Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 10th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
This is a SustainabiliTank.info original and it was inspired by our watching his press conference at the side of his guest – the Prime Minister of Japan – H.E. Shinzo Abe.
Mr. Abe seemingly knew well what happened to even a greater ally of the US – the Prime Minister of Australia, so it was evident he was well prepared for meeting his host whom he met already once before by visiting at the Trump Towers in New York – at a time Trump was not yet sitting President. Mr. Abe seemed worried that the new US President who talks of making “America Great Again” – has no interest in Asia and while nevertheless pulling at China’s toes. Japan does not want to be left to face China alone.
But as we wrote earlier today in “The Taming the Tramp” – Mr. Trump beat retreat from his earlier high talk about China-China. He did this in clear light by promising to the Chinese leader that he will not change the One China policy. Surely we do not know how this phone call went, but it is obvious that Mr. Xi Jinping made his demand for a public statement very clear and Trump had to comply – “do not look at what I say – look at what I do.”
Now with Mr. Abe, Trump was visible only against the Red Sun of the Japanese flag – but remained unseen against his golden backdrop.
Trump allowed only two questions from the media – from correspondents of The New York Post and The Fox Network – both owned by US Australian magnate Rupert Murdoch – a card holding right wing Republican. But something happened, Murdoch’s people, thinking of what Trump did to the Australian Prime Minister, so they insisted to know about the US backing out from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). When the first question was not answered, the second reporter insisted even stronger and forced an answer. Trump thought that was it and wanted to end he Press Conference. But Prime Minister Abe, though smaller in stature, but with black hair – quite visible in front of those golden drapes, knew that he has the accepted right to pass two questions to Japanese reporters as well. Actually in friendlier environments the host varies the reporters called upon – but this Golden Room is not a friendly place and accepted manners were dismissed with the entry of the new occupants.
Worthwhile to mention here is the obviously trained diplomatic way Mr. Abe answered the essence of the four questions by not getting involved but rather saying that substantial matter will be taken up at the working lunch. We also assume he will try, like Mr. Xi, get in private agreements that will then be publicized at the appropriate time. China and Japan are not out to make “Deals” but as obvious – they want open guarantees that no shenanigan behavior will lead to an abrupt change in the Status Quo ante.
The issues he is putting on the table are Free Trade between Nations in the Pacific area – with State Governments not being involved in regulations, Rule of Law, the security of navigation in the East China Sea and the recognition of the large investments Japan made in US industry and the fact that Japan technology – like the Maglev fast trains – can yet increase that Japan-US cooperation. He also by the way thanked the US for 115 years ago having learned from the US about democracy. Quite subtle and diplomatic.
Trump said that the US being great again is good for Japan – that jobs will come by tax policyack to the US – like Ford and GM – and an announcement will be make soon about Intel He will achieve this by tax policy and financial incentives.
Following the Press Conference, the TV pundits unanimously showed their astonishment at an issue that was evolving in parallel to the Abe visit that is the involvement of the Trump White House Adviser to the President Michael Flynn who talked with the Russian Ambassador about reducing the US Sanctions against Russia – this while Trump was not yet President –
a clear illegality that was known seemingly also to the man who is now Vice President.
Have we reached already time to clean House? I must thus remind our readers that considering the Russian involvement in the elections we called the home of the Golden Rooms – The Red House in Washington DC. Will finally some ethics Congressional Committee start looking seriously into the backdrop of the Flynn Affair? Will finally someone be indicted.
People start demonstrating with the deadly slogan – “DO YOUR JOB.”
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 2nd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Humanitarian Congress Vienna 2017 – Forced to Flee – Humanity on the Run
The 4th Humanitarian Congress – Forced to Flee – Humanity on the Run – takes place on
3 March 2017 in the ceremonial halls of the University of Vienna.
Please note that registration is open until 28 February 2017.
The Humanitarian Congress gives you the chance to benefit from the unique insights of the experts as for example Mr. Volker Türk, Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, UNHCR or Kate Gilmore, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations discussing the following themes:
(Failed) Policy making with Global Consequences
Why are People Forced to Flee?
Refugee Health – Time for Change
The Erosion of International Law – Who Cares?
Civil Society and Refugees: Lessons Learned
Leaving No One Behind – A Mission Impossible?
For more information please visit www.humanitariancongress.at and the attached Newsletter.
We look forward to welcoming you on 3 March 2017.
With kind regards,
Mag.a Annelies Vilim
GLOBALE VERANTWORTUNG –
Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Entwicklung und Humanitäre Hilfe
Apollogasse 4/9, 1070 Wien
Tel.: (+43 1) 522 44 22
office at globaleverantwortung.at
www.humanitaerer-kongress.at / info at humanitaerer-kongress.at
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 1st, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
United Nations, New York City
UN chief decries discriminatory border bans in rebuke to Trump travel decree
António Guterres: ban based on religion or ethnicity violates basic values
Secretary general says such a ban risks fueling terrorist propaganda.
António Guterres denounced border policies ‘based on any form of discrimination related to religion, ethnicity or nationality’.
Julian Borger in Washington, The Guardian, Wednesday 1 February 2017
António Guterres, the new UN secretary general, said on Wednesday, in a clear response to the Trump administration’s refugee ban, that border policies based on religion, ethnicity or race were “against the fundamental principles and values on which our societies are based”.
US travel ban puts 20,000 refugees in ‘precarious circumstances’, UN says
Guterres did not mention the US or Donald Trump in his written statement but he directly addressed the political, legal and moral debate triggered by the president’s executive order suspending entry for refugees and other visitors from a list of seven predominantly Muslim countries.
Guterres, who was formerly the UN high commissioner for refugees, also had implicit criticism for other western countries that have increasingly closed their doors to the vast numbers of refugees seeking safe haven around the world, and compared them unfavourably to poorer countries who host the overwhelming bulk of them.
The statement said Guterres was on his “way back from Ethiopia, the largest refugee-hosting country in Africa that for decades has been keeping its borders open to hundreds of thousands of refugees from its neighbours, many times in dramatic security situations”.
“Countries have the right, even the obligation, to responsibly manage their borders to avoid infiltration by members of terrorist organizations,” the secretary general said, but he added: “This cannot be based on any form of discrimination related to religion, ethnicity or nationality because … that is against the fundamental principles and values on which our societies are based.”
He added two other practical objections that have been at the core of much criticism of Trump’s executive order, on the grounds that it is poor national security policy. Guterres said such a ban “triggers widespread anxiety and anger that may facilitate the propaganda of the very terrorist organisations we all want to fight against” and that, furthermore, “blind measures, not based on solid intelligence, tend to be ineffective as they risk being bypassed by what are today sophisticated global terrorist movements”.
“This is not the way to best protect the US. or any other country in relation to the serious concerns that exist about possible terrorist infiltration,” Guterres told reporters in reference to Trump’s executive order. “I don’t think this is the effective way to do so. I think that these measures should be removed sooner rather than later.”
Ben Emmerson, the UN special rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights, said on Monday: “Trump’s executive order clearly breaches US international human rights obligations on non-refoulement and non-discrimination. It is unlawful.”
“Apart from being in breach of international law, Trump’s Executive Order carries a risk of inc . reasing rather reducing the risk of terrorism,” Emmerson said on Twitter on Tuesday evening
Seemingly the new UN Secretary-General, a former Portuguese Head of State, does indeed have the backbone to stand up to his American host – this even as expected – President Trumps cabinet appointees may present a danger to the continuation of the present UN structure. Though only 10 days old and many members of the cabinet not yet approved by US Congress – this new US Administration has already managed to put in motion many revolutionary activities that clash with laws intended to protect the weak from the interests of the rich.
Further, we received also the following from the outgoing US Mission to the UN:
This is to let you know that Ambassador Haley will be spending her first few months learning about the UN and Security Council and its members. She will not be meeting with NGOs for a while.
My last day is February 28. Have really enjoyed working with you.
U.S. Mission to the UN
799 UN Plaza
We clearly are sorry for losing Ms. Peggy Kerry from her position as NGO liaison to the UN
and we also note that the new US Ambassador for the UN – Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina – will be inactive for several months, and not having the background to function at the UN, and in need of a learning experience before she is ready to enter the fray – she in effect sees no need to ask also for advice in that learning time from the NGOs. This in itself is a major retrogressive step for the US in its international relations – that we will follow and watch attentively.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 1st, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Oil production releases more methane than previously thought.
Emissions of methane and ethane from oil production have been substantially higher than previously estimated, particularly before 2005.
Laxenburg, Austria, 1 February 2017: Global methane and ethane emissions from oil production from 1980 to 2012 were far higher than previous estimates show, according to a new study which for the first time takes into account different production management systems and geological conditions around the world.
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, which scientists rank as the second-most important contributor to climate change after carbon dioxide. Yet while methane concentrations in the atmosphere can be easily measured, it is difficult to determine the contribution of different sources, whether human or natural. This is necessary information for reducing emissions.
“In an oil reservoir, there is a layer of gas above the oil which has a methane content of 50 to 85 percent. When you pump the oil to the surface this associated gas will also escape,” explains IIASA researcher Lena Höglund-Isaksson, who led the study. In oil production facilities in North America, almost all of this gas is recovered and what is not recovered will for the most part be flared to prevent leakage (and potential explosions), while a very small fraction is simply vented. In other parts of the world, where recovery rates are lower, much larger quantities of this gas are released into the atmosphere.
“Existing global bottom-up emission inventories of methane used rather simplistic approaches for estimating methane from oil production, merely taking the few direct measurements that exist from North American oil fields and scaling them with oil production worldwide,” says Höglund-Isaksson. This approach left a large room for error, so Höglund Isaksson decided to develop a new method that could better account for the many variations in oil production around the world.
In the new paper, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, Höglund-Isaksson estimated global methane emissions from oil and gas systems in over 100 countries over a 32-year period, using a variety of country-specific data ranging from reported volumes of associated gas to satellite imagery that can show flaring, as well as atmospheric measurements of ethane, a gas which is released along with methane and easier to link more directly to oil and gas activities.
