Newsletter of the
INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT FORUM
Volume 16, Number 12 --- 15 December 2014
Article submission: firstname.lastname@example.org Deadline next issue 13 January 2014
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 environment, climate change and sustainability. 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.
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PERL/IEF Conference 10-11 March 2015
The deadline for early registration for the PERL International Conference at UNESCO in Paris on 10-11 March 2015, with which IEF is partnering as its 19th International Conference, is coming soon. The early bird registration fee of 400 euros is open until 25 January 2015, after which it goes up to €450. Register for the conference at: https://www.deltager.no/perl_2015_international_conference
UN Secretary-General releases Synthesis Report on Post-2015 Agenda
On 4 December, the United Nations Secretariat release an advanced unedited version of "The Road to Dignity by 2030: Ending Poverty, Transforming All Lives and Protecting the Planet", Synthesis Report of the Secretary-General on the Post-2015 Agenda, advance unedited version, 4 December 2014. New York: United Nations. The report can be downloaded at: http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/5527SR_advance%2…
The IEF is preparing comments on the report for submission to the UN. Any IEF members who would like to contribute to this process should send their comments as soon as possible to email@example.com.
Among other things, the Secretary-General calls for the proposals of the Open Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs, see below) to be the main basis for the post-2015 intergovernmental process. The report identifies six essential elements for delivering on the SDGs:
• Dignity: to end poverty and fight inequalities
• People: to ensure healthy lives, knowledge, and the inclusion of women and children
• Prosperity: to grow a strong, inclusive, and transformative economy
• Planet: to protect our ecosystems for all societies and our children
• Justice: to promote safe and peaceful societies, and strong institutions
• Partnership: to catalyse global solidarity for sustainable development
Integration is a constant theme throughout the report. "Sustainable development must be an integrated agenda for economic, environmental, and social solutions. Its strength lies in the interweaving of its dimensions. This integration provides the basis for economic models that benefit people and the environment; for environmental solutions that contribute to progress; for social approaches that add to economic dynamism and allow for the preservation and sustainable use of the environmental common; and for reinforcing human rights, equality, and sustainability. Responding to all goals as a cohesive and integrated whole will be critical to ensuring the transformations needed at scale" (para. 82).
From the perspective of the International Environment Forum, the UN Post-2015 process, while essential, is not complete. It is almost entirely a top-down process, with an agreement on global aspirational goals intended to guide national policies and to trickle down to the larger groups of stakeholders in local government, the private sector and civil society. What is missing is the mobilization of community efforts and local innovation to achieve these goals from the bottom up. This is an issue that the IEF should explore in the months and years ahead.
The Challenge of the Sustainable Development Goals
Arthur Lyon Dahl
International Environment Forum
Rio+20 called for the preparation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), building on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which focussed on reducing poverty, but including a wider set of sustainability issues relevant to all countries. An intergovernmental Open Working Group built on an inclusive process to issue a set of proposed SDGs in July 2014 (OWG 2014), and these are now under intergovernmental negotiation for approval by a UN summit of Heads of State in September 2015. The Open Working Group proposed 17 Sustainable Development Goals with a number of targets under each goal, 169 targets in all (OWG 2014). The UN General Assembly and the UN Secretary-General have accepted that the proposals of the Group be the main basis for the post-2015 intergovernmental process (UN 2014). Indicators still need to be developed for these targets.
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals
1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere
2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture
3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all
5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all
8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
10. Reduce inequality within and among countries
11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development: Finance, Technology, Capacity-building, Trade, Systemic issues: Policy and institutional coherence, multi-stakeholder partnerships; data, monitoring and accountability
As indicated by the Open Working Group, the SDGs “are action oriented, global in nature and universally applicable”. Unlike the MDGs which focused on the needs of the poor in developing countries, they will apply to every country. Where in the past the wealthier countries were more involved in mobilizing funds and development projects to achieve the MDGs in poorer countries, they will now be expected to assess their own trajectories towards national sustainability and to contribute their share towards planetary sustainability.
