Leaves 18(11) November 2016


Newsletter of the
Volume 18, Number 11 --- 15 November 2016



Website: iefworld.org
Article submission: newsletter@iefworld.org Deadline next issue 13 December 2016
Secretariat Email: ief@iefworld.org 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 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.


Wilmette Institute and Núr University Supported Global Climate Change Week

The Wilmette Institute and Núr University were among the 288 institutes of higher learning that participated in Global Climate Change Week which ran October 10 -16. It was the first time for these two Baha'i-inspired institutions to be part of this international effort. The aim of Global Climate Change Week was to raise awareness and to call for climate action all around the world.

We were surprised to find the Wilmette Institute listed on the main page of the website of Global Climate Change Week: http://globalclimatechangeweek.com/. (It's in the second paragraph, so you need to click on “Read More”, or you can go there directly here.) Fourteen other universities are mentioned from around the world such as in Australia, South Africa, and the UK. It is interesting for Baha'is to see among them the University of Zanjan in Iran, a town of great significance to Bábí/Bahá'í history.

The Wilmette Institute participated in this global effort by creating a special forum for Global Climate Change Week on its Home Page. The next edition of the IEF Newsletter will feature some highlights from the forum's discussions which covered a wide range of topics.

Núr University hosted two events that contributed to Global Climate Change Week. One of them was the 20th Annual Conference of the International Environment Forum. You can read a report here. The other contribution was a lecture by Arthur Lyon Dahl on individual responsibility for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, including on climate change. His talk was attended by 90 students.


MARRAKECH: Ban hails 'new dawn of cooperation on climate change'; urges action on Paris accord


15 November 2016 – Ten days after the entry into force of the Paris Agreement on climate change, world leaders showed strong support for the implementation of this agreement at the opening of the high-level segment of the United Nations Climate Conference in Marrakech, Morocco, (COP 22) today.

“Countries have strongly supported the Agreement because they realize their own national interest is best secured by pursuing the common good. Now we have to translate words into effective policies and actions,” Mr. Ban said as he opened the High-Level segment of the 22nd Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

“This is critical to protect our planet, safeguard the most vulnerable and drive shared prosperity. Low-emission development and climate resilience will advance all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”, added Mr. Ban.

Adopted by 196 States Parties to the UNFCCC last December, the Paris Agreement, so-named after the French capital where it was approved by the previous Conference, known as COP 21, aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping the global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

In early October, the accord cleared the final threshold of 55 countries representing 55 per cent of global emissions required for it to come into effect within one month. Its entry into force was extremely swift, particularly for an agreement that required a large number of ratifications and the two specific thresholds.

The Agreement entered into force in time for COP 22, which has been under way since 7 November. Before the meeting wraps up on Saturday, 18 November, parties hope to define the rules of implementation of the Paris Agreement and establish a viable plan to provide financial support to developing countries to support climate action.

Mr. Ban said that the United Nations will help countries implement the Agreement and he called on developed countries “to honour their commitment to mobilize climate finance – $100 billion by 2020 – to help developing countries to mitigate and adapt to climate vulnerability.”

The UN chief also said that after a decade of making sure climate change was at the top of the international agenda, he would leave delegations with some key lessons:
1. Multilateral solutions work; acting together, countries achieve more than they ever could alone;
2. Heads of States and Government must take the lead;
3. Whole societies must get engaged;
4. The UN must continue to champion science;
5. Solutions must be funded and expanded; and
6. The UN must continue advancing the moral cause for action.

In his remarks, the President of the UN General Assembly, Peter Thomson, encouraged all Parties to the Paris Agreement to implement and enhance ambition of their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) “without delay.” He added that urgent action on climate change “must be seen as a moral, environmental, scientific, and developmental imperative, guided by ambition, action and equity.” The Executive Secretary of UNFCCC, Patricia Espinosa, stressed in her remarks the need to “accelerate climate action” and “to make climate action a cornerstone of the transformation to truly sustainable development.”

