhardt brought to show the new Renaud “Twizy” small two-seater electric vehicle.
Next Solar Table meeting will be Thursday, June 20, 2013, same location, 18:00 pm (6PM)
THE TOPIC: RENEWABLE PRIMARY MATERIALS – “NAWAROS” – (“Nachwachsende Rohstoffe”).
The High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda met at UN Headquarters in New York for three days and today announced that they will meet again and deliver their report to the UN Secretary-General on the 30th of May as requested.
From the UN – May 15, 2013:
Statement of the High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda
Today the U.N. Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda concluded its three day meeting at the United Nations in New York.
The Panel’s discussions were frank, productive and characterized by a strong unity of purpose. The meeting reiterated the imperative need for a renewed Global Partnership that enables a transformative, people-centered and planet-sensitive development agenda, realized through the equal partnership of all stakeholders. The Panel reaffirmed its vision to end extreme poverty in all its forms in the context of sustainable development and to have in place the building blocks of sustained prosperity for all.
The Secretary-General visited the Panel during its discussions. He expressed his full respect and confidence in the ongoing work of the independent Panel and its three co-Chairs. He also commended the Panel for the inclusive and transparent approach adopted in its work and encouraged Panel members to maintain the already high level of ambition right through to the finish.
The Panel made good progress in considering its report. The Panel looks forward to its final meeting when it will deliver the report to the United Nations Secretary-General on the 30th of May as requested.
15 May 2013
Second UPDATE: At the UN – It is true that unpaid internships are auctioned at high price, and former high government officials become high paid outside consultants. Mentioned were an internship on the UN-NGO Committee on Human Rights, and Messrs. Sarcozy and Blair getting high consultancy and lobbying fees. The Update is – the auctioning concluded successfully at $26,000 paid by a person called M. Alam. Will the UN let him/her in?
Internship in UN Sold for $26,000, Winner Perused Rolling Stone, Too.
By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, May 14 — The sale at auction of a six-week internship in the UN has been completed; the bidding just closed. The winner, identified as “m.alam,” bid $26,000 on May 3.
Inner City Press, before that, first exposed the sale of the internship in the UN, and asked the UN about it. At first the UN said that since it was IN but not FOR the UN, it was not a problem.
Then the UN said that its Office of Legal Affairs was seeking out the Non-Governmental Organization at issue, then that the advertisement had been amended.
But it still showed the UN Headquarters and said that the winner would learn how the UN really works — indeed — and make invaluable connections.
Inner City Press asked the spokesperson for RFK Center, whose RFK Young Leaders is the beneficiary, with whom such connections were being sold — without answer.
The auction web site CharityBuzz listed the value of the internship at $10,000. How? Not only unpaid – an internship a person, or their parents, pays for.
Inner City Press’ research finds that “m.alam” had bid on other internships, for example with Rolling Stone magazine. Where would the “connections” be better?
It has been implied to Inner City Press that the UN might ban the buyer (here, “m.alam”) from entering the UN. We’ll see.
The www.SustainabiliTank.info posting of May 2, 2013
UN Internship Being Auctioned For Over $20,000 Online, Is Pay to Play OK?
By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, May 1, updated 7:59 pm — They say a sucker is born every minute, but this takes the cake. Someone has bid over $20,000 for an unpaid six week “internship at the UN in New York City working for the UN-NGO Committee on Human Rights.” Click here.
What will the UN say about a position in its “august” hall being auctioned off? This UN has put up with many conflicts of interest, for example envoy Tony Blair being paid $11 million by Kazakhstan.
By giving the first question only to UN Correspondents Association who pay $70 dues, the UN has allowed a “pay to question” system. But this?
It’s on the website “CharityBuzz,” to raise funds for the “RFK Young Leaders.” It is a new low.
Update of 7:59 pm: the UN finally came back (for now) with this:
Internships at the United Nations are not for sale and cannot be put up for auction. We are trying to find out the details of how this came about and have contacted ‘charitybuzz.com
After ICP Exposes Sale of UN Internship at UN for $20,000, UN Contacts CharityBuzz
By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive
UNITED NATIONS, May 1 — What does the UN do when it is shown that an internship at the UN is being sold, online, for more than $20,000?
First it jests, then it asks. But the position remains for sale, with bids open until May 14, here.
On the morning of May 1, Inner City Press exposed a “bid over $20,000 for an unpaid six week ‘internship at the UN in New York City working for the UN-NGO Committee on Human Rights’… This UN has put up with many conflicts of interest, for example envoy Tony Blair being paid $11 million by Kazakhstan. By given the first question only to UN Correspondents Association who pay $70 dues, the UN has allowed a ‘pay to question’ system. But this?”
After publishing this article, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson Martin Nesirky at the May 1 noon briefing (video here, from Minute 13:42)
Inner City Press: there is a UN internship that’s being auctioned off online. I am not assuming that you’d know of this, but I have seen it, I have written an article about it –
Spokesperson Nesirky : Well, you want it? You want it or something?
Inner City Press: No, no, not at all, I wanted to know if it is legal. They are saying that people should pay $22,000 to work in the UN, it’s for the UN NGO Committee on Human Rights, for six weeks. They are auctioning it off openly to benefit something called the RFK Young Leaders Foundation. But, it seems to smack of… it says, you’ll learn how the UN really works. I am wondering if the UN is comfortable with positions inside the building being sold for money online.
Spokesperson Nesirky: I’ll have to look into that; I am not aware of that particular unusual story, Matthew. But, I am happy to look into it.
Inner City Press: Thank you.
Throughout the afternoon, Inner City Press received responses from all over. But from the UN Spokesperson, nothing until after 7:30 pm:
Internships at the United Nations are not for sale and cannot be put up for auction. We are trying to find out the details of how this came about and have contacted ‘charitybuzz.com’
Well, that’s something. But RFK’s Michael Sandel was asked; later, Inner City Press asked the RFK Center’s Sierra Ewert:
“I am a journalist who covered the UN; this morning I wrote a story, then asked the UN a question, about the RFK Center’s RFK Young Leaders role in the auctioning off of a “UN internship” for over $20,000 on CharityBuzz.com. I want to ask you, on deadline, what the RFK Center’s knowledge of, involvement in, and position on this auctioning off of an internship at the UN is. Please respond ASAP.”
After ICP Asks of Sale of Internship AT UN, UN SpinsIt’s Not a UN Internship
By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, May 2 — Yesterday morning Inner City Press published an expose that an internship at the UN was and is being sold, online, for more than $20,000. Then at the May 1 UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked the UN to justify that
Inner City Press: people should pay $22,000 to work in the UN, it’s for the UN NGO Committee on Human Rights, for six weeks. They are auctioning it off openly to benefit something called the RFK Young Leaders Foundation. It says, you’ll learn how the UN really works…. I have written an article about it… I am wondering if the UN is comfortable with positions inside the building being sold for money online.
