Archive for the ‘UN’ Category
“In an interview with DW, the head of an effort to reform the way the UN deals with environmental problems outlines his suggestions for how the world could move from countless talk shops to action.
Frank Biermann is the chair of the Earth System Governance Project and a professor at Amsterdam’s Free University. He is leading an effort to radically overhaul international institutions like the UN, to make them more effective in their response to global environmental problems like climate change, species loss and pollution.
DW spoke to him at this week’s Planet under Pressure conference in London, where he presented his team’s proposals to be considered at the Rio Earth Summit later this year.
DW: ……. ” ( click the link
for the interview)
via Interview: it’s time to drop consensus | Environment | DW.DE | 27.03.2012.
(Excerpts from a statement by Maurice F. Strong, delivered to theSpecial United Nations General Assembly Event on Rio+20, New York, October 25th, 2011)
“Time precludes my elaborating on the various actions that could be taken at Rio+20 which would make it a major milestone on the pathway to sustainability. As most of these have already been raised at the High-level Symposium in Beijing and the Delhi Ministerial Dialogue in New Delhi, I will note them only briefly here.
Objective evaluation by civil society organizations in each country of their performance in implementing their commitments at the Earth Summit and other fora;
Establishment of a process of continuing assessment of the performance of each country in its implementation of past commitments and accountability for them. This should lead to a system in which countries which fail to meet their commitments are subject to penalties and sanctions.
Establishment of an investment instrument in the form of “Earth Bonds” to be purchased by private sector foundations, funds and individuals, for investment in sustainable development projects, principally in developing countries; The World Bank’s initiative in issuing Green Bonds to finance climate change projects provides a useful precedent. The World Bank and/or its private sector affiliate the International Finance Corporation could also be the issuers of the Earth Bonds. They and the regional development banks could initiate and manage projects funded by the Earth Bonds. A high level group of experts is now developing the proposal.
Agreement to establish a system based on Principles 21 and 22 agreed at the Stockholm Conference in 1972 through which victims of environmental damage in one country resulting from development in another country can seek legal recourse and compensation for the damages they have suffered.
Under today’s conditions, this and other measures that I am raising will be deemed unrealistic. But denial cannot change the reality, only increase its dangers. What seems unrealistic today will become inevitable tomorrow, too late to change. The need for such actions is real and urgent. Rio+20 cannot do it all but it can and must set these processes in motion and give them the support and impetus they require.”
via Maurice F. Strong.
“The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has published an interesting data collection of how the world has dealt with its ecological challenges since the first Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. Despite some progress in certain areas, overall the picture does not look rosy.
The publication entitled “Keeping Track of our Changing Environment: From Rio to Rio+20″ is part of UNEP’s “Global Environmental Outlook-5″ (GEO -5) series, the UN’s landmark report on the state and outlook of the global environment. The complete GEO-5 report will be launched in May 2012, one month before the Rio+20 in Brazil.
Although the authors of the report have carefully avoided providing any critical evaluation of the statistical data, anyone reading the 111-pages study can hardly conclude that global leaders have done a great job since they received a wake-up call about the world’s sustainability challenges twenty years ago.
Here are a few of the “gloomy” messages of the study:
World population has grown by 26% since 1992 (from 5.5 billion to 7 billion).
More people than ever live in megacities.
Global average meat consumption grew from 34 kg per person per year to 43 kg.
GDP has continued to increase but there are increasing doubts as to whether this has created more quality of life and more happiness.
The global use of natural resource materials increased by over 40% between 1992 and 2005, from about 42 to nearly 60 thousand million tonnes.
CO2 emissions increased by 36% between 1992 and 2008, from around 22 000 million to just over 30, 000 million tonnes.
The ten hottest years on record have all occurred since 1998.
Sea levels have been rising at an average rate of about 2.5 mm per year between 1992 and 2011.
Oceans are becoming more acidic: the ocean’s pH declined from 8.11 in 1992 to 8.06 in 2007.
Nearly all mountain glaciers around the world are retreating and getting thinner; and the speed with which this is happening is increasing.
