Leaves 19(9) - September 2017

 

LEAVES

 

Newsletter of the
INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT FORUM
Volume 19, Number 9  -  15 September 2017


                                       

 

Website: iefworld.org
Article submission: newsletter@iefworld.org Deadline next issue 13 October 2017
Secretariat Email: ief@iefworld.org General Secretary: Emily Firth
Postal address: 12B Chemin de Maisonneuve, CH-1219 Chatelaine, Geneva, Switzerland

Download the pdf version

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 newsletter@iefworld.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.

 

The UN and the Sustainable Development Goals

11 September 2017: At the conclusion of the closing plenary of the 71st session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), outgoing UNGA President Peter Thomson of Fiji reflected that UNGA 71 succeeded in generating momentum across the SDGs, but observed that progress on individual SDGs on the ground is “uneven across regions, between the sexes and among people of different ages, wealth and locales.” Thomson urged increased awareness on the SDGs to ensure society embraces the “transformation of systems and behaviours for a sustainable way of life on this planet.” Thomson further urged, inter alia: actions to address gaps in SDG implementation; more systematic approaches to facilitate partnerships and collaborations; alignment of the financial system towards the SDGs, including a surge of private investment in developing countries, an increase in development assistance and an improvement in global tax cooperation; and recognition of the power of innovation and technology to leverage SDG implementation and combat climate change. Thomson concluded by stressing his conviction that “faithful implementation” of the Paris Agreement on climate change and the 2030 Agenda is “the only way we can safeguard the future of our grandchildren on Planet Earth.”

The UN High Level Political Forum meets each year in New York to review progress on the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. While the dates of the High Level Political Forum in June-July 2018 have not yet been set, it will address the theme “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies”, including sustainable consumption, energy, and land and biodiversity. These issues are of great interest to the International Environment Forum, and we are exploring how we can be involved.

 

UN Declaration for Refugees and Migrants

In June 2012, the International Environment Forum issued a statement for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) calling for Preparation for Environmental Migration (https://iefworld.org/iefRio20migration). It also made a proposal along these lines to the Rio Dialogues, which was voted one of the ten best proposals in the area of employment and migration. While we cannot claim any credit, the United Nations has taken up this issue four years later.

The UN General Assembly hosted a high-level summit to address large movements of refugees and migrants on 19 September 2016, with the aim of bringing countries together behind a more humane and coordinated approach. It was the first time the General Assembly had called for a summit at the Heads of State and Government level on large movements of refugees and migrants and was a historic opportunity to come up with a blueprint for a better international response. The Summit was a watershed moment to strengthen governance of international migration and a unique opportunity for creating a more responsible, predictable system for responding to large movements of refugees and migrants.

At the UN Summit, the world came together around one plan. Member States reached agreement by consensus on a powerful outcome document. The New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants expresses the political will of world leaders to save lives, protect rights and share responsibility on a global scale.

Refugees, migrants, those who assist them, and their host countries and communities will all benefit if these commitments are met. View the full text of the New York Declaration: http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/71/1

What are the commitments?

The New York Declaration contains bold commitments both to address the issues we face now and to prepare the world for future challenges. These include commitments to:
• Protect the human rights of all refugees and migrants, regardless of status. This includes the rights of women and girls and promoting their full, equal and meaningful participation in finding solutions.
• Ensure that all refugee and migrant children are receiving education within a few months of arrival.
• Prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence.
• Support those countries rescuing, receiving and hosting large numbers of refugees and migrants.
• Work towards ending the practice of detaining children for the purposes of determining their migration status.
• Strongly condemn xenophobia against refugees and migrants and support a global campaign to counter it.
• Strengthen the positive contributions made by migrants to economic and social development in their host countries.
• Improve the delivery of humanitarian and development assistance to those countries most affected, including through innovative multilateral financial solutions, with the goal of closing all funding gaps.
• Implement a comprehensive refugee response, based on a new framework that sets out the responsibility of Member States, civil society partners and the UN system, whenever there is a large movement of refugees or a protracted refugee situation.
• Find new homes for all refugees identified by UNHCR as needing resettlement; and expand the opportunities for refugees to relocate to other countries through, for example, labour mobility or education schemes.
• Strengthen the global governance of migration by bringing the International Organization for Migration into the UN system.

The New York Declaration also contains concrete plans for how to build on these commitments:
• Start negotiations leading to an international conference and the adoption of a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration in 2018. The agreement to move toward this comprehensive framework is a momentous one. It means that migration, like other areas of international relations, will be guided by a set of common principles and approaches.
• Develop guidelines on the treatment of migrants in vulnerable situations. These guidelines will be particularly important for the increasing number of unaccompanied children on the move.
• Achieve a more equitable sharing of the burden and responsibility for hosting and supporting the world’s refugees by adopting a global compact on refugees in 2018.

The UN has also launched TOGETHER: Respect, safety & dignity for all refugees and migrants: http://together.un.org/.

TOGETHER is a United Nations campaign that promotes respect, safety and dignity for refugees and migrants. Launched in September 2016, its aim is to counter the rise in xenophobia and discrimination.

