Newsletter of the
INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT FORUM
Volume 24, Number 8 --- 15 August 2022
Article submission: firstname.lastname@example.org Deadline next issue 10 August 2020
Secretariat Email: email@example.com Christine Muller General Secretary
Postal address: 12B Chemin de Maisonneuve, CH-1219 Chatelaine, Geneva, Switzerland
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From the Editor, Request for information for upcoming newsletters
This newsletter is an opportunity for IEF members to share their experiences, activities, and initiatives that are taking place at the community level on environment, climate change and sustainability. All members are welcome to contribute information about related activities, upcoming conferences, news from like-minded organizations, recommended websites, book reviews, etc. Please send information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please share the Leaves newsletter and IEF membership information with family, friends and associates, and encourage interested persons to consider becoming a member of the IEF.
IEF General Assembly
This year’s IEF General Assembly will take place virtually on Sunday, 25 September, at 1pm EDT / 19:00 CEST, preceded by the board election. More details will follow in the September Newsletter, and members will receive a special mailing in September.
Global Solidarity Accounting
The quest for Global Solidarity Accounting based on spiritual and ethical values has been continuing and developing.
The main page of the project is updated and now also explains the reason for the change of name from Global Systems Accounting beyond Economics to Global Solidarity Accounting.
Arthur Dahl also revised and updated his position paper to the current understanding.
There is now also a new page on Global Solidarity Accounting - a Community Approach, see the beginning in the next article.
Global Solidarity Accounting - a Community Approach
Recent efforts to think about the well-being of humans and nature in other than financial terms (see the accounting page) suggest new ways to help local communities read their local reality and consult on possible social actions. The approach is not to suggest solutions, but to help to ask the right questions about the challenges we all face in a world materially united but socially and spiritually divided. We invite you to consider sharing this with your own community.
1. THE EARTH SYSTEM Humanity is part of a global Earth System along with nature. We must maintain the integrity and productivity of this common home of humanity to ensure our own survival, well-being and progress, and that of future generations.
2. HUMAN SOCIETY Our present dominant economic system is materialistic, accounting for everything in financial terms that reflect and encourage endless growth in greed and selfishness. If we put humans at the centre, our human purpose should be solidarity, to acquire the refinements of human character and institutional purpose that facilitate cooperation and reciprocity individually and collectively. Our values and ethical principles should operate at three levels: the individual, directing our own behaviour and motivation; the community where we interact with others; and the institutions that direct and govern us.
3. ENVIRONMENT Nature is driven largely by solar energy through photosynthesis in plants to provide the energy and natural resources to meet the physical needs of all life including our own. It created and maintains a planetary environment suitable for life. This includes the energy system behind the climate, now upset with global heating, and all the ecosystem services upon which we depend, and which we are upsetting with our destructive overuse, pollution and waste. At the community level, we can assess the state of our local environment, our contribution to damage more widely, and our potential to reduce our environmental footprint and to protect or restore nature locally.
4. BASIC NEEDS We all have physical requirements to ensure our individual and collective survival. These include meeting our basic needs for water, food, energy, shelter, health, security, etc, now provided increasingly by our material civilization, to the extent that we often forget that these depend ultimately on nature and its services. When our basic needs are not met, our capacity is seriously diminished.
5. SOCIAL DIMENSIONS We are a social species, forming communities and higher levels of organization, and collaborate in social processes like work and governance, our civilisational dimensions of knowledge, science and culture, including indigenous knowledge, and ultimately the world-views, values and spiritual capital that determine how we organize society.
6. DYNAMIC LEARNING All systems including our communities are dynamic and constantly changing and evolving, increasing in integration and efficiency when functioning with cooperation and reciprocity, and disintegrating and even self-destructing when losing cohesion and fragmenting. There is always the unknown to be explored, and the surprises inherent in complex systems, requiring an attitude of learning from experience as we go forward. For things that are important to us, we need to measure how they change over time and the effects of our actions, so that we can adjust accordingly.
7. SOLIDARITY Our community can advance in addressing its problems when it has solidarity, with everyone having some capacity to contribute in service to the whole. Valuing solidarity in our community can give it a sense of direction encompassing justice, equity, cooperation, leaving no one behind, acknowledging the unity of our community in all its diversity. The ideal for our community would be the full use of everyone’s capacities. Any neglect or exclusion of community members would be like a debt with an outstanding balance to be repaid.
8. GLOBALIZATION Many of today’s problems are due to the changing scale of human organization through globalization. The industrial and technological revolutions have raised human impacts and resource withdrawals to the planetary scale, impacting and degrading the life-support systems of nature and creating existential threats to our future. Technology has also created the means in communications and transportation necessary to function as a single global system. However human social systems, especially of the economy and governance, have not kept pace, remaining trapped in a framework of national sovereignty and global anarchy. An accounting system needs to define and motivate the steps necessary to organize governance of our common global resources.
