Category Archives: SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

‘Tide Is Turning’: Cheers Erupt for NYC’s Suit Against Fossil Fuel Giants and for Divestment

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article by Andrea Germanos for Common Dreams

Climate advocates hailed what they say is a “watershed” moment on Wednesday following two announcements by New York City: that the city would seek to divest its pension funds from fossil fuels within five years, and that it filed suit against five fossil fuel giants for their role in driving the climate crisis.


New York City on Wedensday announced its plans to divest billions of its pension funds from fossil fuel companies and that it filed a suit against five giants in the industry for billions in damages. (Photo: Rae Breaux/FossilFree.org)

“This is a first-in-the-nation step to protect our future and our planet—for this generation and the next,” said Comptroller Scott M. Stringer.

Stringer announced last month that he would soon bring a proposal to the trustees of the pension funds that included divestment. Following through on that promise, a statement from the city released Wednesday says that he and Mayor Bill de Blasio “will submit a joint resolution to pension fund trustees” to begin the steps needed to purge the funds from the dirty industry, which will first entail an analysis on the financial impacts to be carried out by the City Comptroller’s Bureau of Asset Management.

350.org co-founder Bill McKibben said in a tweet responding to the news that it was “One of the biggest days in 30 years of the climate fight.”

The city’s five pension funds hold $189 billion in assets, and roughly $5 billion of that amount are held in the securities of over 190 fossil fuel companies, the city says.

The new lawsuit names BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, and Royal Dutch Shell and seeks billions of dollars in damages for harm already inflicted on the city as a result of the climate crisis as well for preparing for effects yet to come, including “imminent threats to its property, its infrastructure, and the health and safety of its residents.”

New York’s lawsuit follows similar suits filed by seven cities and counties in California.

The city’s statement references the industry’s deliberate misinformation campaign to cover up the effects of fossil fuels.

“We’re bringing the fight against climate change straight to the fossil fuel companies that knew about its effects and intentionally misled the public to protect their profits,” de Blasio said in a statement. “As climate change continues to worsen, it’s up to the fossil fuel companies whose greed put us in this position to shoulder the cost of making New York safer and more resilient.”

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Question for this article:

Divestment: is it an effective tool to promote sustainable development?

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Daniel Zarrilli, the city’s senior director of Climate Policy and Programs and Chief Resilience Officer, echoed that statement, saying, “Today, after a decades-long pattern of deception and denial by fossil fuel companies, New York City is holding them to account. By seeking damages for the investments necessary to protect New Yorkers from the impacts of climate change, and divesting our pension funds from fossil fuel reserves, we are taking the largest action by any city to confront the growing climate crisis and demonstrate the leadership necessary to win this fight against fossil fuels and the damages they’ve caused.”

Among the state lawmakers praising the city’s action was Democratic Sen. Liz Krueger who said, “Divestment sends the clear message that it is no longer acceptable to support companies whose fundamental business model puts our entire society at risk.”

Climate campaigners heaped praise on the city as well.

McKibben said in a statement, “New York City today becomes a capital of the fight against climate change on this planet.”

“With its communities exceptionally vulnerable to a rising sea, the city is showing the spirit for which it’s famous: it’s not pretending that working with the fossil fuel companies will somehow save the day, but instead standing up to them, in the financial markets and in court,” he added.

The announcements also drew praise from Carroll Muffett, president of Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), who said they marked “a watershed in corporate accountability for climate change and a wake-up call to investors that the risks facing fossil fuel companies are real, material, and rapidly growing.”

The city’s move also follows New York State’s announcement last month that it was putting forth a “a de-carbonization roadmap” that included divesting from fossil fuels.

With NYC becoming the first major U.S. city to call for divestment—a call over 800 institutions have heeded—and a growing number of municipalities filing suit against the industry, climate activists say it’s clear “the global tide is turning.”

