Leaves 18(5) - May 2016

 

LEAVES

 

Newsletter of the
INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT FORUM
Volume 18, Number 5    15 May 2016

                                       

 

Website: iefworld.org
Article submission: newsletter@iefworld.org Deadline next issue 13 June 2016
Secretariat Email: ief@iefworld.org General Secretary Emily Firth
Postal address: 12B Chemin de Maisonneuve, CH-1219 Chatelaine, Geneva, Switzerland

Download the pdf version

 

Sacred Earth, Sacred Trust
Faiths Rising for People & Planet
12 June 2016
a day of prayer and action

Sacred Earth, Sacred Trust is a worldwide, multi-faith day of prayer & action for the planet and a call for world leaders to commit to a 1.5 degree limit on global temperature rise.

Six months after world leaders reached the Paris Agreement, communities around the world will come together in a day of beautiful commitment and blessing for the earth.

We Will Celebrate The earth as sacred; worthy of our respect, awe and veneration.

We Will Reaffirm That ultimately, we aren´t earth’s owners, but rather her caretakers.

We will Reassert Our moral responsibility for the well-being, interdependence of all life and show our solidarity with the most vulnerable.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN 1.5°C & 2°C OF WARMING MEANS EVERYTHING

The adopted Paris Agreement is an incredible first step, but much of what we have achieved hangs in balance.

The current commitments to reduce emissions condemn us to an extremely dangerous 2.7°C increase. And the goal governments gave themselves is still fixed around 2°C. But experts & activists are arguing for a vital push for 1.5°C as a true upper limit.

This seemingly small difference would prevent well over 100 million people from losing their homes due to droughts, floods, sea level rise and devastating storms.

In the face of this sobering reality, we need to continue the push for 1.5°C to keep hope alive.

HOW TO JOIN IN Around the world communities will be joining in an incredible variety of ways. Our diversity is our strongest power. Here are just a couple of the ways communities are joining in:

1. Say a prayer, make a blessing, sing a song or meditate - on your own, with your family or bring your community together.
2. Stage a sit in meditation outside a place that's important locally - a new fracking site, your town hall, a coal mine, or a place that's at risk.
3. Hold your service outdoors, to reconnect the community to nature.
4. Organise a community project - paint a mural, banners or build a sculpture.
5. A march through your town, bring together people from your community and beyond around protecting our planet for the vulnerable.

Then, we share our celebrations and actions with the world using #SacredEarth!

Sacred Earth, Sacred Trust http://sacredearth2016.

Last Monday 18 April, more than 5000 signatures, including 270 high-level faith leaders and over 170 religious groups were handed over to the UN General Assembly President, as part of the Interfaith Climate Change Statement. Together we were covered by media from around the world

Now, we need to show the world that our words are matched by our actions, and our unwavering commitment to care for our sacred earth.

On June 12, the 6-month anniversary of the Paris Agreement, religious and spiritual groups around the world are joining forces for Sacred Earth, Sacred Trust. We would like to invite you to join us.

We’re aged 25 & 26, and although many world leaders will not live to see the success or failure of the Paris Agreement, we will.

On June 12, faith communities around the world will come together in celebration of our common home and to escalate our call for action on climate change.

Some communities and individuals will offer a simple, heartfelt prayer, meditation or mantra to show their care for the earth. Others will deliver a sermon, teach a lesson, or speak out in a public forum. And some will organize community art projects, vigils, or climate marches through their towns. All of our actions and prayers will be shared online with the hashtag #SacredEarth.

Our movement is powerful, and it is growing fast, but so is the climate crisis. Every month this year has been the hottest yet on record! We need to match this by growing and acting faster than ever before. June 12 is the moment we will do that.

A better future and a safer climate is possible, together we are the solution. Please join us on June 12.