9. ACCESSIBILITY The accounting concept needs to be accessible to all, simple enough to be understood as common sense, like telling a story. It should work at any level from the individual and community up to the global level. By using science-based measures, it should be seen as objective and trustworthy, helping to define the ideal state we want, and how our solidarity can lead to progress. By showing ethical human actions, the system can inspire compassion for those left behind and motivate us to act to transform our community.
To continue reading how global solidarity accounting might help a community, go here. https://www.iefworld.org/accounting_community
Sustainable Development Goals Report 2022
The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2022, published on 7 July 2022, provides a global overview of progress on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, using the latest available data and estimates. It tracks the global and regional progress towards the 17 Goals with in-depth analyses of selected indicators for each Goal.
According to the Report, cascading and interlinked crises are putting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in grave danger, along with humanity’s very own survival. The Report highlights the severity and magnitude of the challenges before us. The confluence of crises, dominated by COVID-19, climate change, and conflicts, are creating spin-off impacts on food and nutrition, health, education, the environment, and peace and security, and affecting all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Report details the reversal of years of progress in eradicating poverty and hunger, improving health and education, providing basic services, and much more. It also points out areas that need urgent action in order to rescue the SDGs and deliver meaningful progress for people and the planet by 2030.
Words to Remember
Do not busy yourselves in your own concerns; let your thoughts be fixed upon that which will rehabilitate the fortunes of mankind and sanctify the hearts and souls of men. This can best be achieved through pure and holy deeds, through a virtuous life and a goodly behavior.
The welfare of any segment of society is inextricably bound up with the welfare of the whole.
Universal House of Justice
“We need to end senseless wars, unleash renewable energy revolution, invest in people – now.”
July 13, 2022 Remarks by António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General,
at the opening of the 2022 High-level Segment of ECOSOC, Ministerial Segment of High-Level Political Forum.
You can watch the video (11:30) here: UN Chief: We need to end senseless wars, unleash renewable energy revolution, invest in people - now
For a full transcript, go here.
Human Right to a Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment approved by UN General Assembly
On Thursday 28 July 2022, the United Nations General Assembly approved a resolution acknowledging that an environment that is healthy, clean and sustainable is a universal human right. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet welcomed the move and called for authorities around the world to take urgent action to ensure all people have access to a safe, sustainable environment.
See also the article by David Boyd, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, of 8 April 2022
Multiple values of nature and its benefits
IPBES Values Assessment Latest report of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) 11 July 2022
Decisions Based on Narrow Set of Market Values of Nature Underpin the Global Biodiversity Crisis
More than 50 Methods & Approaches Exist to Make Visible the Diverse Values of Nature
The way nature is valued in political and economic decisions is both a key driver of the global biodiversity crisis and a vital opportunity to address it, according to a four-year methodological assessment by 82 top scientists and experts from every region of the world.
Approved on July 9 2022, by representatives of the 139 member States of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the Assessment Report on the Diverse Values and Valuation of Nature finds that there is a dominant global focus on short-term profits and economic growth, often excluding the consideration of multiple values of nature in policy decisions.
Economic and political decisions have predominantly prioritised certain values of nature, particularly market-based instrumental values of nature, such as those associated with food produced intensively. Although often privileged in policymaking, these market values do not adequately reflect how changes in nature affect people’s quality of life. Furthermore, policymaking overlooks the many non-market values associated with nature’s contributions to people, such as climate regulation and cultural identity.
“With more than 50 valuation methods and approaches, there is no shortage of ways and tools to make visible the values of nature,” said Prof. Unai Pascual (Spain/Switzerland), who co-chaired the Assessment with Prof. Patricia Balvanera (Mexico), Prof. Mike Christie (UK) and Dr. Brigitte Baptiste (Colombia). “Only 2% of the more than 1,000 studies reviewed consult stakeholders on valuation findings and only 1% of the studies involved stakeholders in every step of the process of valuing nature. What is in short supply is the use of valuation methods to tackle power asymmetries among stakeholders, and to transparently embed the diverse values of nature into policymaking.”
Deeply cross-disciplinary and based on a large review conducted by experts in social science, economics and the humanities, the Values Assessment draws on more than 13,000 references – including scientific papers and information sources from indigenous and local knowledge. It also builds directly on the 2019 IPBES Global Assessment, which identified the role of economic growth as a key driver of nature loss, with 1 million species of plants and animals now at risk of extinction.
