Newsletter of the
INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT FORUM
Volume 15, Number 9 --- 15 September 2013
Article submission: firstname.lastname@example.org Deadline next issue 13 October 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 Conference and General Assembly, Barcelona
There is still space available for the IEF/ebbf Annual Conference in Barcelona on 3-6 October, so hurry to register on the ebbf conference web site at http://www.makeitmeaningful.org/ for what will be a very stimulating conference with new perspectives on critical issues of sustainability and the economy.
On Friday 4 October at 18:00, the Annual General Assembly of the International Environment Forum will be held at the conference hotel. The General Assembly will review the Annual Report prepared by the outgoing Governing Board, elect the new Governing Board of seven members for the coming year, and consult on future activities for the IEF.
Members will shortly be receiving by email the documents necessary to prepare for the General Assembly and Governing Board election, including the Annual Report, the Directory of Members and list of eligible members, and instructions for voting by email if you are not able to attend the General Assembly in person. Active participation in the life of the IEF is important for its health and future progress.
World Happiness Report 2013
For the second year, the World Happiness Report 2013 has been published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network and the Earth Institute of Columbia University. It can be downloaded at http://unsdsn.org/files/2013/09/WorldHappinessReport2013_online.pdf. In addition to its own ranking of countries by levels of happiness, it includes an analysis of the OECD approach to measuring subjective wellbeing. A particularly interesting new addition is Jeffrey Sachs' chapter on "Restoring virtue ethics in the quest for happiness" which looks beyond the consumer society definition of happiness to look at the role of ethics and virtuous behaviour as the missing dimension in happiness. He looks back to Buddhism and Aristotle, and traces the history of economic thought through Adam Smith and Keynes to hyper-consumerism, before asking if a return to virtue ethics is possible. From the IEF perspective, that is exactly what we are working for.
Sustainable Development and the Prosperity of Humankind
Course from the Wilmette Institute, An Online Baha'i Learning Center
20 September - 20 December 2013 (13 weeks)
Faculty: Arthur Lyon Dahl, Gary Colliver, Christine Muller, Karryn Olson-Ramanujan, Melinda Salazar
* Examine the wide agreement about the need to achieve sustainable development
* Seek to understand its profound implications for a prosperous human society
* Think about sustainability by integrating both the material and spiritual dimensions of life into a long-term systems perspective
* Apply that thinking to questions of everyday life and lifestyle
Review the economic, social, and environmental issues that humanity faces in achieving sustainability and explore the spiritual principles that can help us find solutions
Fees: $120 for seniors, pioneers, and students; $150 for all other individuals; $300 for groups of up to 6. Plenty of scholarships are available; email us at email@example.com
The Forum on Religion and Ecology Newsletter 7.8 (August 2013) included the following information about the Wilmette Institute Online Course on Sustainable Development
The Wilmette Institute is again offering its popular three month online course on "Sustainable Development and the Prosperity of Humankind" from September 20 to December 20, 2013. This course 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. 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.
For a Course Description, go to http://www.cvent.com/events/sustainable-development-and-the-prosperity-…
To Register, go to https://www.cvent.com/events/sustainable-development-and-the-prosperity…
High-level Political Forum (HLPF) to support sustainable development
From DESA News 17(9), September 2013
Heads of State and Government will now meet every four years to ensure that commitment to sustainable development remains at the highest level. The High-level Political Forum for Sustainable Development (HLPF) will hold its inaugural meeting on 24 September. It will aim to advance sustainable development by providing political leadership and guidance and setting a focused, dynamic and action-oriented agenda. The forum will replace the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD).
The HLPF will follow up and review progress in the implementation of the Rio+20 outcome document and sustainable development commitments made at the previous summits and conference. It also provides a new opportunity to ensure that all dimensions of sustainable development — economic, social and environmental — are brought together in a coherent way. The HLPF will be a new and different way of supporting the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), as well as the sustainable development goals (SDGs) after they are adopted within the post-2015 development agenda.
“The first meetings will very much set the tone for what the forum will look like in the future, says Nikhil Seth, Director of the Division for Sustainable Development of DESA. We must be bold and conceive a unique platform: a platform which focuses on implementation, a platform which not only reviews but also truly impacts on progress, a platform which rallies actors to not only reflect but also do things together, a platform whose work spans economic, social and environmental dimensions. We need such a platform if we are to rise up to the challenges of the SDGs and the post 2015 development agenda”.
How will the HLPF work?
The new forum will convene Heads of State and Government every four years, under the auspices of the UN General Assembly, to promote the implementation of sustainable development and address new challenges. Their deliberations will result in a negotiated declaration aimed at providing high-level policy guidance and raising the bar for action and results. There will also be an annual eight-day meeting, including three days at the ministerial level, under the auspices of ECOSOC.