She found that in particular in the 1980s, global methane emissions were as much as double previous estimates. The study also found that the Russian oil industry contributes a large amount to global methane emissions. A decline in the Russian oil industry in the 1990s contributed to a global decline in methane emissions which continued until the early 2000’s. At the same time, Höglund-Isaksson found, methane recovery systems were becoming more common and helping to reduce emissions. Yet since 2005, emissions from oil and gas systems have remained fairly constant, which Höglund-Isaksson says is likely linked to increasing shale gas production which largely offsets emission reductions from increased gas recovery.
Höglund-Isaksson points out that her estimates are only as good as the data allow and that there is still uncertainty in the numbers. She says, “To improve the data, a close collaboration between the scientific measurement community and the oil and gas industry would be needed to make more direct measurements available from different parts of the world.”
Höglund-Isaksson L, (2017). Bottom-up simulations of methane and ethane emissions from global oil and gas systems 1980 to 2012. Environmental Research Letters, doi:10.1088/1748-9326/aa583e.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 13th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
IIASA Policy Brief #15 – January 2017
Resource efficiency of future EU demand for bioenergy.
EU bioenergy demand is set to rise sharply. We examine the impacts on land use,
greenhouse gas emissions, and biodiversity, both inside and outside the region.
? Increasing demand for bioenergy in the EU means that there is a pressing need to
understand the impacts this might have on land use, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions,
and biodiversity, both regionally and globally.
? In this brief we examine the results of modeled policy scenarios to explore how
these factors are affected.
? All other factors being equal, a scenario where the EU target of an 80% reduction
in GHG emissions by 2050 is met leads to a rise in: wood pellet imports, the amount
of wood harvested from EU forests, and in the area of land used for short rotation
coppicing (fast-growing tree plantations).
? There are clear synergies between conserving biodiversity; protecting unused forests
and avoiding the conversion of natural land; and reducing global GHG emissions from
the land-use sector.
? Restricting the use of land that has high biodiversity value, or high carbon stocks,
means global emissions savings from the land-use sector.
? The results also highlight the importance of examining the global implications of
EU policy. When biodiversity and carbon storage are protected, for instance, EU
land-use emissions increase, although they fall on a global scale. As well as rising
EU emissions, more EU-grown wood that is of sufficient quality to use for other
wooden products is used directly for bioenergy.
? Capping the amount of high-quality wood that can be used directly for bioenergy,
in addition to biodiversity or carbon storage protection, results in even greater
global emissions savings.
In the EU, the use of bioenergy (see box: What is bioenergy?) is on
the rise. This is due to an increased focus on renewable energy,
intended to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and increase
energy security. However, the impact of increased bioenergy
use on land use, GHG emissions, and biodiversity is not fully
understood. Nor do we know how a surge in demand for bioenergy
might impact related industries using the same feedstock such as
wood pulp producers, sawmills, or particle board producers. The
aim of the Resource efficiency impacts of future EU bioenergy
demand report, and its follow-up report, is therefore to examine
the consequences of pursuing different bioenergy policy pathways
from 2010-2050 by building a series of possible future scenarios,
using the IIASA Global Biosphere Management Model (GLOBIOM)
and Global Forest Model (G4M). © tchara | stock.adobe.com
The differences in GHG emissions between the basic emissions reduction scenario and the
LAND scenario (which restricts use of areas with high biodiversity and carbon storage)
and the CAP scenario (which also includes restrictions on use of high-quality roundwood).
What is bioenergy?
Although there are various types, in this brief we focus on
bioenergy generated by burning biomass, in this case, plant
matter. Many different types of woody biomass can be used
for bioenergy. Firewood is widely used for domestic heating,
for instance. Larger-scale bioenergy production might use
wood pellets, which are dense, compressed pellets. In the
EU these are mostly made from industrial by-products such as
wood chips, sawdust, or shavings. In this brief we also discuss
the likely increasing use of roundwood, defined here as logs
that are of sufficient quality to be used for wooden products
such as plywood or planks, but are used for energy production
instead. Another source of fuel for bioenergy that may become
increasingly important is short rotation coppices—intensively
harvested, fast-growing tree plantations grown on agricultural
land. Increasing demand for these feedstocks can have
important impacts on land use, GHG emissions, and biodiversity.
Furthermore, globalized trade means that demand in the EU can
affect the rest of the world and vice versa, as has already been
seen, for example, with increased EU imports of wood pellets
from the USA.
The Baseline Scenario depicts the target of a 20% reduction of
emissions in the EU28 by 2020, and runs to 2050, providing a point
of comparison for other policy directions.
In this scenario, increased demand for bioenergy will lead to a
considerable increase in EU production of woody biomass by 2030
(as much as 10% more than in 2010). Industrial by-products, such as
sawdust and wood chips, will become increasingly in demand, and
more land will be used for short rotation coppices (see box: What
is bioenergy?). In addition, harvesting in EU forests intensifies, and
roundwood imports increase. From 2030 to 2050, the EU domestic
production of biomass stabilizes.
EU reliance on imported biomass also increases—in particular wood
pellet imports will rise by 90% by 2030 compared to 2010. Since
estimates suggest that outside the EU a large share of wood pellets
are made from roundwood—and therefore require direct forest
harvesting—these imports may have important consequences for
biodiversity loss and land use change outside the EU.
The EU Emission Reduction Scenario (now updated in the
report: Follow-up study on impacts on resource efficiency of future
EU demand for bioenergy) examines the additional policy target
of decreasing GHG emissions by 80% by 2050 in the EU.
As the demand for bioenergy in this scenario rises sharply to meet
GHG emissions reduction targets, there is an increasing need for
all forms of feedstock. The reliance on imported pellets increases
seven-fold from 10 million cubic meters in 2010 to 70 million in
2050, with possibly serious implications for global biodiversity
loss. Short rotation coppices are also expanded to cope with the
stark rise in demand. Large quantities of EU-grown roundwood,
which could otherwise have been used to produce wooden goods,
are also burnt for energy.
These demands also affect land use in the EU, and along with
the increase in coppice plantations there is a rise in forest area
of almost 14 million hectares by 2050 compared to 2010. The
land converted to forest and coppice plantations is generally
natural land, such as abandoned cropland or unused grassland.
As demand for wood as a material and a source of energy grows,
forests become more intensively harvested in the EU, with the
amount of wood harvested reaching a level 12% higher in 2050 than
in 2010. Such intense use of forests is likely to have serious impacts
on European wildlife, hastening biodiversity decline in the region.
Importing wood, exporting pressure
The reliance on imports in the emissions reduction scenario raises
the difficult question of whether the EU will simply export the
problems of land use and biodiversity decline elsewhere. The
Increased EU Biomass Import Scenario investigates what would
happen if this was taken to the extreme, by decreasing the trade
costs in the model. As expected, EU imports of roundwood and
wood pellets are significantly higher than in both the baseline and
the emissions reductions scenarios. While this takes the pressure
off EU forests, as harvests do not increase as fast as they otherwise
would, it exports biodiversity and land-use issues to the rest of the
world. GHG emissions from the land-use sector in the EU fall, but
global land-use emissions are similar to the baseline scenario.
However, it is likely that other countries will also see an increase
for bioenergy demand as they attempt to switch away from fossil
fuels. In a world where countries outside the EU are using their
own biomass resources, rather than exporting them, net EU
imports of wood pellets are 25% lower than without this effect.
In addition, EU roundwood imports decrease by more than 20% in
2050. This requires the EU to substantially increase the amount of
biomass it produces through domestic short rotation coppicing.
Sustainability for the future
One of the major concerns over bioenergy is the amount of land
needed to provide the fuel, and whether this will encroach onto
natural land that is important for biodiversity or carbon storage.
To investigate this issue, researchers used the LAND Scenario,
which restricts biomass harvests in areas with high biodiversity
value, high carbon stocks, or both (HBVCS areas). Under this
restriction, collection of biomass from HBVCS areas in the EU
was limited and the conversion of HBVCS areas was forbidden
all around the world. Because these restrictions were applied
regardless of whether the use of resources was for bioenergy or
not, they had far-reaching effects beyond bioenergy policy.
The restrictions lead to a global reduction in the availability of wood.
EU pellet imports fall, and the use of domestic biomass resources
rises; the amount of EU roundwood combusted directly for bioenergy
is 23% higher in 2050 than in the emissions reduction scenario. This
scenario leads to a net global emissions saving in the land-use sector
of 10 megatonnes of CO2 (Mt CO2) in 2050, compared to the emissions
It is important to bear in mind that the goal of climate mitigation is to
reduce emissions worldwide, not just from the EU. This is highlighted
by this scenario, which shows that while global emissions fall,
emissions from the land-use sector in the EU increase compared to the
emissions reduction scenario (about 4 Mt CO2 higher in 2050). This is
because without protections for biodiversity and carbon storage, the
EU imports large quantities of wood for bioenergy, simply transferring
emissions to other regions.
Another major concern over bioenergy relates to the efficient use
of biomass; burning roundwood that is of high enough quality to
be used for wooden products is a wasted opportunity. After all, if
a tree is used to make a table, at the end of its useful life the table
itself can be burnt and used to produce energy, increasing resource
efficiency. To examine what would happen if a cap was placed on
the amount of roundwood that could be used directly and indirectly
for energy after 2020, a CAP scenario was built.
As a result of the cap, the amount of wood pellets imported into
the EU falls, since a large share of pellets from outside the EU are
made from high-quality roundwood. The resulting gap in fuel for
bioenergy in the EU is filled through use of industrial by-products,
such as sawdust or shavings. The demand for these by-products
increases their market value, meaning that sawmills become more
profitable and their numbers rise. There is also an effect on the
pulp and board industries, which shift towards use of roundwood
as the price of by-products rises.
This roundwood CAP scenario is more effective for climate mitigation
than the LAND Scenario, leading to net global emissions saving
in the land-use sector of around 15 Mt CO2 in 2050 compared
to the emissions reduction scenario; this is, however, more than
compensated by decreased emissions in the rest of the world.
