Newsletter of the
INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT FORUM
Volume 15, Number 8 --- 15 August 2013
Article submission: firstname.lastname@example.org Deadline next issue 13 September 2013
Secretariat Email: email@example.com General Secretary Emily Firth
Postal address: 12B Chemin de Maisonneuve, CH-1219 Chatelaine, Geneva, Switzerland
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From the Editor, Request for information for upcoming newsletters
This newsletter is an opportunity for IEF members to share their experiences, activities, and initiatives that are taking place at the community level on climate change action. All members are welcome to contribute information about related activities, upcoming conferences, news from like-minded organizations, recommended websites, book reviews, etc. Please send information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please share the Leaves newsletter and IEF membership information with family, friends and associates, and encourage interested persons to consider becoming a member of the IEF.
IEF 17th Annual Conference, Barcelona, Spain, 3-6 October 2013
The 17th Annual Conference of the International Environment Forum will be held in Barcelona, Spain, on 3-6 October 2013, as a joint conference with ebbf, our partner Baha'i-inspired organization for values in business, on the theme "Co-creating sustainable wealth: how can we combine ecology and economy?". The conference, at the beautiful Gran Hotel Rey Don Jaime, Castelldefels, near the Barcelona airport, will explore positive solutions for transforming the economy and building a more sustainable society by empowering individuals, communities and corporations and other institutions. Registration is now open on the ebbf conference web site at http://www.makeitmeaningful.org/. The conference registration fee for IEF/ebbf members is €135, €180 for non-members. You can also reserve your hotel room on the web site. Register quickly before the conference is sold out.
The need and thirst for new business models that are connected with the evolving needs of society has never been stronger. The question that must be answered to address this need is: How can we jointly create a business model that has a dynamic coherence between ecological and economic priorities, is ethically sound, and which creates wealth that is sustainable? The answer will involve shifting our lives towards not just sustainable actions but a sustainable attitude in everything we do. But how can we start the transition to a business model that embeds a sustainable attitude at its core?
At the ebbf-IEF 2013 annual conference we will attempt to uncover some of the underlying principles that can help us co-create this sustainable wealth. We will explore and learn from some of the innovative initiatives that are arising in local communities which are leading the way in developing new business models when economic or political systems fail, new ideas from industrial ecology, new services and products that are addressing the balance of ecology and economy and new ways of producing them. We will see innovations in the energy market: how not only new sources of energy but new financial models for sustainable energy are arising. We will look at other ways in which, as we reach the planetary limits of available material resources, we can prepare and develop the often untapped abundance of human resources and innovation. We will investigate new lean management processes that are helping individuals and organizations transition more effectively towards sustainable wealth. Ultimately we will try to come up with some practical ways in which we can transition to a new business model that produces sustainable wealth and brings hope to society.
As in every IEF and ebbf event we will open our minds through thought provoking ideas, deepen our understanding of those ideas through meaningful conversations, and be inspired by new thinking which will give us the courage and methods to implement new meaningful models of work in our workplaces. IEF members Victoria Thoresen and Arthur Dahl will be among the featured speakers.
The IEF Annual General Assembly will be held on Friday 4 October at 18:00 at the Gran Hotel Rey Don Jaime in Barcelona. Voting instructions for participating in the election of the IEF Governing Board will be sent our to all IEF members in advance.
• We start this learning journey to co-create sustainable wealth
• What do we mean by “sustainable wealth”?
• What does sustainable wealth look like both at the macroeconomic level and in our own working lives?
• What are the underlying principles that can help us co-create sustainable wealth?
• What new services, products and business models are successfully balancing ecological and economical priorities?
• How can we start the transition to a new business model that embeds a “sustainable attitude” at its core?
• What Innovative Collaborative Initiatives are co-creating sustainable wealth?
• How can we empower individuals to co-create new sustainable models in their workplaces?
• What do I now feel inspired and comfortable to achieve in my workplace to co-create sustainable wealth, with the new concepts and connections made during the event?
Wilmette Institute Online Course on Sustainable Development
The Wilmette Institute is again offering its popular three month on-line course on "Sustainable Development and the Prosperity of Humankind" starting September 20th.
Lead Faculty is Prof. Arthur Lyon Dahl, supported by Christine Muller, Karryn Olson-Ramanujan and Melinda Salazar, all IEF members. The course runs for three months (September 20 - December 20, 2013). This course on “Sustainable Development and the Prosperity of Humankind” will examine the wide agreement about the need to achieve sustainable development and seek to understand its profound implications for a prosperous human society, implications that are poorly understood. From a Bahá'í perspective, we will start with a general introduction to sustainable development and its goal--the prosperity of humankind. Our objectives include teaching ourselves how to think about sustainability by integrating both the material and spiritual dimensions of life into a long-term systems perspective and how to apply that thinking to questions of everyday life and lifestyle. While the course starts from a Baha'i perspective, it is appropriate for those from all faith traditions.