Forest area has decreased by 300 million hectare since 1990, an area larger than Argentina.
Biodiversity is in serious decline and every year more species move closer to extinction.
The world has seen a huge increase in natural disasters.
Food production has continued to rise but only thanks to more use of fertilizer. It takes an average of seven to ten calories of input energy (i.e., mostly fossil fuels) to produce one calorie of food.
Irrigation has raised crop yields but also put pressure on freshwater availability
Since 1992, the proportion of fully exploited fish stocks increased by 13% and overexploited, depleted or recovering stocks increased by 33%, reaching 52% and 33%, respectively, of all fish stocks.
In 2010, 1,440 million people globally—that is 20% of the world population—are still suffering from “energy poverty.
And here are a few of the “good stories”:
Over the past 20 years, the Human Development Index has grown globally by 2.5% per year, climbing from 0.52 in 1990 to 0.62 in 2010, or 19% overall, showing substantial improvement in many aspects of human development but big inequalities still remain.
Women’s political influence is rising.
The value of internationally traded products has tripled between 1992 and 2009, from over US$ 9 to 28 million millions.
Although overall energy and material use continue to grow, there is a simultaneous general decline in emissions, energy and material use per unit of output (resource efficiency).
The consumption of ozone-depleting substances decreased by 93% from 1992 to 2009, and 98% since the Montreal Protocol’s was established in 1987.
Numerous multilateral environmental agreements were signed since 1992.
The private sector is increasingly adopting environmental management standards.
Land area used for organic farming is growing by nearly 13% per year.
Investment in sustainable energy has skyrocketed in recent years (although from very low starting levels).
The “global village” has developed rapidly as a result of new technologies and the Internet.
All in all, the UNEP study is an impressive work of data collection but it could have done with a little bit less spin and a bit more “hard” evaluation. But then again, maybe this document has a political function and the real meat can be expected in May of next year? “
By Willy De Backer
Head of the Greening Europe Forum
via Report for Rio+20 shows world still increasing its ecological debts > Friends of Europe > Friends of Europe | Library | Paper.
Declaration of Dissidents for Universal Human Rights
September 26, 2011
“We, former prisoners of conscience, dissidents, victims of torture, persecution, and repression, fighters for freedom, democracy and the dignity of all human beings, gathered here at United Nations Headquarters in New York City, on 22 September 2011, do hereby declare:…… “
via We Have A Dream.
“Signed on this 22nd day of September, 2011, at the opening of the 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly, for the We Have A Dream: Global Summit Against Discrimination and Persecution.
Yang Jianli, Former Chinese political prisoner, founder of Initiatives for China
Ahmad Batebi, Former Iranian political prisoner
Fidel Suarez Cruz, Cuban dissident and former prisoner
John Dau, Survivor of war in Sudan and founder of John Dau Foundation
Rebiya Kadeer, Uyghur dissident and former political prisoner in China
Grace Kwinjeh, Zimbabwean dissident and torture victim
Berta Antunez, Women’s rights activist in Cuba with Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White)
Adeeb Yousif, Darfur human rights activist
Jacqueline Kasha, Ugandan activist for LGBT rights, recipient of Martin Ennals 2011 Human Rights Defenders Prize
Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi, Iranian human rights ctivist
Prof. Irwin Cotler, Canadian MP, former Minister of Justice & Attorney General, McGill U. law professor, international human rights lawyer, counsel to prisoners of conscience
David Lowe, Vice President for Government Relations and Public Affairs, National Endowment of Democracy
Ambassador Alfred H. Moses, Chair of UN Watch
Katrina Lantos Swett, President of Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice
Philippe Robinet, French publisher of human rights testimonies
Hillel Neuer, Executive Director of UN Watch
John Suarez, Directorio
Human Rights Foundation
“The Palestinian Arab bid for Unilateral Declaration of Independence this week appears to be strongly influenced by the same principles of hate and destruction.
