Newsletter of the
INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT FORUM
Volume 13, Number 8 --- September 2011
17 September 2011
Article submission: email@example.com Deadline next issue 13 October 2011
Secretariat Email: firstname.lastname@example.org General Secretary Emily Firth
Postal address: 12B Chemin de Maisonneuve, CH-1219 Chatelaine, Geneva, Switzerland
From the Editor, Request for information for upcoming newsletters
This newsletter is an opportunity for IEF members to share their experiences, activities, and initiatives that are taking place at the community level on climate change action. All members are welcome to contribute information about related activities, upcoming conferences, news from like-minded organizations, recommended websites, book reviews, etc. Please send information to email@example.com.
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INVITATION from UNEP Chief Scientist - Survey on Emerging Issues for Rio+20
The IEF Board has received the following invitation from UNEP. IEF members may provide feedback via the online survey of emerging environmental issues, which will in turn help inform UNEP and the preparations on this topic for the upcoming Rio+20 conference in 2012.
Dear Member of UNEP Major Group & Stakeholder,
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) wishes to invite you to participate in the 2011 'UNEP Survey on Emerging Issues'.
As you may be aware, UNEP recently conducted a Foresight Process on emerging environmental issues, in which 21 issues were identified through consultation with more than 400 scientists worldwide and systematic debate by a panel of 21 distinguished scientists. Furthermore during the development of UNEPs’ flagship publication, the Global Environment Outlook - 5 (GEO-5), a further set of five (5) emerging issues were also identified.
Since the identification of the 26 issues was based on scientific opinions, we now wish to solicit the opinion of Governments and Major Groups/Stakeholders on the list of issues. In the survey, we are asking Governments and Stakeholders Groups to score the 26 issues based on their judgment of their importance and relevance, especially to their country or world region, and to suggest possible actions to address these issues. The output from the survey will be used to inform UNEP’s input to the 'Emerging Issues' theme of 2012 Rio+20 conference - UNEP will analyze and rank the scores to identify the top 5 to 10 priority emerging issues for each world region (Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, North America and West Asia), as specified by Governments and Major Groups. A short outcome report will then be produced as input to the Rio+20 process.
The survey is available from Monday, 13th September until Friday, 30th September, 2011. It will be appreciated also, if you can share the survey widely with your constituencies and networks. We thank you in advance for your assistance.
Prof. Joseph Alcamo, UNEP Chief Scientist, UNEP, Nairobi, Email: Chief.Scientist@unep.org
IEF at UN meetings in Bonn, Germany
Since 1997, IEF members have engaged and participated in civil society discussions within the international and United Nations framework. These opportunities have helped open up and expand the dialogue within the wider community to promote the application of spiritual and ethical principles to the challenges of the environment and sustainable development.
Recently five IEF members participated in a series of United Nations meetings in Bonn, Germany, to prepare civil society for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) next year. Arthur Dahl participated in a UNEP Global Consultation with Major Groups and Stakeholders on Rio+20 at the German Ministry for Environment on 1 September, and the UNEP Regional Consultation for Europe in preparation for the UNEP Governing Council/GMEF on 2 September. As representative of the International Environment Forum (IEF), Arthur co-coordinates the UNEP Major Groups and Stakeholders Advisory Group on International Environmental Governance (www.agieg.net). In the global consultation, he moderated a working group on the institutional framework for sustainable development. One of the ideas he is putting forward is the concept of a UN Forum on Ethics and Religions patterned on the UN Forum of Indigenous Peoples, based on a Baha'i International Community proposal in its statement to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in 2002. Another is an Office of Ethical Assessment in the UN, to provide policy reviews on the ethical implications of UN decisions and policies based on accepted international principles and the major religious and cultural traditions. Arthur will be coordinating the Advisory Group's inputs to the Rio+20 process.