Direct involvement of Heads of State and Government every four years should ensure that commitment to sustainable development remains at the highest level, bolstered by strategic guidance for integrated and holistic policy-making and implementation.
Starting in 2016, the forum will also include reviews on the implementation of sustainable development by all countries and the UN system. This should promote better accountability and focus efforts toward achieving action on the ground.
The forum will be open to all Member States of the United Nations as well as States members of specialized agencies, notably the Cook Islands, Niue, the Holy See and Palestine.
UN support for the forum
UN DESA acts as the substantive secretariat to the forum, by providing governments with timely analysis, data and other background documentation. The Department coordinates inputs from across the UN system, including its various specialized agencies, funds and programmes, regional commissions, convention secretariats and other entities.
“With the HLPF comes the chance to put in place a different kind of governance”, stresses Nikhil Seth. “A governance that looks to the long term, takes into account not only economic but also social and environmental challenges, engages the range of actors who have a stake in development, and responds to change and new challenges. The forum can instill a new way of thinking and working at the UN”.
Major Groups and other Stakeholder participation
Provisions have also been made for the enhanced participation of the nine Major Groups, building on their participation in the work of the Commission on Sustainable Development. Under the HLPF, specific modalities for future engagement with Major Groups and other stakeholders in sustainable development will be developed as a matter of priority soon after the forum begins its work.
CSD’s last meeting
The HLPF will replace the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), which will hold its last meeting on 20 September 2013. The CSD was created in 1992 to follow up on the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (Earth Summit). Under the CSD, governments convened twenty annual sessions, helping advance sustainable development across the world.
Education, Health Care, Honest and Responsive Government and Jobs Top Priorities for People Worldwide, UN Report
The UN has launched an interactive map of the world showing what people want in every country
New York, 10 September 2013 — The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon presented today a new report “A Million Voices: The World We Want”. The report summarizes the findings from public consultations and surveys that engaged more than 1.3 million people in all 193 UN Member States since August 2012 in an effort to identify priorities for the post-2015 development agenda that will succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
“For the last year, the UN has been encouraging an unprecedented ‘global conversation’ on the world that people want,” said Ban Ki-moon. “The report that we launch today captures the voices of over one million people from all regions and backgrounds. We sought the voices of those that are usually unheard – particularly those people that are poor, excluded or marginalized.”
The consultations and surveys revealed that people expect governments and the international community to create conditions for inclusive social and economic development, in peace and security, and within planetary boundaries. They want world leaders to focus on:
• Completing the unfinished business of the MDGs by providing everyone in the world – universally – with access to water, food, better health care, and quality education;
• The management of natural resources, job creation, and security and freedom from violence;
• Addressing inequalities in terms of obstacles to access public services, participate in political processes or job opportunities.
Zooming in on single issues, the call for better education, improved health care services, honest and responsive governments, and jobs has dominated the discussions around the world.
“When governments meet in New York and agree on the next steps to define a new development agenda, they will find invaluable guidance in this report,” continued Ban Ki-moon, “these million voices tell us that we have a big and urgent job ahead: to agree on a new development agenda that carries the same simplicity and strength as the MDG framework – an agenda that serves both people and the planet. A new era demands a new vision. As we continue to support the negotiations, the UN system will continue to bring the voices of the people to the table.”
More than 300,000 people engaged in face-to-face meetings in 88 countries and a series of 11 consultations on issues such as food security, access to water, and governance. Online discussions on these issues also took place on the WorldWeWant2015 web platform (http://www.worldwewant2015.org), which brought together communities of experts. Almost one million people participated through the MY World 2015 options survey, using digital channels, SMS and extensive offline interactions through a network of over 700 civil society partners.
Most MY World votes came from India, Nigeria, Cameroon, Thailand, Philippines, Rwanda, USA, UK, Brazil and Indonesia. Half of all participants were under 30 years old.
Ban Ki-moon also launched today an online world map (http://map.worldwewant2015.org/), which shows the results of the MY World survey. It allows people to separate out the results by countries, regions, gender, levels of education or age.
“This global conversation has revealed the appetite for participation that exists,” added Ban Ki-moon. “People want to be engaged in setting this new agenda. Equally importantly, they want to be part of putting it into action, and to hold us to the promises we make.”
The UN teams who organized the majority of these consultations put emphasis on engaging groups that are often excluded like women, youth, and people living with disabilities. The polling teams hiked to remote villages in Peru, Rwanda and other locations to give the opportunity to participate to communities without access to cell phones or the Internet.