This is the first time that the international community has agreed to measure the sustainability of the whole planetary system, and to recognize that the planet imposes boundaries and limits that we must learn to live within. Scientists report that we have already overshot some of those boundaries, particularly for greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity loss and nitrogen fixation, and must reverse course to step back inside them (Rockström et al. 2009). A system of governance based on national sovereignty and giving priority to domestic issues is poorly adapted to these global challenges. While only one of the MDGs was explicitly environmental, half of the proposed SDGs have a major focus on the environment and natural resources.
In this perspective, it will no longer be possible for governments to consider policies and activities just within national borders. Global systems of trade, travel and communications unite all countries, so the footprint of most countries extends far beyond their borders, and the high share of global consumption in the consumer economies contributes to imbalances and environmental impacts all around the world. The SDG process will measure that impact.
While it may be relatively easy for the nations of the world to agree on aspirational global goals, assigning relative shares of the effort required to meet them will be much more difficult. Each nation has a tendency to jockey for competitive advantage, to hold out to see what others will propose, and to settle for the lowest common denominator. If the SDGs are to be more than just aspirational, then some countries have to set the pace with suitably ambitious efforts.
One issue with the proposed SDGs is the extent to which they will themselves be integrated across the different dimensions of sustainable development. Indicators narrowly focussed on only one measure of performance might simply reinforce sectoral approaches. It has been suggested that the goals and targets proposed by the Open Working Group are reasonably well integrated across the economic and social sectors, but that this is less true of the environmental sector, which results in some contradictions between meeting environmental sustainability goals and other measures of progress. Some of these issues are discussed below.
For example, economic growth for all is still an explicit goal (Goal 8 is to “promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth”) and target 8.1 is to “sustain per capita economic growth in accordance with national circumstances, and in particular at least 7% per annum GDP growth in the least-developed countries”. Yet some experts say a return to significant rates of growth is unrealistic when growing demand and global resource scarcities produce rising prices. Furthermore, the needs to respect planetary boundaries and to meet sustainability requirements require limitations on some kinds of resource exploitation and pollutant emissions which are linked to material consumption. The use of GDP as a measure of growth is also increasingly questioned as inappropriate, and target 17.19 is “to develop measurements of progress on sustainable development that complement GDP”.
A much more nuanced approach to achieving global prosperity is needed, with growth in consumption for the poor to meet their basic needs balanced by reduced material consumption among the rich. Once a reasonable level of material human well-being is reached, further growth in consumption can be counter-productive to both social welfare and environmental sustainability. Continuing growth in the more intangible dimensions of society may be highly desirable, but there are optimum levels of many material factors in production that should not be exceeded. Sustainability requires convergence towards an optimum, rather than continuing growth without limit.
Common but differentiated responsibilities
Another challenge with global goals is to determine common but differentiated responsibilities and responses. As mentioned above, the goal to end poverty requires that the poor raise their consumption to a reasonable level of well-being. However, on a planet where the consumption of resources and impacts on biogeochemical cycles are overshooting global capacities, the wealthier countries and populations have a responsibility to reduce their consumption levels in order to free up resources and space for the poor to meet their basic needs. The public debate on this has not yet really begun. A major effort is needed in public education on sustainable consumption and production, aiming towards a consensus on the efforts required and the assistance to be given to poorer countries. The wealthy countries need to consider their fair share of the global goals, including their larger role in the globalized economy with its resource flows and trade. Many countries also need to make efforts to reduce economic and social extremes within their own borders in the interest of equity and social stability. The SDGs will extend this process explicitly to the global level.
There is still much to be done, in the face of rising nationalism and xenophobia, to underline the fundamental interdependence of countries, the trade flows, geographic features and environmental resources that link them together, and the benefits of reducing differences in the interests of stability and security.
One inevitable challenge with the SDG process is its ambitious global targets: end poverty, end hunger, etc. It is left to each country to set “its own national targets guided by the global level of ambition but taking into account national circumstances” (OWG 2014 para.18). As has been only too apparent with greenhouse gas reduction targets, the sum of all national targets generally falls far short of what is needed to reach a global goal, no matter how worthy or urgent. Will any countries be courageous enough to determine their fair share of the global targets, and be ambitious in setting their national targets as an example to the rest of the world?