Spokesperson Nesirky: I’ll have to look into that; I am not aware of that particular unusual story, Matthew. [Video here, at 13:42]
Nearly eight hours later after some others jumped on that story if only on Twitter, some far away giving credit or hat tips and some closer at hand troublingly not, the UN sent Inner City Press this answer:
Internships at the United Nations are not for sale and cannot be put up for auction. We are trying to find out the details of how this came about and have contacted ‘charitybuzz.com’
Inner City Press immediately published this answer, in a second story noting that it had asked the RFK Center’s Sierra Ewert:
“I am a journalist who covers the UN; this morning I wrote a story, then asked the UN a question, about the RFK Center’s RFK Young Leaders role in the auctioning off of a “UN internship” for over $20,000 on CharityBuzz.com. I want to ask you, on deadline, what the RFK Center’s knowledge of, involvement in, and position on this auctioning off of an internship at the UN is. Please respond ASAP.”
The RFK Center has yet to respond; some have come to its defense, or to the defense of Bruce Knotts. But is that the point? Inner City Press put in other requests for comment.
For what it’s worth, the bidding started at $500 then got into a contest between “m.alam” and “Aygul,” with the latter the interim (Young?) leader at $22,000.
The UN, after publication of Inner City Press’ second story, sent a “further to” clarification:
“Further to the earlier email, just to add that we do not believe that the internship in question is a UN internship. As mentioned, we are trying to establish the details of this case and have contacted ‘charitybuzz.com.’”
It was at this point, using precisely this “further to” language from Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson’s office, that another slowly came to the story. How did it happen?
What was the role of the spokesperson’s office, which just last week didn’t answer Inner City Press’ April 25 noon briefing question about Ban meeting with former French president (and now investment adviser for Qatar) Nicolas Sarkozy — then gave the answer to Agence France Presse? There is a growing pattern of this.
The auctioned internship story has hit a nerve given the parallel debate about the ethics of unpaid internships; some have become aware of it through that world, and that’s good. But in the smaller world of those who cover the UN, there are troubling developments on which we have also put in questions. In the UN fUN-house it is “World Press Freedom Day;” one would expect answers.
T H E U P D A T E :
Internship at UN, Bid Up to $26,000 As UN Can’t or Won’t Act on Auction.
By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, May 3 — Now the UN insists its Office of Legal Affairs is working hard on the “unusual” auction, now for $22,000, of a “internship at the UN.” But how can it be that the UN and OLA have accomplished nothing? Inner City Press first wrote about this on the morning of May 1 and asked about it at that day’s noon briefing.
Since then Inner City Press reported that a bidder named “Aygul” was ahead, bidding $22,000. The RFK Center, for which the auction is being conducted, has not provided any explanation.
Yet again at the May 3 noon briefing, the UN said it was still trying to figure out what was going on, and told Inner City Press not to be critical of the lack of results. (TNRS coverage).
And alongside Inner City Press’ May 3 noon briefing questions, the bidding on the “internship in the UN building” went higher, with a bid by “m. alam” for $26,000. From the UN’s May 3 transcript:
Inner City Press: On this internship question, I am assuming that when you have more you will say more, but yesterday I was saying, that they could contact NGO, and I am looking again at this page. It seems pretty straightforward that an NGO that is accredited to the UN shouldn’t be offering an internship at the UN for $22,000; and the bidding is still open. So, does the UN intend to somehow take action on this while the bidding is open? Can the person who is currently bidding $22,000 actually enter the UN as an intern under the terms that were offered?
Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: Matthew, we have said very clearly that internships at the United Nations are not for sale. Internships at the United Nations, United Nations internships, are unpaid. I also said yesterday that the Office of Legal Affairs is looking into it, and that includes contacting a number of people. You seem to assume what is and is not being done. And I don’t think that is right to do that. They are doing their job to find out. It obviously does look unusual, to say the very least, and we are trying to find out the full details. And once we have something further to say, we will. But just to repeat that United Nations internships are simply not for sale. And furthermore, they are unpaid.
But again, this is the same UN Office of Legal Affairs which after 15 months of delay tersely ruled that all claims about the UN bringing cholera to Haiti were “not receivable.” So, no, we do not have confidence in them cleaning this up.
Geneva based The World Meteorological Organization got data from the Arctic (Barrow), Alert (Canada), Izana (Canary Islands), and Mauna Loa (Hawaii) of more then 400ppm CO2. Is human-kind out to self immolate?
Observed concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere have exceeded the symbolic 400 parts per million (ppm) threshold at several stations of the World Meteorological Organization’s Global Atmosphere Watch network. This is a wakeup call about the constantly rising levels of this greenhouse gas, which is released into the atmosphere by fossil fuel burning and other human activities and is the main driver of climate change. Carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for thousands of years, trapping heat and causing our planet to warm further, impacting on all aspects of life on earth.
On May 9, 2013, the daily mean concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of Mauna Loa, Hawaii, recorded a reading of 400.03 ppm, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Mauna Loa is the oldest continuous atmospheric measurement station in the world and so is widely regarded as a benchmark site in the Global Atmosphere Watch.
Several other Global Atmosphere Watch stations have also reported CO2 concentrations exceeding the 400 ppm threshold during the seasonal maximum. This occurs early in the northern hemisphere spring before vegetation growth absorbs CO 2.
The threshold was first crossed at stations in the Arctic. A monthly average value exceeding 400 ppm was registered at Barrow, Alaska, USA (71.3N) for the first time in April 2012, as well as at Alert, in Canada (82.5N). From the beginning of 2013, measured CO 2. values at another GAW Global station, in Ny-Ålesund, Norway, (at 78.9N) also exceeded 400 ppm. This threshold has now also been crossed at stations closer to the Equator. Izaña, (Canary Islands, Spain), reported daily mean values exceeding 400 ppm at the end of April 2013. This was followed by Mauna Loa, which has been carrying out measurements since 1958.
The Global Atmosphere Watch coordinates observations of CO2 and other heat-trapping gases like methane and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere to ensure that measurements around the world are standardized and can be compared to each other. The network spans more than 50 countries including stations high in the Alps, Andes and Himalayas, as well as in the Arctic, Antarctic and in the far South Pacific.
Carbon dioxide is the single most important greenhouse gas emitted by human activities. It is responsible for 85% of the increase in radiative forcing – the warming effect on our climate – over the past decade. Between 1990 and 2011 there was a 30% increase in radiative forcing because of greenhouse gases. Radiative forcing is calculated relative to the pre-industrial level of key greenhouse gases.
According to WMO’s Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere reached 390.9 parts per million in 2011, or 140% of the pre-industrial level of 280 parts per million. The pre-industrial era level represented a balance of CO2 fluxes between the atmosphere, the oceans and the biosphere. The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased on average by 2 parts per million per year for the past 10 years.