TOGETHER is a growing coalition of Member States, private sector, civil society representatives and individuals committed to change negative narratives on migration and to strengthen the social cohesion between host communities and refugees and migrants.

To see how you can get involved, go to: https://together.un.org/join.

The UN International Organization for Migration also has a project "I am a migrant" http://iamamigrant.org/. Most of the members of the IEF Governing Board are migrants, although not in vulnerable situations but contributing to a better world. Many of you probably are, or have been, migrants.

Partial sources: https://refugeesmigrants.un.org/declaration and http://together.un.org/

 

Private Sector Has More Opportunities Than Ever to Engage at the United Nations General Assembly in 2017, Says UN Global Compact

https://www.unglobalcompact.org/take-action/events/leaders-summit-2017
https://www.unglobalcompact.org/news/4171-09-13-2017

(New York, 13 September 2017) — The United Nations Global Compact announced today that the private sector will be able to engage in more than 30 business-oriented forums and events at the 72nd Regular Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), taking place from 12-25 September 2017 in New York.

“With less than 5,000 days to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals by the 2030 deadline, there is urgent need for greater ambition and action from the global business community, and this year’s UNGA is the perfect moment to engage,” said UN Global Compact CEO & Executive Director Lise Kingo. “The UN Global Compact is excited to engage a diverse group of business leaders at our inaugural CEO Roundtable, annual UN Private Sector Forum and our Leaders Summit, as we will release new tools this year to enable greater private sector support for the SDGs. We welcome the partnership of our global membership, as well as new private sector leaders who have committed to our Ten Principles for responsible business and are dedicated to seeing accelerated progress toward the Global Goals.”

In 2015, the 193 members of the United Nations agreed to 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development — known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). If these Global Goals are achieved, it would mean an end to extreme poverty, inequality and climate change by 2030 — and Governments are calling on private actors to be a part of the solution. The SDGs represent the most ambitious global development agenda in history and a tremendous opportunity to create a global movement for sustainable business.

This year’s UNGA will largely focus on progress to date on the SDGs, as well as the road forward to reaching these goals by 2030. The UN Global Compact, which plays a vital role in facilitating strategic partnership between the United Nations and the private sector in support of UN values and responsible business, has a host of events planned as well as several significant tools to help the business community engage with the Sustainable Development agenda.

New Research Reports and Tools

During UNGA week, the UN Global Compact and its partners will deliver new tools for the global private sector to implement our Ten Principles and find opportunities to advance the SDGs, including the 2017 UN Global Compact Progress Report. This new research report takes stock of the 9,500 companies participating in the UN Global Compact and their contributions to sustainable development. The Report highlights breakthrough innovations alongside products and services that promise to transform markets for a more sustainable future.

For more information on business-oriented forums and events during UNGA 2017, explore our Business Guide to UN General Assembly Week 2017available here. The aim of the guide is to better coordinate business participation during UNGA week and bring private sector stakeholders to the table.

Featuring meetings and events with a business focus or that welcome private sector participation, and spanning all 17 SDGs, the Guide includes over 30 events organized in and around UNGA. Some are organized by United Nations entities, while many others are convened by outside organizations.

About the United Nations Global Compact

The United Nations Global Compact is a call to companies everywhere to align their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and to take action in support of UN goals and issues embodied in the Sustainable Development Goals. The UN Global Compact is a leadership platform for the development, implementation and disclosure of responsible corporate practices. Launched in 2000, it is the largest corporate sustainability initiative in the world, with more than 9,500 companies and 3,000 non-business signatories based in over 160 countries, and more than 70 Local Networks.

 

Seeing the Whole: Implementing the SDGs in an Integrated and Coherent Way

http://www.stakeholderforum.org/sf/index.php/our-publications-sp-122440…

DOWNLOAD THE REPORT: http://www.stakeholderforum.org/sf/fileadmin/files/SeeingTheWhole.Resea…

It is widely accepted that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) require implementation that is both universal and integrated; every country must pursue policies which coherently span the economic, environmental and social aspects of the sustainable development agenda to ensure the best results.

This report sheds light for policymakers on how this can be achieved, with the simultaneous focus on the twelfth SDG, Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) and its related policies within the EU context.

A joint research piece by Stakeholder Forum, Bioregional and Newcastle University and funded by Government of Finland, the project follows from Stakeholder Forum’s earlier Universality report which identified SCP as the biggest transformational challenge amongst the SDGs for the developed world, and this is why we chose SDG 12 as our focal point in the present work. The EU was selected as the main test bed in the previous report, and has again been the subject of focus in this current one.

The report divides into two halves: one that explores the interlinkages between the SCP targets and other SDG targets using a novel methodology, which reveals the level of integration of SCP with the rest of the SDGs, and goes on to demonstrate how a fully integrated SDG agenda can be achieved using SCP as an example. The second part analyses the extent to which EU legislation and policy currently deals with the SCP Goal, and identifies opportunities for policymakers to extend and deepen this coverage.

The policy recommendations made throughout the piece are vital for facilitating the application by policymakers of an integrated and universal sustainable development agenda.