The challenges of integration across the dimensions of sustainable development
The Open Working Group has emphasized that “these goals constitute an integrated, indivisible set of global priorities for sustainable development.... The goals and targets integrate economic, social and environmental aspects and recognize their interlinkages in achieving sustainable development in all its dimensions.“ The SDGs are a package, and need to be addressed by each country in an integrated way, with each determining its share of responsibility in achieving the aspirational global targets.
Integration needs to be pursued in multiple ways simultaneously. The first is the integration across disciplines and the dimensions of sustainable development. The Open Working Group has gone to great efforts to build such integration into its proposed SDGs. Since governments are divided into ministries by sector, and the academic world trains people by discipline, there is a natural tendency to resist interdisciplinary work, since this can make life more difficult by introducing the complexity of issues today. The environment is often the dimension that gets marginalized since it may constrain an economic system still wedded to growth and short-term targets.
Beyond what might be considered as the intellectual integration of subjects or disciplines lies the challenge of rethinking the institutions of society and the processes by which it functions, including governments, the private sector, academia and civil society. These too often reflect a “silo” approach to the functions of society disregarding larger impacts and implications. Bureaucracies are notorious for not wanting to collaborate. Institutional reform is one of the most difficult issues in the move towards sustainability, with enormous inertia and resistance to change. We need to look for examples of institutional innovation and changes in processes that facilitate integration, and encourage their replication.
Ultimately, the concept of sustainability and the necessary integration to achieve it need to be understood and accepted by each individual, requiring a change in mind-set, if not in the whole paradigm of development. The transition to sustainability will ultimately be a transition in thinking, which will then be expressed naturally in institutions and activities. There is little effort at present to train people in complex systems thinking, with a vision of the whole, and to cultivate the ability to communicate across the disciplines. A good example is Fritjof Capra's recent book “The Systems View of Life” (Capra and Luisi 2014). Activities in building the human capacity for complex systems management and sustainability, even at a small scale, can have a large catalytic impact.
The UN Post-2015 Agenda, with its Sustainable Development Goals, targets and indicators and a global Sustainable Development Report, is creating a more coherent and integrated framework for national and regional policy and planning in the urgent need to transition towards sustainability.
Capra, Fritjof, and Pier Luigi Luisi. 2014. The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
OWG. 2014. Open Working Group proposal for Sustainable Development Goals, 19 July 2014. http://undocs.org/A/68/970 and http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/1579SDGs%20Propo…
Rockström, J. et al. 2009. Planetary boundaries: exploring the safe operating space for humanity. Ecology and Society 14(2): 32. [online] URL: http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol14/iss2/art32/
UN. 2014. The Road to Dignity by 2030: Ending Poverty, Transforming All Lives and Protecting the Planet. Synthesis Report of the Secretary-General on the Post-2015 Agenda. Advance unedited version, 4 December 2014. New York: United Nations. http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/5527SR_advance%2…
Lima Call for Climate Action Puts World on Track to Paris 2015
Based on UNFCCC Press Release / 14 December 2014
World on Track to New Universal Climate Agreement with Lima Call for Climate Action
Governments Agree Ground Rules on Contributions to Paris 2015 Agreement and Boost Adaptation
Clearer Elements of New Agreement Evolved in Peruvian Capital
Lima, 14 December 2014 — A new 2015 agreement on climate change, that will harness action by all nations, took a further important step forward in Lima following two weeks of negotiations by over 190 countries. Nations concluded by elaborating the elements of the new agreement, scheduled to be agreed in Paris in late 2015, while also agreeing the ground rules on how all countries can submit contributions to the new agreement during the first quarter of next year. These Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) will form the foundation for climate action post 2020 when the new agreement is set to come into effect.
During the two week 20th Conference of the Parties involving 11,000 delegates, countries also made significant progress in elevating adaptation onto the same level as action to cut and curb emissions.
Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, the Minister of the Environment of Peru and the COP President, said: "Lima has given new urgency towards fast tracking adaptation and building resilience across the developing world—not least by strengthening the link to finance and the development of national adaptation plans. Meanwhile here in Lima, governments have left with a far clearer vision of what the draft Paris agreement will look like as we head into 2015 and the next round of negotiations in Geneva."
The Lima Climate Conference achieved a range of other important outcomes and decisions and "firsts" in the history of the international climate process.
• Pledges were made by both developed and developing countries prior to and during the COP that took the capitalization of the new Green Climate Fund (GCF) past an initial $10 billion target.
• Levels of transparency and confidence-building reached new heights as several industrialized countries submitted themselves to questioning about their emissions targets under a new process called a Multilateral Assessment.
• The Lima Ministerial Declaration on Education and Awareness-raising calls on governments to put climate change into school curricula and climate awareness into national development plans.
Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said: "Governments arrived in Lima on a wave of positive news and optimism resulting from the climate action announcements of the European Union, China and the United States to the scaling up of pledges for the Green Climate Fund. They leave Lima on a fresh wave of positivity towards Paris with a range of key decisions agreed and action-agendas launched, including on how to better scale up and finance adaptation, alongside actions on forests and education. The negotiations here reached a new level of realism and understanding about what needs to be done now, over the next 12 months and into the years and decades to come if climate change is to be truly and decisively addressed."
Progress was made in Lima on elevating adaptation onto the same level as the curbing and cutting of curbing greenhouse gas emissions. This will be done through recognition that National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) offer an important way of delivering resilience. Countries supported the idea of replicating this in Least Developed Countries, Small Island Developing States and Africa.
The International Mechanism on Loss and Damage has an array of actions areas, including enhancing the understanding of how loss and damage due to climate change affects particularly vulnerable developing countries and populations including indigenous or minority status ones. It will also seek to better the understanding of how climate change impacts human migration and displacement.
The government of Peru launched a new portal, with support from the UNFCCC, to increase the visibility of the wealth of climate action among cities, regions, companies and investors, including those under international cooperative initiatives. The portal – named the Nazca Climate Action Portal – is designed to inject additional momentum into the process through to Paris by demonstrating the wealth of non-state action.
Providing transparency of developed country action
The first ever Multilateral Assessment was launched in Lima marking an historic milestone in the implementation of the Measurement, Reporting and Verification of emission reductions under the UNFCCC. Over two days, 17 developed countries with quantified economy-wide emission reduction targets were assessed by other governments or ‘Parties’ to the Convention. The Multilateral Assessment showed that the number of success stories and best practices in policy and technology innovation alongside nations decoupling emissions from economic growth is increasing.
Forests and the Lima Information Hub for REDD +
Countries meeting in Lima made progress on providing support to avoid deforestation. Colombia, Guyana, Indonesia, Malaysia and Mexico formally submitted information and data on the status of their greenhouse gas emission reductions in the forest sector to the UNFCCC secretariat following a similar submission by Brazil earlier in the year. These baselines are likely to increase the possibility of obtaining international funding under initiatives like Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REED+). In support of this, an ‘information hub’ will be launched on the UNFCCC web site, spotlighting actions by countries carrying out REDD+ activities. The aim is to bring greater transparency on both the actions being undertaken, including safeguards for communities and the payments being made.
Providing technology to developing countries
The Lima meeting sent an important signal that the transfer of climate technologies with the assistance of the UN and other international agencies is picking up speed. The Climate Technology Centre and Network reported that it had received around 30 requests for assistance this year, and expects the figure to grow to more than 100 next year. The UNFCCC’s Technology Mechanism was further strengthened through a link to the Green Climate Fund and the UNFCCC Finance mechanism. The first research project funded under the technology mechanism was announced just prior to the Lima climate conference, involving the monitoring of climate change’s impact on biodiversity in Chile.
Lima Work Programme on Gender
The role of women is key to the response to climate change, and needs to be strengthened. The Lima conference agreed a Lima Work Programme on Gender to advance gender balance and to promote gender sensitivity in developing and implementing climate policy.