According to Betámia Coronel, U.S. reinvestment coordinator at 350.org, “Divesting our city’s pensions from the dirtiest companies is an enormous hard-won first step; holding companies like Exxon accountable for their role in climate deception is next. Today’s announcement is a rallying signal to cities all over the world that the dawn of a fossil free world has arrived.”

“The signal is clear,” McKibben adds in an op-ed. “The oil industry is not the future, it’s the past. And indeed it will be held responsible for what it’s done in the past: namely, push climate denial when it knew the truth.”

“They should light up the Empire State Building in green tonight — for the money the city is going to save, and for the planet it will help protect in the process,” he concludes.

Washington activists launch ‘Climate Countdown’ to push lawmakers for urgent action

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article by Brandon Jordan from Waging Nonviolence

As Washington state senators prepared for the first legislative session of 2018 at the capitol building in Olympia yesterday, their traditional welcome ceremony was disrupted by at least a hundred activists from across the state, who had made their way into the balconies. From there, to the dismay of their elected officials, they delivered a loud message for all in attendance: “We have a climate crisis. You need to act now!”


Climate Countdown activists rallied outside the Washington state capitol building in Olympia on Monday. (Twitter / 350 Seattle / Alexandra Blakely)

The demonstration was part of an effort organizers are calling Climate Countdown, a campaign pressuring Democrats to pass and implement legislation that reduces carbon emissions. With a Democratic majority in both legislative chambers, organizers from a handful of organizations, from local 350.org chapters to indigenous groups, believe this is the perfect — and perhaps the only — opportunity to act.

Since 2013, passing any form of climate-related legislation in Washington was difficult at best. Republicans held a majority in the state Senate and used this advantage to block proposals, such as a cap-and-trade system, from Democrats. Gov. Jay Inslee, considered  the “greenest governor in America” by the League of Conservation Voters, often felt frustrated by Republican opposition to his climate plans.

Yet, on Nov. 8, Democrats succeeded in regaining control of the state Senate with a slim 49-48 majority. Alec Connon, an activist with 350 Seattle, said this victory led to activists discussing a potential plan to ensure lawmakers took responsibility without using Republicans as an excuse.

“It’s about time that the rhetoric we’ve seen from climate leaders in Washington state [translate into] actual meaningful policy,” Connon said.

As part of the campaign, residents are putting forward two demands to lawmakers. First, they want officials to follow a climate test, which are guidelines that determine a project’s approval if it harms the climate. This would reject all fossil fuel proposals.

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Question for this article:

Despite the vested interests of companies and governments, Can we make progress toward sustainable development?

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Second, activists want lawmakers to pass a bill that ensures the state switches to 100 percent renewable energy by 2028. All sectors under the government’s jurisdiction would move toward using alternative fuels.

The window to do this is short, as Washington lawmakers will only meet for 60 days this session. As 350 Seattle communications coordinator Emily Johnston explained, every minute is precious. She referred to scientists who warned  world leaders last June that we have only three years to reduce greenhouse gases to a point where the Paris climate agreement target of 1.5 degrees Celsius is still attainable.

“We know what happens beyond that,” she said. “[Climate] acceleration and the disasters we are starting to see become unstoppable.”
Johnston referred the federal government’s refusal to deal with climate change as a major reason for not only Washington, but also other states to focus on the environment.

“If the entire West Coast were to develop laws that were very aggressive on climate then that would have a [massive] impact because the economies of Washington and California are huge,” she said.
Connon used Montgomery County, the largest county in Maryland, as an example of what Washington state could do. Last month, officials there passed a resolution declaring a “climate emergency” and aimed to reduce the county’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2027, and ultimately 100 percent eight years after that.

“The example set by Montgomery County is a commendable example and one we hope Washington state will follow,” Connon said.
Washington does have commitments by law to reduce its greenhouse gases  to 1990 levels by 2020. But Olympic Climate Action member Melanie Greer said Washington will fail to meet that deadline barring a significant policy change.