IIASA Policy Briefs present the latest research for policymakers from
IIASA—an international, interdisciplinary research institute with
National Member Organizations (NMOs) in 24 countries in Africa, the
Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania. The views expressed herein are
those of the researchers and not necessarily those of IIASA or its NMOs.
This brief is based on the work by forest scientists, economists, and
policy analysts at IIASA, Öko-Institut e.V., Institute for European
Environmental Policy, European Forest Institute, and Indufor Oy. The
consortium was led by Nicklas Forsell, research scholar at the IIASA
Ecosystems Services and Management Program. The research received
funding from the European Commission within the contract ENV.F.1/
ETU/2013/0033 and ENV.F.1./ETU/2015/Ares(2015)5117224.
More IIASA publications are available at www.iiasa.ac.at/Publications
This modeling work stemmed from the EU Reference Scenario
2013, which details the EU energy, transport and GHG emissions
trends to 2050. The assumptions for energy demand for the
Reference Scenario 2013 are estimated using the PRIMES EU-wide
Energy Model. The work described in this policy brief was published
in two waves, the first was published in the Study on impacts on
resource efficiency of future EU demand for bioenergy (ReceBio)
[pure.iiasa.ac.at/14006], and the second in the Follow-up study on
impacts on resource efficiency of future EU demand for bioenergy
(ReceBio follow-up) [pure.iiasa.ac.at/14180].
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 10th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Obama: Clean energy trend ‘irreversible’
BY TIMOTHY CAMA – 01/09/17 01:07 PM EST – THE HILL
President Obama laid out his case Monday for why the worldwide movement toward clean energy is “irreversible” and can withstand any policy changes.
The opinion piece in the academic journal Science, complete with references end notes, serves in part as a celebration of Obama’s legacy on clean energy and climate change, and a call to action for future policymakers, including President-elect Donald Trump.
“The United States is showing that GHG [greenhouse gas] mitigation need not conflict with economic growth. Rather, it can boost efficiency, productivity, and innovation,” he wrote.
But the piece is also a reassurance to environmentalists and others that the business community also wants to fight climate change, and will continue to do so after he leaves office in less than two weeks.
“Businesses are coming to the conclusion that reducing emissions is not just good for the environment — it can also boost bottom lines, cut costs for consumers, and deliver returns for shareholders,” Obama wrote.
“Despite the policy uncertainty that we face, I remain convinced that no country is better suited to confront the climate challenge and reap the economic benefits of a low-carbon future than the United States.”
The Science piece comes amid growing pessimism among Democrats and environmentalists regarding Trump’s environmental policy.
Trump said on the campaign trail that he plans to quickly start undoing Obama’s climate change legacy, which was largely built on executive actions.
The president-elect has pledged to unleash an energy revolution, centered on fossil fuels like oil and coal.
Nonetheless, Obama prodded Trump in the piece, saying that “the latest science and economics provide a helpful guide for what the future may bring” in terms of energy policy.
This is not the first time Obama has been published in an academic journal. He wrote a piece on criminal justice last week in the Harvard Law Review, and in July, he wrote on healthcare reform in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the first time a sitting president wrote for an academic journal.
CLIMATE ENVOY HEADS TO HEWLETT FOUNDATION: Jonathan Pershing, Obama’s special envoy for climate change, is heading to the nonprofit world.
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation announced Monday that Pershing will start next week as director of its environmental program.
“The past few years have brought tremendous gains in the global effort to mitigate climate change, and Jonathan has been a critical part of that,” Larry Kramer, the foundation’s president, said in a statement.
“That’s hardly surprising, as few people working on this all-important problem have his unique combination of experience, expertise, and vision. We are both delighted and fortunate that, in joining the Hewlett Foundation, Jonathan can continue his efforts, now by enhancing the role of civil society and philanthropy in protecting our planet and its inhabitants from the potentially devastating effects of global warming.”
Pershing took over last year as climate envoy and led the United States’ efforts in starting to implement the Paris agreement.
He has previously worked at the Department of Energy and the World Resources Institute, among other positions.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 6th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Future of US relationship with UN in doubt.
By Stewart Patrick, December 28, 2016
An Op-Ed at CNN
The CNN Editor’s note: Stewart Patrick is the senior fellow and director of the program on International Institutions and Global Governance. The views expressed in this commentary are his. (that is not CNN pronouncement)
(CNN) Among the many foreign policy uncertainties created by Donald Trump’s election, there is one prediction we can take to the bank: The United Nations is going to get hammered.
An unapologetic nationalist is bound for the White House, Republicans are in control of both houses of Congress—and the world body is in their crosshairs.
Last week’s Security Council vote to condemn Israeli settlements in the West Bank — a resolution on which the Obama administration controversially abstained — has enraged GOP legislators. The President-elect has also lashed out, tweeting, “The United Nations has such great potential. But right now it is just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time. Sad!” Secretary of State John Kerry tried today to defend US diplomacy at the UN, but Republicans on Capitol Hill are determined to pass legislation condemning the Council.
The US-UN relationship is fraught in the best of times — during the George W. Bush administration when the US imposed a unilateral vision globally, or during the 1990s, when Sen. Jesse Helms bedeviled the United Nations and created a financial crisis at the institution by withholding US dues. Conservative critics, both in and outside government, regularly scapegoat the UN for the failures of its member states. And because it lacks a domestic constituency, it is an irresistible target for nationalist demagogues.
After eight years of the most multilaterally-inclined US administration in history, the United Nations is in for a shock. Donald Trump is the new sheriff in town.
Where President Obama proclaimed himself a “citizen of the world,” Trump is channeling a populist base deeply skeptical of international organizations, where paranoid fantasies about UN “black helicopters” as a threat to American sovereignty run deep.
The international organization is certainly flawed and often exasperating — but it is the best vehicle the United States has for advancing its agenda in the world and sharing the burden with others.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 6th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Foreign Policy Editors’ Picks, presented by the Embassy of Germany in Washington, D.C.: Cambodia wants China as its neighborhood bully; and a U.S. intel chief fires back at Trump in feud over Russian election meddling.
AMAZING! FOREIGN POLICY – foreignpolicy.com – is a Magazine of global politics, economics and ideas. Published bimonthly in print and daily online by the Slate Group, a division of the Washington Post Company. (See also an attachement at the end of this posting.)
Starting January 2017 we started receiving the daily FP e-mail saying it was sponsored by Germany — Sponsored Content — “SHAPING AN INTERCONNECTED WORLD”: That is the motto of Germany’s G20 Presidency in 2017. The stability of the global economy will be a top issue. The highlight of the Presidency will be the leaders’ summit on July 7 and 8 in Hamburg. Learn more. (This from the Wednesday, January 4th mailing)
It seems to us, that in view of the expressed lack of interest in an “interconnected world”
on the part of the incoming Trump Administration, this while Germany as incoming leader of the G20 has the opposite opinion, it is logical for German Policy to lend its shoulder to the Foreign Policy Magazine and sponsor the continuation of its very important task.
Now – to the information we found in today’s incoming mail – January 6, 2017:
“Shaping an interconnected world”: That is the motto of Germany’s G20 Presidency from December 1, 2016, to November 30, 2017.
The highlight of the Presidency will be the leaders’ summit on July 7 and 8, 2017, in Hamburg.
Making globalization benefit everybody:
Germany would like to use its G20 Presidency to intensify international cooperation. It is the G20’s job to ensure that globalisation benefits everyone. The aim is to strengthen the benefits of globalisation and worldwide interconnectedness, and to ensure that more people reap benefits. The German government is thus setting a course diametrically opposed to isolationism and any return to nationalism.
Chancellor: Stability of global economy is a “top issue:”
Germany is happy to assume the G20 Presidency as of December 1, 2016, and to host the G20 summit July 7-8, 2017, Chancellor Angela Merkel declared in a video podcast on the German G20 Presidency. She cited the stability of the global economy as the “top issue.” The G20 finance ministers will be focusing on achieving progress on the stricter regulation of financial markets, especially in the field of shadow banking.
Germany attaches a great deal of importance to continuing with the major issues of its G7 Presidency, Angela Merkel continued. And a number of issues “related to development” will be given a very high profile, in particular fighting pandemics.
Agenda of Germany’s G20 Presidency with three main focuses
The German G20 agenda rests on three main pillars:
Improving viability for the future
The G20 is the main forum for international cooperation among the 20 leading industrialized nations and emerging economies in the fields of finance and economics. The G20 nations are together home to almost two thirds of the world’s population, as well as generating more than four fifths of global GDP, and accounting for three quarters of global trade.
Ensuring stable and resilient national economies
The first pillar involves strengthening stable environments for the global economy and the financial system, but also promoting dynamic economic growth. Structural reforms are the lynchpin here.
Over and above this, Germany’s G20 Presidency will continue cooperation on international financial and fiscal issues, employment, and trade and investment. The aim is to strengthen free and fair trade around the globe. The German government will also be working for sustainable global supply chains.
Fit for the future:
During its G20 Presidency, Germany not only aims to ensure the stability of the global economy, but also, and this is the second pillar, to make it more fit for the future. One main concern is to make progress on realising the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change.
It is every bit as important to discuss viable energy and climate strategies for the future. And the growing importance of digitalisation for the global economy will play a prominent part in the discussions of the G20. To be fit for the future will also mean improving health care. The worldwide fight against antimicrobial resistance is part of this, as are efforts to put in place the mechanisms to prevent the outbreak of pandemics.
And last but not least, empowering women in the economy, in particular improving the quality of women’s jobs, is on the agenda. Chancellor Merkel will be working to give women in developing countries easier access to information and communication technologies.
Accepting responsibility – especially for Africa:
Germany also intends to strengthen the G20 as a community of responsibility – and that is the third pillar. A priority concern is to achieve sustainable economic progress in Africa.
The German G20 Presidency aims to take concrete steps to improve people’s living conditions in the long term and to put in place a stable environment for investment. And it aims to promote infrastructure development on the African continent. In June a separate conference, entitled “Partnership with Africa,” will be held in Berlin.