Education and Awareness-raising
The Lima Ministerial Declaration on Education and Awareness-raising was announced (see below). It is aimed at developing education strategies that incorporate the issue of climate change in curricula, while also raising awareness on climate change in the design and implementation of national development and climate change strategies.
Peru and France launch Lima-Paris Action Agenda
The governments of Peru and France, as the incoming COP Presidency, launched a Lima-Paris Action Agenda to catalyze action on climate change, to further increase ambition before 2020 and support the 2015 agreement. Building on the UN Climate Summit in September 2014, the agenda is designed to galvanize national, city and private sector action. Among other things, the agenda will help to convene key global, national, subnational and local leaders and to showcase key significant partnerships and actions of non-state actors.
The Lima Ministerial Declaration on Education and Awareness-raising
The Ministers and Heads of Delegation attending the twentieth session of the Conference of the Parties and the tenth session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, held in Lima, Peru, from 1 to 12 December 2014,
Reaffirming the importance of Article 6 of the Convention and Article 10(e) of the Kyoto Protocol,
Recalling decision 15/CP.18,
Concerned about the impacts of climate change on both current and future generations,
Recognizing that education, including formal, non-formal and informal education, and public awareness programmes should promote the attitudes and behaviour needed to prepare our societies to adapt to the impacts of climate change,
Reaffirming that public participation, access to information and knowledge are crucial for developing and implementing effective policies to combat climate change and adapt to its impacts, as well as to engage actively, as appropriate, all stakeholders, including children, youth, the elderly, women, persons with disabilities, indigenous and local communities and non-governmental organizations in the implementation of these policies,
Underlining that effective climate change action requires public understanding of the issues at stake and the potential benefits of climate action, and that there is a need for public understanding that a transformation is necessary now to avoid increasingly serious consequences in the future,
Acknowledging the progress made by Parties, international organizations, civil society and other stakeholders in planning, coordinating and implementing activities related to education, training, public awareness, public participation and access to information,
Recalling the outcomes of major United Nations conferences and summits related to education,
Considering, in this context, the importance of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development held in Aichi-Nagoya, Japan, from 10 to 12 November 2014, which called for urgent action to further strengthen and scale up education for sustainable development,
1. Stress that education, training, public awareness, public participation, public access to information, knowledge and international cooperation play a fundamental role in meeting the ultimate objective of the Convention and in promoting climate-resilient sustainable development;
2. Reaffirm our commitment to promote and facilitate, at the national and, as appropriate, at subregional and regional levels, and in accordance with national laws and regulations, and within the respective capacities, the development and implementation of educational and public awareness programmes on climate change and its effects, of public access to information on climate change and its effects and of public participation in addressing climate change;
3. Encourage governments to develop education strategies that incorporate the issue of climate change in curricula and to include awareness-raising on climate change in the design and implementation of national development and climate change strategies and policies in line with their national priorities and competencies;
4. Urge all Parties to give increased attention, as appropriate, to education, training, public awareness, public participation and public access to information on climate change;
5. Encourage all Parties to participate in, and to benefit from, the work of intergovernmental panels and expert groups established under the United Nations on matters related to climate change education, natural science and public awareness;
6. Express our resolve to cooperate and engage through multilateral, bilateral and regional complementary initiatives that aim to raise awareness and enhance education on climate change and its impacts, opportunities and co-benefits;
7. Reaffirm our commitment to the implementation of the Doha work programme on Article 6 of the Convention.
Some Highlights from the Recent Wilmette Institute Course on Climate Change
“I think I understand more clearly the importance of facing the pain of our present moment. It is only when we see it directly and acknowledge it that we will free ourselves to act.” This was one of many profound statements in the forum discussions as the participants were grappling with the scientific, spiritual, ethical, and very practical dimensions of climate change. One participant wrote that she was surprised about “the dynamic aspect of the course participants’ interaction. This created a depth of experience that I have never experienced in course work before.“ Also, there were many participants who responded to their fellow participants in very supportive ways. Especially noteworthy was the consolation offered to an American by a participant from Cameroon.