“This profound transformation will not be easy and will involve difficult decisions. Leadership is needed now more than ever. And the contribution to this transformation by business, subnational governments, indigenous people, youth, women and many others cannot be overlooked,” she added.

Ahead of the official opening of the high-level segment of the Conference, Mr. Ban told a press conference that “every country is aware that climate change is a reality” and “no country, however resourceful or powerful, is immune from the impacts of climate change.”


ECPD Conference on Globalization and Regionalization


The European Center for Peace and Development of the University for Peace established by the United Nations, held its 12th ECPD International Conference at the City Hall in Belgrade, Serbia, 28-29 October 2016. IEF President Arthur Dahl has collaborated with EPCD for nine years., contributing to their annual conferences in the Western Balkans.

The theme of this year's conference was "Future of the World Between Globalization and Regionalization". The first opening address was given by Federico Mayor, former Director General of UNESCO and President of the EPCD Council. He reviewed the global challenges the world is facing and called for a re-foundation of the United Nations System. This should start with a reconsideration of concepts and principles, and an ethical framework for action. We need timely measures, as tomorrow may be too late.

Federico Mayor . conference

He was followed by Erhard Busek, former Vice-Chancellor of Austria, who warned about the break up of countriies, the use of anxiety and fear for political success, and the danger of war. He said we should look to human rights and create a climate for political responsibility.

Johan Galtung, Founder and first President of the Peace Research Institute, Norway, sent his presentation on "From Regionalization to Globalization: What Stands in the Way?" We have overcome geographical distance but not cultural distance, and are witnessing an historical transition from a world state system to a world region system. He noted that Western globalization is centralized, while Islamic globalization is localized. He called for a "soft globalization" of regional groupings of states.

Forty-four distinguished speakers from academia and government contributed to topics such as the impact of globalization on world peace and development, re-arranging the world North-West vis-à-vis South-East, regionalization versus globalization, migration threats and opportunities, and Balkans between dramatic global and regional changes. Arthur Dahl moderated one session and presented a paper in another on "Implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals in the Balkans".


News from the PERL/UNITWIN newsletter

Hedmark University of Applied Sciences, LUNA Hamar, Norway, http://www.livingresponsibly.org

Center launch

The most outstanding news has been the establishment of the Center for Collaborative Learning for Sustainable Development here at Hamar at the Hedmark University of Applied Sciences. The decision of the University’s Board was an important confirmation of the 20 years of work carried out in the field of consumer citizenship and sustainable lifestyles and coordinated by Hedmark University. The process of getting approval and initiating the Center has been a long and arduous one and we would like to express our appreciation for the efforts of all who have contributed to the realization of the Center.

The main function of the Center is to further the work of the UNESCO Chair and PERL/UNITWIN network by continuing to coordinate research and implementation activities about education for responsible, sustainable living. The establishment of the Center is particularly timely as Hedmark University of Applied Sciences will merge with the University College of Lillehammer in 2017.

Note: IEF board member Victoria Thoresen holds the UNESCO Chair for Education about Sustainable Lifestyles and heads the new center.

IEF members active in PERL/UNITWIN

Ismael Velasco, of the Adora Foundation, inspired students in Norway during his trip in January 2016 to Hedmark University of Applied Sciences. Ismael had presentations with students and staff in both the drama department and the social sciences department. His activities were shared in the local press in a detailed interview.

Several IEF members and PERL/UNITWIN partners met in Shanghai, China in December 2015 with colleagues from The Netherlands, the U.K., New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and the USA to further collaboration and to review and develop the values-based Learning toolkits and indicators.

New overview of PERL learning methodologies

Fourth in a series that focuses on policies and practices of education for responsible, sustainable living, the “Learning to Do” booklet recently published by PERL/UNITWIN provides descriptions of three successful methodologies used around the world.

