Newsletter of the
INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT FORUM
Volume 15, Number 3 --- 15 March 2013
Article submission: firstname.lastname@example.org Deadline next issue 13 April 2013
Secretariat Email: email@example.com General Secretary Emily Firth
Postal address: 12B Chemin de Maisonneuve, CH-1219 Chatelaine, Geneva, Switzerland
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please share the Leaves newsletter and IEF membership information with family, friends and associates, and encourage interested persons to consider becoming a member of the IEF.
IEF Participates in PERL
The International Environment Forum participates in the Partnership for Education and Research about Responsible Living (PERL http://www.perlprojects.org/), which has just concluded a series of working group meeting in Marseilles, France, on 7-9 March 2013. One workgroup is preparing a toolkit of values-based indicators of education for responsible living for use in schools, based on the work of the ESDinds project (http://www.esdinds.eu/ and https://iefworld.org/conf14.html). The group includes IEF members Victoria Thoresen, Arthur Dahl and Onno Vinkhuyzen, and Ismael Velasco also participated in the discussions. Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen was part of a group on contributing to the public and scientific discourse, and Victoria and Arthur were included in a workgroup on collaborating with relevant projects and partnerships. PERL produces a lot of useful and practical materials for use in education.
Wilmette Institute Offers Repeat of Climate Change Course
The Wilmette Institute on-line learning course on Climate Change, running from 1 February to 21 March was oversubscribed, with more than 60 participants. The Wilmette Institute has therefore decided to offer a repeat of the course from 5 May to 23 June 2013. The course was developed by Christine Muller, and faculty includes Christine Muller, Arthur Lyon Dahl, Carole Flood, Karryn Olson-Ramanujan, and Melinda Salazar.
For details and to register: http://www.cvent.com/events/climate-change/event-summary-9a17d1a5897d47…
BIC Statement Explores a New Concept of
Empowerment for Social Transformation
The new statement of the Baha'i International Community on "Empowerment as a Mechanism for Social Transformation" that was presented at the UN Commission for Social Development is now available on the BIC website at http://www.bic.org/statements/empowerment-mechanism-social-transformati… and on the IEF web sites at https://iefworld.org/bicempower. The statement discusses empowerment at the individual, community and institutional levels.
Baha'i World News Service, New York -- 12 March 2013
Concepts of empowerment that pit one group against another should be discarded in favor of a new vision where social transformation is approached as a collective enterprise in which all people are able to participate. That was among the main themes of a statement issued by the Baha'i International Community (BIC) to the recently concluded UN Commission on Social Development.
"The impulse to rectify social inequalities is unquestionably noble, but us/them dichotomies only perpetuate and reinforce existing divisions," said the statement, which was titled "Empowerment as a Mechanism for Social Transformation."
"Careful thought needs to be given to ways in which empowerment can be approached as a universal and shared enterprise and not something the 'haves' bestow on the 'have nots.'" One way to avoid such extremes is to understand humanity as a single social organism, suggested the statement.
"Implicit in such a conception are characteristics such as the interdependence of the parts and the whole, the indispensability of collaboration, reciprocity and mutual aid, the need to differentiate but also harmonize roles, the need for institutional arrangements that enable rather than oppress, and the existence of a collective purpose above that of any constituent element."
The statement was among the BIC's contributions to this year's Commission, which was held 6-15 February, and took as its priority theme the "empowerment of people" in addressing poverty, social integration, and full and decent employment.
On 7 February, the BIC sponsored a panel discussion on the topic. Among the panelists was the Commission's Chairperson, Sewa Lamsal Adhikari, who said empowerment is increasingly seen by the UN as a vital issue in addressing social transformation.
"Empowerment of people is at the root of social development," said Mrs. Adhikari. "It is becoming one of the core elements that underpin efforts towards the achievement of the three core goals of the World Summit for Social Development: poverty eradication, full and productive employment and decent work for all, and social integration."
"As such, empowerment is a means towards the ends of social development." Mrs. Adhikari is Charge d'Affaires of the Permanent Mission of Nepal to the United Nations.
Ming Hwee Chong, a representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations, suggested that it was no accident that the theme had reached center stage in discussions about social development.
"It is a natural evolution of the development discourse," said Mr. Chong, who moderated the panel. "It is reflective of what is happening around the world, part of an expanding consciousness of who we are, what our potential is, both individually and collectively, as the human race."