At the current rate of increase, the global annual average CO2 concentration is set to cross the 400 ppm threshold in 2015 or 2016. www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/
Full WMO news release, including charts and links, is available at www.wmo.int/pages/
WMO Communications and Public Affairs
A blind UN lets Iran Chair the upcoming U.N. disarmament conference – the Perfect Crime of Irrelevance. The US will not be represented at Ambassadorial level when the Iranian sits in the Chairman’s Chair but will participate in a Saudi paid-for Counterterrorism Board.
Iran will assume the presidency of the UN Conference on Disarmament on May 27 and hold it over four weeks, until June 23, 2013.
The conference chair helps organize the work of the conference and assists in setting the agenda.
The conference was established in 1979 after a special U.N. General Assembly session, and is made up of 65 countries. In the past, the conference and its predecessors negotiated major multilateral arms limitation and disarmament agreements. In recent years it has become paralyzed, with member states often divided even on setting the agenda.
The Conference of Disarmament reports to the UN General Assembly and is billed by the UN as “the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community.”
Iran is astate that illegally supplies rockets to Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas, potentially aiding and abetting mass murder and terrorism. To make this rogue regime head of world arms control is an outrage. Abusers of international norms should not be the public face of the UN.
The UN is not shocked, its officials say Iran’s post is merely the result of an automatic rotation.
The US and others speak up:
Statement by Erin Pelton, Spokesperson, U.S. Mission to the United Nations, on Iran’s Rotation as President of the Conference on Disarmament, May 13, 2013
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, NY
May 13, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Iran’s upcoming rotation as President of the Conference on Disarmament (CD) is unfortunate and highly inappropriate. The United States continues to believe that countries that are under Chapter VII sanctions for weapons proliferation or massive human-rights abuses should be barred from any formal or ceremonial positions in UN bodies.
While the presidency of the CD is largely ceremonial and involves no substantive responsibilities, allowing Iran–a country that is in flagrant violation of its obligations under multiple UN Security Council Resolutions and to the IAEA Board of Governors–to hold such a position runs counter to the goals and objectives of the Conference on Disarmament itself. As a result, the United States will not be represented at the ambassadorial level during any meeting presided over by Iran.
another e-mail we got:
So fast forward. We find an ever more aggressive North Korea sharing nuclear know-how with like-minded belligerents, such as Iran and Syria.
When North Korea took the helm, Iran’s representative told the Conference: “I would like to congratulate the distinguished ambassador of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for the assumption of the presidency and assuring him of my delegation’s full support and cooperation.” You can be sure that the North Korean rep will deliver an equally flowery welcome when Iran dons the crown.
This also isn’t the first time that the UN has appointed Iran to a position of authority wildly at odds with its reprehensible record. In 2010 Iran was elected to the UN Commission on the Status of Women – the UN’s top women’s rights body. Iranian laws that permit women to be stoned for alleged adultery? Irrelevant.
The saddest part of this charade is that these countries and their despotic leaders take sustenance from acquiring such formal trappings and basking in the accompanying diplomatic niceties. The United States is a member of the Conference on Disarmament. We don’t need another administration speech that the “door is still open” but “the window is closing.” With an Iranian poised to preside, we need to leave.
UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay is getting worried somebody might figure out she was on the wrong side of history in Egypt. Her latest press statement is entitled: “Egypt risks drifting away from human rights ideals.” D’ya think? So Pillay now has this to say about the legal moves currently unfolding under the human rights tutelage of the Muslim Brotherhood: “I am very concerned that the new law, if adopted in its current form, may leave them in a worse situation than they were prior to the fall of the Mubarak Government in 2011.”
Then see also:
Saudi Arabia heads UN counter-terror efforts
Saudi Arabia is the Chair of the UN’s Counter-Terrorism Centre Advisory Board. Well, it does know a lot about terrorism – as a major player in the realm of training, financing and indoctrinating terrorists. Saudi Arabia has also ratified the terrorism treaty of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which defines terrorism to exempt hitting Jewish or American or any other target while engaged in “armed struggle against foreign occupation, aggression, colonialism, and hegemony, aimed at liberation and self-determination.” So how did Saudi Arabia come to Chair the UN “counter-terrorism” group? The UN website unabashedly informs us that they bought it: “In 2011, through a voluntary contribution of the Government of Saudi Arabia, the United Nations Secretariat was able to launch the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT).” The Obama administration responded by joining their Advisory Board.
The State Department’s recent release of its human rights report on Saudi Arabia contains the following statement under the heading “anti-Semitism:” “There were no known Jewish citizens.” Judenrein Arab states?
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has swung into action on Syria – to criticize Israel for destroying Hezbollah-bound weapons on Syrian territory. The threat to international peace and security, and specifically to Israel, from weaponry switching hands and moving across borders from Syria grows more dire day-by-day. The UN chief thought the right response was to ask “all sides” (ie Israel) to “exercise maximum calm and restraint” – and respect Syrian “national sovereignty and territorial integrity.” Since when was murdering 70,000 + and arming organizations committed to attacking a neighboring state, an internal sovereign affair?
Richard Falk addresses AUB audience
Terrorist sympathizer and UN Human Rights Council expert Richard Falk had a busy week in the Hezbollah stronghold of Beirut, following his obscene remarks on the Boston terror attacks. On Thursday of last week he delivered the annual Constantine Zurayk Lecture at the American University of Beirut. He entitled his speech “Rethinking the Future of Palestine: Beyond the Two State Consensus,” and argued against the two-state solution for ending the Palestinian Arab-Israeli conflict because at this moment in time it is “obsolete.” Iranian TV has now posted a video about Falk’s performance. Similar to the justifications he made for “resistance” at the time of the Boston terror attacks, Press TV reports that Falk “praised the resistance of the Palestinian people, considering it as the only means to address their suffering….Dr. Falk argued that…the only way to address the ordeal of the Israeli occupation is through global mobilization of support for the resistance….” In addition to direct support for terrorism – aka “resistance” – Falk told the reporter: “Israel can’t live in peace and security with its neighbors…It is a pariah state endangering the Middle East…and the U.S. is an accomplice.” Zurayk was a well-known Arab nationalist who spent his career arguing how the battle against Israel can be won and giving directions for “the road to final and complete victory.” He is heralded for coining the term “al-nakba” – the now entrenched reference to the creation of the state of Israel as a “catastrophe.” Some call him the grand-daddy of the insidious political plan of “catastrophology.” It is clear why Falk would be the recipient of the Zurayk honor.
from Matthew Russell Lee:
FUNCA aims to hold the UN to its stated purposes, by making it transparent and accessible without discrimination.
It seems the UN still does not understand the meaning of Freedom of the Press / the Media / and the press responsibility towards its sources – and thus the meaning of Security.
Clearly – open rooms on the press floor and Iranian-election-style UN appointing those candidates that get Press Credentials or, as Matthew further claims, even actual information important to the correspondent, do not make for a meaningful UN when it is called to stand up to the non-democracies that rule the House.