Many initiatives are being taken all around the world to achieve more responsible ways of living in relation to our own lives, the lives of others and the natural environment. This publication looks at the following methodologies in light of the UNEP recommendations for Education for Sustainable Consumption entitled: “Here and Now! Education for ESC”:
Learning using values-based indicators
• Active Learning using Images and Objects
• Learning through social innovation, Looking for Likely Alternatives (LOLA)

Key elements of all three of the methodologies are developing the ability to:
• investigate one’s own values and actions as well as those of one’s community and the world at large;
• apply new knowledge and understanding to one’s daily choices;
• adjust previous attitudes and behaviour;
• adapt to new conditions and opportunities;
• facilitate constructive change in one’s neighbourhood and with those one has contact with.

“Learning to Do — Education for Sustainable Living” is available online on the PERL/UNITWIN website under Best practices publications and hard copies can be obtained free of charge from the PERL/UNITWIN office at perl@hihm.no

International Conference in Latin America

Nur University in Santa Cruz, Bolivia hosted the international conference arranged by The International Environment Forum with the support of PERL/UNITWIN in October 2016. The conference dealt with the theme “Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals as communities and individuals” and provided the opportunity for participants from numerous Latin American countries to share experiences and consult on steps forward.

The conference focused on three issues that concern everyone, and are of particular interest to Latin America: • Responsible and sustainable lifestyles (SDG12) • Values and education (SDG4) • Sustainable urban communities (SDG11)

The conference opened with a full auditorium of over 100 people. Arthur L. Dahl, IEF and PERL/UNITWIN, and Isabel Martinez, representing UNEP’s Latin American office, set the stage by describing the SDG process and intentions. During the rest of the conference 18 examples of “bottom-up” initiatives were presented and discussed.

The new Spanish translation of the PERL toolkit for Values-Based Learning using indicators was shared with the conference participants.


Sustainable UN team receives 2016 UN Secretary-General Award

A team led by UN Environment staff has clinched the 2016 Secretary-General Award for “Greening the UN”, one of this year’s four categories under which outstanding action above and beyond the call of duty was lauded.

On UN Staff Day, Isabella Marras, Sustainable UN Coordinator, Shoa Ehsani, UN Environment Climate Neutral Officer and Emma Hakansson, EMS Officer— along with their Sustainability Focal Points across the UN—were recognized at an awards ceremony in New York for their efforts to transform the environmental performance of the UN system.

“By working with staff at all levels of the organization, the initiative has succeeded in creating an enthusiastic attitude for Greening the Blue,” said Ligia Noronha, Director, Division of Technology, Industry and Economics, UN Environment, in their nomination.

The Greening the UN award honours “an individual staff member or team for ensuring that the United Nations acts in an environmentally responsible and sustainable manner”.

The awards were established in 1996 as the UN21 Awards and renamed the United Nations Secretary-General Awards in 2016. They reward initiatives that have the potential to shape UN culture and recognize the extraordinary work of staff who contribute above and beyond the call of duty and advance innovative projects.

The examples set by the award winners are meant to inspire colleagues to take up good practices, improve the way the UN delivers its programmes and services.

The Sustainable United Nations (SUN) is responsible for coordinating the work needed to fulfil the commitment made by all UN organizations to become climate neutral, which includes measuring and reporting the environmental impact of UN facilities and operations, publishing data on its greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental indicators such as waste and water management.


IEF 20th Annual Conference, 7-9 October, Santa Cruz, Bolivia – updated info on IEF website

The report of the conference (https://iefworld.org/conf20) has now been updated with links to video recordings of many of the sessions (in Spanish) and a number of the Powerpoint presentations. We still hope to fill some of the gaps in the report, and to provide summaries of the content once the Spanish version of the report is completed.