Other speakers at the 7 February side event – formally titled "Empowerment: Of Whom? By what means? Towards what ends?" – included Rosa Kornfeld Matte, director of the National Service for the Elderly in Chile; Corinne Woods, director of the Millennium Campaign; and Yao Ngoran from the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
A second panel discussion sponsored by the BIC on 8 February, titled "Empowerment in Action," offered reflections by grassroots development practitioners.
Hou Sopheap, executive director of the Cambodian Organization for Research, Development and Education (CORDE), said his organization takes a "learning by doing" approach that aims to build capacity in youth so that they can better serve their communities.
A Baha'i-inspired organization offering supplementary educational programs to more than 3,000 young people in northwest Cambodia, CORDE requires its students engage in acts of service to their home communities in addition to textbook work. "So everything has a component of study and of action," he said.
Judith Therese Eligio-Martinez, program coordinator for the Baha'i-inspired agency, Bayan Association in Honduras, likewise said service is at the core of their program, which currently reaches some 6,000 high school age students in 12 of Honduras's 18 departments.
"It is built upon the belief in the capacity of the individual to make decisions for him or herself, and to help develop the capacities of three major actors (in community development): the individual, the community, and institutions," said Ms. Eligio-Martinez.
Developed in Colombia by a Baha'i-inspired organization, FUNDAEC, and known by the acronym SAT, for "Sistema de Aprendizaje Tutorial" in Spanish, the program trains and coordinates community-based tutors who then offer a high school education appropriate for rural areas.
"We consider SAT to be a creative way of becoming educated, but with its center being the idea of service to humanity and making the world a better place to live, on a local level as much as possible," said Ms. Eligio- Martinez. "And in this way, we feel we are contributing to empowerment."
UNEP Efforts to Improve Access to Environmental Data in Focus at Dublin Conference
Nairobi / Dublin, 11 March 2013 - The need to support and improve access to data and on the environment and sustainable development has been underlined at the conclusion of a major conference in Dublin, Ireland.
Over 70 countries were represented at the event, which was organized by the European Environment Agency (EEA) in association with the Irish Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Over three days, participants exchanged views and ideas on how to improve the availability of environmental, societal and economic data and information from a wide diversity of knowledge communities.
Eye on Earth is a global public information network, supported by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and other partners, for creating and sharing environmentally relevant information online including interactive maps, applications, and other data based on Geographic Information Systems (GIS).
The Global Network of Networks - an initiative endorsed at the 2011 Eye on Earth Summit in Abu Dhabi - was also launched at the Dublin conference. The initiative aims to align existing and planned local, national and global networks including the European Environment Information and Observation Network (Eionet), the Sustained Arctic Observing Network, the Arab Region Environmental Information Network, the GeoSur initiative in Latin America and AfricaEIN.
The conference outcome was captured in the Dublin Statement. It covers a series of special initiatives on oceans, water, biodiversity, cities and disasters as well as technical development of the platform, citizen science as an important source of knowledge, building capacities across the network and empowerment of Eye on Earth communities.
Following in the wake of the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, the Dublin conference marked an important milestone to address a wide range of issues related to data and information for sustainable development articulated in the Rio+20 outcome document The Future We Want. Institutions working at the national, regional and global level converged in Dublin and agreed to collaborate through the Eye on Earth Network to promote, support and improve access to data and information for sustainable development. The formation of the Eye on Earth Alliance will drive the Eye on Earth Network forward globally.
Welcoming the Eye on Earth Alliance, H.E. Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General of the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD) said: "The challenges in meeting the objectives of sustainable development and the move towards the "Future We Want" are enormous and need to be tackled quickly. The need for quality societal, environmental and economic data has been there for a very long time and is therefore not new but the gap in the data availability between developed and developing countries is widening rather than shrinking".
"Only a community of users, providers, governments, non-governments and private actors can rise to this challenge, and we feel that the Eye on Earth community is a way forward," she added.
Achim Steiner, Executive Director of UNEP, said: "The Eye on Earth Alliance is addressing the issue of improving data access in the global arena across a range of sustainable development challenges and opportunities. The Dublin Statement marks an important step in expanding and strengthening the Alliance so that an ever widening array of partners share a common vision and goals. It builds on the Eye on Earth Summit hosted in Abu Dhabi in December 2011 and the outcomes of the Rio+20 Summit of June 2012 which recognized the importance and value of this work as a building block to the Future We Want".
EAD and UNEP are united with common interests for clearer decision making for sustainable development through better access to timely and credible environmental data and information by all those who need it.