Thank you for everything you do, Sean, Alex & the OurVoices team
OurVoices.net - bringing faith to the climate talks
Our Voices US Office, 101 South Third Avenue, #12, Highland Park, NJ 08904, USA

Source: http://sacredearth2016.org/index.html 25 April 2016

 

SDG Hub in Geneva

IEF member Joachim Monkelbaan has recently launched the SDG Hub (http://www.sdghub.org/) as an independent platform based in Geneva, Switzerland, a center of global sustainability governance. This is one outcome of the Workshop on Implementing the SDGs (http://iefworld.org/node/796) which he organized on 27 April. The SDG Hub aims to mobilize global expertise to promote practical problem-solving for sustainable development, including the design and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These goals provide unique opportunities for human progress that is in harmony with planet Earth. Following their adoption in September 2015, the SDGs now need to be implemented at local, national, and global scales.

All work by the SDG Hub is focused on supporting the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda, including the Paris Agreement on climate change. During 2016, countries are starting the process of applying the SDGs to their local needs, identifying priorities, and implementing Agenda 2030. More specifically, the hub supports the implementation of the Global Goals through networking, research, capacity building, strategic advice, and building multi-actor partnerships (e.g. public-private partnerships).

It aims to accelerate joint learning and overcome the compartmentalization of technical and policy work by promoting integrated approaches to the interconnected economic, social, and environmental challenges confronting the world. The SDG Hub works closely with United Nations agencies, governments, multilateral financing institutions, the private sector, and civil society.

The organization and governance of the SDG Hub aims to enable a large number of leaders from all regions and a diverse backgrounds to participate in the development of the Hub, while at the same time ensuring effective structures for decision making and accountability. The Governing Board acts as the board of the SDG Hub. A smaller Executive Committee oversees financial, programmatic, and other operational matters. The Academic Advisory Committee works on issues relating to safeguarding rigorous research, education and curriculum design.

 

Workshop on Implementing the SDGs

A high-level workshop on "Implementing the SDGs: creating and sharing knowledge" was held at International Environment House in Geneva, Switzerland, on 27 April 2016. The workshop was organized and convened by IEF member Dr. Joachim Monkelbaan with the assistance of the University of Geneva Institute for Environmental Sciences and the support of the Swiss Network for International Studies, and brought together over 40 experts from the international organizations, academic community and civil society organizations in the Geneva area. IEF represented civil society organizations in the planning of the workshop.

The purpose of the workshop was to identify needs and opportunities in terms of research and education needed to implement the Sustainable Development Goals, considering the coherent framework that the SDGs offer together with deep interconnections and cross-cutting elements that require multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder engagement.

After opening remarks by Dr. Monkelbaan, the first session on knowledge creation was moderated by Prof. Lichia Saner-Yui, President of the Center for Social and Economic Development (CSEND). Prof. Hy Dao of the University of Geneva and colleagues presented on possibilities and challenges of the "data revolution" for the SDGs; Dr. Cecilia Cannon of The Graduate Institute discussed designing and implementing effective monitoring mechanisms for reaching the SDGs; Daniel Wermus of the Millennium Institute presented an integrated model for Sustainable Development Goal strategies derived from the World 3 model used for the Club of Rome studies on the Limits to Growth; and Dr. Andrea Bassi of KnowlEdge srl reviewed systems thinking.

Joachim Monkelbaan opening the workshop . part of the audience
IEF member Joachim Monkelbaan opening the workshop; part of the audience

The second session on knowledge sharing moderated by Peter Illig, Executive Director, Frontier 2050, included teaching methods such as SDG living labs from Dr. Alexandre Babak Hedjazi of the University of Geneva; Prof. Arthur Dahl, International Environment Forum, on values-based education and the SDGs describing IEF experience bringing in an ethical perspective; Leticia Saura of the University of Geneva on executive education in corporate social responsibility (CSR); and Dr. Elena Proden of UNITAR describing their training programmes relevant to the SDGs.

part of the audience

The third session on knowledge implementation, creating SDG coherence and effectiveness in practice, was moderated by Mark Halle, Executive Director, International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). The panelists were Alice Tipping of the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Develioment (ICTSD) on trade and Agenda 2030; Luisa Bernal of UNDP on its approach to SDG implementation; Dr. Ralph Heinrich of UNECE on promoting innovation for sustainable development, and Ahmad Mukhtar of FAO on food security and the SDGs.