The first keynote was by Isabel Martinez, representing the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean in Panama. She spoke on “Responsible Lifestyles and Sustainability Challenges and Expectations”, introducing the Sustainable Development Goals, the global action plans for education for sustainable development, and UNEP’s work on education in the region. Download her presentation. Video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQayRc6npQw with some technical problems.

Arthur Dahl, President of IEF based in Geneva, Switzerland, gave the second opening keynote on “Looking at the Sustainable Development Goals from the bottom up”. A written version of his paper with complete lists of community and individual targets is available at https://iefworld.org/ddahl16j, and his presentation can be downloaded.

Friday evening concluded with questions to the speakers from the audience, available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMG1rKWbDVc, followed by a reception.

The Rector of Nur University, William Shoaie, spoke on “Collective leadership as the basis for social transformation”. He described the “super powers” needed for moral leadership. Download his short presentation, and view the video on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12Stt3rZkwY (21:40).

Victoria W. Thoresen, Director of the PERL/UNITWIN network at Hedmark University, Norway, and UNESCO Chair for Education about Responsible Living, addressed “The role of values, caring and creativity in achieving ‘the good life’ (buen vivir).” These are the foundations for a global, transformative citizenship leading to compassionate connectedness based on empathy, collective social learning, moderation and sharing. The horizon looks bright, but there is a lot of work to do. (presentation and video on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSWxpoNMXqE 42:41)

Long-time IEF friend Alicia Jimenez of the Earth Charter Initiative in Costa Rica, spoke on “Education and Values: the Earth Charter and SDG 4”. These values are incorporated in the Earth Charter which aims to lead from guiding principles to action. She described many educational materials that the Earth Charter Education Centre has prepared. (presentation and video on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SK5GAD8vO9g 36:56)

Christian Bonblat, Director of CEASIP, the Centre for Applied Ecology of the Patiño Foundation (Bolivia), described their productive projects on a 180 hectare site combining a social model with soil restoration, biodiversity and energy efficiency. It has extension programmes in schools, prisons and fairs. (presentation and video recording on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdU6zfQA-fo 15:06)

Javier Gonzales of Nur University in La Paz, the other main local organiser of the conference for IEF, gave a photographic vision of bicycle use in Latin America, with public bicycles in Bogota, Lima and Santiago, and increasing use of bikeways. View video on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5tGL391uzU (11:02)

Roberto Vides, Foundation for the Conservation of the Chiquitano Forest, Bolivia, spoke on the value of ecosystem services and the role of civil society organizations in the implementation of SDG 12. He showed examples of managing water and non-wood forest products at local and regional scales, with both environmental and social benefits. (presentation and video recording on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9DAef3dd6c 16:41)

Eliana Peca from the Viceministry for the Protection of Consumers’ and Users’ Rights of Bolivia described the provisions of the consumer protection law 453 of 2013 and subsequent regulations which provided very complete coverage. It covers such things as labelling, abusive clauses, contracts, guarantees, and deceptive advertising. (presentation and video recording on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61v9r-KUh3I 28:48)

In their paper on “Conservation, markets and justice: the experience of participative forest management in the village of Monkoxi de Lomerio”, Mirna Inturias of Nur University and Iokiñe Rodriguez of the University of East Anglia (UK) described a case study by Nur University of one part of the Territories of Original Communities, in which land title to 20 million hectares (out of a potential 40 m) has been returned to the local inhabitants, covering about 70% of the forest potential of Bolivia. The project made video recordings of oral testimonies, economic games, roundtables, community assemblies and interventions at the United Nations in New York (video recording on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCVn6g2bUOI (20:38).

Links to presentations are also updated in the website.


Ultrasociety (book review)

Peter Turchin. 2016. Ultrasociety: how 10,000 years of war made humans the greatest cooperators on earth. Chaplin, Connecticut: Beresta Books. 266 p.

