Archive for the ‘#Rio+20’ Tag
“It was the last day of the International Society for Ecological Economics 2012 conference taking place in parallel to the UNCSD Rio+20 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and many of the big names of this relatively young and vibrant academic discipline were lined up to talk in the final plenary sessions.
First, we heard from the dual winners of the 2012 Kenneth E. Boulding Award, the world’s top honor in the field of ecological economics, Dr. Mathis Wackernagel and Dr. William Rees. Together, they formed, in the early 1990s, the idea of the ecological footprint. That simple conceptualization of the amount of resources we consume and the waste and pollution we emit as compared to the carrying capacity of the earth, has been so effective in conveying the conundrum of modern consumerist paradigm that it became one of the most popular indices to describe and evaluate sustainability.
In their talks they described a crystal clear picture of the deep mess we are in. Wackernagel talked about our resource overshot, or how many planets would be required in order to sustain the amount of resources we consume. Rees discussed the evolutionary, genetic, environmental and social conditions that make us predisposed to such self-destructive behavior as a human species. While lucid and fascinating, the message and outlook ended up being pretty gloomy.
In stark contrast, next on the stage was Robert Costanza, another founder of the discipline, with a very short but important message. For the most part, we know the gravity of the situation, however, explaining how bad things are has not been working too well as a method of affecting change. To affect change we need to create positive cycles of action and reflection. And with that, he gave the stage to prime minister of Bhutan.
His Excellency, Jigmi Y. Thinley, offered a speech that might have been the most positive message coming out of this entire frustrating, and for the most part, fruitless (if not destructive) process that Rio+20 has become. He said his country has decided some three decades ago to get rid of neoliberal economics that focus on maximizing short term economic gains measured by growth in GDP in favor of enhancing a more holistic framework of human well being.
The catch phrase is, of course, their Gross Happiness Index, but the approach is much more than that. To measure progress, they look at indicators such as education, access to health, employment rates, well being in rural setting and the list is much longer. And yes, he replied to a question, they do have a voluntary policy encouraging responsibility in reproduction rates, and no, they don’t think they necessarily need economic growth per se to do well for their people. Wow. While there is much room for improvement, Bhutan is doing well on many of these indices.
The caveat is, that if the rest of the world keeps measuring success in terms of GDP growth, these great achievements are lost in the all-encompassing picture of economic growth. His entire speech is well worth reading. So, why should we care about Bhutan? It is after all a tiny country at the Eastern Himalayas of about 700,000 people. We should care because Bhutan is a great example of a catalytic positive cycle Dr. Costanza and many others suggest is our way forward. It teaches us that when we make the good choices like balancing material development with cultural, ecological and spiritual values, positive change happens fairly quickly.
Bhutan’s approach is pretty simple, don’t consume more than what you have (in economic and environmental terms), and make sure your people have what they really need (food, education, health, freedom of speech, religion etc.). How hard can this be?”
via What Bhutan Can Teach Everyone at Rio+20 About Ecological Economics.
“Later this month, the countries of the world will gather in Durban, South Africa, to discuss climate change. The omens for progress are poor; the forecast for global warming is worse.So says the International Energy Agency, hardly a left-wing pinko organization but, rather, one that collects and analyzes information for energy-importing industrialized countries.
The IEA minced no words. “On planned policies, rising fossil-fuel energy use will lead to irreversible and potentially catastrophic climate change.”
“Irreversible and potentially catastrophic” are words not written lightly. They don’t come from the United Nations, the favourite target of the climate-change deniers and skeptics. They don’t pour forth from the David Suzuki Foundation, Greenpeace or the Sierra Club. Rather, they come from the blue chip of energy analysts, relied on by government and industry alike around the world.
The IEA, charged with tracking energy use, reported that, in 2010, emissions of carbon dioxide – the principal greenhouse gas – rose by 5.3 per cent. Little is being done, says the IEA, to “quench the world’s increasing thirst for energy in the long term.” Demand for oil, natural gas and coal continues to rise.
If these trends continue, the world will blow past the target most scientists – and the world’s governments – have said must be achieved if climate change is not to produce negative consequences. That target is a rise of 2 degrees Celsius. Ideally, greenhouse-gas emissions should be reduced sharply so warming doesn’t occur. But anything above that increase, say scientists, would bring on a series of very undesirable events. “
via Amid dire warming warnings, Canada is MIA – The Globe and Mail.
(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.
“International policies that would direct “just 2 percent of global GDP into 10 key sectors would kick-start” the global transition to a more sustainable, ‘Green Economy,’ according to a UN Environmental Program report.
All the elements to enact a transition to a “low-carbon, resource-efficient and socially inclusive global economic model” are here now, and businesses and governments are already promoting and fostering greater investments in 10 key sectors UNEP has singled out: agriculture, energy, buildings, water, forestry, fisheries, manufacturing, waste, tourism and transport.
Investing 2 percent of global GDP in these sectors would not only “shift the global economy on to a more sustainable growth trajectory, but it would maintain or increase growth over time compared to the current business models,” according to UNEP’s “Towards a Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication.”
Investing $100 billion to $300 billion per year in sustainable agriculture between now and 2050, according to UNEP, “could lead to better soil quality and better yields for major crops, representing a 10% increase over the current strategies.”
“The elements of a transition to a Green Economy are clearly emerging across developing and developed countries alike,” UNEP executive director Achim Steiner stated. “There are now some nations going further and faster than others, which is in many ways generating a ‘pull factor’ that, if maintained, may bring others along over the coming months and years.”
Time is Ripe
The time is ripe, the UN points out, as UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiators, stakeholders and participating observers prepare to convene in Durban, South Africa at the end of the month to try and negotiate an extension or a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.
“With the world looking ahead to the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development in June 2012, the UNEP Green Economy report challenges the myth that there is a trade-off between the economy and the environment,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a statement issued on the release of the report.
“With smart public policies, governments can grow their economies, generate decent employment and accelerate social progress in a way that keeps humanity’s ecological footprint within the planet’s carrying capacity.” “
via Invest 2% of GDP in 10 Sectors Result: A Green Global Economy | CleanTechnica.