The course schedule is:
Friday, September 20, 2013: Introduction to the Course and to Moodle
Tuesday, September 24, 2013: Introduction to the Concept of Sustainable Development
Tuesday, October 8, 2013: Economic Development and Sustainability: Poverty and Wealth
Tuesday, October 22, 2013: Social Development: Crises and Solutions
Tuesday, November 5, 2013: The Environmental Challenge and Baha'i Approaches
Tuesday, November 19, 2013: Future Perspectives on the Prosperity of Humankind
Tuesday, December 3, 2013: Education for Sustainable Development: Individual and Community Action
Tuesday, December 17, 2013: Wrap Up and Integration
The fees are $150 for an individual, $300 for a study group (2-6 students), $120 for Seniors or full-time University Students.
For a Course Description, go to http://www.cvent.com/events/sustainable-development-and-the-prosperity-… event-summary-1e0b736e4dbe46a1ba3ca9790a03734e.aspx
To Register, go to https://www.cvent.com/events/sustainable-development-and-the-prosperity… registration-1e0b736e4dbe46a1ba3ca9790a03734e.aspx
China Outpacing Rest of World in Natural Resource Use --
Country's Success in Improving Resource Efficiency Must be Accelerated to
Avert Increased Environmental Damage
Kubuqi (China)/Bangkok, 02 August 2013 - China has surged ahead of the rest of the world in material consumption, creating intense environmental pressures, but the country also remains among the most successful in improving resource efficiency, according to a new report released by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) today.
The report found that China's growing affluence has made it the world's largest consumer of primary materials (such as construction minerals, metal ores, fossil fuels and biomass), with domestic material consumption levels four times that of the USA.
From 1970 to 2008, China's per capita consumption of materials grew from one third to over one and a half times the world's average levels. Domestic consumption of natural resources per capita increased at almost twice the rate of the whole of the Asia Pacific region due to massive investments in urban infrastructure, energy systems and manufacturing capacity. The report notes, however, that some 20 per cent of the resource use in China goes towards the production of goods which are eventually consumed abroad.
"China has seen dramatic growth in past decades and the effect of this transition on global demand for natural resources is unprecedented," said UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. "While that growth has lifted millions out of poverty, it has also come with rising environmental challenges linked to the extracting, processing and use of those natural resources. This report underlines that China, in common with other emerging economies, needs to make significant investments in more resource-efficient infrastructure, such as green buildings and public transport, but also in human capital and governance capacity, if a transition to a sustainable economic model is to be truly realized," added Mr. Steiner.
The UNEP report underlines China's relative improvements in energy efficiency. While the country's absolute energy efficiency is below the average for the Asia Pacific region and the rest of the world, its energy efficiency improved faster than anywhere else over the past four decades. However the report notes these improvements in energy efficiency alone are not enough to stabilize environmental pressures. It states that if China's most recent policy initiatives - which include targets to reduce water consumption and losses of arable land, and to increase the up-take of non-fossil fuels - fail to accelerate resource efficiency gains beyond current rates, environmental pressures can be expected to increase rapidly.
The report underlines the effects of China's massive urbanization, and related infrastructure investments. As a proportion of total domestic consumption of materials, the proportion of biomass dropped from 63 per cent to 15 per cent between 1970 and 2008, while consumption of construction minerals increased from 8 per cent to 63 per cent and metal ores and industrial minerals doubled their share from 4 per cent to 8 per cent. Over the same period, the absolute level of consumption of fossil fuels increased more than sevenfold, at an average annual growth of 5.3 per cent. Of the fossil fuels, coal supply grew most rapidly, increasing from 1970's 49 per cent to 2009's 67 per cent of total primary energy supply. The large and increasing share of coal also contributes to fast rising carbon dioxide emissions. China emits more than four times the world average of greenhouse gases per unit of economic output, and twice that of the Asia Pacific region.
As a response to such pressures, the UNEP report notes that recent government planning in China has seen a major sustainability shift in terms of the objectives of economic policy. The previous and current Five-Year Plans for Social and Economic Development (FYPs) have an increased focus on more balanced growth, greater resource and energy efficiency, better living standards, and sustainable rural-urban development. The Chinese government has adopted a number of policy instruments to strengthen the economy and conserve resources, including a US$586 billion stimulus package with a green focus, incentives for more efficient vehicles, and setting targets for a more energy efficient building sector. Mainstreaming sustainability into national development plans and decoupling resource use from economic activity may prove to be very successful strategies to improve environmental quality while ensuring further investment into economic growth and human development.