But the G20 also aims to accept responsibility in other fields. Migration and refugee movements, the fight against terrorism, money laundering and corruption will also be addressed during Germany’s G20 Presidency.
Meetings of G20 ministers and dialogue with civil society
In the run up to the G20 summit, numerous line minister meetings will be held, in order to explore individual G20 issues in greater depth. Between January and May 2017, ministers responsible for finance, foreign affairs, labour affairs, health, agriculture and digital policy will be meeting.
As was the case during the G7 Presidency, Chancellor Merkel will again be meeting with representatives of civil society. Between March and June 2017, several dialogues are to take place, including events for the business community (Business20), non-governmental organizations (Civil20), trade unions (Labour20), the science and research community (Science20), think tanks (Think20), women (Women20) and youth (Youth20).
The civil society organizations themselves are responsible for these meetings, which will pick up on relevant G20 issues. With international partners they will be producing recommendations for the German G20 Presidency.
© Press and Information Office of the Federal Government
Germany will be holding the presidency of the G20 in 2017. The summit of the heads of state and government and representatives of international organisations will be held in Hamburg on 7 and 8 July 2017. A number of G20 ministers’ conferences are scheduled to take place prior to this. The G20 Foreign Ministers will meet in Bonn on 16 and 17 February 2017. The summit and ministers’ meetings will provide an opportunity to discuss current international challenges and to raise awareness of new issues in international affairs.
Further information is available on the following webpages:
Information on this topic provided by the Federal Foreign Office
Official German G20 presidency website
Foreign Policy was founded in the winter of 1970-71 by Samuel P. Huntington, professor of Harvard University, and his friend Warren Demian Manshel to give a voice to alternative views about American foreign policy at the time of the Vietnam War. Huntington hoped it would be “serious but not scholarly, lively but not glib.” In the Spring of 1978, after six years of close partnership, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace acquired full ownership of Foreign Policy. In 2000, a format change was implemented from a slim quarterly academic journal to a bi-monthly magazine. Also, it launched international editions in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America.
In September 2008, Foreign Policy was bought by The Washington Post Company (now Graham Holdings Company). In 2012, Foreign Policy grew to become the FP Group – an expansion of Foreign Policy magazine to include ForeignPolicy.com and FP Events.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 3rd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Will António Guterres be the UN’s best ever secretary general? Asks the Guardian.
Cultured and consensual, the Portuguese politician has had the perfect preparation for the United Nations’ top job says the Guardian.
Sunday 1 January 2017 07.00 GMT Last modified on Sunday 1 January 2017 22.00 GMT
When António Guterres resigned halfway through his second term as Portuguese prime minister in 2002 because his minority government was floundering, he did something unusual for a man who had seen the highest reaches of power.
Several times a week, he went to slum neighborhoods on the edge of Lisbon to give free maths tuition to children.
“He never allowed a journalist to go with him or let himself be filmed or photographed, and he never let journalists talk to any of his students,” said Ricardo Costa, editor-in-chief of the Portuguese SIC News, who covered Guterres’s political career. The former prime minister told his surprised students that what he was doing was personal and not for show.
The Portuguese socialist, who becomes the next UN secretary general on Sunday, is an intellectual who grew up under Portugal’s dictatorship and came of age with the 1974 revolution that ended 48 years of authoritarian rule.
Crucial to understanding Guterres, 67, is his Christian faith: his progressive Catholicism always informed his brand of social democratic politics.
In the heady days of Portugal’s revolution, it was rare to be a practising Catholic in a new Socialist party where many members had Marxist backgrounds. But Guterres, a star engineering student who grew a moustache in honour of the Chilean left’s Salvador Allende, would eventually become a modernising leader, arguing that his mission was social justice and equality.
On the Portuguese left, faith was a delicate issue that required discretion. Under Guterres, the country held a referendum in 1998 on a proposal to liberalise the strict abortion laws. Socialist MPs had a free vote and, as prime minister, Guterres chose not to officially campaign. But it was publicly known that he opposed changing the law, which irked many in his party. The no vote against liberalising the abortion law narrowly won, but turnout was so low that the result was not binding. Abortion laws were finally relaxed in 2007 after a second referendum.
Born in Lisbon, Guterres spent stretches of his childhood with relatives in the countryside, where he saw the poverty of rural life under the dictatorship, and later volunteered with Catholic student groups on social projects in the capital.
In 1976, the young engineering lecturer was elected a Socialist MP in Portugal’s first democratic vote since the revolution. In parliament, he was a fearsome orator. Such was his talent for verbally destroying political opponents, he became known as “the talking pickaxe”.
Guterres became prime minister in 1995. His campaign slogan was “heart and reason”, a cry for more humanism and social politics. Three years earlier he had taken over the Socialist party and modernised it, although he remained to the left of contemporaries such as Tony Blair. For years he led the Socialist International international grouping of leftwing parties.
With Portugal’s rapid economic growth and nearly full employment, Guterres was able to set up a guaranteed minimum income and nursery schooling for all. But he had failed to win an absolute majority and was condemned to preside over a tricky minority government. He had to rely on his skill for consensus, always having to negotiate with the opposition parties if he wanted to get anything passed – something he later argued was perfect training for running the UN.
“He was a skillful person – very smart, very quick to understand the other point of view and very focused on having solutions – that’s why it worked,” said António Vitorino, Guterres’s deputy prime minister and defence minister.
Guterres was furiously hardworking. But behind this was a backdrop of family tragedy. His wife, Luísa Guimarães e Melo, a psychiatrist with whom he had two children, had been critically ill for most of his time in government and was undergoing treatment at a London hospital.
“It was one of the hardest moments of his political life,” Vitorino said. “Every Friday morning, he took a plane to London, spent the weekend there in a very desperate situation and then on Monday morning he was back at work. I was his deputy prime minister, I was amazed. I could never have done what he was doing.”
In 1998, Guterres’s wife died. The following year, he threw himself into the general elections. He had hoped to win an outright majority but the Socialists ended up one MP short and began a second minority government. This time, a slowdown in the economy made things harder.
Guterres, privately growing disillusioned with internal party politics, turned increasingly to his interest in international diplomacy. He had already won praise for his role in resolving the crisis in Timor-Leste, a former Portuguese colony, which had erupted into violence in 1999 after a referendum vote in favour of independence from Indonesia. Guterres led diplomatic efforts to convince the UN to intervene to restore peace.
In 2000, when Portugal took the rotating presidency of the European Union, its success was attributed to Guterres’s ability to get big leaders to agree and smaller leaders to be heard.
António Guterres accepts roses from a supporter in Lisbon
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António Guterres is cheered after his party won Portugal’s general elections in October 1999. Photograph: Armando Franca/AP
“He did something very original: he looked at what every country wanted and set up an agenda that could be interesting for everyone,” said Francisco Seixas da Costa, a Portuguese diplomat who served as Guterres’s European affairs secretary. “Small countries disappear in the decision-making process so we tried to listen to their interests.”
Guterres managed to talk down powerful leaders at loggerheads. “At the European council, I remember a conflict between Jacques Chirac and Helmut Kohl over one issue,” Seixas da Costa said. “Guterres asked for the floor. I was sitting next to him, I was afraid it might be naive. But he took the floor and made a proposal that covered both their interests, and it was a success. It worked. He had a fantastic capacity to moderate and create links and bridges.”
In 2002, halfway through his second term as prime minister, Guterres abruptly resigned after the Socialists suffered a drubbing in local elections. He famously said he wanted to avoid the country falling into a “political swamp” and that he had discovered “politics has its limits”.
At the time he was unpopular, criticised for too much compromise and too much dialogue. But over the years since his departure, polls showed he was increasingly liked and seen as fair, serious and honest – a possible contender for Portuguese president, although he never wanted to return to national politics, preferring, he said, to make a difference on the world stage.
His decade serving as UN high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) from 2005 to 2015 was seen in Portugal as an obvious fit for his personality: socially engaged but seeking common ground.
Guterres – who speaks Portuguese, English, French and Spanish and is now remarried to Catarina Vaz Pinto, who works at Lisbon city hall – was known in political circles for enthusiastic, cultured conversations on everything from ancient Greece to Middle Eastern culture, opera to geography.
Whenever he had free time during visits to Washington as UNHCR chief, he would get the organisation’s regional representative, Michel Gabaudan, to take him to Politics & Prose or another of the city’s bookshops.
“He’s an avid reader of history, and his pleasure was, if we had an hour, to go to a bookshop, so we would have access to books in English that weren’t easy to get in Geneva,” said Gabaudan, now president of Refugees International. “I’m sure this immense knowledge of past and ancient history did inform his political judgment.”
Guterres also took a broad approach to the UNHCR’s responsibilities. The organisation grew dramatically under his management, and not just because the number of the world’s refugees soared in the 21st century. He broadened the categories of people the UNHCR would seek to protect, including internally displaced people and migrants forced from their homes by natural disasters and climate change. He preferred the all-encompassing phrase “people on the move”.
He managed to persuade donors to fund the expansion by retaining their confidence that the money was well spent, and to do that he cut overheads.
Guterres, then UN high commissioner for refugees, visits Ikafe camp for Sudanese refugees in northern Uganda.
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Guterres, then UN high commissioner for refugees, visits Ikafe camp for Sudanese refugees in northern Uganda in June 2005. Photograph: Radu Sigheti/Reuters
“Like all UN organisations, as the organisation had grown up, it had become a little bit top-heavy and one of his first actions was really to slim down headquarters fairly substantially. He sent people back to the field and he put some of the services in much cheaper places than Geneva,” Gabaudan said.
“He never thought the details of finance were just for the technicians. I saw him looking at spreadsheets faster than his financial officer, spotting the line or column where we had a problem. So he was really as much hands-on about how the organisation worked as he was the top political figure and spokesman for refugees.”