On the Press floor – there ought to be no obligation to join the UN Correspondence Association – a private club at best – and a UN puddle at its worst – and Mr. Lee and his small group of dissenters are right in putting up their fight. The UN is wrong in dealing with UNCA as if they represent all of the Media covering the UN – passing information through them – and favoring them in the press room as if they were to represent all of the media.
The Free UN Coalition for Access had tried to hold off but now must cover the bungled move-back of the UN press corps to the Secretariat building.
It was delayed for months, then set to occur on May 10. But when the day arrived, there were still no keys for the offices being moved back to. (There were also extensive complaints to FUNCA, mostly from UNCA members, that the largest and most private offices were granted to the Executive Committee members of the UN Correspondents Association, a questionable and questioned grouping with which the UN exclusively and secretly negotiated office assignments.)
Journalists were told that a new television system called EZTV would replace the old cable system. But as of May 10, when FUNCA members tried the referenced eztv.un.org, it did not work. Nor did the wi-fi in the third floor press area.
Now on the Sunday before the Monday “move in,” the UN has offered apologies not to the entire press corps, but only to UNCA Executive Committee insiders, trying to use them who have been so well served by these secretive planning to molify others.
By no means all UN correspondents are represented by UNCA, despite recent false statements by UNCA president Pamela Falk of CBS, broadcast propaganda-like on UNTV in the UN’s lobby, to the contrary.
So where is the on the record mea culpa to all UN correspondents? Journalists were told to turn in their keys to their former cubicles and move on May 13. But it is not ready, and there are no keys to the new spaces. Investigative journalists have commitments to their sources, and will not leave any records unlocked.
This is UN incompetence, and perhaps more.
Coal, tar sands and their pipelines, and fracked shale gas, just do not mix with wind, solar and water. At 400ppm, Reverend Billy and his choir will lead the green children in a protest when Obama is in New York Town Monday May 13, 2013 so he notes that 350ppm is the acceptable limit.
United Against Pipelines, Forward on Climate! Tomorrow, Monday May 13th, New Yorkers will march and rally to greet President Obama when he attends a fundraiser in NYC––his first visit since his post-Sandy inspection. In his Inaugural Address just a few months ago, Obama promised “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.”
Join us if you stand against fossil fuel pipelines, against fracking, against tar sands, and FOR a country powered by wind, water and solar.
Gather in Bryant Park starting at 5 (meet near the fountain off 6th avenue at 41st Street). Reverend Billy and his choir will lead us off with a rousing blessing and song. We’ll begin to march at , then rally in front of the Waldorf Astoria at .
If you can, please wear yellow and orange (the colors of Occupy Sandy) to demonstrate your support for a clean energy future.
Event Partners: 350 NYC, 350 NJ, 350.org, Brooklyn For Peace, Coalition Against the Rockaway Pipeline (CARP), CREDO, CUNY Divest, Food & Water Watch, Global Kids Inc., Green Party of NY, Human Impacts Institute, NYC Friends of Clearwater, NYU Divest, Occupy the Pipeline, Occupy Sandy, Restore the Rock, Sane Energy Project, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, Sierra Club National, United for Action, World Can’t Wait, WESPAC, YANA (You Are Never Alone).
Our website has proposed that geopolitics are headed to a new structure were it is needed to have a billion people in order to be considered a World Power. As such we proposed that besides China and India, the other World powers will be -
- an Anglo-American Block led by the US and that will include also the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and as well Mexico and Japan;
- an Islamic Block led by Turkey or Indonesia that will stretch from Mauritania to Indonesia;
- and a block “Of the Rest” that will be led by Brazil and include, with a few exceptions based on the US led Trans-Pacific Partnership (the TPP) , Latin America, Africa, the SIDS, parts of Asia.
We see the recent news of Brazil defeating Mexico for the leadership of the WTO as an important step in above direction.
Brazil Wins Leadership of the World Trade Organization
Brazilian Roberto Azevêdo has been chosen over Mexican candidate Herminio Blanco as the newest director general of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on May 7. El Palenque, AnimalPolitico’s debate forum for experts, discusses the effects this win will have on Mexican diplomacy, Brazil’s role in trade liberalization, and the prominence of the BRICS on the world stage. Azevêdo will be the first Latin American to head the WTO.
The Financial Times wrote May 7, 2013:
So, Roberto Azevêdo, Brazil’s candidate for director general of the WTO, has pipped his rival Herminio Blanco of Mexico for the job.
But there is still a question to be answered: Who won? The man or the country?
Between Azevêdo and Blanco, there may not be much to choose. Both have impressive credentials. Azevêdo, a career diplomat in one of the world’s most polished diplomatic services, has been Brazil’s ambassador to the WTO since 2008. He knows the organisation inside out. Blanco is a businessman steeped in trade, a trade consultant who was formerly Mexico’s trade minister and its chief negotiator during preparation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
If the race was between two technocrats, it must have been a photo finish.
But what if the WTO members voted for the country, not the man? Then, it was a matter of chalk and cheese. Disgruntled Mexicans – whose pride will have taken a severe knock – will call this a victory of protectionism over free trade.
It will also be a victory of the developing world over the developed one.
Mexico, which has free trade agreements with 44 different countries, is the new poster child of developed world policies at work in the developing world. Brazil has free trade agreements with nobody, and has shown a tendency to renegotiate what agreements it does have as soon as they become inconvenient – not least its auto agreement with Mexico. Many developing countries – in Africa and Asia as well as in Latin America – will have felt the Brazilian was much more likely to protect their fledgling manufacturers and farmers than was the Mexican. Many of those countries, especially in Africa, already have closer ties with Brazil than they do with Mexico.
In an interview with Reuters, Azevêdo played down the issue of nationality:
To those who say that, under Azevêdo, the WTO will lose sight of its mission to promote free trade, others will reply that it never had one in the first place.
But Tuesday’s decision will make a big difference. No matter how pure a technocrat he is, Azevêdo will find it hard to fend off the influence of Brasília. It was the Brazilian that won, and not the Mexican.
Related FT reading:
SO, WE WILL SAY – THE FT AGREE WITH OUR POINT OF VIEW THAT THE US CANDIDATE – MEXICO – LOST TO THE CANDIDATE OF THE THIRD WORLD – THAT IS OUR TRUE SIXTH WORLD – WHO WILL STAND UP TO THE BIGGER BOYS OF THE OTHER FIVE WORLDS – SPECIFICALLY THE US – WHO BLATANTLY USE THE INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS FOR THEIR OWN GOOD – EXCLUSIVELY!!!
FURTHER NEWS OF RELEVANCE TO THE NEW WORLD IN THE MAKING:
Former President Bill Clinton announced on May 6 that the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) would be expanding to Latin America in December 2013, with its first meeting set to launch in Rio de Janeiro. He was joined by Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes in making the announcement at the mid-year meeting for his annual conference.