China is also one of the first countries to embrace the circular economy approach as a new paradigm for economic and industrial development. China's Circular Economy Promotion Law came into force in 2009 and aims to improve resource efficiency, protect the environment and achieve sustainable development. According to a UNEP-backed study released earlier this year, China consolidated its position in 2012 as the world's dominant renewable energy market player- up 22% to US$67 billion - thanks largely to a jump in solar investment.
Despite such positive steps, the UNEP report released today finds there remain many challenges for China in its transition to a green economy, particularly water and waste issues. Key governance concerns include weak implementation and policy enforcement, and poor monitoring due to lack of technical and financial resources as well as human capital. The UNEP study recommends the development of national indicator systems so policy makers can gauge the effectiveness of their policies and strengthen the capacity of local governments to implement and enforce policies.
China is one of over 30 countries currently availing of UNEP's Green Economy Advisory Services. The support package consists of policy advice, technical assistance and capacity building provided to governments in support of their national and regional initiatives to transform and revitalize their economies.
• Download report: Resource Efficiency: Economics and Outlook for China: http://www.unep.org/pdf/China_Resource_Efficiency_in_English_2013.pdf
• UNEP Resource Efficiency Programme: http://www.unep.org/resourceefficiency/
The full report, Resource Efficiency: Economics and Outlook for China, is available at: http://www.unep.org/pdf/China_Resource_Efficiency_in_English_2013.pdf. For more information, please contact: Ms. Satwant Kaur, Regional Information Officer, UNEP Asia Pacific, Tel: +662 2882127; Mobile: +66 817001376; E-mail: email@example.com
UNEP Highlights Key Role of Indigenous Communities in Transition to a Green
UN International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples Marked
Nairobi, 09 August 2013 - To mark the United Nations International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has drawn attention to the vital role played by indigenous communities - who represent 5 per cent of the global population - in achieving inclusive sustainable development.
"From traditional and low-impact ways of conserving food to sustainable management of wildlife areas, indigenous peoples play a vital role in the mosaic of cultures and communities at the cutting edge of sustainability and the world-wide efforts towards an inclusive Green Economy," said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. "UNEP is seeking to further amplify the voice of indigenous communities in environmental governance and to bring forward to world attention the centuries-old knowledge, cost-effective technologies and experience of working with rather than against nature that offers a treasure trove of inspiring principles and practical actions for the rest of humanity," added Mr. Steiner.
Under the theme Indigenous Peoples building alliances: honouring treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements, the 2013 International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples will highlight the need to integrate the role of indigenous peoples in policy-making, and to highlight the achievements of such communities in supporting sustainable development. Environmental degradation and rapid socioeconomic changes are posing major challenges to the traditional way of life of many indigenous peoples. In Ecuador's Yasuni Biosphere Reserve, for example, the livelihoods and environment of the Tagaeri and Taromenane communities are being threatened by the impacts of extractive industries in the region.
Overall, indigenous communities form a disproportionate amount of the world's poor. Last year, UNEP released A Partnership in caring for the Environment - a guide for policymakers on how to promote and sustain continued dialogue with Indigenous Peoples, and to ensure their participation in development and environmental projects.
Since 2000, UNEP has organized a yearly Global Major Groups and Stakeholders Forum (GMGSF) in conjunction with its Governing Council / Global Ministerial Environment Forum. The event provides a platform for indigenous communities, youth, faith groups, and other civil society organizations to participate in environmental decision-making. As part of this year's World Environment Day, which was held under the theme Think.Eat.Save - Reduce Your Foodprint, UNEP highlighted traditional techniques used by indigenous communities across the world to reduce food waste. From 'borts' eaten by Mongolia's traditional herdsmen - which involves drying and shrinking beef into a fist-sized portion for slicing into soups - to the milk powder created by Kenya's Turkana community by drying fermented milk on hot rocks, these centuries-old practices show unique ways of reducing the 1.3 billion tonnes of food currently lost or wasted around the world each year.