When Justin Forsyth was chief executive of Save the Children UK, he travelled with Guterres to refugee camps in Lebanon, and recalled Guterres meeting a group of children. “The thing that struck me was him cross-legged on the floor of a tent talking to children. He really listens and he asks questions and he’s very moved by what he hears. He gets his hands dirty,” said Forsyth, the new deputy executive director of Unicef, the UN children’s charity.
Guterres’s tenure as high commissioner has attracted some criticism. Some former officials said he should have spoken out more strongly in defence of refugee rights enshrined in the 1951 refugee convention. “His record is very mixed, particularly on protection. His tenure was a rough time for the protection of refugees,” a former senior UN official said. He pointed to Thailand forcibly repatriating ethnic Uighurs to China despite the risk they would face persecution.
He argued that a tripartite agreement the UNHCR made with Kenya and Somalia on the voluntary return of Somali refugees had paved the way for the reported forced repatriations now under way in Kenya aimed at emptying its biggest camp, at Dadaab.
The former official said the EU’s deal with Turkey to repatriate refugees, also widely seen as a violation of basic principles of refugee protection, was largely negotiated while Guterres was at the helm, even if it was only signed in March this year, three months after he left.
“His style is to make general statements on the issue but not to directly challenge governments on their actions,” the former official said. “It raises concerns on what he would be like as secretary general.”
Jeff Crisp, who was head of UNHCR policy development and evaluation under Guterres and is now a research associate at the University of Oxford’s Refugee Studies Centre, said not all the criticisms could be pointed at the secretary general designate.
He said the UNHCR did push back against infringements of refugee rights by European states and had been strongly critical of the EU-Turkey deal. And he argued the tendency to address abuses by authoritarian states by behind-the-scenes persuasion had historically been the “institutional approach” taken by the UNHCR, before and after Guterres.
“I think you have to understand that UNHCR’s public criticism of states is very carefully calibrated and in general the more liberal a state is, the more publicly the UNHCR will criticise it,” Crisp said.
Adaptable, consensual, affable, intellectual, Guterres is perhaps better qualified than any of his nine predecessors for the world’s most demanding job. But one of his deftest skills he learned not from the hurly burly of Portuguese politics, nor from the harrowing years at the UNHCR, but from his first wife.
At a Guardian event last June in which he debated with rivals for the secretary general job, he said her psychoanalytical insights were highly valuable. “She taught me something that was extremely useful for all my political activities. When two people are together, they are not two but six. What each one is, what each one thinks he or she is and what each one thinks the other is,” he said.
“And what is true for people is also true for countries and organisations. One of the roles of the secretary general when dealing with the different key actors in each scenario is to bring these six into two. That the misunderstandings disappear and the false perceptions disappear. Perceptions are essential in politics.”
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 27th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
WE POST THIS AS WE WONDER IN WHICH SCHOOL OF DIPLOMACY STUDIED ISRAEL PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU – WHO SITS ALSO IN THE CHAIR OF HIS FOREIGN MINISTER. HE SEEMINGLY DOES SUCH A BAD JOB UNDER BOTH HATS SO THAT HE IS EVEN BEING CRITICIZED IN PUBLIC BY HIS OWN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER. THIS WOULD BE FUNNY IF NOT INVOLVING NUCLEAR POWERS. TO BRING THIS HOME, A STATEMENT BY A FORMER ISRAELI MINISTER LAST WEEK CAUSED THE RATTLE OF NUKES BY PAKISTAN.
FROM OUR POINT OF VIEW -IT BECOMES IRRELEVANT TO TALK OF CLIMATE CHANGE WHEN THE FRY AND THE BIG ONES – i.e. Messrs. Putin and Trump SEEM BENT TO TELL THE WORLD THAT NUKES ARE THE FUNDAMENT OF SECURITY IN A POST-OBAMA ERA.
Defying U.N., Israel Prepares to Build More Settlements
By PETER BAKER – The New York Times DEC. 26, 2016.
Introducing Photo – Housing construction last week on the outskirts of Ramat Shlomo, a Jewish housing development in East Jerusalem. CreditJim Hollander/European Press photo Agency
JERUSALEM — Undeterred by a resounding defeat at the United Nations, Israel’s government said Monday that it would move ahead with thousands of new homes in East Jerusalem and warned nations against further action, declaring that Israel does not “turn the other cheek.”
Just a few days after the United Nations Security Council voted to condemn Israeli settlements, Jerusalem’s municipal government signaled that it would not back down: The city intends to approve 600 housing units in the predominantly Palestinian eastern section of town on Wednesday in what a top official called a first installment on 5,600 new homes.
The defiant posture reflected a bristling anger among Israel’s pro-settlement political leaders, who not only blamed the United States for failing to block the Council resolution, but also claimed to have secret intelligence showing that President Obama’s team had orchestrated it. American officials strongly denied the claim, but the sides seem poised for more weeks of conflict until Mr. Obama hands over the presidency to Donald J. Trump.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has lashed out at Security Council countries by curbing diplomatic contacts, recalling envoys, cutting off aid and summoning the American ambassador for a scolding. He canceled a planned visit this week by Ukraine’s prime minister even as he expressed concern on Monday that Mr. Obama was planning more action at the United Nations before his term ends next month.
The Times of Israel:
Deputy FM questions PM’s diplomatic embargoes after UN vote. In apparent jab at Netanyahu for canceling meetings with world leaders, Hotovely says ‘part of diplomacy is explaining our position’
BY RAOUL WOOTLIFF December 27, 2016,
Introducing photo – Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely speaking at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem (Elram Mendel)
Raoul Wootliff is The Times of Israel Knesset correspondent.
TZIPI HOTOVELY – Deputy Foreign Minister
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU – Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, and Minister of many other things.
The prime minister defended his retaliation. “Israel is a country with national pride, and we do not turn the other cheek,” he said. “This is a responsible, measured and vigorous response, the natural response of a healthy people that is making it clear to the nations of the world that what was done at the U.N. is unacceptable to us.”
The Security Council resolution that passed Friday condemned Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as a “flagrant violation under international law” and an obstacle to peace. The Council approved it 14 to 0, with the United States abstaining instead of using its veto, as it has in the past.
Mr. Trump publicly pressed for a veto of the resolution and has chosen a settlement advocate as his administration’s ambassador to Israel. He turned to Twitter on Monday night to air complaints that the United Nations “is just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time.”
Palestinian leaders made clear that they would use the resolution in international bodies to press their case against Israel. With the imprimatur of a United Nations finding of illegality, they said they would campaign to require that other countries not just label products made in the settlements, but ban them.
“Now we can talk about the boycott of all settlements, the companies that work with them, et cetera, and actually take legal action against them if they continue to work with them,” Riad Malki, the Palestinian foreign minister, was quoted as saying by the Palestinian news media.
He outlined other steps the Palestinians could now take, using the resolution to press the International Criminal Court to prosecute Israeli leaders, file lawsuits on behalf of specific Palestinians displaced by settlements and urge the international authorities to determine whether Israel is violating the Geneva Conventions.
“We are looking to devise a comprehensive vision, and hopefully 2017 will be the year when the Israeli occupation ends,” Mr. Malki said.
Israeli officials said such pronouncements showed that the resolution actually undermined chances for a negotiated settlement because the Palestinians now have less incentive to come to the table. By declaring Israeli settlements illegal, they said, the United Nations essentially took away the one chip that Israel had to trade, meaning land.
“The Palestinians are waging a diplomatic and legal war against Israel. That’s the strategy,” Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, said in a phone interview. “Their strategy is not to negotiate an agreement with Israel because a deal is give and take. They want take and take.”
Israel’s settlement project, once a scattering of houses across the so-called Green Line marking the borders before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, has grown substantially over the years. In 2009, the year Mr. Obama took office, 297,000 people lived in West Bank settlements and 193,737 in East Jerusalem. That increased to 386,000 in the West Bank by the end of last year and 208,000 in East Jerusalem by the end of 2014, according to Peace Now, a group that opposes settlements.
Israeli officials note that when Mr. Netanyahu acquiesced to a 10-month settlement freeze sought by Mr. Obama in 2009, the Palestinians still did not agree to negotiate until just before time ran out. But the addition of more than 100,000 settlers during Mr. Obama’s tenure convinced him that it was time to change approach at the United Nations, aides said.
The 618 housing units to be granted building permits in East Jerusalem on Wednesday have been in the works for a while, and the planning committee meeting agenda was set before the United Nations acted. But the committee chairman said he was determined to go forward with units totaling 5,600.
“I won’t get worked up over the U.N. or any other organization that might try to dictate to us what to do in Jerusalem,” Deputy Mayor Meir Turgeman, the planning committee chairman, told the newspaper Israel Hayom. “I hope that the government and the new administration in the United States will give us momentum to continue.”
Although he did not specify which projects he had in mind, Ir Amim, a private group tracking settlements in East Jerusalem, said he was probably referring to projects in Gilo and Givat Hamatos. Betty Herschman, the group’s director of international relations and advocacy, said it was “defiance demonstrated after Trump’s election, now reinforced by the U.N. resolution.”
Anat Ben Nun, the director of development and external relations for Peace Now, said such construction was problematic. “Netanyahu’s attempt to avenge the U.N.S.C. resolution through approval of plans beyond the Green Line will only harm Israelis and Palestinians by making it more difficult to arrive at a two-state solution,” she said.
Israeli leaders said they had no reason to stop building. The Security Council resolution “was absurd and totally removed from reality,” said Oded Revivi, chief foreign envoy for the Yesha Council, which represents West Bank settlers. “Israeli building policies are set in Jerusalem, not New York.”
For the fourth day, Israeli officials accused Mr. Obama’s team of ambushing them at the United Nations. While the White House denied it, Israeli officials pointed to a meeting between Secretary of State John Kerry and his New Zealand counterpart a month before the Council vote discussing a resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. New Zealand was a sponsor of Friday’s measure.
Mr. Dermer, the ambassador, said Israel had other, nonpublic information proving the Obama administration’s involvement but provided no evidence and would not elaborate beyond saying it would be provided to Mr. Trump’s team when he takes office.