1. The major achievements of this work are to have: produced an effective and scalable methodology to analyse the type and strength of interlinkages amongst SDG targets;
2. piloted the application of this methodology to SDG 12, and commenced research on EU legislation’s coverage of SDG 12, both of which can be scaled and applied to other SDGs;
3. offered key recommendations on the basis of our research to policymakers helping them to pursue an integrated and universal sustainable development agenda.

 

Maldives latest country to join Clean Seas Campaign

http://www.unep.org/newscentre/maldives-latest-country-join-clean-seas-…

8 September 2017
Maldives today joined UN Environment's global campaign to eliminate marine litter and becoming the 28th country globally to do so. As part of it commitment, Maldives will undertake a national campaign to reduce single-use plastics and look to reduce and intercept plastics in oceans.

The UN Environment CleanSeas campaign, which was was launched in February this year, calls on government to pass policies to reduce plastics, industries to minimize plastic packaging and consumers to reduce plastic use.

“Our oceans both connect us and are key to our survival. We cannot continue to treat them like a rubbish dump. Small island developing countries like Maldives are on the sharp end of the current tide of pollution, and this commitment to Clean Seas sends an important message that enough is enough,” said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment.

“All nations, big and small, must take action.”

Asia Pacific accounts for 60-70 per cent of ocean plastic pollution. Plastics make up 90 per cent of litter in oceans. More than 8 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the oceans annually and costing some $8 billion in damage to marine ecosystems. According to some estimates, at the rate we are dumping items such as plastic bottles, bags and cups after a single use, by 2050 oceans will carry more plastic than fish. Small islands are particularly affected.

Abdulla Ziyad, Minister of State for Environment and Energy, Maldives said that his country is increasingly faced with litter and plastics generated elsewhere and called for regional action to address the issue.

“Marine litter and pollution is indeed a critical area of concern for our region. Addressing this issue requires us to think both at the national level and beyond. Integrated and holistic approaches at the local level, coupled with co-ordinated action at the regional and global level will be the key in making progress towards pollution free, clean seas for all,” he added.

Maldives pledge came at the 2nd Forum of Ministers and Environment Authorities which ended today in Bangkok with governments resolved to move towards a pollution free region, highlighting the urgency of addressing marine litter and microplastics. It joins Indonesia, Kiribati and the Philippines who earlier committed to the campaign.

 

Seychelles school kids wise up on ecosystems

http://www.unep.org/stories/story/seychelles-school-kids-wise-ecosystems

11 September 2017
Shakur Belle is a bright but shy girl at Pleasance Secondary School on the east coast of the main island of the Seychelles, a cluster of islands off the coast of East Africa. She got excited by a scheme, involving her school and others on the island, to use natural solutions to fight the negative impacts of climate change.

The students designed an ambitious environmental project that included household surveys, beach clean-ups, mangrove restoration activities, and a public speaking competition. Shakur was involved in designing posters and telling others about the importance of mangrove ecosystems. This shy girl even won the school prize for public speaking. Five schools are now involved in the project, and five articles have been published about it in the local media.

The awareness-raising drive in the Seychelles, which began in March 2016, is just one small component of a five-year project funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The project, Ecosystem-based Adaptation through South-South Cooperation (EbA South), is implemented by UN Environment and executed by the National Development and Reform Commission of China.

The EbA-South project is considered a “first mover” in catalysing global and regional collaboration on ecosystems-based adaptation under GEF guidelines, in particular within the framework of South-South cooperation.

“The South-South cooperative nature of this project is huge, and China, through its Chinese Academy of Sciences, is undertaking a lot of research in different types of ecosystems,” says Fareeha Iqbal, a climate change specialist in the GEF Secretariat. “The value that this project has in being able to share that and translate that knowledge and make it locally applicable in Nepal, Seychelles and Mauritania is invaluable.”

The United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation aims to raise people's awareness of the UN's efforts to work on technical cooperation among developing countries. It also celebrates the economic, social and political developments made in recent years by regions and countries in the south.

 

Biosphere reserves promote sustainable development in Sub-Saharan African countries

13 September 2017

Government representatives, biosphere reserve managers and experts came together in Ibadan, Nigeria, to share the results of innovative projects in African biosphere reserves and expand regional cooperation. They gathered for the 5th General Assembly of the AfriMAB network, which includes 75 biosphere reserves in 28 countries and promotes efforts for better conservation and sustainable management of the ecological and socio cultural heritage in African biosphere reserves. The approach combines the conservation of biodiversity with the sustainable use of natural resources, to empower people to improve their livelihoods sustainably.

“The principles of participation, solidarity and dialogue are the cornerstones of the democratic governance of biosphere reserves”, reminded UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for the Natural Sciences, Flavia Schlegel, in her keynote presentation. “The concerted management of resources within biosphere reserves promotes dialogue between actors and thus helps to reconcile sometimes divergent interests and thus to establish a sustainable peace. As model regions for sustainable development, biosphere reserves provide local solutions to the global challenges of sustainable development, including climate change.