The 64th UN Department of Public Information NGO Conference, on the theme "Sustainable Societies, Responsive Citizens", took place on 3-5 September, with over 2,000 participants including additional IEF members Peter Adriance, Sylvia and Onno Vinkhuyzen, and Victoria Thoresen. The Baha'i International Community organized a workshop on "Making the Invisible Visible: Values and the Transition to Sustainable Consumption and Production". The room was full, and many had to be turned away. Peter and Victoria were among the presenters. The BIC also organized a working dinner for experts on the issue of extremes of wealth and poverty, which it is preparing for Rio+20. The Partnership for Education and Research about Responsible Living (PERL), coordinated by Victoria and in which IEF is a partner, organized a workshop on "Moving to Sustainable Living through Education, Gender Equity and Sustainable Economic Initiatives", with Victoria as one of the speakers, and she spoke in another workshop as well. Arthur was rapporteur for the ICLEI-UNEP workshop ―Assessing Stakeholder Participation in International Environmental Governance Processes‖. The conference allowed us to renew or maintain contacts with many civil society representatives we have met or worked with at previous UN conferences.
IEF was also invited by the Earth Charter Initiative with faith communities to collaborate in a research project on the spiritual dimensions of sustainability. They have already worked with UNESCO on a book on faith communities' involvement with education for sustainable development, for which Arthur submitted a Bahá'í perspective. They are now expanding on this with a draft statement from the world's religious and spiritual traditions, ―Towards Rio+20 and Beyond - A Turning Point in Earth History‖. A film based on interviews about the outcomes from Bonn and the hopes for Rio+20, including the spiritual dimension, is being produced to motivate involvement in the Rio+20 process, and Arthur was interviewed for that as well.
After the DPI Conference, four members of the IEF Governing Board (Peter Adriance, Arthur Dahl, Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen and Victoria Thoresen) met with BIC representatives May Akale, Ming Hwee Chong and youth representative Mahyar Nicoubin, with IEF member Halldor Thorgeirsson of the UNFCCC Secretariat in Bonn joining for an hour. We reviewed our plans for participation in the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Rio de Janeiro next June, as our 16th IEF annual conference. The Science and Technology Major Group (to which IEF belongs), will be organizing a Science Forum in Rio (as they did in Johannesburg), so IEF needs to be ready to propose speakers. IEF is looking for other opportunities to partner in events in Rio. IEF is considering topics for a submission to the UNCSD, which might include indicators, education, scientific and ethical assessment, public goods, ethical principles for the green economy, and civil society involvement in institutional arrangements for sustainability. It would be better to focus on a few themes rather than spreading too thinly. IEF and EBBF tentatively plan to have a joint booth in Rio, as they did in Johannesburg. Some form of electronic conference will also be planned.
News from around the world
Religions in Catalonia unite to promote global change
24 August 2011
With contributions from nine religious communities, the publication, "Religiones y Objetivos del Milenio" – "Religions and the Millennium Goals" – includes a 15-page article covering Baha'i approaches to the Millennium Development Goals. The book was first published in 2009 in Catalan and has now been released in Spanish by the UNESCO Centre of Catalonia, supported by the Foundation for Pluralism and Coexistence.
BARCELONA, Spain — A dialogue about how religions can contribute to achieving the UN's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has come to fruition with a new publication in Spanish. In a significant interfaith initiative for Spain, Baha'is, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Muslims and Christians – Evangelical, Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Universal Unitarians – gathered together to explore their beliefs in relation to the MDGs which all 193 UN member states and other international organizations agreed to achieve between the years 2000 and 2015.
"Catalonia has been a pioneer in Spain in interfaith dialogue," said Lluís Cirera Font, a Baha'i who has served for several years on the Initial Group for Interfaith Dialogue, created under the auspices of the UNESCO Centre for Catalonia. The concept of a publication reflecting the group's discussions emerged after two years of regular meetings, he said. "The idea came about that this should not be only for us but should also be useful for society in general. When we decided to discuss the Millennium Development Goals and the contribution that religions could make towards their objectives, the idea of the book took hold."
The book was first issued in Catalan, followed now by a Spanish edition – titled Religiones y Objetivos del Milenio ("Religions and the Millennium Goals") – published by the UNESCO Centre of Catalonia, supported by the Foundation for Pluralism and Coexistence. An English-language version is also in preparation.
"Without a spirit of sincere conversation, of a longing to learn and understand others, of in-depth dialogue among people of diverse backgrounds, the book would not have been possible," said Mr. Cirera.