To help policymakers better understand the very different ways in which people conceive and value nature, the Report provides a novel and comprehensive typology of nature’s values. The typology highlights how different worldviews and knowledge systems influence the ways people interact with and value nature.
In order to make this typology useful for decision-making, the authors present four general perspectives. These are: living from, with, in and as nature. Living from nature emphasizes nature’s capacity to provide resources for sustaining livelihoods, needs and wants of people, such as food and material goods. Living with nature has a focus on life ‘other than human’ such as the intrinsic right of fish in a river to thrive independently of human needs. Living in nature refers to the importance of nature as the setting for people’s sense of place and identity. Living as nature sees the natural world as a physical, mental and spiritual part of oneself.
The Report finds that the number of studies that value nature has increased on average by more than 10% per year over the last four decades. The most prominent focus of recent (2010-2020) valuation studies has been on improving the condition of nature (65% of valuation studies reviewed) and on improving people’s quality of life (31%), with just 4% focused on improving issues around social justice. 74% of valuation studies focused on instrumental values, with 20% focused on intrinsic values, and just 6% focused on relational values.
“The Values Assessment provides decision-makers with concrete tools and methods to better understand the values that individuals and communities hold about nature,” said Prof. Balvanera. “For example, it highlights five iterative steps to design valuation to fit the needs of different decision-making contexts. The report also provides guidelines on how to enhance the quality of valuation by taking into account relevance, robustness and resource requirements of different valuation methods.”
“Different types of values can be measured using different valuation methods and indicators. For example, a development project can yield economic benefits and jobs, for which instrumental values of nature can be assessed, but it can also lead to loss of species, associated with intrinsic values of nature, and the destruction of heritage sites important for cultural identity, thus affecting relational values of nature. The report provides guidance for combining these very diverse values.”
“Valuation is an explicit and intentional process,” said Prof. Christie. “The type and quality of information that valuation studies can produce largely depends on how, why and by whom valuation is designed and applied. This influences whose and which values of nature would be recognized in decisions, and how fairly the benefits and burdens of these decisions would be distributed.”
“Recognizing and respecting the worldviews, values and traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities allows policies to be more inclusive, which also translates into better outcomes for people and nature”, said Dr. Baptiste. “Also, recognizing the role of women in the stewardship of nature and overcoming power asymmetries frequently related to gender status, can advance the inclusion of the diversity of values in decisions about nature.”
The Report finds that there are a number of deeply held values that can be aligned with sustainability, emphasizing principles like unity, responsibility, stewardship and justice, both towards other people and towards nature. “Shifting decision-making towards the multiple values of nature is a really important part of the system-wide transformative change needed to address the current global biodiversity crisis,” said Dr. Balvanera. “This entails redefining ‘development’ and 'good quality of life’ and recognising the multiple ways people relate to each other and to the natural world.”
The authors identify four values-centred ‘leverage points’ that can help create the conditions for the transformative change necessary for more sustainable and just futures:
• Recognizing the diverse values of nature
• Embedding valuation into decision-making
• Reforming policies and regulations to internalize nature’s values
• Shifting underlying societal norms and goals to align with global sustainability and justice objectives
“Our analysis shows that various pathways can contribute to achieve just and sustainable futures. The report pays specific attention to future pathways related to ‘green economy’, ‘degrowth’, ‘Earth stewardship’, and ‘nature protection’. Although each pathway is underpinned by different values, they share principles aligned with sustainability,” added Prof. Pascual. “Pathways arising from diverse worldviews and knowledge systems, for instance those associated with living well and other philosophies of good living, can also lead towards sustainability.”
Among the other tools offered by the Report to strengthen the consideration of greater diversity of values of nature in decision-making are: an exploration of entry points for valuation across all parts of the policy cycle; six interrelated values-centred guidelines to promote sustainability pathways; an evaluation of the potential of different environmental policy instruments to support transformative change towards more sustainable and just futures by representing diverse values, and a detailed illustration of the required capacities of decision-makers to foster the consideration and embedding of the diverse values of nature into decisions.
“Biodiversity is being lost and nature’s contributions to people are being degraded faster now than at any other point in human history,” said Ana María Hernández Salgar, Chair of IPBES. “This is largely because our current approach to political and economic decisions does not sufficiently account for the diversity of nature’s values. The IPBES Values Assessment is being released at an extremely important time – just in advance of the expected agreement later this year by the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity on a new global biodiversity framework for the next decade. The information, analysis and tools offered by the Values Assessment make an invaluable contribution to that process, to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and to shifting all decisions towards better values-centred outcomes for people and the rest of nature.”