A set of brainstorming sessions produced suggestions on knowledge generation, capacity building and diffusion as a basis for a Geneve SDG knowledge agenda. Many networking opportunities were created, and the experts agreed to continue meeting to build more collaboration.

Source: http://iefworld.org/node/796

 

 

The first session of the Great Kasaï REDD+ University

Submitted by Kadima Mpoyi Long’sha, IEF Member

The Democratic Republic of Congo is engaged, since January 2009, in the REDD+ process, like the other countries having forests, following an agreement of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This process is directed in DR Congo by the Environment, Nature Conservation and Sustainable Development national ministry in partnership with UN-REDD+ Program (UNDP, FAO & UNEP) and the World Bank (Forest Carbon Partnership Facility FCPF).

In the aim to bring different partners together in a broad and inclusive participation, to disseminate information and to share the lessons learned and good practices, it was decided to organize a reinforcement of capacities known as REDD+ University. To date, there are two versions: one international and the other provincial.

In 2013, the first REDD+ Provincial University session was organized in the Province of Bandundu and in 2014 the third session of the International University REDD+ in Kinshasa. During this international edition it was decided to hold two Provincial REDD+ Universities: one in the ex-Eastern Province and the other in Great Kasaï. In August 2015, the first REDD+ Provincial University was organized in Kisangani, a big town of the ex-Eastern Province, and that of Great Kasaï has just been organized from 2 to 5 May 2016 in Mbuji Mayi town (Eastern Kasaï province).

We were among the fifteen representatives of central Kasaï, one of five provinces making Great Kasaï, which took part in this recent session of the provincial University. The principal topic of the Great Kasaï first session was: "The implementation of the REDD+ in DRC, the phase of preparation to the phase of investment." Invited to this session were: workers of provincial divisions of the environment, nature conservation and sustainable development, actors from environmental civil society, researchers, teachers and students of the official University of Mbuji Mayi, and some local businessmen.

The speakers primarily came from the direction of sustainable development of the national ministry of environment, nature conservation and sustainable development, some members of the national coordination of the REDD+, actors of civil society organizations and teachers from the official university of Mbuji Mayi.

During four days, the following thirty subjects set out in six sub-topics were presented by twenty speakers:

1. Climate changes and REDD +
- Introduction to climate changes and sustainable development,
- COP 21: stakes and prospects,
- REDD + process and the implementation in RDC,
- Climate change and REDD + in Kasaï
2. National REDD + Strategy framework and tools of implementation
- Presentation of national REDD + strategy framework of the RDC,
- State of forest formations in Kasaï,
- Causes and consequences of deforestation in Kasaï
- Impact of the mining sector on deforestation,
- National REDD + register
- Homologation of REDD + projects and initiatives,
- DR Congo Safeguard,
- National system of monitoring of the drills of the DRC and the level of reference,
3. Forest management and promotion of sustainable agriculture
- Stakes of forest management in Kasaï,
- Loss of the raw material upstream and downstream from the chains of production-consumption of the firewood in Kasaï,
- Sustainable agricultural policy in Kasaï and its links with REDD +,
- Restoration of degraded savannas,
- Promotion of perennial cultures (oil palm, cacao…),
4. REDD + investment current and future in Great Kasaï
- Financing of the investments REDD + (CAFI, Green Climate Funds)
- Investment plan forest/PIREDD-MBKIS,
- Methodology of development of REDD + : the provincial strategy of Great Kasaï,
- Integrated programs of the national capital spending program of the REDD + Funds (CAFI)
- Case study: experiment of NGO LACOME as regards wood energy,
5. REDD + Communication and participation
- Plan of communication of REDD + and its variation at the provincial level,
- Media strategy on REDD + in Great Kasaï,
- Implementation of the local plan of communication by NGO LACOME,
- Participation of the civil society in the REDD + process in RDC,
- Implication of autochtonous people in the implementation of REDD + in RDC,
- Integrating gender in REDD +
6. Dialogue on provincial policy for the implementation of REDD +
- Decentralization of REDD +: role of the local authorities in the implementation of the REDD + process,
- Integration of REDD + in sectoral policies and programs: the place of state technical services.