The participants will share lessons learned through case studies and projects across Africa, notably the Green Economy in Biosphere Reserve project that aims to conserve biodiversity by reducing the immediate adverse effects of local reliance on forest products (such as fuel wood), reduce poverty by diversifying the economy, and promote sustainable development by building the capacity of the communities in a holistic manner to ensure sustainable biodiversity businesses. It was implemented in three sub-Saharan biosphere reserves with similar ecosystem types: tropical humid forests in Bia (Ghana) and Omo (Nigeria), and tropical submontane and evergreen forests in the East Usambara (Tanzania). Participants will visit the Omo biosphere reserve to familiarize themselves with four green economy initiatives first hand.

The meeting provides an opportunity to present a new project aiming to promote peace in the Lake Chad basin through the sustainable management of its resources. Over 30 million people depend on this critical ecosystem for water and livelihood, and it is facing environmental, social, and economic and security issues, through land and water degradation, overuse, pollution, climate change, leading to loss of job opportunities and livelihoods. The project will apply the lessons learned in biosphere reserves and World Heritage sites to strengthen the capacities of Chad, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Niger and Nigeria to safeguard and sustainably manage their hydrological, biological and cultural resources.

The 5th General Assembly of the AfriMaB network is taking place from 12 to 15 September. It was opened by the Minister of Environment of Nigeria, Mr. Ibrahim Usman Jibril, and counted with the participation of high-level decision makers and representatives of leading environmental institutions, biosphere reserves and UNESCO. Prof. Augustine Isichei, member of the Nigerian National Committee for the Man and Biosphere programme of UNESCO (MAB) gave a keynote presentation on African Biodiversity and Challenges of Conservation.

Source: http://en.unesco.org/news/biosphere-reserves-promote-sustainable-develo…

 

Hurricanes can turn back the development clock by years

11 September 2017

The everyday names of Hurricanes like Irma belie their unprecedented fury and ability to claim not just human lives, homes, bridges and roads. The silent and barely visible victim of these extreme weather events is, increasingly, human and social development.

World Bank studies indicate that some 26 million people - the equivalent of the combined population of Chile and Bolivia - fall into poverty each year due to natural disasters.

No one can stop a hurricane or earthquake, but there are ways to minimize their impacts, as disaster risk management expert Joaquin Toro explains in the following interview.

Q: It is very early to talk about impacts beyond what you see in the media, but could you give an overview of the potential economic and social impacts of hurricanes like Irma on the development of affected populations?

A: This is a very important point. Disasters impact the poor much more than the rest of the population. The poor have much lower resilience capacities than other sectors of the population. We have seen recent studies by the World Bank indicating that disasters are pushing some 26 million people into poverty each year. This is because some live in high-risk areas and have little capacity to recover from disasters. It is something we are working on, but where much remains to be done.

As for the economic cost, it is very difficult right now to calculate an exact number, but historically hurricanes have cause a great damage in the Caribbean. For example, in 1979, Hurricane David caused damages of over 117% of GDP in Dominica. Hurricane Ivan, in 2004, caused losses in excess of 200% of GDP in Grenada. That is enormous – in just a few days, countries can lose more than the income of an entire year.

Moreover, severe disasters had a direct and considerable impact on economic conditions through issues like reduced productivity and budget deficits, or increase in national debt due to reconstruction costs. And, as we saw with Hurricane Mitch in 1998, this caused 30 years of decreased development in countries like Honduras and Nicaragua.

Q: You said that you are working on this, does it mean that countries have improved resilience to natural disasters, especially in the Caribbean and Central America?

A: Yes. The Central American and Caribbean countries have made significant progress in improving their disaster risk management capabilities, but remain fiscally vulnerable to disasters. Most countries have enacted legislation to create multi-sectoral disaster risk management platforms. They have developed policies and created coordination institutions to enable more efficient systems of emergency management and early warning. Contingency plans are important, but these plans need to be clear, not just at the government level, but at the local level. We see great differences, for example, with logistical capacities in the United States following Irma, where millions of people were evacuated. In developing countries, we still cannot evacuate the entire population. Early warning systems are very useful, but reaching the end of this chain is a little more difficult.

Q: What infrastructure is most vulnerable when we talk about these extreme phenomena?

A: Generally, the most vulnerable infrastructure is the poorest. For example, in the Caribbean, between 60% and 70% of construction is informal. The photos we have seen of Barbuda, especially, show us that the houses have been largely destroyed. In general, this is very vulnerable infrastructure. You can also see the lack of building codes in other structures such as communication towers.

Q: Is Latin America one of the regions most exposed to disaster risk? How can you incorporate a risk management plan into your development agenda with the most urgent priorities to help minimize the impact?

A: This is a challenge that not only the Caribbean islands face but all developing countries. There are a lot of basic needs that they have to cover. Risk management is not a parallel activity, but one that must be present in all sectors: health, housing, education, among others, so that we can make schools safer, for example, or health centers that we can use after disasters, or roads that do not cause flooding.

One of the things that these countries need to do is, on the one hand, stop creating new risks through more orderly planning and incorporating information from these natural events. On the other hand, they need to more systematically reduce the risks that exist today, not only by responding to the emergency, but by using financial protection mechanisms to help speed recovery. It is worth remembering that more than 80% of the population in Latin America lives in urban areas, which increases the exposure to risk.