Source: IPBES news release 11 July 2022 https://ipbes.net/media_release/Values_Assessment_Published The advance unedited version of the summary for policymakers can be downloaded at https://zenodo.org/record/6832427
Statement by Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity at the occasion of the International Youth Day 2022
12 August 2022
Youth are, and always have been, incredible allies of the Convention. Their voices are ringing out louder now than ever before and they are crying out on behalf of our planet. They are demanding change. I am so proud to stand in partnership with our youth in the fight against biodiversity loss.
The theme of this year’s International Youth Day is Intergenerational Solidarity: Creating a World for All Ages. This theme is incredibly timely as it encourages a call to action across all generations to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and all supportive frameworks. In the coming months, the Convention on Biological Diversity will agree on the terms of a global biodiversity framework to provide guidance on building a world where all human beings live in harmony with nature, leaving no one behind.
There are 1.2 billion young people between the ages of 15 and 24 years old worldwide, or one in six persons. The youth population in the poorest countries is projected to increase by 62% by 2050. Youth living in developing countries are among those who are the most affected by the current biodiversity crisis as they often depend on healthy ecosystems for their wellbeing and livelihoods. We must answer their call. We must leave no one behind.
If we hope to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we must make space for people of all ages in decision-making processes. Youth are key to making the transformative change needed to preserve biodiversity. Engaging them can help empower actors from all spheres and sectors of society in the implementation of biodiversity-related goals and targets.
Under the Convention on Biological Diversity, youth have a seat at the table. Young people participate actively in decision-making processes, keeping track of governments’ commitments on biodiversity, proposing solutions, and turning such commitments into much needed actions.
Youth are the society of today, and tomorrow. They are ready and willing to work together with other generations. They know that we must act today if we have any hope of living in harmony with nature tomorrow.
On this International Youth Day, I encourage every citizen to reflect on their engagement with other generations, and how they can contribute to promoting intergenerational dialogues. Intergenerational solidarity, equity and dialogues are essential to ensure an inclusive and sustainable future.
Let us answer the call of youth as they speak out on behalf of the planet they are inheriting. Let us welcome their vision, their input and their passion. Let us allow them room to participate and grow as, together, we build a better tomorrow, today.
Source: Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, http://www.cbd.int/
2022 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development
The High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), established by the UN General Assembly in 2013 as the main forum for sustainable development issues within the UN, was held between 5 and 15 July.
The theme for the 2022 HLPF was “Building back better from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.
On July 18, after the 2022 HLPF, the SDG Lab, Cepei, and IISD, in collaboration with the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), held a panel discussion and Q&A session answering:
● How did the HLPF go?
● What challenges were identified and what themes emerged for moving forward with the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
● Where does the 2030 Agenda go from here?
You can watch the video (1 hour 5 min.) of this debrief here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7vb9-vwqkg
You can also watch many of HLPF key events:
Unmute Civil Society towards a Recovery for All
Co-hosted by the Governments of Denmark and Costa Rica and co-organised by UN Foundation, Action for Sustainable Development, CIVICUS, GCAP and Forus as a follow-up to the UNmute Civil Society initiative. Watch here.
Official Session: Vision of civil society: Leaving no one behind in recovering better
The main session which featured civil society voices from around the world was hosted in the plenary hall at the UN. Watch here.
NGO Major Group Side Event “Community action for the recovery: Grassroot models for the benefit for all” Watch here.
CIVICUS Side Event “Rebuilding for good’’ from the COVID-19 pandemic: The role of civil society Watch here.
GCAP Side Event “How to achieve the SDGs despite the worsening hunger and poverty crisis?”
Forus Online Event “Harnessing the power of digitalization to promote democracy and strengthen civic space”
Source: Newsletter of Action for Sustainable Development
Items of Interest
UN Charter Day Discussion: The UN Charter and the Prevention of Wars and other Existential Threats
The Stimson Center, Climate Governance Commission, Foundation for Global Governance and Sustainability (FOGGS), and the Global Governance Forum convened a hybrid meeting in Geneva on UN Charter Day, 26 June, to discuss and debate whether the current UN Charter is fit to serve its stated main purposes, and if not, how this could be addressed.
The summary of their discussion is now available here
Indigenous people lead essential global transformation on nature, climate, economies
By Jamison Ervin, manager of Global Programme on Nature for Development, UNDP
A Materials War: Ukraine and the Race for Resources
“Wars are both political and material. Hidden underneath Ukraine’s fertile land are vast amounts of resources that global powers desperately want. The risk of a resource grab sold to the public as ‘rebuilding Ukraine’ is very real, write Robin Roels, Diego Marin and Nick Meynen.”
Overfishing, Conservation, Sustainability, and Farmed Fish
By Coty Perry
Updated 15 August 2022