From our part, we shared three contributions at this session of the REDD + provincial University. We asked that the concept of sustainable development be enriched with the fourth dimension beyond economy, social and environment: the ethical dimension. Without this dimension, the disparaged conscience crisis often mentioned would destroy sustainable development.

We proposed also an enrichment of the Prior Independent Free Consent (PIFC), tool for negotiation between the industrial or artisanal owners with the local communities before making specifications. We suggested that it is better that local communities be accompanied by lawyers when making specifications.

At the end, we asked that capacity building take account of cultural inertia in an appropriation of responsibilities for the fight against climate change. At the same time, adaptation has to take account of local realities.

 

The benefits of migration

Arthur Dahl's blog: http://iefworld.org/node/795

The cover story in a recent issue of New Scientist provides an objective scientific basis for dispelling many of the myths and lies about the migration crisis, and substantiates many of the points that IEF has raised for years. Debora MacKenzie, in "On the Road Again: From our origins in Africa we've conquered the world by migrating. Can modern immigration really be a crisis" (New Scientist, 9 April 2016, Vol. 230, No. 3068, pp. 29-37) shows the historical importance of migration for the human race. She puts in perspective the current migration crisis which is producing political reactions of rejection that have no significant basis in fact. The following is a summary of her main points. The original article provides the references.

In 2015, there were 244 million immigrants in the world, or 3.3% of the total population, but only 10% of these are refugees, and they should be entitled to humanitarian assistance. Few people migrate unless they have no other option. Globalization has not created enough jobs, so people must go where there are jobs. The biggest emigration in history was from Europe to America between 1850 and 1910, with over 2 million people a year moving at its peak. The French revolution had led to the idea of national borders and passports, but the industrial revolution of the late 19th century encouraged the free movement of money, trade and labour. Generalized passport controls on foreigners are hardly a century old.

Today governments in many places are closing borders and crowding refugees into camps, creating a humanitarian crisis. The World Economic Forum ranked large-scale refugee flows as its global risk of highest concern this year. The issue is highly emotional and drives xenophobia. Perceptions of competition and wariness of contact with strangers have roots in our evolutionary past that the multicultural societies of today need to leave behind. With the present insecurity about jobs, there are concerns raised by populist parties about economic migrants taking jobs away from local people.

This is not how modern economies work. Economic migration provides increased labour that brings an increase in profits. Businesses can invest and diversify, creating demand for a broader range of workers. Migration helps to match workers more efficiently to demand, and makes the economy more resilient when migrants do jobs local people do not want to do. More people expand the economy. In Europe, for every 1% increase in the population from immigration, GDP grew by 1.25 to 1.5%. The World Bank estimates that immigration increasing the workforces of wealthy countries by 3% would boost global GDP by $356 billion by 2025. Removing all barriers to migration would increase world GDP by between 50 and 150 percent, or $39-117 trillion. Most of this extra wealth goes to migrants and to their home countries, to which migrants sent $440 billion in 2015, more than twice foreign aid. There is no evidence that immigrants crowd out local workers or reduce wages. Immigration to the US between 1990 and 2007 boosted the average wage by $5100, one quarter of the total rise. Highly skilled migrants plug labour shortages in health, education and information technology.