Ireland's Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan, stressed that "good environmental data is an essential starting point in meeting environmental challenges and in developing an enhanced understanding of how our environment affects us and how our actions impact on our surroundings. Harnessing the collective energy of the Eye on Earth community has the potential to promote sustainable development in many areas."
Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director of EEA, expanded on the sharing theme with a vision of citizens communicating with government through their daily lives. "The conference was a real eye opener for all of us and showed just how Eye on Earth can play a major role in delivering this ambitious vision. By supporting partnerships across the diverse communities of knowledge, we can develop a global understanding of the Earth," she said.
World Bank Calls for Global Initiative to Scale Up Geothermal Energy in Developing Countries
REYKJAVIK, 6 March 2013 – The World Bank today announced a major international effort to expand renewable power generation in developing countries by tapping an underutilized resource: geothermal energy.
World Bank Managing Director Sri Mulyani Indrawati called on donors, multilateral banks, governments and the private sector to join a Global Geothermal Development Plan (GGDP) to better manage and reduce risks of exploratory drilling to bring what is now a marginal renewable energy source into the mainstream, and deliver power to millions.
“Geothermal energy could be a triple win for developing countries: clean, reliable, locally-produced power. And once it is up and running, it is cheap and virtually endless,” said Sri Mulyani Indrawati. “The World Bank Group, and many of our partners, support the goals of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, led by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and our President Jim Yong Kim. Two of those goals are universal access to modern energy services, and doubling the world’s proportion of renewable energy. Geothermal energy, mobilized by the Global Geothermal Development Plan, will be a major step towards both.”
Sri Mulyani launched the plan at the Iceland Geothermal Conference in Reykjavík. Already, the World Bank and Iceland are working together under a “Geothermal Compact” to support surface exploration studies and technical assistance for countries in Africa’s Rift Valley.
Many developing world regions are rich in geothermal resources, including East Africa, Southeast Asia, Central America, and the Andean region. At least forty countries have enough geothermal potential to meet a significant proportion of their electricity demand.
Some countries, such as Kenya and Indonesia, are developing their geothermal resources, but with only 11 gigawatts of geothermal capacity worldwide, a global scale-up has yet to happen. An obstacle is the initial test drilling phase for geothermal projects, which is expensive and risky. Proving the viability of a single steam field can cost US$15-25 million, and if a site has no potential, this investment is lost.
The GGDP expands on previous efforts by its global scope, and its focus on test drilling. The GGDP will identify promising sites and leverage financing for exploratory drilling, to develop commercially viable projects. It will build on regional efforts such as the Iceland-World Bank Geothermal Compact.
“Until now, our work has been at the country and regional levels,” Sri Mulyani said. “These efforts are important, and should continue. But a global push is what is needed now. Only a global effort will put geothermal energy in its rightful place – as a primary energy source for many developing countries. Only a global effort will pool resources to spread the risk effectively. It will let us learn from each other, from our failures and successes, and apply that learning.”
The Global Geothermal Development Plan’s initial target is to mobilize US$500 million. Donors can participate in the GGDP by helping to identify viable projects, and through bilateral assistance, as well as existing channels such as the Climate Investment Funds (CIFs) or the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The GGDP would be managed by the World Bank’s longstanding Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP).
The World Bank will convene donors later this year to discuss financing of specific geothermal projects under the plan.
The Bank Group’s financing for geothermal development has increased from $73 million in 2007 to $336 million in 2012, and now represents almost 10 percent of the Bank’s total renewable energy lending.
Cheap 'nano-tablet' purifies water for up to six months
SciDev.Net: Munyaradzi Makoni, 15 March 2013
[CAPE TOWN] Researchers have developed a water purification tablet comprised of nanoparticles that can be used by developing world communities with no access to clean water.
The tablet, MadiDrop, invented by PureMadi — a non-profit organisation of the University of Virginia, United States — was presented at the organisation's one-year celebration event last week (8 March).
It consists of a small ceramic disk filled with silver or copper nanoparticles that is placed a water vessel, where it can repeatedly disinfect water for up to six months.
"There is nothing easier," James Smith, a professor in the Environmental and Water Resources programme at the University of Virginia who co-leads the PureMadi project tells SciDev.Net.
"You drop it in your water container, fill the container up at night and the water will be safe to drink for all the next day." The tablet is capable of treating 20 litres of water per day.
Only trace amounts of silver and copper nanoparticles are released into the water — at levels that are safe for human consumption, but high enough to kill waterborne pathogenic micro-organisms, says Smith.