“I want to see real legislation that matches what scientists say has to be done, as well as demonstrable action — so that the state moves in the right direction,” Greer said.

After the activists in the balconies finished their chant, they were ordered to leave by security guards. Having made their voices heard, they are now planning the next steps of the campaign to ensure officials make climate action a top priority this legislative session.

“The clock is ticking,” Connon said. “We, as a society and as a whole, have to respond to the climate crisis.”

Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign Reborn

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article by Amy Goodman & Denis Moynihan in Democracy Now

Martin Luther King Jr. would have turned 89 years old this Jan. 15. Assassinated at the age of 39 on April 4, 1968, his much-too-short life forever changed America. Among the landmarks of his activism are the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott, ending segregation in public transportation; leading the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech; the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act; and marching with sanitation workers in Memphis, where he declared in his last speech, delivered on the eve of his death, “I’ve been to the mountaintop.” Often overlooked are the increasingly radical policy positions King took in his last years, from speaking out against the Vietnam War to forging a multiracial Poor People’s Campaign that sought, as King said, “a radical redistribution of economic and political power.” Now, 50 years later, a coalition has formed anew to organize poor people in the United States into what King called “a new and unsettling force” to fight poverty and forge meaningful change.


Illustration from Nation of Change

This renewal, called “The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival,” has an audacious agenda: “to challenge the evils of systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, ecological devastation and the nation’s distorted morality.” At the forefront is the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II. Born just two days after the famous March on Washington, Barber grew up in the civil-rights movement. For over 10 years he served as president of the North Carolina NAACP, stepping down to lead this new campaign.

Back in 1968, King described the need for the Poor People’s Campaign, saying: “Millions of young people grow up in the sunlight of opportunity. But there is another America. And this other America has a daily ugliness about it that transforms ebulliency of hope into the fatigue of despair.”

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Question for this article:

Helping the poorest of the poor help themselves, if millions took it up, could it be the foundation of a just world?

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Speaking this week on the “Democracy Now!” news hour, Rev. Barber reflected on how little has truly changed since King’s time: “Fifty years later, we have nearly 100 million poor and working poor people in this country, 14 million poor children. … Fifty years later, we have less voting rights protection than we had on August 6, 1965,” he said. “[Republicans] have filibustered fixing the Voting Rights Act now for over four years, over 1,700 days.”

“Every state where there’s high voter suppression,” Barber continued, “also has high poverty, denial of health care, denial of living wages, denial of labor union rights, attacks on immigrants, attacks on women.”

Barber says the answer is fusion politics: “We have black, we have white, we have brown, young, old, gay, straight, Jewish, Muslim, Christians, people of faith, people not of faith, who are coming together,” creating what he calls the “Third Reconstruction.” Part of this fusion includes reaching out to traditionally conservative Christians, like Minister Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. From a devout, white evangelical family, as a teen he served as a congressional page under South Carolina Republican Sen. Strom Thurmond, one of the fiercest segregationists of the modern era.

Wilson-Hartgrove heard William Barber preach, and has been a follower and a colleague ever since. The renewed Poor People’s Campaign is responding to poor, white evangelicals, Wilson-Hartgrove says: “These people who say, ‘Vote for me because I’m a good Christian leader’ are not serving your interests. You don’t have health care, you don’t have a living wage, because the same people who say they’re standing up for God and righteousness are, when they’re voting, voting against the interests of poor people, whether you’re black, white, brown or whatever.”

Barber sees transformation of the Deep South on the near horizon, but doesn’t claim it will be easy. Recent court victories against both racial and political gerrymandering in North Carolina will further empower African-Americans and other traditionally marginalized groups. But the real work will be done not in the courts, but in the streets.