Migrants are not a burden on welfare services but want to work. They pay as much in taxes as they take in benefits. Britain expects 140,000 net immigrants per year. If that number doubled, it would cut government debt by almost a third, while stopping immigration would increase the debt by half. Illegal migrants contribute even more, since they rarely claim benefits. In the US, this amounted to $20 billion between 1990 and 1998, helping to keep the Social Security system afloat. The image of migrants taking away jobs, pushing up housing prices and overloading social services is false, with the real cause neoliberal economic policies. On economic grounds, immigration is good for everyone.

One major issue is a perceived threat to social cohesion. There is no evidence of an increase in violent crimes associated with immigration, and only at most a 2% increase in local crime where migrants are not allowed to work. In fact, immigration is often associated with a reduction in crime rates. There can be pressure on local communities where high rates of arrival can strain schools, housing and other services, requiring some short-term local investments. China has managed 155 million migrants from rural to urban areas, showing this is possible.

Remaining is a perceived threat to national identity in countries with a clear ethnic identity and no recent history of significant migration, producing a loss of cultural homogeneity and a backlash against immigrants. This may in fact be a result of an increasing loss of social cohesion with rising individualism in the structure of work and the impact of mass media, creating a longing for community and a desire to control differences. Increasing diversity is seen as lowering social capital such as trust, cooperation and altruism. Some countries have overcome this by accommodating rather than erasing diversity, creating a broader sense of "we", not through assimilation but through adaptation on both sides, as in Canada with a national identity based on immigration.

Diversity should be seen as the engine of investment and a source of creativity. Culturally diverse groups consistently outperform less diverse groups due to cognitive diversity, exposure to disagreement and alternative ways of thinking. Immigrants are often successful in business start-ups, science and the arts. More diversity does mean more complexity and requires more efforts to maintain, which may be why some countries do better at this than others. It requires broad agreement on core goals and principles. The challenge is bound to grow for wealthy countries that will need to import workers to compensate for falling birth rates. The automation of production will worsen unemployment and political instability and greatly increase migration pressure, requiring a more coordinated and strategic approach to the global workforce. There is no global body to oversee the movement of people or to set official policy, emphasizing the need for a UN agency to manage migration in the global interest and to develop the huge positive potential of migration.

The IEF has been calling for such a global approach to migration for several years, including in its submissions to UN events. While the article does not mention it, climate change and associated impacts will be another major driver of migration. The Bahá'í principles of unity in diversity, consultation, community solidarity and kindness to strangers are precisely what is needed to turn migration from a perceived threat into a positive asset, as both science and economics so clearly demonstrate in this article.

 

Oceans and seas integral to well-being

http://www.unep.org/stories/Ecosystems/Oceans-and-seas-integral-to-well…

The marine environment is an essential component of the global life-support system. Oceans cover 71 per cent of the Earth’s surface and provide us with food, oxygen and jobs. But they are probably the least understood, most biologically diverse, and most undervalued of all ecosystems.

From deep oceans to coastal reefs, from mudflats to sea grass beds, ocean and marine systems provide us with essential services: carbon capture for climate mitigation, renewable energy and protection from storm surges, to name but a few. As the global population grows, we are probing deeper and further into the oceans - for fish, oil, gas, minerals and new genetic resources - in an attempt to keep pace with increasing consumption. This is damaging the oceans that sustain us.

Estimating the total value of marine ecosystems could provide policymakers with a strong rationale to improve ocean management and invest in marine conservation. This would reduce environmental risks and ecological scarcities while boosting human well-being.

We need to wake up to the precarious state of our oceans and seas, and the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-2) due to be held in Nairobi, Kenya, from 23 to 27 May 2016, is an opportunity to make a difference...

Make a difference, not only to the over 500 million people in coastal areas who depend directly on the ocean for their livelihoods, but to the entire human population which depends on the world’s oceans as a climate regulator.