Book review by Arthur Lyon Dahl, International Environment Forum

Peter Turchin continues his scientific exploration of history and the rise and fall of civilizations in his new book: Ultrasociety. I have previously reviewed his 2006 book “ War and Peace and War” and his significant paper published in Nature in 2010 “Political instability may be a contributor in the coming decade” which warned of the kind of problems we see emerging in many countries today and which predicted a major crisis by 2020.

It may seem puzzling why I draw so much attention to Turchin’s research on war, which shows the role of constant threats, trials and suffering in building social cohesion. He is an avowed atheist, and he searches objectively for evidence of cause and effect and not just correlations with no explanatory power, in developing a science of cooperation. His recent research into the rise of increasingly large and complex civilizations, documented in this new book, leads him to the conclusion that religion and spirituality play an essential role in achieving higher levels of civilization.

After exploring the best explanations for how simple cooperative societies of foragers become communities of farmers through cultural group selection, and then became structured with despotic God-Kings and subservient populations, he concludes with many others that power inevitably corrupts. But this does not explain how mega-empires arose covering millions of square kilometres and including tens of millions of massively multi-ethnic people.

For example, King Ashoka of the Mauryan empire in India (268-239 BCE) converted to Buddhism and adopted a policy of non-violence - “victory through Dhamma” - meaning righteousness or virtue. He emphasized kindness, generosity, truthfulness, purity, not killing living things, moderation in spending and saving, concern for animals, the first protected species, and help for the disadvantaged, the poor and even prisoners. His administration was known for fair and efficient justice with no more wars and resulting prosperity, when art and culture flourished. There were similarly five good emperors in Rome (96-180 CE), social progress in the Han Dynasty in China, and in the Judeo-Christian west, King Louis IX in France (1226-70) alongside many less desirable rulers.

The difference is what Turchin calls the spiritual awakening of the Axial Age, with the emergence of a different model of society and radical ideas about the essential dignity of human life, leading to a new trend to social justice. There was a breakthrough in religion 800-200 BCE, with intellectual turmoil and spiritual awakening, in what has been called the Axial (pivotal) Age (Jaspers 1949). A new kind of often-monotheistic religion emerged in the Eastern Mediterranean (Judaism) and Persia (Zoroastrianism) through India (Buddhism) to China (Confucianism, Taoism), leading later to Christianity and Islam. Socrates (a very religious person) and Greek philosophy were part of this movement.

How did war and religion together reverse the tide of violence? There was a shift from domination to legitimate hierarchy, with new relations between gods and humans, and a new way of organising society. The Axial religions provided a new legitimacy of power, with universal empires administered in the name of a universal religion. Their gods were transcendental moralizers concerned with prosocial behaviour including by the rulers. There was the sudden appearance of a universal egalitarian ethic, with prophet-like figures who scorned riches and passed harsh judgement on existing social conditions, whom Bellah (Religion in Human Evolution, 2011) has called renouncers and denouncers. Faith reversed the tide towards greater social inequality.

Turchin describes the innovations of Axial religions:
- rulers are less despotic and selfish, decreasing inequality and promoting cooperation;
- a shift from tribal, ethnically-based religions to universal proselytizing ones, provides the glue for multiethnic empires;
- trust as a precondition for cooperation can extend beyond the immediate community;
- supernatural “Big Gods” know what you think and whether you intend to respect a bargain or cheat; they care if you are trying to be a virtuous person; and they can (and will) punish a bad person.

It follows that large groups that believe in a moralistic punisher will be more cooperative, because they are always being watched. Non-belief becomes personally costly, so it is advantageous to become a true believer. Sincere belief even restrains the all-powerful. The result is the co-evolution of better institutions and values, and a positive vision of future imagined communities.

Turchin is extending his research on the science of cooperation with a massive database of historical facts, as he sees that cooperation is key to fixing failed states and restarting failed economies. For those who see only the bad side of religion, this evidence from history assembled by an atheist provides a powerful argument for the role that religion can again play in addressing the growing social inequality and ethical vacuum of today.