Barber and Wilson-Hartgrove, along with the Rev. Liz Theoharis, co-director of the New York City-based Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice and co-chair of the modern-day Poor People’s Campaign, traveled to 15 states around the country in recent months, recruiting, organizing and training over 1,000 people. Barber said: “Our first action will be on the Monday after Mother’s Day. We’re going after 25,000 people engaging in civil disobedience over six weeks to launch a movement.” Their target: the U.S. Capitol and statehouses across the country.

Martin Luther King Jr. was robbed of life by a sniper’s bullet 50 years ago. But on this anniversary of his birth, this national holiday that people fought decades for, his vital work to empower the poor, lives on.

‘World’s First Solar Highway’ Opens in China for Testing

.. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT ..

An article by Lorraine Chow from Ecowatch

Jinan, the capital city of China’s Shandong province, opened on Thursday a kilometer-long stretch of solar expressway for testing, joining France and the Netherlands that have tapped into the nascent technology.


Frame from video

China’s new solar road consists of an insulating layer on the bottom, photovoltaic panels in the middle, and transparent concrete on top.

The solar panels cover 5,875 square meters and can generate 1 million kilowatt-hours of power in a year, or enough to meet the energy demands of about 800 homes, Qilu Transportation Development Group, the project developer, claimed.

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Question for this article:

Are we making progress in renewable energy?

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If the technology proves effective, the electricity generated by the panels could power everything from street lights to signboards, and even a snow-melting system on the road. Excess energy can get sent to state grid.

“The project will save the space for building solar farms and shorten the transmission distance,” said Xu Chunfu, the group’s chairman.

But this special road—which China has hailed as the “world’s first photovoltaic highway“—is designed to do a lot more than just harness the sun’s rays for electricity and allow cars to get from A to B.

The site also serves as a clean energy lab to test other technologies, including wireless charging for electric vehicles and providing internet connection.

As intriguing as the project sounds, solar roads have been dismissed by critics as too expensive for practical use. China’s road costs about $458 per square meter, which is much more expensive than, say, traditional asphalt.

Still, this project showcases China’s multibillion dollar plow into renewable energy. By 2020, the country is aiming to build 54.5GW of large-scale solar projects.

“With the development of solar power in China, the cost can be further reduced,” Xu said.

NASA Study: First Direct Proof of Ozone Hole Recovery Due to Chemicals Ban

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article by Samson Reiny, NASA’s Earth Science News Team

For the first time, scientists have shown through direct satellite observations of the ozone hole that levels of ozone-destroying chlorine are declining, resulting in less ozone depletion.

Measurements show that the decline in chlorine, resulting from an international ban on chlorine-containing manmade chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), has resulted in about 20 percent less ozone depletion during the Antarctic winter than there was in 2005 — the first year that measurements of chlorine and ozone during the Antarctic winter were made by NASA’s Aura satellite. 


Frame from video by atmospheric scientist Susan Strahan discussing the ozone study

“We see very clearly that chlorine from CFCs is going down in the ozone hole, and that less ozone depletion is occurring because of it,” said lead author Susan Strahan, an atmospheric scientist from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

CFCs are long-lived chemical compounds that eventually rise into the stratosphere, where they are broken apart by the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation, releasing chlorine atoms that go on to destroy ozone molecules. Stratospheric ozone protects life on the planet by absorbing potentially harmful ultraviolet radiation that can cause skin cancer and cataracts, suppress immune systems and damage plant life.

Two years after the discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole in 1985, nations of the world signed the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, which regulated ozone-depleting compounds. Later amendments to the Montreal Protocol completely phased out production of CFCs.

Past studies have used statistical analyses of changes in the ozone hole’s size to argue that ozone depletion is decreasing. This study is the first to use measurements of the chemical composition inside the ozone hole to confirm that not only is ozone depletion decreasing, but that the decrease is caused by the decline in CFCs.

The study was published Jan. 4 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

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Question for this article:

If we can connect up the planet through Internet, can’t we agree to preserve the planet?