“Feedback from the consultations suggests that Member States should agree on an agenda which both gets results and addresses challenges in an integrated way,” said Helen Clark, chair of the UN Development Group which unites 32 UN funds and programmes that implemented the project. “People understand that fragmented, one-issue-at-a-time approaches don’t work. They call for an agenda that will aim to improve the prospects of both people and the planet we all share. They want an agenda based on shared respect for human rights, equality, justice, and security. They also emphasized the need for a universal agenda which applies to all countries and all people.”
The findings of the report will be presented on 23 September 2013 to world leaders during the 68th UN General Assembly session in New York. The consultations and surveys will continue until the end of 2015 so that the opinions of the world’s people can feed into the intergovernmental process forming the post-2015 agenda that will build on the MDGs.
Link to the report: http://www.worldwewant2015.org/millionvoices
U.S. National Preach-In on Climate Change
14-16 February 2014
Mark your calendars to join Interfaith Power & Light's annual Preach-In on Climate Change, to be held over Valentine's weekend, February 14-16, 2014. This is expected to be our biggest yet. Thousands of faith leaders of all major religions from across the country will join together with their members to express love for Creation and hope for the future.
To pre-register for the Preach-In on Climate Change, visit http://www.preachin.org. Whether you are clergy, a lay leader, or green team member, sign up your congregation today. In the coming months, those who pre-register will receive reminders and links to materials to help you prepare sermons, talks, and activities.
When you pre-register, Interfaith Power & Light will provide low-cost resources to help you reach decision makers and mobilize your community. Look to future emails for details. We look forward to your involvement in the 2014 National Preach-In on Climate Change!
With love and faith,
The Rev. Canon Sally G. Bingham
Interfaith Power & Light
P.S. Although most congregations will take part in the Preach-In on the weekend before Valentine’s Day, the materials and message are relevant at any time of year.
Breaking Down the Silos: Integrating Environmental Sustainability in the Post-2015 Agenda
Global Consultation on Environmental Sustainability in the Post-2015 Development Agenda
Launch of the Final Report
We are pleased to share "Breaking Down the Silos: Integrating Environmental Sustainability in the Post-2015 Agenda", the final report of the Global Consultation on Environmental Sustainability in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
The report captures the essence and key messages of the eight-month consultation process that engaged academia, think tanks, representatives of civil society, youth, women and men from North and South who chose to focus the dialogue on the linkages between environmental sustainability and human development. At the forefront of the discussions was the need for the post-2015 agenda to be based on principles related to integrated approaches to development, equality, human rights and resilience in order to fully embed environmental sustainability. There was also a call for urgent collective action in areas related to 1) economic transformation, 2) governance and accountability, 3) local action and empowerment, and 4) education.
The Government of Costa Rica, Government of France, United Nations Development Programme and United Nations Environment Programme would like to thank the 5000 people who registered to be a part of this thematic consultation and in particular the people and organizations that took the time to carefully craft thoughtful and constructive contributions at the various stages of the process.
"Breaking Down the Silos" is your report and it can now be used as a powerful tool to input into the intergovernmental debates on the post-2015 development agenda, starting with the 2013 UN General Assembly, the Special Event towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and the ongoing Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals. Additionally, we hope the report can provide a foundation for ongoing dialogue and advocacy through your own networks, platforms, and consultations.
The report is available for download at the following link. Please note that French and Spanish versions of the report will be available soon at the same link.
Download the report at: http://www.worldwewant2015.org/sustainability2015report
An IEF contribution cited specifically on page 26 of the report is copied here.
In the interest of fairness and equity, governments need to agree on an international regulatory framework that would establish minimum social and environmental standards, ensure that corporations pay their fair share of taxes, prevent companies becoming so large that they have a monopoly position and are more powerful than governments, or too big to fail.
Contribution to the e-discussion on the role of the private sector and markets by Arthur Lyon Dahl, President, International Environment Forum, Switzerland
International Human Dimensions Programme (IHDP) Writing Contest on "Beyond GDP"
The writing contest goes into the fourth round! Young scholars are invited to write and submit an article for publication in the upcoming issue of the Dimensions magazine. The edition will contribute to the debate around “Beyond GDP”. The magazine is directed towards a wider audience, including nonscientists interested in the topic. Upon expiry of the submission deadline, the Secretariat will select up to three winners to be awarded cash prizes - and will publish their work in the magazine (print and online).
Cash prizes will be awarded as follows: 1st place - US$ 500, 2nd place - US$ 200, 3rd place - US$ 100
Who is eligible
The contest is open to graduate students, PhD students or postdocs born after 1975. Scholars from developing countries are particularly encouraged to take part.