A Wall Street Journal editorial earlier this week questioned the logic of the UN efforts, even from a Palestinian Arab perspective asking, “A vote at the U.N. won’t create a Palestinian state and will likely retard the creation of one, perhaps for years. It won’t remove any Israeli settlements from the West Bank and might well give Jerusalem reason to accelerate the pace of construction. It could also lead Israel to take various punitive measures against the Palestinians, including freezing tax transfers worth about $100 million a month. The U.S. Congress might follow by cutting off the $600 million in annual aid to the Palestinians.”
This week Mahmoud Abbas acknowledged what he stood to destroy in the wake of these efforts, saying, “the Palestinian people and their leadership will pass through very difficult times after the Palestinian approach to the United Nations.” Saying further, “We decided to take this step and all hell has broken out against us.”
In seeking to understand the move, The Journal referenced an opinion piece that Abbas wrote in the New York Times in May, which said that “Palestine’s admission to the United Nations would pave the way for the internationalization of the conflict as a legal matter, not only as a political one. It would also pave the way for us to pursue claims against Israel at the United Nations, human rights treaty bodies and the International Criminal Court.”"
As the Wall Street Journal concluded, “In other words, what Palestinians seek out of a U.N. vote isn’t an affirmation of their right to a state, but rather another tool in their perpetual campaign to harass, delegitimize and ultimately destroy Israel.”
Understand this: ‘peace’ is no goal of the Palestinians, only to hurt, maim, isolate and ultimately destroy the sovereign Jewish presence in the Mediterranean.”
via Suicide Diplomacy – Op-Eds – Israel National News.
Excerpts from the Secretary-Generals Remarks to Sydney UniversitySydney, 8 September 2011
“Ladies and Gentlemen,Around the world, sustainable peace must be built on sustainable development.Next month, the 7 billionth citizen of our world will be born.For that child, and for all of us, we must keep working to fight poverty, create decent jobs, and provide a dignified life while preserving the planet that sustains us.That is why I have said that the sustainable development agenda is the agenda for the 21st century.Above all, that means connecting the dots between challenges such as climate change and water scarcity, energy shortages, global health issues, food insecurity and the empowerment of the worlds women.On the surface, these might seem like distinct issues – but they are linked. And we have to find those linkages.
In Korea, we have a proverb that says it doesnt matter how many beads you have, without a thread, you will never make a necklace.We need to find the thread.“
via Road to RIO+20: Sustainable Development: An Agenda for the 21st Century – Excerpts from the SGs Remarks to Sydney University – UNEP.
The UNEP Common Carbon Metric is a most welcome effort in the measurement of building-related CO₂ emissions .
“Efforts to establish international standards for measuring energy use in buildings have received a boost, after the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) decided to consider an innovative tool developed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to gauge energy consumption and CO₂ emissions in homes and offices across the world.
The Common Carbon Metric (CCM) – developed by UNEP’s Sustainable Buildings and Climate Initiative – could form the basis for a new international standard for measuring the environmental performance of existing buildings. The ISO – the world’s largest developer and publisher of international standards, covering 162 countries – will develop relevant methods.
The Common Carbon Metric is intended to create a uniform system for defining the climate impact of buildings through a consistent protocol, which can, in turn, help develop international baselines for use by architects, designers and the construction industry.
Today, the building sector is the single largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions with about one third of global energy use taking place in offices and homes. Moreover, building-related CO₂ emissions are set to rise from 8.6 billion tones in 2004 to 11.1 billion tones in 2020.”
via New Move to Develop Global Standards for Measuring Energy Use in Buildings – UNEP.
“This weekend I was in Toronto at the 3rd global event of Random Hacks of Kindness (a global community of software developers and designers building practical open technology to solve international development problems), thinking about humanitarian innovations.”
via Humanitarian Innovation and the United Nations | Global Pulse.
“UN Global Pulse is an innovations unit, which is currently focused on capability and information gaps in vulnerability tracking, particularly in the wake of global crises. We’ve done our due diligence, asking what the need is, surveyed what the current systems in place are, and looked for the gaps that we need to fill. We’re now at the stage where we know what the systems and processes we need are, we know that they’re a significant improvement over what currently exists, and we’re developing proofs of concept for these with help from companies, academia, communities, NGOs and individuals across the world.”