Global warming could be breaking up this 200 million year old relationship

By Chris Mooney, Washington Post, 2 November 2016

Last week came the latest grim news about the Great Barrier Reef: In its remote and treasured northern section, coral death appears to be extensive in the wake of an extreme ocean heat event in March, followed by subsequent severe coral bleaching.

It’s just the latest evidence that a changing climate is driving a wedge between two organisms that have managed to live together for eons in “one of the most successful modes of life that we know,” explains Kim Cobb, a coral reefs expert and climate scientist at Georgia Tech University.

Those two organisms are corals and the photosynthetic algae, or zooxanthellae, that live inside their cells, and provide the corals with energy. The problem is that when ocean waters get too hot, coral “bleaching” occurs, and the corals banish the algae from their system, turning white. In this condition, starved of what it takes to survive, they can only last so long.

Now, a new study in Science Advances gives the full context. In it, Katarzyna Frankowiak and Jarosław Stolarski of the Polish Academy of Sciences and a group of colleagues at institutions in Poland, the U.S., Brazil, and Switzerland studied the fossils of extremely ancient corals in order to try to determine precisely how far back in time this original symbiosis between coral and algae came to exist.

That inquiry took the scientists all the way back to the Tethys Ocean, an ancient body of water that existed during the Triassic Period, between 252 and 201 million years ago, when the continents were in vastly different alignments than where they are today. Fossils from that sea still exist in Turkey, including some well-preserved specimens of corals that researchers believed proliferated during this era, despite the poor quality of the waters in which they lived.

“Even if the corals evolved much earlier, then really something strange and dramatic happened in the Triassic that caused the sort of boom of reef evolution,” said Stolarski.

“It’s a situation that, something highly advantageous to these corals happened, they start to proliferate, and we think this is because of the symbiosis,” he continued.

Extremely high-powered analyses of the composition of these coral skeletons, with a focus on the different isotopes of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen of which they’re composed, revealed that roughly 212-million-year-old corals living in this time period had indeed already achieved symbiosis with photosynthetic algae, which lived inside of their own bodies. Apparently, the symbiosis helped the corals thrive despite the murky and nutrient poor waters in which they lived, since after all, all it takes for photosynthesis is light, water, and carbon dioxide.

“If we have the poor nutrient water, then the only way that the animal, the coral animal may survive, is to be symbiotic,” said Stolarski.

That development, in turn, launched corals and their algal partners forward through time, a cooperation for the ages. And although there were many changes over the intervening several hundred million years, and although the symbiosis may have subsequently re-evolved or re-developed multiple times, we still find algae living inside of coral today.

Granted, it’s not as if it was always smooth sailing. There were warm periods before the present one, for instance — but the symbiosis persisted. “The fact that together they have weathered off-scale warming and acidification events like the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum [55 million years ago], when much of the world’s reef systems were wiped out, is a testament to the resilience of this model,” said Georgia Tech’s Cobb in a comment on the new study.

However, Stolarski explained that the worrying difference in the present is not that oceans are warmer than they have ever been in the last 200 million years, but rather, that human driven climate change is happening far more rapidly than past climate changes in Earth’s history.

“The problem of course is that if the symbiosis is broken, which happens in modern oceans, because of the temperature and stress, then the corals usually die because they do not have the nutrients that the algae are providing,” said Stolarski. “The speed of the changes, and especially the temperature changes of the oceans, are quite rapid, and really, the issue is whether globally speaking, the corals will be able to survive this.”

Granted, Stolarski thinks that some of them can survive — even though there could be very big losses, as at the Great Barrier Reef. Cobb, too, argues that corals remain quite diverse and there will still be survivors of the latest global bleaching event, and perhaps of all of global warming.

“I am reminded of the few corals that survived a temperature-related mortality event that killed up to 85% of the corals at my study site, Christmas Island,” she wrote by email. “These hardy corals will seed the recovery of this reef in the near-term, and their descendants may seed the global recovery of coral reefs once temperatures and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels stabilize.”