“They not only did not get up and stop it, they were behind it from the beginning,” Mr. Dermer said. “This is why the prime minister is so angry. We’re going to stand up against it.”
Israeli officials worried that Mr. Kerry would use a coming speech or a conference in France to outline an American peace plan that would be hostile to Israel’s interests. Mr. Kerry’s office had no comment.
The fury of Mr. Netanyahu’s response has generated debate at home. Mitchell Barak, a political consultant, said the political left considered the resolution “an epic foreign policy and diplomatic debacle” by Mr. Netanyahu.
But to his base, the Security Council action confirmed what they believed all along, that Mr. Obama is inherently anti-Israel, and so the prime minister comes across as a champion beset by enemies. “For them,” Mr. Barak said, “Netanyahu emerges from this unscathed, as the lone wolf in a lion’s den of hatred.”
Since the measure was passed, Israel has taken a number of retaliatory steps against the countries that supported its passage, including an official dressing-down of the Security Council members’ ambassadors to Israel on Sunday, Christmas Day.
Netanyahu on Saturday disinvited Ukraine Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman after Kiev voted in favor of the resolution.
Groysman, who became his country’s first-ever Jewish prime minister earlier this year, was scheduled to arrive in Israel on Tuesday for a two-day visit that would have included meetings with Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and other senior officials.
Netanyahu’s office has denied reports that he nixed a meeting with Theresa May next month at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, saying that no meeting had been set. But the deputy head of mission at the British Embassy in Tel Aviv, Tony Kay, told The Times of Israel on Monday there had been plans for a sit-down, though Jerusalem had not told London it planned to cancel the meeting.
Netanyahu has also reportedly ordered the Foreign Ministry to minmize all working ties with the 12 of countries that voted in favor of the decision with which Israel has diplomatic relations. Foreign ministers from the countries will reportedly no longer be able to meet with Netanyahu or Foreign Ministry officials.
In addition, travel by Israeli ministers to the countries will be kept to a minimum, an official said.
Of the 15 countries on the UN Security Council, 14 voted in favor of Resolution 2334, which demands a halt to all Israeli settlement activity — including in East Jerusalem — with one abstention, that of the US, whose veto would have nixed the measure.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 27th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
this is an old posting of ours. I just thought to put it up again as it seemed to us to be a reminder that news have a history. it shows that the UN has a history as well. evil is not a surprise.
‘Incomprehensible’: UN Committee Elects Assad Regime to Leadership Post
By Patrick Goodenough
CNSNews.com) – A group of United Nations’ member-states on Thursday elected the Assad regime to a leadership post of a special committee dealing with decolonization, sparking protests from a human rights group that had earlier urged U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-moon to intervene.
At a meeting in New York, the committee’s newly-elected chairman, Venezuelan ambassador Rafael Ramirez, asked the member-states whether there were any objections to putting forward Syrian ambassador Bashar Ja’afari as its “rapporteur” for the coming year.
Hearing no objectives, Ramirez declared Ja’afari – as well as three nominated vice chairmen, the representatives of Cuba, Sierra Leone and Indonesia – “elected by acclamation.”
The Venezuelan then led “a round a applause for our friends,” told them he looked forward to working with them “in taking forward the noble work of the special committee,” and invited Ja’afari to take his seat on the podium.
Before the Syrian sat down, Ramirez – a former foreign minister in President Nicolas Maduro’s cabinet – gave him a hug.
According to U.N. estimates well over 250,000 people have been killed and 12 million displaced in the civil war in Syria.
U.S. taxpayers account for 22 percent of the U.N.’s regular budget.
The committee – full name, the Special Committee on the Situation with Regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples – has 24 members.
Ten of them are free democracies, according to Washington-based Freedom House. They are Antigua & Barbuda, Chile, Dominica, Grenada, India, Indonesia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Tunisia.
None of those 10, nor any other member of the committee, raised objections to Syria’s “election” as rapporteur.
Ahead of the election, the non-governmental organization U.N. Watch urged two of the democracies in particular, Chile and India, to oppose Syria’s election.
U.N. Watch executive director Hillel Neuer said after Thursday’s session the two governments should be “ashamed” for joining the consensus vote.
He also criticized Ban for not intervening ahead of the vote.
“It is incomprehensible for the U.N. on one day to lament the regime’s killing and wounding of hundreds of thousands of Syrians – to declare the regime guilty of ‘extermination’ of its own people – and to then hand this gift of false legitimacy to the mass murderer Bashar al-Assad,” Neuer said.
“Today’s U.N. vote only helps the Assad regime portray itself a U.N. human rights arbiter. That’s indefensible, and an insult to Syria’s victims,” he said. “Morally, Mr. Ban should do the right thing and at least condemn the decision.”
Neuer also called on U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power and European Union ambassadors to condemn what he called the “absurd and morally obscene” election outcome.
He said the elections of the Syrian and Venezuelan ambassadors to their respective posts would be “trumpeted by both the Assad and Maduro regimes” as a propaganda victory.
He recalled that the regime after a previous election of Ja’afari called it “yet another recognition by members of the committee of the Syrian important and key role.”
The decolonization committee, established in 1961, advocates independence for 17 specific territories around the world, including American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam.
Neuer called the 55 year-old body “anachronistic,” noting that it has often been “criticized as a costly irrelevance.”
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 20th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Climate talks: ‘Save us’ from global warming, US urged.
By Matt McGrath
BBC Science & Environment
19 November 2016
Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama told the conference that climate change was not a hoax
The next head of the UN global climate talks has appealed for the US to “save” Pacific islands from the impacts of global warming.
Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said that the islands needed the US now as much as they did during World War Two.
He was speaking as global climate talks in Marrakech came to an end.
Mr Bainimarama said that climate change was not a hoax, as US President-elect Donald Trump has claimed.
Mr Trump has promised to pull the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement and scrap all payments for UN global warming projects.
But as he accepted the role of president of the Conference of the Parties for the year ahead, the Fijian leader took the opportunity to call on to the next US president to step away from his scepticism.
“I again appeal to the President-elect of the US Donald Trump to show leadership on this issue by abandoning his position that man-made climate change is a hoax,” said Mr Bainimarama.
“On the contrary, the global scientific consensus is that it is very real and we must act more decisively to avoid catastrophe.”
He also made a direct call to the American people to come to their aid in the face of rising seas, driven by global warming.
“We in the Pacific, in common with the whole world, look to America for the leadership and engagement and assistance on climate change just as we looked to America in the dark days of World War Two.
“I say to the American people, you came to save us then, and it is time for you to help save us now.”
After two weeks of talks here in Marrakech, participants arrived at a consensus on the next steps forward for the landmark climate treaty.
This gathering saw the opening of CMA1, the Conference of the Parties meeting as the signatories of the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global temperature rises.
CMA1 will be the formal UN body that will run, manage and set the rules for the operation of the Paris treaty.
UK joins the club
The number of countries who have ratified the agreement jumped above 100 with the UK joining during the last few days of the conference.
“Delegates in Marrakech made crucial progress in building the foundation to support the Paris agreement, which went into force just days before COP22,” said Paula Caballero from the World Resources Institute.
“Most importantly, negotiators agreed to finalise the rules of the Paris Agreement by 2018 and developed a clear roadmap to meet that deadline.”
US secretary of state John Kerry gave an impassioned speech in Marrakech, his last climate conference while in office
The participants also agreed the Marrakech Proclamation, a statement re-affirming the intentions of all 197 signatories to the Paris deal.
Seen as show of unity on the issue in the light a possible US withdrawal, countries stated they would live up to their promises to reduce emissions. The proclamation also called on all states to increase their carbon cutting ambitions, urgently.
Some of the poorest nations in the world announced that they were moving towards 100% green energy at this meeting.
The Climate Vulnerable Forum said that the 47 member countries, including Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Yemen, would achieve this goal between 2030 and 2050. And they challenged richer countries to do the same.
Despite these steps forward there were still some areas of significant difference between the parties, especially over money. The talks will continue in 2017 with a new US delegation picked by the Trump administration.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 16th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Monsanto Goes on Trial for Ecocide
posted also by Readers Supported News
15 October 16
his symbolic trial, which will be live streamed from Oct. 15, 8:30 a.m. GMT+2 on the tribunal website, will follow guidelines of the United Nations’ international court of justice and will have no legal standing. Rather, its purpose is to gather legal counsel from the judges as well as legal grounds for future litigation.
”The aim of the tribunal is to give a legal opinion on the environmental and health damage caused by the multinational Monsanto,“ the tribunal organizers state on their website. ”This will add to the international debate to include the crime of Ecocide into international criminal law. It will also give people all over the world a well documented legal file to be used in lawsuits against Monsanto and similar chemical companies.”
Monsanto, which is inching closer to a US$ 66bn takeover from German pharmaceuticals giant Bayer, has faced a never-ending slew of health and environmental controversies over its products since, well, the beginning of the twenty first century.
Monsanto’s historical line-up of products includes banned and highly toxic chemicals such as 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (a dioxin-containing component of the defoliant Agent Orange); PCB’s (polychlorinated biphenyl); and Lasso, a herbicide banned in Europe. Glyphosate, the controversial main ingredient in Monsanto’s best-selling weed-killer RoundUp, is the most widely used pesticide in the world. Monsanto is also the world’s largest genetically modified (GMO) seed maker, giving them a major hand over the world food supply
The trial, which will proceed on the same weekend as World Food Day, is organized by Organic Consumers Association, International Foundation for Organic Agriculture (IFOAM) Organics International, Navdanya, Regeneration International, Millions Against Monsanto as well as dozens of global food, farming and environmental justice groups.
Monsanto Corporate Engagement office has stated that “in growing our food, farmers face some tough challenges as the world’s population continues to grow. To address these ever increasing challenges collaboratively and advance our commitment to human rights, we welcome a genuine constructive conversation with diverse ideas and perspectives about food and agriculture production.