Topic: Beyond GDP
Since the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, countries have measured their economic progress with an indicator known as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or one of its several variants, based on Simon Kuznets' then-revolutionary work into national income. Kuznets himself warned against using national income as a proxy indicator for societal well-being, yet its convenience and ease of standardization have led to its near-universal use by governments in this very way.
Kuznets’ warning cuts to the core of a deeper question: what do we as individuals and societies want out of our economies? Is the purpose of a national economy simply the aggregation of monetary wealth? In answering this question, it becomes clear that GDP and similar measurements are limited indicators of well-being and prosperity; at the same time they also do fail to reflect the state of natural resources or ecological conditions. Moreover, they focus exclusively on the short term, without indicating whether economic policies are sustainable over longer periods of time.
In recent years, a debate has started around the development of a new type of comprehensive indicators to address global challenges of the 21st century such as health, poverty, resource depletion, climate change, and quality of life. What is needed, argue proponents, are indicators that are as clear and understandable as GDP while incorporating the currently unmeasured environmental and social costs and benefits of human economic activity. Indeed, this need was recently codified in the Rio+20 outcome document The Future We Want: “We recognize the need for broader measures of progress to complement gross domestic product in order to better inform policy decisions, and in this regard we request the United Nations Statistical Commission, in consultation with relevant United Nations system entities and other relevant organizations, to launch a programme of work in this area, building on existing initiatives.” IHDP has itself been deeply involved in one such initiative, the Inclusive Wealth Report, which provides a comprehensive view of well-being based in analyses of national capital accounts.
Articles submitted to the contest should address the “Beyond GDP” debate, and – for example – take on the question of whether GDP is a sufficient indicator for well-being or if the world is in need of a new way to measure just how well our governments and economies are doing at improving the lives of their citizens.
Please make sure to consider the following guidelines before writing and submitting your article:
• Articles must address a significant issue relating to the “Beyond GDP” debate.
• While the subject matter may cover political, technological, economic or social aspects, articles must be written in a language that is understandable to a non-scientific audience, thus avoiding the use of technical terms. Winning articles will further offer a narrative and be written in an engaging style, providing for an interesting and easy read. Please note that contributions in the style of an academic paper will not be considered.
• Submissions must be exclusive to this writing contest. In case an article gets chosen as a winner, it must not be published by any other outlet before the release of the magazine.
• Contestants are asked to provide a short paragraph about themselves stating their date of birth and field of research.
• Entries are not to exceed 2,500 words and must be submitted as an email attachment (word or pdf) to firstname.lastname@example.org
• Deadline: 15 October 2013
All submissions will be reviewed carefully. Cash prizes will be awarded to up to three winners whose work will be published in both the print and online version of the magazine. Winners will be announced on the IHDP website and social media channels and informed via email toward mid November 2013.
The International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP)
IHDP Secretariat, Platz der Vereinten Nationen 1, Bonn 53113, Germany
Pacific leaders adopt 'Majuro declaration' on climate change
The declaration was issued in the Marshall Islands capital of Majuro, which was briefly submerged by high tides in June this year.
Leaders of 13 Pacific Island countries acutely vulnerable to rising sea levels have released a statement calling for 'urgent action' to address climate change.
The 12-page document says governments in the region are committed to demonstrating 'climate leadership' and calls on countries to list 'specific' pledges to reduce pollution.
The 'Majuro Declaration', also signed by Australia and New Zealand, will be presented to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in New York later this month.
"The responsibility of all to act falls to every government, every company, every organization and every person with the capacity to do so, both individually and collectively," it says.
At the request of the organisers EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard, UK Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire and representatives from the USA and China also attended the summit.
The text underlines the intense frustration among leaders of small island states at the sluggish progress at the UN in cutting global greenhouse gas emissions.
Scientists warn carbon dioxide levels need to peak this decade to avoid temperatures rising 2°C above pre-industrial levels, which is considered to be a threshold of 'dangerous climate change'.
The UN's forthcoming IPCC climate science report is expected to warn that sea levels could rise between 29 and 82cm (11.4 to 32.3 inches) before 2100, levels which threaten the existence of some Pacific states.
In a statement Marshall Islands President Christopher Loeak said he hoped the declaration could be a "game changer" in driving talks on a global emissions reduction deal forward. "We've had a strong meeting of minds here on the urgency of the problem, but the real work begins now," he said. "We need the rest of the world to follow the Pacific's lead. I look forward to making that case during meetings with fellow Leaders at the UN General Assembly in New York later this month.
Updated 13 September 2013