Q: Could you explain what those financial 'disaster protection mechanisms' are?

A: The work of development finance institutions covers many areas related to the challenges caused by natural hazards and the effects of a changing climate.

In the World Bank case, we focus on five areas:
1. Assessing the risk of disasters in the countries;
2. Reducing risk through structural and non-structural improvements, such as infrastructure improvements, land-use planning and regulation;
3. Facilitating the implementation of disaster preparedness measures such as early warning systems;
4. Developing measures and instruments of financial protection; and, finally,
5. Promoting resilient reconstruction through political and institutional changes.

An example of a financial protection tool facilitated by the World Bank is the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF SPC).

This is a parametric insurance mechanism that provides payments to help member countries finance their initial disaster response once certain conditions are activated. In this way, it helps to solve the short-term cash flow shortage that small developing economies suffer immediately after major natural disasters. For example, as a result of Hurricane Irma, this mechanism came into effect last week for the governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla and St. Kitts and Nevis, for an estimated US $ 15.6 million.

Source: http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2017/09/11/los-huracanes-puede…

 

Hajj: How to Make this Three-million Strong Muslim Pilgrimage Environmentally Friendly

AKEELA BHATTAY Tuesday 5 September 2017
The annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca is over for another year, but the environmental impact is still being felt. Plastic water bottles and cups, Styrofoam take-out containers with half-eaten food, plastic carrier bags; a trail of waste mingling with carbon dioxide fumes erupts from miles of cranky buses, carrying tired yet exultant pilgrims alongside dusty desert roads. These are the environmental remnants of the world’s largest annual pilgrimage. It’s a sorrowful sight – the antithesis to the once-in-a-lifetime spiritual experience that is Hajj.

Going green may seem the obvious choice as we continue to learn more about the effects of climate change, but for Muslims, the protection and maintenance of nature isn’t just a social responsibility – it’s also a religious one. According to the Qur’an, every human being is a steward of the earth, responsible for the care and wellbeing of nature in all its forms, due to, in the words of environmentalist Othman Llewellyn, “humanity’s enormous ability to do both good and evil; with ability comes responsibility.”

So, when approximately three million pilgrims descend upon Mecca and Medina – Islam’s most holy places – during the Hajj pilgrimage, the environmental impact is cause for concern.

Six years ago, Dr Husna Ahmad OBE, CEO of the UK-based international development NGO Global One, created the world’s first “Green Guide to Hajj” in collaboration with ARC. She reflects that perhaps Muslims in 2017 are more aware of their responsibility to the environment and more active in contributing to positive change.

“I set out with a very ambitious plan for the guide but unfortunately I think six years ago when it was produced the Muslim world was not ready to really take action,” she says. “I am still very hopeful that others will continue this work and really push pilgrims to walk lightly on this earth, and use their consumer power to demand that travel agents think about climate change.”

The guide uses extensive theological grounding from the Qur’an and traditions of the Prophet Muhammad to ponder the environmental destruction pilgrims may be causing, as well as offering practical guidance on how to experience a more spiritual, sustainable pilgrimage.

Dr Ahmad argues UK Muslims should be at the forefront of creating a greener Hajj: “While we need to be aware of the poor economic condition of Muslims in the UK, that is still not a good enough excuse for our lack of engagement on climate change. Muslims are becoming more aware of the responsibilities as stewards of this planet, especially Millennial Muslims who are very conscious of the environmental impact of our actions.”

A significant factor in the environmental impact of Hajj tourism is the rise in the number of pilgrims and Saudi’s extensive and continuous expansion and reconstruction of holy sites and hotels. It’s not unusual to hear Hajji’s (the title given to those who’ve performed the Hajj) declaring the number of times they’ve performed this ritual pilgrimage, following in the footsteps of the Prophet of Islam. Although it isn’t forbidden to undertake Hajj multiple times, the environmental teachings of Islam together with scientific findings should, in theory, discourage excessive journeys.

“It is important that people realize it’s irresponsible to take multiple Hajj trips, because the pressures of having a convergence of three million people mean there’s inevitably an environmental impact,” says Dr Ahmad, who suggests quotas as a practical way of tackling the problem.

The Saudi government undoubtedly faces a colossal challenge in managing this unique form of tourism, but progress is being made. “Saudi Arabia is working hard to bring solar energy to the Kingdom with a $50 billion push to promote solar and wind energy, and has installed the Makkah Metro for pilgrims,” says Dr Ahmad.

By 2018 there should be a fully functioning high-speed railway line, serving Mecca, Medina and the entry city for Hajj pilgrims, Jeddah. Some hotels, such as the Movenpick Anwar Al-Madinah, pride themselves on educating both staff and members of the community on sustainable practices. Sameh El Nashar, the hotel’s general manager and head of its environment committee, has implemented a detailed action plan, which ensures business activities do not impact cultural and natural heritage sites; prioritises environmentally friendly waste products; and continually raises awareness of sustainable practices.