President Dilma Rousseff announced the start of a small business ministry on May 6, saying that government banks will provide up to $7,500 to small businesses in 2013 and will reduce the public loan interest rate from 8 percent to 5 percent beginning on May 31. “The question of small business is indispensable for the country’s future and present,” said Rousseff. Brazil’s estimated 6 million micro and small businesses accounted for 40 percent of the country’s 15 million new jobs from 2001 to 2011.
Brazil plans to hire approximately 6,000 Cuban doctors to work in the country’s rural areas, said Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota on May 6. The Federal Medical Council–a Brazilian doctor’s organization–questioned the island nation’s medical qualifications, but Patriota called Cuba “very proficient in the areas of medicine, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnology.” President Dilma Rousseff began the talks in January 2012, and both countries are currently consulting with the Pan American Health Organization to move forward.
The International Monetary Fund’s May 2013 Regional Economic Outlook predicts Latin America’s growth to increase approximately 3.5 percent by the end of the year. But, in an article for The Huffington Post, Director for the IMF’s Western Hemisphere Department Alejandro Werner questions whether countries in the region will be able to “adjust policies to preserve macroeconomic and financial stability” after the near-future external benefits, such as easy external financing and high commodity prices, begin to decline.
Volcanoes and Geysers Could Fuel Chilean Energy
Chile will partner with New Zealand to develop its deep exploration drilling and to develop its geothermal energy production. Chile is home to 20 percent of the world’s active volcanoes, which can be harnessed for geothermal energy. However, only 5 percent of the country’s electrical power is attributed to renewable energy resources, reports IPS News.
The Pacific Alliance Creates a Legislative Committee
Heads of Congress from Pacific Alliance members Chile, Colombia, México, and Perú signed an accord to form a Pacific Alliance Inter-Parliamentary Committee on May 6, reports La República. The committee would serve as the legislative arm of the Alliance by developing a framework to approve free trade agreements and distribution of goods, services, and capital under the Alliance. The committee will be officially presented to the Alliance at a legislative session in Chile in June.
Washington to Host Chilean and Peruvian Presidents
Chile’s President Sebastian Piñera and Peru’s President Ollanta Humala will visit Washington D.C. in June to discuss economic relations with President Obama. Piñera’s visit will take place on June 4, and Humala will visit one week later on June 11. The agenda will likely touch on negotiations with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as all three countries hope to develop closer economic ties to Asian markets.
Obstacles to Sustainability at Centre of High-level discussions at UN Economic and Social Council
Monday, 13 May from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. EDTECOSOC Chamber at UN Headquarters
Concerned that implementation of sustainable development is seriously lagging, world leaders at Rio+20 committed to fostering and implementing sustainable development at all levels. To this end, the Economic and Social Council is taking action to fulfill its integration mandate.
The Council is gathering a wide range of senior officials and civil society representatives to examine how science, technology and innovation can contribute to the integration of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development for triple-win solutions in the energy and agriculture sectors at the upcoming ECOSOC Integration Meeting on 13 May. The theme is: Achieving sustainable development: Integrating the social, economic and environmental dimensions.
The dialogue aims to identify triple-win solutions that can emerge from a sustainable development approach, as well as measures to strengthen the science-policy interface. The dialogue will also help identify steps needed for the Council and its subsidiary bodies to effectively promote the integration of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. The outcome of the discussion will be considered by ministers when they meet for the Annual Ministerial Review in Geneva in July.
The event is open to the press. But will it be open to the truly interested press? Those affiliated with the topic of SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT that for years were excluded from what the UN defined as accredited media? We can hope only that the present leader of the DPI will establish a new policy to help the evolving efforts to turn the up to now useless ECOSOC into the intended Commission or Council for Sustainability – or what the Sustainable Development Commission was intended for but never became.
For a full list of speakers, visit:
For more background information, visit: www.un.org/en/ecosoc/
Daniel Shepard, email@example.com, +1 212-963-9495 – UN Department of Public Information
Paul Simon, firstname.lastname@example.org, +1 917-367-5027 – UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs
2013 Economic and Social Council
Integration MeetingAchieving sustainable development: Integrating the
social, economic and environmental dimensions
Monday, 13 May 2013
10:00 a.m. – 06:00 p.m.
10:00 a.m. – 10:25 a.m.
Ø H.E. Ambassador Néstor Osorio, President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council
Ø Mr. Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations
Ø Mr. Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs
Session 1: Policy convergence for sustainable development
0:25 a.m. – 01:00 p.m.
03:00 p.m. – 05:50 p.m.
05:50 p.m. – 06:00 p.m.
A parched Syria turned to war, scholar says, and Egypt may be next.
Prof. Arnon Sofer sets out the link between drought, Assad’s civil war, and the wider strains in the Middle East; Jordan and Gaza are also in deep trouble, he warns.
May 9, 2013, The Times of Israel
Some look at the upheaval in Syria through a religious lens. The Sunni and Shia factions, battling for supremacy in the Middle East, have locked horns in the heart of the Levant, where the Shia-affiliated Alawite sect has ruled a majority Sunni nation for decades.
Some see it through a social prism. As they did in Tunis with Muhammad Bouazizi — an honest man who couldn’t make an honest living in this corruption-ridden part of the world — the social protests that sparked the war in Syria started in the poor and disenfranchised parts of the country.
Others look at the eroding boundaries of state in Syria and other parts of the Middle East as a direct result of the sins of Western hubris and Colonialism.
Professor Arnon Sofer has no qualms with any of these claims and interpretations. But the upheaval in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East, he says, cannot be fully understood without also taking two environmental truths into account: soaring birthrates and dwindling water supply.
Over the past 60 years, the population in the Middle East has twice doubled itself, said Sofer, the head of the Chaikin geo-strategy group and a longtime lecturer at the IDF’s top defense college, where today he heads the National Defense College Research Center. “There is no example of this anywhere else on earth,” he said of the population increase. Couple that with Syria’s water scarcity, he said, “and as a geographer it was clear to me that a conflict would erupt.”
The Pentagon cautiously agrees with this thesis. In February the Department of Defense released a “climate-change adaptation roadmap.” While the effects of climate change alone do not cause conflict, the report states, “they may act as accelerants of instability or conflict in parts of the world.” Predominantly the paper is concerned with the effects of rising seas and melting arctic permafrost on US military installations. The Middle East is not mentioned by name.
But Sofer and Anton Berkovsky, who together compiled the research work of students at the National Defense College and released a geo-strategic paper on Syria earlier in the year, believe that water scarcity played a significant role in the onset of the Syrian civil war and the Arab Spring, and that it may help re-shape the strategic bonds and interests of the region as regimes teeter and borders blur. Sofer also believes that a “Pax Climactica” is within reach if regional leaders would only, for a short while, forsake their natural inclinations to wake up in the morning and seek to do harm.