The first section of the publication reviews the contributions which the various religious communities are making to achieve the MDGs at the local level. It is an effort that requires not only economic and political decision, but a great deal of will power, said Mr. Cirera. "The book attempts to reflect religion's ability to motivate people into action and overcome the limitations and paralysis of will in a world that is sunk in hedonism and materialism. If the spiritual principles that religion offers were taken more into account by those who make decisions, the result of efforts would undoubtedly be better and longer lasting."
Another element of the book is the inclusion of passages from Holy Scriptures relevant to the promotion of social and economic progress. "With this collection of quotations, anyone will realize that all peoples, even from different religious backgrounds, can work together towards common goals," said Mr. Cirera.
Case studies of good practice within the different communities are included, each example chosen to inspire their respective members, as well as other readers, to make their own contribution to the process. There are also statements from the international leaders or representatives of each community.
"The culture of peace and dialogue as well as the willingness to work together towards a more equal development of all humanity have converged in this publication in an emblematic way," said Francesc Torradeflot, Secretary of the Initial Group for Interfaith Dialogue and a member of the UNESCO Centre for Catalonia. "They do so by also giving an example of coherence between the local level – the interfaith dialogue work of a Barcelona group – and the global level, being the contributions from international religious leaders," said Mr. Torradeflot. "Religious and spiritual traditions are contributing and can continue to contribute effectively to achieving the MDGs locally and globally. This publication is an example of good practice that can become a guide for many," he said.
The publication has been warmly welcomed by both religious and other organizations. The Roman Catholic religious teaching order Carmelitas Vedrunas, for example, has organised several training sessions based on the book for its nuns, who are now able to apply the various religious perspectives in schools where students come from diverse backgrounds.
"I believe that interfaith dialogue should serve to build bridges between people," said Lluís Cirera Font. "It is not an argument about who is right on specific issues that are sometimes too complex but rather, seeing those essential aspects that can be shared by all and building upon them. "Although the external response to spiritual concerns may be different – the result of the historical and social conditions of each period of time – basically what drives such actions comes from one single source, from the same origin. Indeed it is one common faith," he said.
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) originated from the Millennium Declaration, adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2000 following the three-day Millennium Summit of world leaders. The Declaration asserted that every individual has the right to dignity, freedom, equality, a basic standard of living that includes freedom from hunger and violence, and encourages tolerance and solidarity. The eight MDGs are: the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger; the achievement of universal primary education; the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women; the reduction of child mortality rates; the improvement of maternal health; the combating of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; the ensuring of environmental sustainability; and the establishment of a global partnership for development.
United Nations Environment Programme
TUNZA Children & Youth Conference on
Green Jobs for Sustainable Development: Towards RIO+20
High on the agenda of the Tunza conference will be the issue of decent Green jobs now and in the future
Youth in the Green Economy: Reshaping Lives & Livelihoods
When: 27 September - 1 October 2011
Where: Bandung, Indonesia
Who: - H.E. Vice President of the Republic of Indonesia, Professor Boediono
- H.E. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marty Natalegawa
- H.E. Minister of Environment, Muhammad Hatta
- H.E. Pak Kuntoro, Head of the President's Special Delivery Unit
- UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner
- UNEP Goodwill Ambassador & renowned film-maker, Yann Arthus Bertrand
- Youth & Children representatives from around the world
- Winners of the 20th International Children's Competition from Philippines, Japan, Germany, Bahrain, the US, Mexico and Kenya
As the world prepares for the Rio+20 conference in June 2012, more than 1,400 young people from 120 countries are gathering in Indonesia later this month to shape, sharpen and finalize their unique position on this once in a generation event.
The Rio Earth Summit of 1992 marked the birth of contemporary sustainable development and the establishment of seminal treaties on climate change to biodiversity. Rio+20 will take place in a world markedly changed from that of the late 20th century in terms of economy, society, environment and geopolitics.
The youth and children, who are meeting for the Tunza conference in Indonesia's third largest city - Bandung in West Java - will deliver their requests, hopes and appeals to world leaders for a strong and transformative outcome in Rio via the Bandung Declaration.
High on the agenda of the Tunza conference, which is taking place from 27 September to 1 October 2011, will be the issue of decent Green jobs now and in the future-a subject that is emerging as a major challenge for the global economy alongside efforts to eradicate poverty.