One participant reflected on “Why should we as faith communities take action on climate change?” He wrote “Quite simply, our faith/religion is generally where we get our deepest values and morals, and climate change has become a moral issue. If humans don't change behavior, God's creation will suffer - plants, animals, and many people. To not take any action to alleviate this suffering (current and future) is to neglect morality. Therefore, it is the responsibility of every individual of faith and every faith community to raise their consciousness on this vital issue, and also take practical steps towards making improvements.”
Taking action was at the forefront of many participants' thoughts, especially toward the end of the course. Actions discussed and reported basically touched all aspects of life, from life-style changes such as reduction of meat consumption to the following acts of service:
Many participants reported their plans to integrate education about climate change in the core activities of their Baha'i community. Several friends mentioned devotional gatherings where they would read scriptures about God's creation and human relationship with nature. Some were planning to talk with their local Baha'i youth group about climate change, to make a presentation and to engage them with an artistic or with a service project. Others were reaching out to the adults within their faith communities, for example with a presentation on spiritual and ethical responses to the climate change challenge. Such presentations are in the process of taking place in various places of the US and in Cameroon.
Many students are bringing the issue to the wider community. A participant in Washington state is planning to offer a climate change discussion course in his local Parks and Recreation Department. A highlight in this project was the resulting collaboration of three other course participants in the development of this course.
A participant from Cameroon planned to “plant 40 'Green Trees' in honor of the 40 people with whom I am taking this course (At The Greens: http://thegreensworld.org/, one Green Tree equals four trees: one for food, one for shade, one for beauty and one for medicine. 160 trees to plant)” and to “educate the people of the North West Region of Cameroon about climate change through my weekly environmental radio program known as 'Green Radio'." Other participants decided to collaborate with like minded organizations, such as the Citizens Climate Lobby.
Some friends were able to use new insights gained in the course to enhance their service in their professional life. One participant incorporated some of the concepts in his course on agroclimatology he is teaching at a university in Puerto Rico. And IEF member Terry Robinson from Connecticut wrote: “I came into this course needing inspiration to re-engage in the path I've been pursuing, and embedded in the materials I found the means to do so. My company has established a set of ambitious sustainability goals to be met by 2025. The Greenhouse Gas reduction goal in particular is very challenging, and now that we've announced it and have laid out the path way on what it would take to reach it, we are in this period of trying to reconcile these espoused values with business commitments and goals. But this course has served as a very real reminder as to why it's imperative to strive for change through ambitious goals. So, re-armed with the factual evidence and the ethical foundation, I feel very much re-engaged in the process. I may have to take this course again in the next few years though to get recharged!”
Wilmette Institute courses (http://wi.bahai.us/courses/upcoming/2014-course-schedule/) may have quite a large ripple effect on the development of the Baha'i and wider community because of the actions by participants. Much of it we will never know about, but can guess from the many hints of planned actions such as the examples above.
IEF authors featured in two new academic books
Two books just published in the month of November by leading academic publishers include chapters by members of the International Environment Forum.
"Transitions to Sustainability", edited by François Mancebo and Ignacy Sachs (Dordrecht: Springer, 2014), explores the challenges of putting sustainability into practice, especially in terms of governance and a new social contract, in eleven chapters. Jon Marco Church of the University of Reims contributed a chapter on "Norms, Rules and Sustainable Planning: Who Said What About Norms". IEF President Arthur Dahl prepared a chapter on "Putting the Individual at the Center of Development: Indicators of Well-Being for a New Social Contract". The chapter by Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen of Wageningen University is on "The Legitimation of Global Energy Governance: A Normative Exploration". These papers were originally presented at the Third Rencontres Internationales de Reims on Sustainability Studies in June 2013 (see IEF report at https://iefworld.org/node/626), which also issued the "Reims Sustainability Vision" which is included in the book.