Syria is 85 percent desert or semi-arid country. But it has several significant waterways. The Euphrates runs in a south-easterly direction through the center of the country to Iraq. The Tigris runs southeast, tracing a short part along Syria’s border with Turkey before flowing into Iraq. And, aside from several lesser rivers that flow southwest through Lebanon to the Mediterranean, Syria has an estimated four to five billion cubic meters of water in its underground aquifers.
For these reasons the heart of the country was once an oasis. For 5,000 years, Damascus was famous for its agriculture and its dried fruit. Since 1950, however, the population has increased sevenfold in Syria, to 22 million, and Turkey, in an age of scarcity, has seized much of the water that once flowed south into Syria.
“They’ve been choking them,” Sofer said, noting that Turkey annually takes half of the available 30 billion cubic meters of water in the Euphrates. This limits Syria’s water supply and hinders its ability to generate hydroelectricity.
In 2007, after years of population growth and institutional economic stagnation, several dry years descended on Syria. Farmers began to leave their villages and head toward the capital. From 2007-2008, Sofer said, over 160 villages in Syria were abandoned and some 250,000 farmers – Sofer calls them “climate refugees” – relocated to Damascus, Aleppo and other cities.
The capital, like many of its peer cities in the Middle East, was unable to handle that influx of people. Residents dug 25,000 illegal wells in and around Damascus, pushing the water table ever lower and the salinity of the water ever higher.
This, along with over one million refugees from the Iraq war and, among other challenges, borders that contain a dizzying array of religions and ethnicities, set the stage for the civil war.
Tellingly, it broke out in the regions most parched — “in Daraa [in the south] and in Kamishli in the northeast,” Sofer said. “Those are two of the driest places in the country.”
Professor Eyal Zisser, one of Israel’s top scholars of Syria, agreed that the drought played a significant role in the onset of the war. “Without doubt it is part of the issue,” he said. Zisser did not believe that water was the central issue that inflamed Syria but rather “the match that set the field of thorns on fire.”
Since that fire began to rage in March 2011, the course of the battles has been partially dictated by a different sort of logic, not environmental in nature. “Assad is butchering his way west,” Sofer said. He believes the president will eventually have to retreat from the capital and therefore has focused his efforts on Homs and other cities and towns that lie between Damascus and the Alawite regions near the coast, cutting himself an escape route.
Sofer and Berkovsky envision several scenarios for Syria. Among them: Assad puts down the rebellion and remains in power; Assad abdicates and a Sunni majority seizes control; Assad abdicates and no central power is able to assert control. The most likely scenario, Sofer said, was that the Syrian dictator would eventually flee to Tehran. But he preferred to avoid that sort of micro-conjecture and to focus on the regional effects of population growth and water scarcity and the manner in which that ominous mix might shape the future of the region.
Writing in the New York Times from Yemen on Thursday, Thomas Friedman embraced a similar thesis, noting that the heart of the al-Qaeda activity in the region corresponded with the areas most stricken by drought. Sofer published a paper in July where he laid out the grim environmental reality of the region and argued that, as in Syria, the conflicts bedeviling the region were not about climate issues but were deeply influenced by them.
Egypt, Sofer wrote, faces severe repercussions from climate change. Even a slight rise in the level of the sea – just half a meter – would salinize the Nile Delta aquifers and force three million people out of the city of Alexandria. In the more distant future, as the North Sea melts, the Suez Canal could decline in importance. More immediately, and of greater significance to Israel, he wrote that Egypt, faced with a water shortage, would likely grow more militant over the coming years. But he felt the militancy would be directed south, toward South Sudan and Ethiopia and other nations competing for the waters of the Nile, and not north toward the Levant.
As proof that this pivot has already begun, Sofer pointed to Abu-Simbel, near the border with Sudan. There the state has converted a civilian airport into a military one. “The conclusion to be drawn from this is simple and unequivocal,” he wrote. “Egypt today represents a military threat to the southern nations of the Nile and not the Zionist state to the east.”
The Sinai Peninsula, already quite lawless, will only get worse, perhaps to the point of secession, he and Berkovsky wrote. Local Bedouin will have difficulty raising animals in the region and will turn, to an even greater degree, to smuggling material and people along a route established in the Bronze Age, through Sinai to Asia and Europe.
Syria, even if the war were swiftly resolved, is “on the cusp of catastrophe.” Jordan, too, is in dire need of water. And Gaza, like Syria, has been battered by unchecked drilling. The day after Israel left under the Oslo Accords, he said, the Palestinian Authority and other actors began digging 500 wells along the coastal aquifer even though Israel had warned them of the dangers. “Today there are around 4,000 of them and no more ground water. It’s over. There’s no fooling around with this stuff,” he said.
Only the two most stable states in the region – Israel and Turkey – have ample water.
Turkey is the sole Middle Eastern nation blessed with plentiful water sources. Ankara’s control of the Tigris and the Euphrates, among other rivers, means that Iraq and Syria, both downriver, are to a large extent dependent on Turkey for food, water and electricity. That strategic advantage, along with Turkey’s position as the bridge between the Middle East and Europe, “further serves its neo-Ottoman agenda,” Sofer said.
He envisioned an increased role for Turkey both in the Levant and, eventually, in central Asia and along the oil crossroads of the Persian Gulf, pitting it against Iran. Climate change, he conceded, has only a minor role in that future struggle for power but it is “an accelerant.”
Israel no longer suffers from drought. Desalination, conservation and sewage treatment have alleviated much of the natural scarcity. In February, the head of the Israel Water Authority, Alexander Kushnir, told the Times of Israel that the country’s water crisis has come to an end. Half of Israel’s two billion cubic meters of annual water use is generated artificially, he said, through desalination and sewage purification.
For Sofer, this self-sufficiency is an immense regional advantage. Israel could pump water east to Jenin in the West Bank and farther along to Jordan and north to Syria. International organizations could follow Israel’s example and fund regional desalination plants, which, he noted, cost less than a single day of modern full-scale war.
Instead, rather than an increase in cooperation, he feared, the region would likely witness ever more desperate competition. Sofer said his friends see him as a sort of Jeremiah. But the Middle East, he cautioned, is a region where “leaders wake up every morning and ask what can I do today to make matters worse.”
A recent visitor to Amman reports some senior Jordanians declaring openly that “there never was a place called Palestine. There is no such thing as Palestine, only Jordan.” Such sentiments, while still a minority view, mark a sea change in the long-standing Jordanian deference to the PLO on developments west of the Jordan River. According to one Palestinian, such views are being encouraged by some voices in Fatah, who fear Hamas’ baton more than Amman’s reluctant embrace, and who no doubt believe, as many veterans in Fatah do, that all it will take to turn Jordan into Palestine is a Palestinian decision to do so.
“Jordan is Palestine” is the mirror image of “Palestine is Jordan.” Jordanians identified with the latter are not contemplating a confederal agreement between respective Jordanian and and Palestinian states, but rather the restoration of Jordan’s uncontested place in Jerusalem and the West Bank on the eve of the June 1967 war.