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The Antarctic ozone hole forms during September in the Southern Hemisphere’s winter as the returning sun’s rays catalyze ozone destruction cycles involving chlorine and bromine that come primarily from CFCs. To determine how ozone and other chemicals have changed year to year, scientists used data from the Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS) aboard the Aura satellite, which has been making measurements continuously around the globe since mid-2004. While many satellite instruments require sunlight to measure atmospheric trace gases, MLS measures microwave emissions and, as a result, can measure trace gases over Antarctica during the key time of year: the dark southern winter, when the stratospheric weather is quiet and temperatures are low and stable.

The change in ozone levels above Antarctica from the beginning to the end of southern winter —  early July to mid-September — was computed daily from MLS measurements every year from 2005 to 2016. “During this period, Antarctic temperatures are always very low, so the rate of ozone destruction depends mostly on how much chlorine there is,” Strahan said. “This is when we want to measure ozone loss.”

They found that ozone loss is decreasing, but they needed to know whether a decrease in CFCs was responsible. When ozone destruction is ongoing, chlorine is found in many molecular forms, most of which are not measured. But after chlorine has destroyed nearly all the available ozone, it reacts instead with methane to form hydrochloric acid, a gas measured by MLS. “By around mid-October, all the chlorine compounds are conveniently converted into one gas, so by measuring hydrochloric acid we have a good measurement of the total chlorine,” Strahan said.
 
Nitrous oxide is a long-lived gas that behaves just like CFCs in much of the stratosphere. The CFCs are declining at the surface but nitrous oxide is not.  If CFCs in the stratosphere are decreasing, then over time, less chlorine should be measured for a given value of nitrous oxide. By comparing MLS measurements of hydrochloric acid and nitrous oxide each year, they determined that the total chlorine levels were declining on average by about 0.8 percent annually.

The 20 percent decrease in ozone depletion during the winter months from 2005 to 2016 as determined from MLS ozone measurements was expected. “This is very close to what our model predicts we should see for this amount of chlorine decline,” Strahan said. “This gives us confidence that the decrease in ozone depletion through mid-September shown by MLS data is due to declining levels of chlorine coming from CFCs. But we’re not yet seeing a clear decrease in the size of the ozone hole because that’s controlled mainly by temperature after mid-September, which varies a lot from year to year.”

Looking forward, the Antarctic ozone hole should continue to recover gradually as CFCs leave the atmosphere, but complete recovery will take decades. “CFCs have lifetimes from 50 to 100 years, so they linger in the atmosphere for a very long time,” said Anne Douglass, a fellow atmospheric scientist at Goddard and the study’s co-author. “As far as the ozone hole being gone, we’re looking at 2060 or 2080. And even then there might still be a small hole.”

To read the study, visit: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2017GL074830/abstract
  

Global Solutions Lab: Eliminating Urban Poverty

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An announcement from Medard Gabel, Director, Global Solutions Lab

The 15th Annual Global Solutions Lab is June 17–25, 2017, at the United Nations in New York and Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, PA. Participants from around the world will be briefed by, interact with, and question UN experts (from UN Habitat, UN Development Program, UN Environmental Program, UNESCO, UNICEF, WHO, FAO and other UN agencies) and then, working collaboratively in small teams, develop designs, programs and strategies that deal with one of the critical problems facing our world’s urban environments. The participants present their work to a group of UN, corporate and foundation leaders at the end of the program. After this, their work is published in a book.

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Question for this article:

Can UN agencies help eradicate poverty in the world?

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This year’s theme is Eliminating Urban Poverty by 2030. The focus will be on the problems facing the cities of the world— where over 55% of the world’s population currently live (and where 70% are expected to live by 2050). How do we turn sinks into sources? How can we transform urban sinks for food, energy, and water into sources for these valuable resources? How do we do this while simultaneously meeting the needs for housing, education, health care, employment and recreation?