Thomas Lovejoy, a prominent ecologist at George Mason University, told the Post earlier this year — at the peak of the global coral bleaching event — that the “single-species interaction” between coral and algae is a central part of the vulnerability of reefs.

“We can do all the modeling we want, climate modeling, and vegetation modeling, and it’s never going to pick up these sensitivities that come down to in many instances, just a relationship between one or two species, or two or three species,” Lovejoy added Wednesday. “So whatever the models are telling you, they’re not sensitive enough to actually predict the kinds of things we’re seeing with corals. And the consequence of that, you just have to think even more carefully and conservatively.”

“Some may survive, some may rebuild, but entire ecosystems are collapsing in the meantime,” said Lovejoy of coral reefs.

But others are less pessimistic.

“The new study is a powerful testament to the staying power of one of the most successful partnerships on our planet – one that has been honed and refined through repeated planetary-scale crises,” Cobb concluded. “There is no doubt that climate change will profoundly reshape global reefs over the next 100 years, but once the dust settles on our planetary-scale experiment, corals will likely flourish once more.”


Breaking the Link Between Extreme Weather and Extreme Poverty


Because natural disasters tighten poverty’s grip on communities worldwide, disaster risk reduction goes hand in hand with poverty reduction, and vice versa.

A new World Bank report finds the impact of extreme weather on poverty is more devastating than previously understood, responsible for annual consumption losses of $520 billion and pushing 26 million people into poverty every year.

Targeted resilience-building interventions protect poor people from adverse weather events and can help countries and communities save $100 billion a year


Annual Meeting of the Global Futures Councils

View presentations and panel discussions and read a variety of articles


Global Sustainable Transport Conference

Ashgabat, 26-27 November 2016

Recognizing the fundamental role of sustainable transport in fighting climate change and achieving the sustainable future we want, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon will convene the first ever global conference on sustainable transport, on 26 and 27 November 2016 in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.

The Global Sustainable Transport Conference will bring together key stakeholders from Governments, UN system and other international organizations, the private sector, and civil society to engage in a dialogue that emphasizes the integrated and cross-cutting nature of sustainable transport and its multiple roles in supporting the achievement of the SDGs. All modes of transport—road, rail, aviation, ferry and maritime - will be addressed.


Wave Power (useful links)


Wave power is the transport of energy by wind waves, and the capture of that energy to do useful work – for example, electricity generation, water desalination, or the pumping of water (into reservoirs). A machine able to exploit wave power is generally known as a wave energy converter (WEC). Wave power is distinct from the diurnal flux of tidal power and the steady gyre of ocean currents. Wave-power generation is not currently a widely employed commercial technology, although there have been attempts to use it since at least 1890. In 2008, the first experimental wave farm was opened in Portugal, at the Aguçadoura Wave Park.

Why Wave Power Has Lagged Far Behind as Energy Source

By Dave Levitan
It’s not difficult to imagine what wind energy looks like — by this point we have all seen the towering turbines dotting the landscape. The same goes for solar power and the panels that are spreading across rooftops worldwide. But there is another form of renewable energy, available in huge quantities, that doesn’t really call to mind anything at all: What does wave power technology look like?

Wind and solar power have taken off in the past decade or two, as costs have come down rapidly and threats from climate change have made clear the need to transition away from fossil fuels. Meanwhile, numerous studies have concluded that wave power — and to a lesser extent, tidal power — could contribute massive amounts to the overall energy picture. But while the industry has made halting progress, experts agree that it remains decades behind other forms of renewables, with large amounts of money and research required for it to even begin to catch up.

Carnegie Wave Energy Limited is an Australian based company focused on developing and commercializing its CEOT wave energy technology, which is capable of producing zero-emission power and direct desalinated water.

Updated 16 November 2016