Of the world's estimated 211 million unemployed people, nearly 40 percent - or about 81 million - are between 15 and 24 years of age. Growth is needed to meet this crisis. But the challenge facing world leaders is how to generate sustainable growth that delivers social outcomes including employment and greater equity while keeping humanity's environmental foot print within planetary boundaries.
The two themes of Rio+20 reflect that challenge: a Green Economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication; and the institutional framework for sustainable development.
UNEP and the International Labour Organization (ILO) have recently provided analysis indicating that a transition to a low carbon, resource efficient Green Economy offers a major opportunity to achieve these multiple aims in sectors ranging from waste management and recycling to energy efficiency, transport and natural resource management including forestry.
Today for example more people are employed world-wide in renewable energy than in the fossil fuel industry, UNEP and the ILO have highlighted. With most 80 percent of the world's young people living in developing countries, where dependence on natural resources and poverty intersect, green jobs generated through the shift to a more intelligent economic path represent an opportunity to reshape lives and livelihoods.
To assist young people debate these issues, UNEP has assembled a team of renowned experts, policy makers and scientists to lead focused workshops and seminars on relevant topics, during the course of the conference. Also at hand, will be "mentors", selected from among the former youth representatives at the 1992 and 2002 UN conferences on sustainable development, who will engage with the youth in an open debate on charting a way forward towards Rio+20, while looking back at the achievements but also the lost opportunities of past processes.
More information is available at http://www.unep.org
As global population nears 7 billion, UN capitalizes on new opportunities
14 September 2011 - With the world's population projected to top 7 billion next month, the United Nations today launched a global initiative - 7 Billion Actions - bringing together governments, businesses, the media and individuals to confront the challenges and seize the opportunities offered by the milestone.
"We are not here simply to acknowledge that milestone. We are here to address all of its vast implications," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a panel discussion at the launch ceremony at UN Headquarters in New York. "The seven billionth citizen will be born into a world of contradictions. We have plenty of food yet millions are still starving. We see luxurious lifestyles yet millions are impoverished. We have great opportunities for progress but also great obstacles," he said, terming the campaign "a clarion call to people, communities, countries and our partners: non-governmental organizations (NGOs), businesses, academics and faith leaders."
Among challenges beyond grinding poverty and inequality, he cited discrimination, human rights abuses, lack of democracy, violence against women, maternal mortality, climate change and the degradation of the environment. "These are all the challenges that we can and must overcome," he said. "If we invest in people, we will reap the best dividends."
The UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the agency responsible for 7 Billion Actions, noted the implications of the new milestone for sustainability, urbanization and migration in a world where conflicts and weather disasters are driving people from their homes and climate change is exacerbating food and water shortages.
At the same time, new media technology is enabling direct communications between people around the world, creating an unprecedented opportunity to build greater communities and share ideas across borders.
Asked what would happen in the worst-case scenario, if action was not taken now, UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin said that the human spirit seeks to survive and he believes we will do our best to survive. "But if indeed the worst-case scenario is what gets played out, and we have a population that suffers the great inequities that the Secretary- General talks about and continues to have those inequities, then we have this crisis around the world, the population, the food crisis, the water crisis, issues around migration, issues that deal with land, issues that deal with conflict," he said. "That I think we can avoid in many ways if we work with Member States, if we work at the international level to address all of these issues," he added, summarizing the hopes of the 7 Billion Actions campaign.
Outlining the major actors in the initiative, UNFPA called on governments to show sound leadership in fostering research and technology to improve society, while businesses should use their influence to create economic returns in ways that also create value for society. The media play a critical role in holding institutions accountable and providing solid information and analysis to build collective wisdom, while individuals must embrace their individual and collective capacity to change and improve the world.
According to the latest UN figures, the world's population is projected to reach 7 billion on 31 October, surge past 9 billion before 2050 and then reach 10.1 billion by the end of the century if current fertility rates continue at expected levels.