The Global Solutions Lab is a structured learning experience that fosters creativity, disruptive innovations, global perspectives and local solutions. It is intense, fast-paced, and for many, transformative.

If you know any students or others who might be interested in this type of event, have them get in touch with us. They can do this at the Lab’s website, or by emailing us at mg@depaceminterris.org. Further information is also in the link to this PDF flyer.

Top five solar energy inventions from Africa

.. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT ..

An article from Deutsche Welle

In 2017, eco@africa featured a host of eco heroes bringing solar power to their communities through innovative business ideas and inventions. Here are our top five solar solutions from Africa.


Nigeria’s solar clock king, Emmanuel Obayagbona
(Note: Each of the examples in the original article includes a photo and a brief video)

5. Cameroon’s green car wash

The residents of Douala in western Cameroon often face water shortages but they still like to have clean cars. The problem is an average car wash in the country uses up to 50 liters of water per vehicle. Entrepreneur Sylvain Honnang came up with an idea that saves water and doesn’t pollute the air. His solar-powered mobile car wash uses just six liters of water per car. His employees also use non-toxic, organic cleaning products.  “It’s not just a machine but a whole concept and teaching people about saving water,” said Honnang, who founded the company Howash to promote the service. 

4. Nigeria’s solar clock king

Most people in southeast Nigeria are connected to the public electricity grid. But power outages are common, leaving communities in darkness at night. The situation inspired electrical engineer Emmanuel Obayagbona to make a solar-powered clock that also doubles as a lamp and a cell-phone charger when the grid fails. It takes about three hours for Obayagbona to make a clock but he hopes to mass produce his invention soon. 

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Question for this article:

Are we making progress in renewable energy?

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3. Bringing solar knowledge to Cameroon

Bolivie Wakam studied renewable energy at an Italian university and wanted to spread this knowledge in his home country of Cameroon. He started training young people in his community to install and use solar panels. Wakam has also installed solar-powered street lights and a water purification plant run on the sun’s rays. The activist wants to see the majority of Africans — particularly those in rural areas with no access to electricity — kitted out with solar panels. “Renewable energy sources can be used over again and people don’t have to pay for electricity because it’s free,” said Wakam, who founded the NGO Africa Tech Solar to promote green energy across the continent.

2. Solar-powered haircuts

In Lagos, Nigeria, many businesses rely on dirty and noisy generators as a back-up when the state’s power supply cuts out. Segun Adaju, the CEO of Consistent Energy Limited, travels around the city promoting solar panels as an alternative for small and medium-sized enterprises. The solar panels last 20 years and can be paid for in increments. Many of the city’s numerous barbershops have made the switch already.

Mobile solar kiosks bring jobs and power

Some 70 percent of Rwanda’s 11.5 million inhabitants have a cell phone but only 22 percent have regular access to electricity. That’s why mobile solar kiosks, which Rwandans can use to charge their devices for a small fee, are starting to take off.  The kiosks are the brainchild of Henri Nyakarundi of Africa Renewable Energy. So far, 40 have sprung up across the country. They are run by independent vendors who pay a proportion of their earnings to the inventor. For Nyakarundi promoting solar energy is important but so is creating jobs for those who have few opportunities to work. He hopes to spread the micro-franchise to neighboring Uganda in 2018. 

(Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

Moonshots are not a question of age: millennial Boyan Slat inventor of The Ocean Cleanup

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article by Eleonora Bidiville for The Universal Sea

Are you wondering if superheroes exist? 23 years old Boyan Slat, a Dutch inventor and entrepreneur is the living proof.

Boyan Slat is the founder and the CEO of The Ocean Cleanup, a non-profit organisation of professionals  founded in 2013, who invented a new technology to solve a massive societal issue: getting rid of plastic in the oceans.


If the pilot project is a success, Slat plans to launch a bigger system to tackle the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. (Photo: The Ocean Cleanup)

One would think that there is no other possibility than to manually, on boats, gather and pick up the plastic from the water with nets. A quite inefficient and time-consuming solution, leading to vast amounts of carbon emission. However, Slat seems to have found the answer to the problem.