”This mock trial is not a real dialogue but a stunt staged by the International Foundation for Organic Agriculture (IFOAM), Organic Consumers Association and others who are fundamentally opposed to modern agriculture innovation, where anti-agriculture technology and anti-Monsanto critics play organizers, judge and jury, and where the outcome is pre-determined. Here is a link to our Open Letter regarding this mock trial.
+1 # guomashi 2016-10-15 14:01
Where is the link to the Open Letter regarding the mock trial?
.. not that I would read it or anyone would believe it.
May Monsanto rot in hell.
They are now going around to all the farms they can and testing the produce to see if any of it got cross-pollinate d with their patented life-forms.
Then they sue.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 29th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
FELIX DODDS writes on his blog: Bokova out? Georgieva in for next UN Secretary General.
He Writes – The rumors that have been circulating for the last month have now proven to be true. The Bulgarian government has withdrawn support from Irina Bokova as their candidate for UN Secretary General and replaced her with Kristalina Georgieva, the European commissioner for budget and human resources.
There is some evidence that the right of center parties in European capitals have been behind this with some articles appearing in the last few weeks against Bokova. The Guardian reported on the 26th:
“one of her (Kristalina’s) staff members was hacked and emails purporting to be from one of her top aides were sent out to the rest of her office, instructing them to attack Bokova”
There is no question that Kristalina has the cv and record to be a very good UN Secretary General. She is a strong supporter of sustainable development issues she will pick up the SDGs and climate agendas with ease. She is dynamic and very personable and was very active around last week’s UN General Assembly High Level session. Clearly preparing for what was expected to be an announcement this week. There was lobbying by the Russians to support Bokova to strop Kristalina entering the process. The Bulgarian government had indicated that Bokova had to be in the top three for them to continue their support. She came 6th out of 9 in the 5th straw poll.
It is unclear if Bukova will drop out now.
A clear positive outcome from Kristalina entering the Secretary General process is that you can expect that she will appear in the top three in the next Secretary General poll on 5th of October. This does mean that a woman from the Eastern bloc will be in clear contention.
Dodds says: I’ve argued from the beginning that a woman from the Eastern bloc should be elected on the basis of regional rotation and should be a woman.
So some of the problems for the UK and Germany with Bokova were she was seen to be too pro-Russian or at least you could argue more neutral.
This brings us to the potentially problems with Kristalina’s candidature she is clearly a pro EU candidate and from a right of center political background affiliated to the European Peoples Party at the European level. With the present tension in the Security Council between Russia and the US, UK and France over Syria her candidature may be negatively impacted.
Finally a question that I have is why would Russia not veto her as she would ultimately be sen as a WEOG candidate when there are less obviously pro EU candidates left in the face from other Eastern bloc countries. The reality of introducing Kristalina as a candidate, and taking Bokova out if that is what is going to happen, could mean we end up with an Eastern European man.
Cant wait until the next straw poll on the 5th of October when the P5 will have colored voting cards (red will now signify a veto and that candidate will be out) .
Posted Yesterday, September 28, 2016, by Felix Dodds
The ten non-permanent members elected for two-year terms by the General Assembly (with end of term date):
Angola (2016), Egypt (2017), Japan (2017), Malaysia (2016), New Zealand (2016), Senegal (2017), Spain (2016), Ukraine (2017), Uruguay (2017). These and the Permanent Members – the 5 Veto Powers – will be voting for the UNSG – a total of 15 votes that are meaningful only if there is no veto. The first such vote will be attempted October 5th 2016.
REVIEWING ABOVE AND EXPECTING THAT RUSSIA WILL VETO FRONT RUNNER Antonio Gutierez of Portugal who has 12 positives out of 15 possible votes with two negatives and one undecided – but it is common knowledge that one of the negatives is a Russian killer veto. The other negative may have been the less important Angola vote – a former Portuguese colony. That same logic seems to work also against the second favorite of the West – Kristalina Georgieva whose name did not appear in the five straw polls that were taken so far – but as a favorite of the West she might as well expect a Russian Veto.
OK – so we are left with: Vuk Jeremic of Serbia (6 negatives), Miroslav Lajcak of Slovakia (7 negatives), Danilo Turk of slovenia (7 negatives), Srgjan Kerim of Macedonia (9 negatives). The five VETO POWERS are China, France, Russia, The UK, The US. Whom would an EU Member State want to Veto from among those four candidates? We do not think that China has any interest in this and we trust the US would Veto only a candidate that seems to be too close to Russia – this specially these days of clear dissention and Russian expansion into the Middle East.
It seems tat a Serb has no appeal to the West for ethnic wars’ reasons – so we believe that the person ahead has less chance and we believe that the Slovak, Slovenian and Macedonian male delegates have the real inner path.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 15th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Asia Society’s Executive Vice President Tom Nagorski invited the working press of New York City – that is the people reporting about activities in New York – rather then only those accredited only to the UN enclave – to tell us about the ASIA GAME CHANGERS AWARDS – perennial recognition of remarkable pioneering leaders and institutions that mostly work in a bottoms-up mode and manage to achieve things that major institution were not able to achieve. Having said this – let me also note that usually a very well established person – someone that has achieved the status of Malala Yousafai or Jack Ma are also recognized – this as they are now targets to demonstrate what an ASIAN can achieve.
The well wetted former contestants that were proposed by peers or establishment, vetted by the Asia Society, presented to the UN, are then honored at an Awards Dinner at the UN – bringing honor to the UN that the UN never deserved. Do not fret – that is how the World Works – luckily there are good people available sometimes where you expect it the least.
This year’s Underwriters of the Asia Society project are Citibank, United Airlines and Pepsico and the Awards Dinner and Celebration will be held at the UN on October 27, 2016 – at the tail-end of this year’s UN General Assembly.
This year’s list of ASIA GAME CHANGERS is headed by the iconic figure of Architect I.M. Pei (US/China) who is celebrated for Lifetime Achievements.
The other awardees in alphabetic order are:
– Muzoon Almellehan of Syria – for bringing education and hope to young girls, amid the trauma of war. She just turned 18 and had started her activities among the refugees in Jordan where her family fled from the Syrian little town – Dura.
She lives now in Newcastle, England where she can continue her own education.
– Marita Cheng of Australia – For engineering a betterv world, and ensuring that more of the engineers are women.
She is an Entrepreneur. She is 30 years old and created an app that helps women. She might br presented as someone who has achieved the kind of status Ms. Almellehan was fighting for.
– Soo-man Lee of South Korea – For turning her Nation’s pop culture into a global phenomenon.
She is the founder and producer of S.M. brand entertainment and “K-pop.”
– Sanduk Ruit of Nepal – an Eye-Surgeon – who brought the gift of sight, and productive life, by making available cataract removal to those in need. He did this for 100,000 people in Nepal and started programs in other countries including North Korea. He institutes this with mobilized centers going to the people.
– Ahmad Sarmast (afghanistan/Australia) – For restoring music and empowering children – in a war-ravaged nation.
– Dureen Shahnaz of Bangladesh – For “social-impact” investing that has changed the game for millions.
Founder of the Impact Investment Exchange Asia. She teaches the reinvestment of the return from investment in order to lead to growth.
– Karim Wasfi of Iraq – for using music to heal, in the aftermath of terror.
He is a renown cellist, conductor of the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra.
At the diner there will be a chance to listen also to a 13 year old kid from Bali who is already a good piano player and Game Changer in the making.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 14th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
It is known that the world produces enough food for everyone but why do 800 million in the world still go to bed hungry?
GODAN has the answer to end this suffering – opening data on agriculture and nutrition – which will also stimulate global GDP by $6 trillion
What does the climate mean for food security?
In December 2015, 195 countries agreed to the Paris Agreement –the agreement that nations around the world would be committed to keeping the average global temperature increase at well below 2 ºC and at no more than 1.5 ºC from 2020 onwards. As of August 2016, 180 countries have signed the agreement – but average global temperatures have already reached 1.3 ºC. Coupled with the occurrence of the El-Nino, it is undeniable that the climate is having a huge impact on our planet, as more countries are affected by record breaking and unusual weather. But what impact is this weather having on our food supplies? And if there is more to come, what can we do about it?
To see the impact that climate has on food one only has to look at the spate of droughts that multiple parts of the world have been experiencing in the last decade. Ethiopia experienced its worst drought in decades earlier this year, causing crop failure and the loss of livestock. This was followed by heavy rains that further aggravated the agricultural disruption.
Ethiopia has made great strides since the famine of the 1980s. It has become one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and thanks to working with the information and expertise of international aid organisations was able to build a food security system which, despite the desperate situation of the drought, has allowed the country to stay out of famine. Given that 43% of the country’s economy relies on agriculture and it forms the livelihood of much of the country’s rural population, food security for Ethiopia has meant more than food reserves.
The government, with the help of aid groups, have made a sustained effort to support farmers over the last decade, which has included launching open data for agriculture and socio-economic wellbeing in early 2015. This open data included detailed agricultural practices, information on health and data on food consumption and security. Ethiopia’s recent drought has been devastating –but the government’s attempt to mitigate its effects through years of investment in food security and making agricultural data available has allowed the country to escape the worst.
Meanwhile, a long drought over the past six years in California has caused water shortages, cost farmers billions of dollars with serious concerns over food security. Within California, residents have felt the impact of reducing water consumptions, and given that the state alone accounts ¼ of the USA’s fruit and vegetable produce, the implications of continued drought are concerning.
California has the benefit of being a state within the richest and most powerful country on Earth. The citizens of California have had access to public information giving them guidance on how best to cope throughout. The US Department of Agriculture has been monitoring the progress of the drought and its effect on everything from Californian farms to food prices, the results of which is open data that is publically available to all who need it. Although thousands of farmers have lost their livelihood, and the drought continues, the data and information made available by the US government has been invaluable in keeping the farmers of California informed of the drought’s progress and in allowing them to maintain food security through substitution and diversification of their produce.
The impacts of both droughts are having a drastic effect on the availability of food. As the climate continues to become more extreme, the issue of food security will become more urgent. But as Ethiopia and California have shown, open data on agriculture, weather trends and more can help farmers and governments alike prepare and adapt to some of the worst conditions for agriculture imaginable. That’s why it is so important to make vital agricultural data available for all who could use it.