The ruler of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is not to be envied. History and geography have played a cruel trick on the leader of this unlikely country. He is squeezed between more powerful and often warring parties, presiding over a population of subjects thrown together by war and circumstance.To its credit, Jordan has succeeded more often than it has failed to construct a popular and workable, if fragile sense of national identity shared by disparate Palestinian and Transjordanian communities during the last nine decades. However, the self-immolation of Syria, Fatah’s failure to end Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the uncertain promise of the Arab Spring are posing new and unprecedented challenges for King Abdullah II, whose head lies ever uneasy on the royal throne.
The feasting on the corpse that was once Syria poses the most immediate challenge to Jordan, and it was at the heart of recent discussions during the King’s recent visit to Washington in the last week of April. But Jordan’s cascading problem managing the fallout from Syria complements the more essential challenge that has always been uppermost in the mind of Jordan’s political elite as well as its growing Islamic opposition. This challenge, of course, relates to the Palestinian dimension of Jordan’s national identity, and the King’s ability to manage this without his Hashemite or Transjordanian identity suffering as a consequence.
It is against Jordan’s basic nature to make precipitous moves in any direction, yet a dynamic trend favoring a “New Look” in Jordan’s Palestine policy — one that is viewed sympathetically in both Jerusalem and Washington — is hard to ignore.
For many years now Jordan has been confronting a most unwelcome strategic environment to its west, across the Jordan River. Fatah has failed to end Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the growing power of Hamas as a political factor has proceeded in tandem. Fatah is no friend of Jordan, where memories of Black September remain etched in the consciousness of the Jordanian elite. But Jordan long ago was forced by its own failures and by circumstances beyond its control to make its peace with the PLO, not only as the recognized representative of the Palestinian people — at least those residing east of the Jordan River —- but also as a strategic buffer against Israeli, American and Islamic/Arab claims against Amman. The PLO, notably after King Hussein’s 1988 disengagement from the West Bank, became Jordan’s insurance policy against the imposition of a solution at Jordan’s expense to Palestine’s problems in West Bank and Gaza Strip.
To Jordan’s dismay, it is being forced to realize that Fatah and the PLO it embodies cannot perform this task. This conclusion has been debated from time to time in recent years. The barometer of these discussions is Amman’s on-again, off-again dance with Khaled Meshaal and Hamas, most notably the 2009 thaw in relations engineered by Gen. Mohammad Dhahabi, who was at the time head of Jordan’s General Intelligence Department. If Fatah cannot be a Palestinian shield protecting Jordanian interests in a quiescent West Bank, it is argued, then perhaps Hamas should be given a go.
The other option, and the one today at the center of Jordan’s agenda, suggests a fundamental rethinking of Jordan’s exit from the West Bank that began with King Hussein’s failure in 1972 to reach an agreement on Israeli withdrawal with Moshe Dayan and that gained momentum with the Arab League decision to recognize the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people in 1974. Like Jordan’s unenthusiastic turn in Hamas’ direction, this option reflects Jordan’s despair at Fatah’s failure and is a hedge against Fatah’s capitulation to Israel in a deal that would endanger Jordan’s interest in preventing an influx of Palestinians eastward across the Jordan River.
One example of this trend is the “historic,” if precipitous, agreement between King Abdullah and PLO head Mahmoud Abbas in March confirming the Jordanian king’s stewardship of the holy places in Jerusalem.
“In this historic agreement, Abbas reiterated that the king is the custodian of holy sites in Jerusalem and that he has the right to exert all legal efforts to preserve them, especially Al-Aqsa mosque,” the palace said in a statement. Abbas said that the agreement confirmed “Jordan’s role since the era of the late King Hussein” and that it consolidated agreements established decades ago.
Abbas’ signature marks the first formal Palestinian recognition of Jordan’s central role in Jerusalem and it complements the understanding detailed in Jordan’s treaty with Israel in 1994. The treaty notes that “Israel respects the present special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in Muslim Holy shrines in Jerusalem. When negotiations on the permanent status will take place, Israel will give high priority to the Jordanian historic role in these shrines.”
Abbas’ interest in formalizing Jordan’s role is a function of Palestinian weakness and stands in ironic contrast to the nominal, and apparently symbolic boost for sovereignty won at the UN last November.
The understanding on Jerusalem reflects the PLO’s interest in Amman as a diplomatic safe harbor, protecting against both Hamas and Israel, and Amman’s readiness to reaffirm its interest in Jerusalem at the PLO’s (and Hamas’) expense.
These interests are not inconsistent with the evolving diplomatic strategy being pursued by US Secretary of State John Kerry. For more than a year, Amman has been a key way station of Washington’s diplomacy, much to the dismay of some in Egypt who preside over long-stalled reconciliation efforts. But unlike President Mohammad Morsi, King Abdullah is interested in being identified with any American effort. Even if opposed to the ideas Kerry is now circulating, Jordan has rarely viewed itself as in a position to reject US efforts.
“Palestine is Jordan” has long been the rallying cry of Israel’s right wing. It is now finding an uncertain echo in Jordan.
“We are extremely encouraged by the results of the Secretary’s meetings in Moscow with the President and with the Foreign Minister and salute your achievements in that regard by identifying a path forward,” Judeh said at a meeting with Kerry at the US ambassador’s residence in Rome Thursday.
Jordan’s position, Judeh said, is that there “has to be a transitional period that results in a political solution that includes all the segments of Syrian society, no exclusion whatsoever…preserves Syria’s territorial integrity and unity, and…guarantees… pluralism and opportunity for everybody.”
Judeh said he was heading to Moscow Thursday for further discussions. On Tuesday, Judeh issued a joint call with Iran’s visiting Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi for both sides in Syria’s civil war to enter talks on a transition government.
Kerry, on the final leg of a trip to Moscow and Rome, said Thursday that he had sent US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford on to Istanbul to meet with the Syrian opposition and begin work to persuade them to come to the peace conference. They have expressed misgivings because it would get underway before any agreement on the departure of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, although US officials insist US policy hasn’t changed and that they do not see any possibility where Assad could remain the leader of Syria.
“The specific work of this next conference will be to bring representatives of the government and the opposition together to determine how we can fully implement the means of the [Geneva] communique, understanding that the communique’s language specifically says that the Government of Syria and the opposition have to put together, by mutual consent, the parties that will then become the transitional government itself,” Kerry said at a meeting with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Tuesday.
Washington and Moscow actually have common ground on Syria, except for the issue of the sequencing of the transition, Russian foreign affairs analyst Fyodor Lukyanov wrote for Al-Monitor Thursday.
“We can say that Russia and the US differ today on only one issue: the sequence of actions,” Lukyanov wrote. “First Assad leaves, then the process of establishing a new political regime in Syria begins, or the other way around. Moscow supports the second version, and Washington the first. As strange as it seems, they are in agreement on everything else: After Assad, there is a risk that Syria will become ungovernable, and the goal of outside forces… is to prevent power from falling into the hands of Islamic extremists.”