• UNEP's Major Groups and Stakeholders Branch: http://www.unep.org/civil-society/Home/tabid/52151/Default.aspx
• UNEP's Indigenous Peoples' Policy Guidance: http://www.unep.org/civil-society/Portals/24105/UNEP_IPPG_Guidance.pdf
• The World Indigenous Television Broadcasting Conference: http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=2676&…
Green Pilgrimage Network more than doubles in size to 28 members
At an extraordinary meeting in Trondheim, 16 important pilgrim cities
and places – including Santiago de Compostela, Bethlehem,
Rishikesh, Varanasi and Mexico City – committed to become greener,
joining 12 founding pilgrim cities and places in this vision.
The Green Pilgrimage
Network meeting, from 26 to 28 July, just
before the St Olav’s Festival brought thousands of pilgrims to
Trondheim, was an opportunity for:
• 16 new pilgrim places (including Bethlehem, Nanded, Santiago de Compostela and Rishikesh and Mexico City’s Shrine of Our Lady of Guadelupe, with 20 million pilgrims a year) to join the initial 12 founding members.
• Some 90 religious and secular leaders from China, Japan, India, Palestine, Israel, Mexico, Nigeria, Armenia and many European pilgrim places including Vadstena Sweden, St Albans, Norwich, Iona, Luss and Canterbury in the UK, Santiago de Compostela to discuss their successes – and failures – on the long and difficult pathway to becoming more sustainable.
• A first ever statement on environmental responsibility the Confucian tradition of China.
• The chance for Trondheim to twin with Bethlehem as two green pilgrim cities.
• Secular and religious decision-makers to compare examples of best practice, and leverage their position as holy places to get more funding towards improving the environment and helping their millions of pilgrims be positive rather than negative impacts on the earth.
The conference was co-hosted by Trondheim Nidaros Diocese, Trondheim Municipality, the National Pilgrim Centre and the UK Based international Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) which started this process in 2009.
The many successful stories from founding
• Amritsar, holy city of the Sikhs, relaunching its founders day in July as an annual chance to clean up the city, plant thousands of trees including lining the main, busy, dirty GT road with saplings, and raise awareness among the community.
• Tiger reserves in India (where up to 2 million pilgrims can pass on the way to major annual festivals) waking up to their ability to change the negative impact on the environment and animals.
• Scottish shrines and paths joining together with local government to get environmental funding because of the pilgrims who pass, and to breathe life into poorer communities by bringing pilgrim trails through them.
Why Green Pilgrimage?
Worldwide it is estimated that at least 200 million pilgrimages take place each year. And 2013 is a special year with an extra 100 million pilgrims attending the 12-yearly Kumbh Mela in India in January and February. Pilgrimage is a time for people to assess their lives and their paths, and with so many people taking part every year the potential of environmental work within this area is enormous; UNDP has described this kind of movement as “potentially the world’s largest civil society movement on climate change”. Trondheim has already shown itself to be a model of ecological planning and action, and by hosting the second inaugural meeting of the Green Pilgrimage Network (GPN), it is consolidating its position as a leading promoter of environmental action.
The 500 Confucian temples in China, through their formal organization, the International Confucian Environmental Alliance (ICEA) will over the next year discuss how to be green pilgrimage sites – through looking at their food sourcing, green power, transport, rubbish collection, etc. More details of this historical meeting in Norway are here. And their statement on the environment, authored by one of the most senior Confucian scholars, Professor Tu Wei-ming, can be read here.
SAFETY FOR PILGRIMS:
This month many thousands of pilgrims went missing after floods in Uttarkhand province where the holy city of Rishikesh is sited. The day before the meeting around 80 pilgrims travelling to Santiago de Compostela for the Feast-day of St James died in a train crash a few miles before arriving in the city.
“We know that we need not only to make pilgrimage gentle to the earth, but gentle to the pilgrims as well,” said ARC’s secretary general Martin Palmer. “It has happened for millennia that people will go to holy places as part of their spiritual journey in life. Our role is to help the cities and sacred places make it as safe and environmentally positive as possible,” said director of the National Pilgrimage Centre of Norway, Berit Lånke.
MEMBERS OF THE GPN
The founding members of the Green Pilgrimage Network are Amritsar, Assisi, Etchmiadzin, Haifa, Jerusalem, Jinja Honcho (Association of Shinto Shrines, Japan) Kano, Louguan, Luss, St Albans, St Pishoy Monastery and Trondheim. Those that joined this week are: Santiago de Compostela; Canterbury; Iona; Norwich Cathedral; Nanded and Takhat Sri Hazur Sahib; Puri; Rajaji and Ranthambore Tiger Reserves in India (which attract millions of pilgrims to the temples in or near them); Rishikesh, Ujjain, Varanasi, Mexico City (and the shrine of Our Lady of Guadelupe); Friends of the Earth Middle East and the Lower Jordan River Project; Bethlehem; Matale; Vadstena.