The World Oceans Day (8 June) tagline “Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet”, aptly encapsulates the importance of oceans and seas in our ecosystem, and represents an opportunity to raise awareness.

What’s in the draft resolution?

A draft resolution on Oceans and Seas to be discussed by delegates at UNEA-2 recognizes in its preamble that “the marine environment – including the oceans, seas and adjacent coastal areas – forms an integrated whole that is an essential component of the global life-support system and an asset presenting important opportunities for sustainable development.”

It calls, among other things, for the provision of scientific support from UNEP and others in relation to the thawing of seabed permafrost and melting of sea ice and glaciers. It requests UNEP to step up its work on assisting countries and regions in the application of the ecosystem approach; encourages Member States to designate and manage marine protected areas, and take other effective area-based conservation measures consistent with national and international law and based on the best available scientific information.

The draft resolution also stresses the importance of preventing and significantly reducing - to levels that are not detrimental to ecosystem function and biodiversity - pollution of the marine environment by hazardous substances and nutrients from land-based sources.

“There is truly no time to waste, and UNEA is an opportunity to accelerate action on safeguarding our planet,” says UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

Managing a complex ecosystem

UNEP has been busy supporting an integrated management of oceans and seas. Within UNEP, the Ecosystems Management Subprogramme works to drive change over both the short and long term through innovative solutions, build partnerships, and support countries to better manage, monitor and account for biodiversity and the health and productivity of ecosystems.

Central to a transformational response to decades of overfishing, pollution and unplanned coastal development will be moving from sectoral management, to an approach that marries seemingly competing interests in relation to marine and coastal resources and space within a robust framework and a spatial planning perspective. This is central to ensuring equitable access among diverse interests and users.

Oceans face the threats of marine and nutrient pollution, resource depletion and climate change, all of which are caused primarily by human actions. These threats place further pressure on environmental systems, like biodiversity and natural infrastructure, while creating global socio-economic problems, including health, safety and financial risks.

In order to promote ocean sustainability, innovative solutions that prevent and mitigate detrimental impacts on marine environments are essential. The internationally agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) guide governments towards creating a world in which we better value the global ecosystem upon which we all depend for life.

We have 14 years to meet SDG 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

What’s UNEP’s Regional Seas Programme?

Established in 1974, the UNEP Regional Seas Programme focuses on the protection of specific bodies of water from pollution, from land-based and sea-based sources; on promoting assessments of the status of the marine environment; and on the conservation and sustainable management of oceans through support to the establishment of regional conventions and action plans.

There are currently 18 Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans across the world, of which 14 were established under the auspices of UNEP. They received initial support, and continue receiving technical assistance from UNEP upon request. IEF President Arthur Dahl organized the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), and was for several years Deputy Director of the UNEP Regional Seas Programme.

These programmes aim to restore the health and productivity of oceans and marine ecosystems by promoting responsible stewardship. Over the last 40 years, they have helped countries to reduce land-based pollution, improve the management of coastal zones, and brought nations together to conserve the marine environment.

Some examples of change

The number of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) is growing. With support from UNEP, Haiti last year designated its first nine MPAs and others are set to follow suit.

The EU Common Fisheries Policy, which came into force in 2014, is phasing out the practice of throwing unwanted fish overboard and requires the industry to stick to quotas designed to achieve healthy fish stocks.

The government of the Seychelles has pledged to expand Marine Protected Areas to cover 30 per cent of its exclusive economic zone (400, 000 square kilometres), with 15 per cent designated as no-take areas. The commitment has been incorporated in the Seychelles’ first Protected Areas Policy which was endorsed in 2013.

Traditional fishers in Madagascar have carried out more than 250 temporary closures over about 450 km of coastline, a practice that has dramatically increased the size of their catch.

 

First Nation Wins Historic Victory Over Mammoth Coal Export Terminal

US Army Corps of Engineers denies permit for proposed Cherry Point terminal, which would have been the largest in North America
By Lauren McCauley, Common Dreams, 10 May 2016

In a move being hailed as a landmark victory for the climate movement, Pacific Northwest communities, and tribal members alike, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Monday denied federal permits for the largest proposed coal export terminal in North America.