The April 29 meeting between US Secretary of State John Kerry and an Arab League ministerial delegation of the Arab Peace Initiative (API) follow-up committee carried a double message.
The first was the United States’ willingness to seriously explore the possibility of resuming negotiations with the aim of ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict after visits to the region by President Barack Obama and the secretary of state.
Skeptics worry that a division of labor decided by the US president, whereby he focuses on Asia while leaving the Arab-Israeli conflict to his secretary of state, is not very promising, despite the commitment and personality of the latter.
The second message is that Arabs have been waiting for a willingness to dust off the API, as I have previously argued here, and put it on their agenda with the United States. They are showing a readiness to invest in the Palestinian issue at this critical moment in Syria. The meeting should be the beginning of a process that would also involve intensive US-Israeli contacts and other concerned parties in serious negotiations. Such negotiations should be conducted on a basis different from those that have failed to produce results for two decades.
Yet the Arab willingness to accept the principle of territorial swaps — limited as well as symmetrical in terms of area and quality — was seen by others in the United States and Israel conversely: something to precede the negotiations, or to be addressed separately from the basic issue, which is Israel’s acceptance of the June 1967 borders in conformity with UN Security Council Resolution 242.
Indeed, this resolution should be the basis for a settlement of the conflict and of a resolution of the occupation. The Palestinians have indicated many times their acceptance of minor adjustments to the borders of 1967 — adjustments that will be considered only in the context of negotiations for the two-state solution, not before.
Israel must formally accept the 1967 borders instead of engaging continuously in diplomatic acrobatics over the version of the Resolution 242 in which there is an omission of the word “the” before “territories.” Israel’s aim is to suggest that it does not have to withdraw from all the occupied territories and to legitimize its occupation of the territories it wants to annex. Yet the preamble of the resolution clearly states the inadmissibility of territorial acquisition by means of war, thus invalidating the Israeli argument. Minor, symmetrical adjustments are an integrated part and facilitator of that deal, well defined according to Resolution 242. This does not allow for an unknown offer to be made by Israel.
It is equally important that Israel cease all settlement activity, which Obama mildly criticized during his visit as detrimental to the process. Indeed, they represent a real danger to a peaceful resolution because they systematically destroy any possibility of creating a viable Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders.
Also, suggesting Arab normalization with Israel as an encouraging gesture toward Israel, a free gift, further complicates matters. The focus must be on the United States and other third parties committed to peace in the Middle East and aware of the dangers of inaction to spell out the guidelines for reaching peace.
These guidelines are found in relevant UN resolutions and earlier agreements. These third parties should stand firmly by these guidelines. This is how the United States, a third party, could make the serious resumption of negotiations on the basis of a clear timetable and not mere discussion. The aim is to reach a comprehensive peace that includes normalization, as is clearly stated in the API, without amendment, despite what some have insinuated.
It is worth noting that amending the API necessitates a resolution by an Arab Summit, a matter that is neither on the collective Arab agenda nor on the agenda of the delegation. It is needless to revive once more, under different names, interim solutions that will take us nowhere but to further crisis and result in more conflicts.
Ambassador Nassif Hitti is a senior Arab League official and the former head of the Arab League Mission in Paris. He is a former representative to UNESCO and a member of the Al-Monitor board of directors. The views he presents here are his alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of these organizations.
from NYU School of Continuing & Professinal Studies – Global Affairs Division: email@example.com
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Kissinger at the UN, Story of a Photo Not Taken, Wheelchair Sans Mr. K
By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, May 7 — It was inside the UN, but there was no sign on the door. In Conference Room E of the Temporary North Lawn Building, Inner City Press was told, Henry Kissinger was speaking.
Having covered, in the time of Occupy Wall Street, a mock award ceremony for Henry Kissinger held in front of a midtown Manhattan hotel (video here), Inner City Press had a sense there could be news: Kissinger in the UN! Again!
And so Inner City Press set up shop at a Cafe Austria table in front of Conference Room E. The electronic blue sign which usually announces what’s taking place in a UN meeting room — the Law of the Sea, or even sometimes, “Questions about Information” — was blank.
There was a paper sign on the door itself, DPI-NGO, but that event (which Inner City Press also covered, in the context of an internship with an NGO inside the UN being auctioned off for $26,000) was over.
A UN Security medical officer arrived, to unfold and man a wheelchair, along with two bodyguards. Two of the three looked skeptically at Inner City Press. But it is an open area.
After several false alarms, the moment came. Henry Kissinger came out of Conference Room E. But he said, even before he was out, “no pictures of me in a wheelchair.”
There have been other sightings by Inner City Press in the UN this year: Judith Miller of Iraq and New York Times fame, here in the time of Syria and chemical weapons, on April Fool’s Day no less.
Beyonce, for whom photographers were ordered to turn over their memory cards and have them erased. (Meanwhile, the UN took photos while raiding Inner City Press’ office on March 18, then shared them and had them leaked on March 21 once the UN was asked about the raid.)
AsUN Stonewalls on Abyei, Who Leaked the Route, Misseriya Disposition?
By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, May 7 — What are this UN’s priorities, when it comes to the death of a UN Peacekeeper in Abyei and at least five questions left unanswered?
On May 6, Inner City Press asked the chief of UN Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous, did the UNISFA mission under this command provide notification of its travel, in which at least one peacekeeper and paramount chief Kuol Deng Kuol were killed?
So Inner City Press submitted several questions in writing to the UN’s top three spokespeople. But they did not answer, even as on Tuesday morning Ladsous’ spokesman Kieran Dwyer was giving information to other scribes, not about the death in Abyei, but other peacekeepers, in the Golan Heights. Priorities.
So Inner City Press went to Tuesday’s UN noon briefing and asked spokesman Martin Nesirky:
Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about the death of the peacekeeper in Abyei. I had sent you some questions, but I need to ask them [here]. One, did UNISFA [United Nations Interim Security Force in Abyei] give notification of its travel? Two, how large was the protection element? There have been some complaints now by South Sudan that it wasn’t large enough. And what were the casualties to the UN’s knowledge on the Misseriya side?
Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, we’ve already answered that question, Matthew…
Inner City Press: How?
Spokesperson: The last part: that we are not aware of the casualties suffered amongst the assailants, those who attacked that particular group. I don’t have anything further beyond what we have already given to you both in this room and subsequently by e-mail. If that changes, I will certainly update you.
Inner City Press: It seems like the permission question…
Spokesperson: I said if I have anything further, I will certainly update. Do you have some other question, Matthew?
Well, yes. Here’s more: A, B and C:
In firefight it’s reported in Sudan that 17 Misseriya were killed and 12 injured.
a) What were the numbers and weapons used on each side?
b) What happened afterward with the remaining Misseriya? Did the UNISFA take prisoners, or disarm the remainder of the group? Did they get identities of the ambushers?
c) Did they find out who leaked the route of the convoy?