The second book is "Sustainable Development and Quality Assurance in Higher Education: Transformation of Learning and Society", edited by Zinaida Fadeeva, Laima Galkute, Clemens Mader, Geoff Scott (Houndmills, UK: Palgrave Macmilllan, 2014). Chapter 9 by Arthur Lyon Dahl is on "Sustainability and Values Assessment in Higher Education". More information on the book is at http://www.palgrave.com/page/detail/sustainable-development-and-quality…
2012 Agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions data released
FAO is the first to detail the most-recent contribution of food production, deforestation, and land use change to global warming
Rome, 10 December 2014 – Greenhouse gas emission estimates for the year 2012 are being released today for the first time for the Agriculture, Forestry, and Other Land Use (AFOLU) sector, helping to understand current trends, drivers, while gauging the state of current emissions against previously published business-as-usual targets. FAO highlights of most recent trends include:
Global agricultural emissions from crop and livestock production continued to grow in 2012, and reached the all-time high value of 5.4 billion tonnes CO2 equivalents. The annual growth rate from 2011 was 1%, in line with the historical decadal rate over the 2001-2010 period of 1.2%. Emissions in 2012 were double in 1961.
Regional agricultural emissions grew fastest in Asia in 2012, at 2.4% annually, more than double the global average, totaling 2.5 billion tonnes CO2 equivalent. Agriculture emissions decreased instead in Northern America and Africa, by -0.7% and -1.3%, respectively. The bulk of agriculture emissions occurred in Asia (46%), followed by Latin America (17%), Africa (15%), Europe (11%), North America (7%) and Oceania (4%). Asia’s emissions increased from a decadal average of 44% over the period 2001-2010, due to the growth in fertilizer use.
Major Growth Sector. The largest growth in 2012 GHG emissions were led by sharp increases in synthetic fertilizer applications. Emissions from synthetic fertilizer grew 5.6% in 2012, compared to an already robust decadal average growth rate of 3.8% over the period 2001-2010. The greenhouse gas associated to use of synthetic fertilizer is N2O, a potent greenhouse gas with a global warming potential (GWP) 300 times that of CO2, highlighting the significance of such increases as well as pointing to the necessity of non-CO2 mitigation in this sector, which could be linked to increased input use efficiency and lower environmental pollution.
Synthetic fertilizer emissions and applications growth rates in 2012 with respect to 2011 were highest in Asia ( 8%), followed by Europe (3%), while they were negative Africa (-2%).
Land use, land use change and forestry emissions continued to decrease, due to reduced deforestation in several countries. Over the 2001-2010 period, these emissions averaged some 3 billion tonnes CO2 eq/yr. In addition to these emissions, some two billion tonnes CO2 eq/yr were removed from the atmosphere as a result of carbon sequestration in forest sinks.
Projections. The 2012 GHG emissions from agriculture were above the reference business-as-usual emission scenario of FAO for 2030 and 2050, indicating that significant changes to current management systems are needed in order to reverse course and contribute to global mitigation efforts.
For 2012, Agriculture, forestry and other land uses (AFOLU) emissions included:
• 5.4 billion tonnes CO2 eq/yr from crop and livestock production
• 3.7 billion tonnes CO2 eq/yr due to net forest conversion to other lands (a proxy for deforestation)
• 0.8 billion tonnes CO2 eq/yr from degraded peatlands
• 0.4 billion tonnes CO2 eq/yr by biomass fires
• -1.9 billion tonnes CO2 eq/yr by forest sinks
FAO's data for 2012 confirm that while agriculture emissions continue to increase year after year, they are not growing as fast as emissions from fossil fuel use in other sectors, mainly for energy. As a result, the share of AFOLU to total anthropogenic emissions is steadily decreasing over time.
* Carbon dioxide equivalents, or CO2 eq, is a metric used to compare emissions from different greenhouse gases based on their global warming potential.
Welcome to new IEF members
The IEF Board is delighted to welcome the following new members who have joined the IEF during the last two months:
Susan Brill de Ramirez, Illinois, USA
Gabriella Brundrett, Cheshire, United Kingdom
Nabil Elias, North Carolina, USA
F. U. Rehman, Lahore, Pakistan
Jamie Konopacky, Washington, D.C. USA
Rhett Diessner, Idaho, USA
Seth Cudjoe, Greater Accra, Ghana
Lisa Molin, California, USA
Updated 15 December 2014