GODAN (Global Open Data on Agriculture and Nutrition) aims to do just that. In New York City on September 15-16, the GODAN Summit 2016 is taking place, lobbying world leaders to open up their agricultural and nutrition data. Government ministers from Kenya and the UK will be in attendance, alongside open data activists, scientists and other leading figures, all of whom will be discussing the benefits of making relevant data available to everyone. There will also be a hackathon that will see the brightest and most disruptive young minds doing their bit to come up with innovative new open data solutions.
But GODAN needs your support. We have launched a petition in association with Global Citizen. Once complete, the petition will be presented to the world’s leaders at the United Nations General Assembly, calling on them to make agricultural and nutrition data open. Help secure food security for the world by signing the petition today: summit.godan.info/register/
· Why are governments hiding this data that could end world hunger?
· How can data truly better agriculture and farming in 3rd world countries?
· There is enough food in the world so why are 800 million people hungry?
· Technology really is saving the world, but how?
· How will open data affect health issues globally?
· What does this mean for the agriculture industry?
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 24th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
From: “United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service” <email@example.com>
Date: August 22, 2016 at 7:09:29 PM EDT
Subject: [MARKETING] Solutions Summit at UNHQ: Call for Submissions – Apply by 28 August!
Reply-To: join at solutions-summit.org
WHAT IS THE SOLUTIONS SUMMIT?
The second annual Solutions Summit is a catalytic gathering that will take place at UN Headquarters in New York on the evening of 21 September 2016 during UN General Assembly week.
The purpose of the Solutions Summit is two-fold: 1) to lift up exceptional innovators — technologists, engineers, scientists, and others — who are developing solutions that address one or more of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); and 2) to catalyze a grassroots effort, where communities scout and convene resources around solution-makers.
The first Solutions Summit in 2015 immediately followed the conclusion of the UN Sustainable Development Summit at which the SDGs were adopted by all 193 UN Member States. It showed that people already have extraordinary solutions in progress to our most complex challenges.
For 2016, the Solutions Summit will highlight projects that advance the objectives of one or more of the following upcoming global Summits and Conferences:
> UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants – UNHQ NY – September 2016
> UN Habitat III Conference – Ecuador – October 2016
> UN Climate Change Conference – Morocco – November 2016
> Open Government Partnership Global Summit – France – December 2017
> UN Oceans Conference – Fiji – June 2017
WHAT ARE THE INTENDED OUTCOMES?
During the Solutions Summit, a group of selected global innovators will be invited to give a ‘lightning talk’ outlining their breakthrough efforts to a juxtaposed audience of senior policymakers who have the means to pave solid regulatory foundations, investors who care deeply about long-term change and impact, and industry leaders who are able to deploy quickly and at scale. The gathering will serve as a catalyst to convene resources and talent around solution-makers.
WHO IS ORGANIZING THE EFFORT?
Solutions Summit is led by the UN Foundation, the UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS) and the Global Innovation Exchange, in collaboration with the SDG Philanthropy Platform, the Global Entrepreneurship Council, and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, with an open invitation for governments and other partners to join. UN-NGLS is coordinating the open and transparent application and selection process to curate solutions to be featured during the Solutions Summit.
SUBMIT YOUR SOLUTION:
Sunday, 28 August 2016
HELP SPREAD THE WORD
Help us surface extraordinary individuals and teams developing solutions that address the SDGs.
Please share and encourage people to apply!
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 22nd, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
THE NEW YORK TIMES – SCIENCE
English Village Becomes Climate Leader by Quietly Cleaning Up Its Own Patch
By TATIANA SCHLOSSBERGAUG. 21, 2016
ASHTON HAYES, England — This small village of about 1,000 people looks like any other nestled in the countryside.
But Ashton Hayes is different in an important way when it comes to one of the world’s most pressing issues: climate change.
Hundreds of residents have banded together to cut greenhouse emissions — they use clotheslines instead of dryers, take fewer flights, install solar panels and glaze windows to better insulate their homes.
The effort, reaching its 10th anniversary this year, has led to a 24 percent cut in emissions, according to surveys by a professor of environmental sustainability who lives here.
But what makes Ashton Hayes unusual is its approach — the residents have done it themselves, without prodding from government. About 200 towns, cities and counties around the world — including Notteroy, Norway; Upper Saddle River, N.J.; and Changhua County, Taiwan — have reached out to learn how the villagers here did it.
As climate science has become more accepted, and the effects of a warming planet are becoming increasingly clear, Ashton Hayes is a case study for the next phase of battling climate change: getting people to change their habits.
“We just think everyone should try to clean up their patch,” said Rosemary Dossett, a resident of the village. “And rather than going out and shouting about it, we just do it.”
One of their secrets, it seems, is that the people of Ashton Hayes feel in charge, rather than following government policies. When the member of Parliament who represents the village showed up at their first public meeting in January 2006, he was told he could not make any speeches.
“We said, ‘This is not about you tonight, this is about us, and you can listen to what we’ve got to say for a change,’” said Kate Harrison, a resident and early member of the group.
No politician has been allowed to address the group since. The village has kept the effort separate from party politics, which residents thought would only divide them along ideological lines.
The project was started by Garry Charnock, a former journalist who trained as a hydrologist and has lived in the village for about 30 years. He got the idea a little more than a decade ago after attending a lecture about climate change at the Hay Festival, an annual literary gathering in Wales. He decided to try to get Ashton Hayes to become, as he put it, “Britain’s first carbon-neutral village.”
“But even if we don’t,” he recalls thinking at the time, “let’s try to have a little fun.”
Sometimes, efforts to reduce greenhouse gases involve guilt-tripping or doomsday scenarios that make people feel as if the problem is too overwhelming to tackle.
In Ashton Hayes — about 25 miles southeast of Liverpool, with a 19th-century Anglican church and a community-owned shop that doubles as a post office — the villagers have lightened the mood.
They hold public wine-and-cheese meetings in the biggest houses in town, “so everyone can have a look around,” and see how the wealthier people live, said Mr. Charnock, the executive director of RSK, an environmental consulting company. “We don’t ever finger-wag in Ashton Hayes.”
About 650 people — more than half of the village’s residents — showed up to the first meeting, Mr. Charnock said. Some in the village were less keen, but little by little, they began to participate.
Some have gone further. When they were looking to build their energy-efficient home and heard about Ashton Hayes’s carbon-neutral project, Ms. Dossett and her husband, Ian, thought it might be the perfect village for them.
They moved from nearby South Warrington and found two old farm cottages, which they converted into a two-story brick house, and installed huge triple-glazed windows, photovoltaic cells on the roof, a geothermal heat pump that heats the home and its water, and an underground cistern to hold rainwater for toilets and the garden.
“I wouldn’t want anyone to think we live in a mud hut,” Ms. Dossett said, sitting on a couch in her warm, well-lit living room.
The Dossetts also have a vegetable garden, grow grapes for wine, brew beer and keep two cows, which mow the lawn and may also eventually become food in a few years. They pay about 500 pounds (about $650) a year for electricity and heating.
The success of the carbon-neutral project seems to have inspired other community efforts in Ashton Hayes. The residents, for example, have built a new playing field with a solar-powered pavilion, which is the home of a community cafe three days a week. They have also put photovoltaic solar panels on the roof of the primary school.
Other towns and cities around the world hope to copy Ashton Hayes. Their representatives have contacted the project’s leaders, asking for help in setting up similar initiatives, according to the diary the Ashton Hayes group keeps about the project, chronicling almost everything they have done over the past 10 years.
Eden Mills, a small community in Ontario, Canada, is one of them. Charles Simon traveled to Ashton Hayes in 2007 to learn how to translate their approach to his town, adopting the apolitical, voluntary, fun method.
“Some of the changes are so easy,” Mr. Simon said. “Just put on a sweater instead of turning on the heat.”
Eden Mills has cut emissions by about 14 percent, Mr. Simon said, and has plans to do more. Residents have been working with experts from the nearby University of Guelph, planting trees in the village forest to help absorb the carbon dioxide the town emits, Mr. Simon said.
Janet Gullvaag, a councilwoman in Notteroy, Norway, an island municipality of about 21,000 people, reached out to Ashton Hayes about nine years ago after her political party decided to include reducing carbon dioxide emissions in its platform.
“I think that the idea that Ashton Hayes had — to make caring for the environment fun, without pointing fingers — was quite revolutionary,” Ms. Gullvaag said.
Though her community’s approach is decidedly more political, Ms. Gullvaag said that adopting Ashton Hayes’s mantra of fun had paid dividends: She has seen changes in her community, she said, as people buy more electric cars and bicycles, and convert their home heating from oil to more environmentally friendly sources.
“Whatever you’re trying to do, if you can create enthusiasm and spread knowledge, normally, people will react in a positive way,” she added.
Though deep cuts across the globe are still required to make broader progress, actions to reduce emissions, even by small towns, are a step in the right direction, say experts who study community action on climate change.
“The community-building element of all this has been as important as the environmental impact so far,” said Sarah Darby, a researcher at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute.
She added that Ashton Hayes was in a good position to take on these kinds of projects — it is a small village of well-off and well-educated people, so simply taking fewer flights each year can have a big effect.
Residents were able to cut emissions by about 20 percent in the first year alone, according to surveys used to calculate carbon footprints that were developed by Roy Alexander, a local professor, and his students.
Some have had even more significant reductions: Households that participated in surveys in both the first and 10th years shrank their energy use by about 40 percent.
Mr. Charnock said he thought the village could get the cuts in its 2006 carbon footprint to 80 percent in the next few years with the help of grant money to buy and install solar panels on the local school and other buildings.
The next thing they have to do, he said, is to get the county government to be as committed to cutting emissions as Ashton Hayes is.
“There’s so much apathy,” Mr. Charnock said. “We need to squeeze that layer of apathy jelly and get it out.”
A version of this article appears in print on August 22, 2016, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: An English Village Leads a Climate Revolution.