"This is big—for our climate, for clean air and water, for our future," declared Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign.

For years, the Lummi Nation led the campaign against the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal in Xwe’chi’eXen (also known as Cherry Point), Washington. Last year, tribal leaders asked the Army Corps to reject the project on the grounds that it would violate treaty rights and cause "irreparable damage to important crab and salmon fisheries" in the Salish Sea.

The Army Corps, Hitt said, "did its duty by upholding treaty rights and honoring the U.S. government’s commitment to those treaties." The decision marks the first time that a coal export facility has been rejected based on its negative impacts to the treaty rights of a tribal nation.

Quinault Nation President Fawn Sharp, who also serves as president of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians and vice president of the National Congress of American Indians, called the ruling "an appropriate and just decision."

Sharp said that "everyone who cares about fish and wildlife, the environment and human health should be happy with the Corps’ decision. This is an historic victory for tribal treaty rights as well as for everybody else who lives here."

"Those who understand the great value of our natural resources to our health and culture, as well as the sustainable economy of the entire region, will applaud today’s announcement," she added.

"This is an historic win, and we are grateful to the Lummi Nation for their leadership in delivering a tremendous victory for Northwest families," said Crina Hoyer, executive director of Bellingham's ReSources for Sustainable Communities. "The message rings loud and clear: communities will never accept the health, safety, economic or environmental impacts of dirty coal exports."

The proposed terminal would have exported up to 48 million tons of Powder River Basin coal each year to markets in Asia. That coal would have been carried on coal trains—as many as 18 additional each day—through communities in Washington, Idaho, and Montana, before being loaded on giant ships which would carry the pollutant across the Salish Sea to the Pacific Ocean.

The project's opponents cited a host of negative environmental impacts—from increased coal dust around the terminal and rail lines to the atmospheric effects of burning coal overseas.

Indeed, the denial comes amid a marked decline in the coal industry, including the recent bankruptcies of fossil fuel giants Peabody and Arch Coal.

At the same time, climate campaigners worldwide have launched a series of peaceful direct actions targeting key fossil fuel infrastructure to pressure their governments to commit to a clean energy future.

"The Lummi Nation’s victory brings even more energy to local movements," said Cesia Kearns, who serves as co-director of the Power Past Coal coalition, an alliance of health groups and businesses, as well as environmental, clean-energy, faith, and community organizations working to stop coal export off the West Coast.

"From British Columbia, to Longview, Washington, to the Gulf of Mexico," Kearns declared, "we will continue to stand together to say no to corporate special interests and yes to healthy, community-driven futures."

Source: http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/05/10/first-nation-wins-historic-…

 

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation divests entire holding in BP

World’s largest health charity sells its $187m stake in the oil giant in a move welcomed by fossil fuel divestment campaigners

Since the start of 2014 the Gate’s Foundation’s investments in major coal, oil and gas companies have fallen from $1.4bn to $200m.

Thursday 12 May 2016

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has sold off its entire holding in oil giant BP, in a move welcomed by fossil fuel divestment campaigners. Bill Gates has called the selling off of coal, oil and gas stocks a “false solution” to climate change, but the known investments of his foundation in major fossil fuel companies has fallen by 85% since 2014.

The foundation, which has spent many billions of dollars improving global health, sold its $187m stake in BP between September and December 2015, according to recent regulatory filings to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). It had previously dumped its entire $824m holding in ExxonMobil.

BP posted a record $6.5bn annual loss in February while ExxonMobil is under investigation about whether it lied in the past to investors about the threat of climate change.

The Guardian’s Keep it in the Ground campaign has called on the Gates foundation to divest its $40bn endowment from fossil fuels.