Tokelau and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community sign joint country strategy
On 6 September Tokelau and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) signed a joint country strategy (JCS). Honourable Foua Toloa, Ulu o Tokelau (Tokelau’s head of government) joined SPC Director-General Dr Jimmie Rodgers in signing the partnership agreement, which clearly articulates the priority activities that Tokelau wishes SPC to undertake across the technical sectors in which it works. These include agriculture, applied geosciences, aquaculture, disaster risk management, education and training, energy, fisheries, forestry, human development (culture, gender, youth), human rights, information and communication technology, land resources, marine ecosystems, public health, statistics for development, transport and water resources and sanitation.
The fundamental principles underlying the Tokelau–SPC JCS are country leadership, mutual respect and
mutual responsibility to achieve sustainable development outcomes. The partnership gives effect to these
principles in the following ways:
- Country leadership – The Tokelau National Strategic Plan (TNSP) 2010–2015 will guide SPC’s interventions in the areas agreed to with Tokelau.
- Mutual respect – SPC and its programmes respect Tokelau’s leadership in working to achieve its national development goals. The Government of Tokelau and SPC also acknowledge their accountability for the effective use of development assistance to achieve Tokelau’s development goals.
- Mutual responsibility – The partnership is based on mutual, long-term and measurable commitments for development results. Both the Government of Tokelau and SPC have committed to measuring performance and progress using a JCS performance framework, which draws on development indicators from Tokelau’s National Strategic Plan, the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally accepted measures of development performance. This process will lead to a joint annual report to the Government of Tokelau and the SPC governing body.
SPREP - Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme
Pacific Environment Forum
Rio+20 and Beyond: Building resilience for a sustainable future
Apia, Samoa, 12 September 2011
In past SPREP Meetings, members have requested a forum where they could substantively engage in
discussions on specific environmental topics particularly those that are of significant importance to the region.
In response to this request for a forum and to assist members in their preparations for the United Nations
Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) or Rio+20 which will be held in Rio de Janeiro Brazil in
2012, the Secretariat is organising a one day Forum for members and partners to engage in discussions on the
following selected topics:
- Green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication;
- Environmental governance which is a broad topic that includes institutional frameworks for sustainable development;
- Adapting to climate change which continues to be one of the top priority issues for the Pacific
To download the Final Outcome Document: http://www.sprep.org/PacificEnvironmentForum/docs/Final%20Outcomes%20Do…
International Institute for Sustainable Development
A high-impact initiative for Rio+20: A pledge
to phase out fossil-fuel subsidies
While negotiating time is running short, the IISD believes that Rio+20 — the next UN Conference on Sustainable Development, 4–6 June 2012 — can be a success with the help of a few high-impact initiatives.<è>IISD is proposing a national pledge (http://www.iisd.org/pdf/2011/joint_ngo_submission_rio_plus_20.pdf PDF - 493 KB) for UN member countries to phase out fossil-fuel subsidies that undermine sustainable development as one of these high-impact initiatives. If adopted, it will contribute to both themes of the conference: subsidy reform frees up valuable fiscal resources that can be redirected to fund other sustainable development priorities, providing the opportunity to introduce more targeted measures to support low-income households, it reduces greenhouse gas emissions and helps incentivize investments in renewable energy.
Africa must face climate change head on
Agriculture should be placed front and centre
at upcoming meeting of UN Climate Change Convention
14 September 2011, Johannesburg/Rome - FAO and African leaders are working together to move quickly to adopt a "climate-smart" approach to agriculture to fight the impacts of climate change and increasing scarcity of natural resources.
"Africa needs increased productivity in its agriculture and higher incomes in its rural areas, and rural communities and the agro-ecosystems on which they depend have to adapt to climate change and become more resilient to its impacts," Alexander Mueller, FAO's Assistant-Director General for Natural Resources, said in remarks at the conference "Climate Smart Agriculture: Africa - A Call to Action," convened by the Government of South Africa (13-14 September, Johannesburg).
Has the problem of the ozone hole been solved?
New UNEP documentary examines its status
Paris, 16 September 2011 - The ozone hole is back in the news. In August the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reported that signs of ozone depletion were again appearing over the Antarctic. A few months earlier, the Antarctic ozone hole was making headlines as scientists found that it was "creating rainfall in subtropical regions". The problem of the ozone hole was supposed to be solved, wasn't it?
Updated 29 September 2011