Others have joined Dr Ahmad on her quest to create a greener Hajj. Dr Fachruddin Majeri Mangunjaya of Universitas Nasional in Jakarta has long been encouraging Indonesian travel agents to consider sustainable travel, and is now offering pilgrims the world’s first Green Hajj app. Like the Green Guide to Hajj, the app aims to educate pilgrims about their responsibilities as stewards of the earth and to motivate them to do their bit for the environment.

So what can pilgrims do to be environmentally responsible travellers, reduce their carbon footprint and experience the Hajj in a way that is more spiritually rewarding?

Conserve water
Prophetic tradition teaches Muslims to use water sparingly, even if one finds themselves at the mouth of a river.

Choose a green airline
The newest aircrafts tend to fly the most efficient and least polluting planes.

Walk or cycle
It may seem like a hefty and daunting task, but some pilgrims choose to travel to Saudi by foot or bicycle. It may take longer to get there, but a worthwhile endeavour considering the environmental value and spiritual satisfaction.

Pick a hotel that cares
Don’t leave it up to your travel agent to book your hotel; often they’ve bought rooms a year or two in advance and environmental responsibility doesn’t tend to feature in decision making. Do your own research to discover which hotels are committed to green practices.

Pack a re-usable water bottle
Refill, rather than purchase bottled water which contributes to the creation of waste.

Avoid plastic bags
Use reusable cloth totes instead.

Buy local
Swap familiar fast-food chains which tend to import their ingredients from Europe and South America for independent cafes and restaurants using local produce. The same goes for souvenirs; buy from vendors selling locally crafted products.

Get involved
Join climate action groups, such as IFEES and MADE NGO, and help educate the UK’s Muslim community on their responsibility as caretakers of the earth. Vocalise your environmental concerns to travel agents, airlines and hotels.

Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/asia/hajj-pilgrimage-green-guide-me…

 

The Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation: Joint message

of Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on the World Day of Prayer for Creation

The story of creation presents us with a panoramic view of the world. Scripture reveals that, “in the beginning”, God intended humanity to cooperate in the preservation and protection of the natural environment. At first, as we read in Genesis, “no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up – for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground” (2:5). The earth was entrusted to us as a sublime gift and legacy, for which all of us share responsibility until, “in the end”, all things in heaven and on earth will be restored in Christ (cf. Eph 1:10). Our human dignity and welfare are deeply connected to our care for the whole of creation.

However, “in the meantime”, the history of the world presents a very different context. It reveals a morally decaying scenario where our attitude and behaviour towards creation obscures our calling as God’s co-operators. Our propensity to interrupt the world’s delicate and balanced ecosystems, our insatiable desire to manipulate and control the planet’s limited resources, and our greed for limitless profit in markets – all these have alienated us from the original purpose of creation. We no longer respect nature as a shared gift; instead, we regard it as a private possession. We no longer associate with nature in order to sustain it; instead, we lord over it to support our own constructs.

The consequences of this alternative worldview are tragic and lasting. The human environment and the natural environment are deteriorating together, and this deterioration of the planet weighs upon the most vulnerable of its people. The impact of climate change affects, first and foremost, those who live in poverty in every corner of the globe. Our obligation to use the earth’s goods responsibly implies the recognition of and respect for all people and all living creatures. The urgent call and challenge to care for creation are an invitation for all of humanity to work towards sustainable and integral development.

Therefore, united by the same concern for God’s creation and acknowledging the earth as a shared good, we fervently invite all people of goodwill to dedicate a time of prayer for the environment on 1 September. On this occasion, we wish to offer thanks to the loving Creator for the noble gift of creation and to pledge commitment to its care and preservation for the sake of future generations. After all, we know that we labour in vain if the Lord is not by our side (cf. Ps 126-127), if prayer is not at the centre of our reflection and celebration. Indeed, an objective of our prayer is to change the way we perceive the world in order to change the way we relate to the world. The goal of our promise is to be courageous in embracing greater simplicity and solidarity in our lives.

We urgently appeal to those in positions of social and economic, as well as political and cultural, responsibility to hear the cry of the earth and to attend to the needs of the marginalized, but above all to respond to the plea of millions and support the consensus of the world for the healing of our wounded creation. We are convinced that there can be no sincere and enduring resolution to the challenge of the ecological crisis and climate change unless the response is concerted and collective, unless the responsibility is shared and accountable, unless we give priority to solidarity and service.

From the Vatican and from the Phanar, 1 September 2017
Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

Source: http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2017/09/01/the_day_of_prayer_for_the_ca…

 

The Economist article this week is about faiths investing in the environment

September 3, 2017:

The Economist ERASMUS Column this week features a blog by the magazine's religions correspondent Bruce Clark @bruceclark7 mentioning ARC's Zug event in the context of how the great financial investments controlled by the faiths are increasingly concentrating on positive investments, and divesting from companies which are not good for the environment.

From green theory to contentious green action:
How fast should religious investors divest from oil, gas and coal?

BACK in 1988, a modest cleric who was little known outside his home city of Istanbul gave his blessing to an environmental meeting on the Greek island of Patmos, a place associated with a terrifying vision of the apocalypse described in the last book of the Bible. Soon afterwards, Patriarch Dimitrios proposed that September 1st become a yearly day of prayer for the fate of the earth.