Climate change poses the greatest threat to health in the 21st century, according to doctors, and to avoid catastrophic impacts, most known fossil fuel reserves must be kept in the ground. If the world’s governments succeed as promised and halt global warming, those reserves could become worthless, and divestment campaigners argue there are both financial and moral reasons for divestment.

“We are thrilled that the Gates foundation continues to divest from fossil fuel stocks, but it’s time to divest the rest. Investing in oil companies is completely inconsistent with the Gates foundation mission to ensure that everybody has the chance to live a healthy, productive life,” said Alec Connon, an organiser for the Gates Divest campaign, a coalition of scores of social justice groups, politicians and faith leaders in Washington State, where the Foundation is based.

Mike McGinn, who as mayor of Seattle in 2013 was the first mayor to commit a city to divestment, said: “They’re moving their financial capital - now it’s time to use their moral capital and publicly commit to divestment. “By taking a public stand, Bill and Melinda Gates could help change the debate and speed up the international response to global warming.”

The Gates foundation does not comment on its investments. Public records show that at the start of 2014, the Foundation held $1.4bn of investments in major coal, oil and gas companies. The sell-off of its BP and ExxonMobil stocks leaves just $200m of those stocks. It is unknown whether some or all of the remaining fossil fuel stocks have been sold, as the foundation only has to declare holdings of over $100m in US-related companies to the SEC. New fossil fuel investments may have been made below that threshold or in undeclared companies. An analysis in November found that the Gates foundation would have been $1.9bn better off if it had divested from fossil fuels in 2012.

The world’s second biggest health charity after the Gates foundation is the UK-based Wellcome Trust and the Guardian’s campaign also asks it to divest. The trust lost an estimated £175m on its investments in fossil fuel companies in the year to August 2015, according to a Guardian analysis. But in December, it was revealed that Wellcome had defied divestment campaigners and increased its investments in coal, oil and gas over the year.

Investors managing over $3.4tn of assets have already committed to fossil fuel divestment, including Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest. The Bank of England has also warned of potentially huge losses.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/may/12/bill-and-melinda-gat…

 

Small Island Developing States

2016 Call for Global Action for Partnerships for Small Island Developing States
http://www.sids2014.org/

The Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS Conference) was held from 1 to 4 September 2014 in Apia, Samoa. Around 300 Small Island Developing States (SIDS) partnerships were announced towards and during the Conference, addressing a range of priority areas. http://www.sids2014.org/partnerships/

As a direct follow up to SIDS Conference, the 70th session of General Assembly decided to formally establish, through resolution A/70/202, the SIDS Partnership Framework, to monitor and ensure the full implementation of pledges and commitments through partnerships for Small Island developing States, as well as to encourage new, genuine and durable partnerships for the sustainable development of SIDS. http://www.sids2014.org/sids-partnership-framework

The SIDS Partnership Framework consist, in short, of
• A Steering Committee, now chaired by Maldives and Italy
• The organization of an annual Global Multi-stakeholder SIDS Partnership Dialogue
• A partnership reporting template

The Steering Committee is open to all States Members of the United Nations or members of the specialized agencies, and is supporting the follow-up of existing, and promotes and advocates the launching of new, partnerships that advance the sustainable development in SIDS.

The first meeting of the Steering Committee on Partnerships for SIDS was held on 25 February 2016 at UN Headquarters in New York. It was a landmark event for the follow up to the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Apia, Samoa, in September 2014, when around 300 partnerships were announced. The Steering Committee will play an important role in guiding the partnerships to ensure the full implementation of the Samoa Pathway. The next meeting of the Steering Committee will take place in June, New York.

SIDS Times Newsletter, a new newsletter on SIDS, March 2106 http://www.sids2014.org/newsletter

Visit the SIDS dedicated page of the Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform for SIDS related reports, publications, statements, meetings, and more. https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/topics/sids

Source: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/

 

From the Editor, Request for information for upcoming newsletters

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Updated 15 May 2016