The tool developed for use in communities without safe drinking water is named 'Madi' after the Tshivenda (one of the official languages of South Africa) word for water.
Smith says there is need for more long-term field tests on the tablet's life span. "Based on shorter-term tests that we can extrapolate, it should work for six months," he says. "We will be conducting longer-term tests in South Africa in June, July, and August."
It is hoped that the tablet will improve the supply of safe water to the community of Mashamba in South Africa and beyond, says John Mudau, director of the Centre for Rural Development and Poverty Alleviation at the University of Venda, South Africa.
The university is ensuring that the tablet complies with South African safety standards; that education on water quality reaches the rural communities of Limpopo province that have little or no access to clean water; and that locals accept the tablet.
The process is technically viable, says Anthony Turton, a water and environment expert in the Centre for Environmental Management at the University of Free State, South Africa. However, he warns that the filter's sustainability is predicated on a number of factors including cost and social acceptability.
PureMadi established a water filter factory in Limpopo province, South Africa last year, employing local workers who have already produced several hundred alternative flowerpot-like water filters. This means that it is likely to attract support from other companies eager to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and regional development, Turton adds.
The additional value of the tablet lies in the way it provides a transfer of skills through usage of cheap local materials and the employment of local people from deeply impoverished communities to produce these gadgets, he says.
Smith is uncertain as to how much the tablet will cost. But he adds: "If we can obtain a price point of US$5, it would likely be the least-expensive or among the least expensive point-of-use water purification methods available on the market".
This article has been produced by SciDev.Net’s Sub-Saharan Africa desk.
Faith leaders unite to combat illegal wildlife trade
ARC - Alliance of Religions and Conservation, 20 February 2013
Statements by leaders of 34 religious traditions were today presented to HRH The Duke of Edinburgh as part of a major initiative linking religions and conservation groups in opposing the illegal wildlife trade, which is annihilating the world’s rare and endangered species.
The statements were presented to Prince Philip (ARC's founder and WWF President Emeritus) during a meeting at Buckingham Palace in which he was also updated on the latest conservation initiatives undertaken by faith groups around the world.
In their statements the faith leaders, who represent Buddhist, Christian, Daoist, Hindu and Muslim communities in Africa and Asia, call upon their followers to protect wildlife and combat the trade in threatened species, saying this is a moral and spiritual issue.
They are the result of a major initiative by the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC), WWF-US and faith leaders aimed at tackling the issue through education, awareness-raising and action in the key countries in Asia and Africa affected by the illegal wildlife trade.
Crucially, the partnership also focuses on undermining consumer demand in China and other Asian countries for medical ingredients or luxury items made from rare and endangered species.
'A moral and spiritual issue'
ARC Secretary-General Martin Palmer said: “All faiths believe that our place in nature is to protect as much as it is to use the gifts that have been given us.
"This is why 34 major religious traditions from around the world, each driven by their own spiritual understanding of our responsibility to the rest of nature, have joined together to combat this most pressing of assaults on the diversity of nature – the illegal wildlife trade.
“This ranges from the Daoists of China working to change the mindset of those who buy traditional Chinese medicine using ingredients from threatened species, to the Muslims of Indonesia calling on the faithful to safeguard over-exploited animals such as pangolins, primates and tigers, to faith leaders in Africa speaking out against poaching. For all of them this is a moral and spiritual issue.
“This marks a new and potentially highly significant development in the struggle to preserve the great species of our planet, or, as many of the faith would put it, those creatures that most need the protection of God.”
Wildlife poaching is 'greatest threat'
Dekila Chungyalpa, director of WWF-US’s Sacred Earth programme, said wildlife poaching is not only the greatest threat to many endangered species, but has become highly organised crime, backed by international syndicates linked to gun and drug trafficking.
Illegal wildlife trade is the fifth largest illicit transnational activity worldwide after counterfeiting and the illegal trades in drugs, people and oil.
“Tens of thousands of wild elephants are being killed each year for their tusks to meet the demand for ivory coming from China, Thailand and other Asian countries,” she said. “The profits made from the killing of African rhinos and elephants and Asian tigers are about $10 billion each year.
"This is not local poaching, it is wildlife crime. It is a trade run by international crime syndicates.”
The statements by the faith leaders come ahead of this year’s CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) conference in Bangkok where members will consider further action to combat the illegal trade in elephant ivory, tiger parts and products, and rhino horn as well as in Asian big cats, great apes and other species.
Updated 17 March 2013