Studies Seek Paths to Clean Cooking Solutions
August 6, 2013 In Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, making tortillas on a smoky fire is a way of life. Women spend an average of four hours a day cooking for their families, routinely inhaling toxic smoke from burning wood and charcoal. Every year in Central America, 37,000 premature deaths—most of them women, but also many children—are caused by household air pollution. All told, about 20 million Central Americans, just over half the region’s people, use wood as cooking fuel. Moving from Central America to Southeast Asia, we find the same phenomenon in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, where 96 percent of the population still uses solid fuels for cooking, making indoor air pollution the country’s number one health threat. This endures even as 72 percent of households now have electricity, up from just 18 percent in 1995.
In Indonesia, about 40 percent of the population— about 25 million households—uses traditional biomass for cooking. Again, the result is tragic: 165,000 premature deaths each year. It is part of a global problem, especially acute in low-income countries. Worldwide, 2.8 billion people cook with biomass or other solid fuels, 78% of them in rural areas. All are exposed to household air pollution from solid fuels, which killed an estimated 3.5 million people and caused many more cases of respiratory, cardiovascular, and other illnesses in 2010.
“A typical wood fire is about 400 cigarettes an hour worth of smoke,” said Kirk Smith, Professor of Global Environmental Health at the University of California at Berkeley.
The Sustainable Energy for All initiative, supported
by the World Bank Group, aims to bring safe,
modern cooking solutions to all by 2030, a goal
estimated to require annual investments of $4.4
billion, up from about $100 million at present.
Coinciding with the World Bank Group’s
Energy Sector Directions Paper, which pledges to “expand
engagement in clean cooking and heating
solutions,” several recent studies analyze the
household fuels problem, which has defied solution
for generations. These Bank Group studies,
What have we learned about household biomass cooking
in Central America?,
Pathways to Cleaner Household Cooking in Lao PDR, and
Indonesia – Toward Universal Access to Clean Cooking, all
point to similar causes of failure of earlier efforts to
implement safe cooking solutions:
• Lack of awareness in households that cooking smoke causes respiratory illness that can bring an early death;
• Easy, cheap (often free) availability of wood or other biomass;
• Cleaner, safer cooking options, including liquefied petroleum gas, natural gas, biogas, or efficient cookstoves that dramatically reduce the dangers of biomass combustion have not been available, affordable, or sustainable.
A persistent challenge is that clean cooking remains a “poor person’s problem.” When short-term incentives have prompted business people to try to build a market for improved cookstoves, their efforts have often foundered. The genuinely safer advanced cookstoves were not affordable, or not adapted to local needs, or not locally-made and thus in short supply.
As for gas-powered solutions, these can work for relatively better-off urban dwellers, but those in remote villages often cannot be reached. Situations vary, but usually this is because there are no pipelines, or roads are inadequate, or there is no supply of gas, or no market network to sell it. This has to change, say the studies addressing the problem in the countries cited above— Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Lao PDR and Indonesia. Each of these studies outlines how the obstacles to that change can be removed. Although the impact of indoor cooking fires is identical everywhere—respiratory illness and death—the best approach to solving the problem will vary from one place to another, according to these studies.
“We need country-specific action plans in each country,” said Yabei Zhang, author of the Indonesia study, and a World Bank energy economist. “Women are using unsafe cookstoves or open fires because they are conveniently available, affordable and adapted to the types of food they prepare. Clean cooking solutions need to meet those same criteria to be successful.”
All the studies point to the importance of developing market-based clean cooking solutions. Incentives are needed for local entrepreneurs to design, manufacture and market safe cookstoves that are tailored to the country or region, made with local materials, and adapted to local cooking practices. The studies also highlight the need for public awareness campaigns to promote clean cooking solutions.
The challenge is to put these lessons into practice. World Bank Group experts in household energy are working with clients to apply them through the Clean Stove Initiative in East Asia, as well as in Central America. Efforts are also underway through the Africa Clean Cooking Energy Solutions Initiative in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Bank Group is also a partner in the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, a public-private partnership that seeks to create a thriving global market for clean and efficient household fuels and cookstoves.
IEF CONTRIBUTIONS TO UN POST-2015 DIALOGUE
The IEF contributions to the UN post-2015 dialogue are now available in the IEF web site for download as a pdf file (https://iefworld.org/fl/IEF_post2015.pdf), so you can distribute them to friends and colleagues who may be interested. The topics covered are: Equality and Youth; Building Community Resilience; Education for Sustainability; Environmental migration and resource security; and Establishing an international ethical and regulatory framework for business.
Updated 14 August 2013