Three decades on, that initiative has been turned into an entire month of eco-spiritual activities, backed by religious leaders who speak for hundreds of millions of people. It has been taken up by the World Council of Churches, grouping 345 religious bodies, and the Vatican. And in the process, lofty theological theory has been combined with a new emphasis on concrete, and often highly contentious, forms of action.

This year, a ringing denunciation of human abuse of the planet was issued jointly on September 1st by Pope Francis and Bartholomew I, the better-known successor of Dimitrios as Patriarch of Constantinople, a post which enjoys “primacy of honour” in the eastern Christian world.

Deftly mixing concern for the earth with concern for humanity, the two leaders said:

The human environment and the natural environment are deteriorating together, and this deterioration of the planet weighs upon the most vulnerable of its people. The impact of climate change affects, first and foremost, those who live in poverty in every corner of the globe.

What activists are now calling the “season of creation” will conclude on October 4th which is the day of Saint Francis of Assisi, from whom the pontiff takes his name. There will be an announcement by various Christian organisations around the world about further moves to withdraw their investments from fossil fuels. It won’t stop there. On October 29th, high-powered faith-based investors will gather in the Swiss town of Zug to consider how they can move from merely avoiding “bad” financial commitments to putting their money in places where it will do environmental good as well as grow. Given the billions of dollars in assets (land and buildings as well as pension and investment funds) that religions control, their effect on the planet comes at least as much through their actions as their galvanising words. But what actions, exactly? Even among those who concur that it’s a good idea to shift as fast as possible to a fossil-free global economy, there is much disagreement on how to encourage that. Justin Welby, the archbishop who leads the 85m-strong Anglican Communion as well as England’s state church, is among those who favours a gradual approach. In May it was announced that he had helped persuade a global asset management company, BMO, to scale down progressively its involvement with fossil-fuel extraction.

But to the dismay of radical climate activists, his own church and its financial managers insist that using their influence, and shares, to parley with energy companies is better than complete and instant withdrawal. As a representative of the Church of England pension fund put it, economists expect that “fossil fuels will continue to be an important component in the global energy mix for several more decades.” So the aim should be to nudge the sector in the right direction. Militant greens, including religious ones, remain unconvinced. The fact that religious people are arguing rather loudly about how to be good global citizens is probably a healthy sign. It means that the inspiring words of prelates, priests and patriarchs are filtering down to a place where finite resources have to be allocated and hard choices have to be made: the terrain where we all live.

Source Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC): http://www.arcworld.org/news.asp?pageID=855

 

New Book by IEF Member Mr. Kadima Mpoyi Long'sha

A French book titled "Changements climatiques, nous sommes plus que concernés" (Climate change, we are more than concerned) has been published by IEF member, Mr. Kadima Mpoyi Long'sha, NGO Coordinator of the "Action pour la Protection et la Réorganisation de l’Environnement” (APRE), member of the “Groupe de Travail Climat REED” (GTCR) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This book is the fifth written by this author.

In this new book, the author outlines that it is increasingly obvious that the warming of our small blue planet, our only and single residence, is an anthropogenic phenomenon which worries the whole of humanity. He mentions that this phenomenon constitutes both a threat and an opportunity.

To save this boat, which is the home of our species, from shipwreck, all the countries and people of the world, whatever their level of responsibility, must, each and every one, make a contribution to the fight against climate change. The DRC is not excluded. Admittedly, its forest and savannas help to mitigate the build up of greenhouse gases. Will the DRC take advantage of this opportunity? And if research finds another solution to sequester carbon dioxide, how would the DRC fight against its poverty?

Is it not paradoxical, on the global level, that the reduction poverty in developing countries is being supported by the sequestration of C02 emitted mostly by the rich countries? Why not act on the extremes of poverty and wealth?

Changements climatiques, nous sommes plus que concernés" is subdivided in two major parts, the first with chapters such as:
• Earth, our residence,
• Some environmental concepts,
• Consumption and the climate crisis,
• Planetary warming and greenhouse gases,
• Sources of greenhouse gases,
• The ozone hole,
• Climate change and carbon,
• Interaction between CO2, the global temperature and polar areas,
• Lungs of the Earth,
• Appropriateness of the climate change, and
• Sustainable development.

The second part deals with matters such as:
• World order and the climate crisis,
• DRC, dustbin of the rest of humanity,
• The dustbin of humanity and its waste,
• To live in the skin of our ancestors,
• Assets of the traditional company,
• Climate prejudices and changes,
• Women and climate change,
• Climate change and ethics,
• A total strategy for a new world order

Contact: kadilongsha@yahoo.fr Tél: +243997405879, +243817013982

 

Living Greens Farm is changing the way farms grow food

Living Greens Farm is innovative – and is growing a revolution, resulting in a sustainable, commercially viable farm-of-the-future. Living Greens Farm is an Aeroponic vertical indoor year-round grower of high quality fresh lettuce, herbs and micro greens. By leveraging their growing system, they use approximately 200 times less land and 95% less water than traditional farming practices – with no herbicides or pesticides or GMOs. This provides the plants high levels of oxygen, which result in a full line of products always consistent and with bright flavor profiles. They provide fresh veggies year-round with a process designed for industry leading food safety standards. Their produce is healthier for us, and their growing process is better for the environment.

What is aeroponics? It is a plant cultivation technique in which the roots hang suspended in the air while a nutrient solution is delivered to them in the form of a fine mist. Plant roots need access to oxygen to absorb nutrients. The challenge with traditional soil growing methods is that oxygen absorption is reduced by as much as 70%. But at Living Greens Farm, starting with natural seeds, plants receive 99.9% of the oxygen needed, and the end result is that plants grow faster, stronger, and healthier/more disease resistant than other methods – and we consumers notice the difference in freshness and taste!

It took Living Greens 5 years and over $5 million dollars just to invent their technology. Today, they are at an inflection point and are now expanding with projects planned across the country and the world. They are excited by the market acceptance and look forward to being a contributor to improving the health of both the planet and mankind.

Controlled-environment agriculture (CEA) is a technology-based approach toward food production. The aim of CEA is to provide protection and maintain optimal growing conditions throughout the development of the crop. Production takes place within an enclosed growing structure, such as a greenhouse or building.

In 2012 the Faribault Daily News wrote an article about Dana Anderson and Living Greens Farm, and this is, in part, what they said:
Living Greens Farm could be considered anything but what its name implies. It is housed in a building on 30th Street Northwest, in the middle of the city’s industrial park. There are no silos, nor big pieces of machinery that are the usual hallmarks of a farm, and absolutely no one is concerned about the weather. But there are a lot people involved with “PhD” after their names and they do plan on growing something — leafy greens, to be exact.

Anderson and a slew of people who have made a career of studying how things grow created Living Greens Farm to solve what they see as an imminent crisis: the depletion of the world’s food supply. The World Food Bank and the United Nations provide startling statistics:
• The world’s population is growing by the equivalent of the country of Germany (80 million) per year
• Current innovations in traditional farming result in only linear growth in production, while growth in demand for food is exponential
• That gap can no longer be offset by increasing the acreage farmed; 75 million acres of arable land are lost each year to environmental factors, urbanization and industrial use
• The United States has seen its tillable land decline by 32 percent since 1975.

“There are no more acres,” said Anderson.

The following is Dana’s story. What I realized about CEA, is the challenge is an engineering one. Growing plants inside is well known and studied. But, a system to scale and commercialize was not yet designed. The emphasis was, and still is, to put all best in class technologies together. I spent all of 2010 and 2011 trying to figure out what those pieces should be.

During this time, I began to talk to more and more people on how this could come together. Some of my clients were engineers and became interested in the concept and joined me in the research phase of the project.

I built my first aeroponic A-frame in my garage in 2011, and came up with the name Living Greens Farm for the dual-mission of the company, which are to produce leafy greens economically and a way for us all to live a greener life.

From 2012 to 2016 I hired and consulted with dozens of growers and engineers to design and develop the system we now have. I did not have all the answers and had to invent many innovations to make the systems better. Slowly, through trial and error, we found our way to the answers. We are not finished yet, but we are now moving past the systems to automation at the perimeter of the farm.

Our early realization was that we needed to put all the best in class technologies together into one system. The first decision was to grow aeroponically.

Past aeroponics, the other key technologies included: Lighting system, Frame structure, Grow boards, and Software development. However, as we dove deeper into the designs, it became apparent we needed to invent more solutions. We have advanced the basic concepts to solve problems that have been inherent in previous vertical farming endeavors, such as: High-expense equipment, High labor costs, High maintenance costs, and Pathogens.

Prior to LGF, growers were known for seasonal crops and specific climates. Consumers are accustomed to not having certain products at given times of the year, and are forced to wait until the “season is in”. Living Greens Farm is not just different in that its product is locally grown; it is a model with true sustainable characteristics.

Faster growth is crucial to success in vertical farming. Vertical growing quadruples per square foot of floor space. Yet, the plants are accessible from the floor and ergonomically friendly to humans and automation alike.

Over 1,200 complete system growing cycles (512 square feet per cycle) have been accomplished in actual use, providing meaningful and accurate metrics on system performance and yields. Many of the production processes are managed and controlled electronically, and/or remotely.

Our production system and electronic controls system provide for an optimum environment for our plants, consistently high quality, time after time, month after month. The LGF model allows fast reaction to market conditions. While most farmers and greenhouses are locked into producing just one or two crops for an entire season, we can and have reacted to market shifts in a matter of weeks.

Finally, a major reason for greenhouse failures is development of pathogens. Our system reduces the risk of pathogens for using shorter growing cycles, the inherent unique advantages of aeroponics and thorough systematized sanitation processes.

Aeroponics is the fastest and healthiest way to grow many types of plants. An aeroponic platform will allow consumers to select a better, more sustainable, and healthier alternative to conventional approaches.

The world has changed a lot since 2009. While the challenges have yet to hit us hard, I believe we can say we are working toward the 21st century farm of the future.

Please feel free to write, call or send an email to Living Greens Farm, http://www.livinggreensfarm.com/, 1512 30th Street NW, Faribault, Minnesota 55021, 952-226-2644, email Dana@livinggreens.net.


Updated 19 September 2017