The advanced operation, which is still in evolution, works as a floating barrier taking advantage of the ocean currents, hence working autonomously. The technology follows the ocean’s movements, just like plastics, and thanks to floaters with a solid screen underneath, concentrates the plastic debris and leads them to a collection system. “The system is then slowed down by a drift anchor suspended at an approximate depth of 600 meters, making the system move slower than the plastic and therefore catching it.”

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Question for this article:

If we can connect up the planet through Internet, can’t we agree to preserve the planet?

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The Ocean Cleanup is planning to build a fleet of these floating barriers and leave them in the oceans. The company has estimated to be able to remove 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in a time-lapse of 5 years. An impressive number when we consider that there is already a plastic island three times the surface of France in the ocean!

The obvious following question is: What are we supposed to do with all this gathered plastic now? Boyan Slat and his team also thought about that. The accumulated waste is then brought back to the shore to be recycled and eventually sold to B2C companies. In addition, the money gained from this transaction is used to fund the project’s expansion and be able to clean the other four oceans gyres. The project has already been successfully tested several times in the North Sea in 2016 – 2017 and is set to be finally deployed into the Great Pacific Gyres in May 2018.

The Universal Sea – Pure or Plastic?! promotes such revolutionary organisations. Our goal is to reach out to the great public through artists’ abilities  who sensitise individuals on an emotional base and through the contribution of entrepreneurs, who bring the business component as a base for long-term effects. We want to bring into action a community ready to positively change the world.


The Universal Sea counts on your support to make the world improve!  Register and start sharing your projects, events or initiatives. Thanks to our constantly growing community, we want to offer the possibility to people to join your project against plastic dumping and help you to bring it to the next level.

The Universal Sea, your choice, your action!

(Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

UNESCO and UNWTO Sign Muscat Declaration on Tourism and Culture: Fostering Sustainable Development

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article from UNESCO

Culture, in all of its wondrous expressions, inspires more than 1.2 billion tourists to pack a bag and cross international borders each year. It is an important means to promote inter-cultural dialogue, create employment opportunities, curb rural migration, and nurture a sense of pride among host communities. Yet unmanaged, it can also harm the very heritage cultural tourism relies on.


Photo copyright Ministry of Heritage and Culture of Oman

Recognizing that a sustainable, approach with buy-in from all partners, is crucial to cultural tourism, peacebuilding and heritage protection, on 12 December, the Muscat Declaration on Tourism and Culture: Fostering Sustainable Development was signed by representatives of UNESCO, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), delegations, private sector, local communities and NGOs.

This concluded the two-day World Conference on Tourism and Culture co-organized by UNESCO and the UNWTO and hosted by the Sultanate of Oman. Through the Declaration, some 30 Ministers and Vice Ministers of Tourism and Culture, and 800 participants from 70 countries, reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen the synergies between tourism and culture, and to advance the contribution of cultural tourism to the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.

“Cultural tourism is growing, in popularity, in importance and in diversity embracing innovation and change. Yet, with growth comes increased responsibility, responsibility to protect our cultural and natural assets, the very foundation of our societies and our civilizations” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.

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(Click here for the french version of this article.)

Question related to this article:

How can tourism promote a culture of peace?

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Francesco Bandarin, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture, emphasized that we need to create a positive dynamic between culture and tourism “that promotes sustainability while benefiting local communities. This dynamic must contribute to safe and sustainable cities, decent work, reduced inequalities, the environment, promoting gender equality and peaceful and inclusive societies.”

Ministers from Cambodia, Libya, Somalia, Iraq and Vietnam discussed the role of cultural tourism as a factor of peace and prosperity, and shared views on the capacity of tourism to support the recovery of their countries.

The Declaration calls for cultural tourism policies that not only empower local communities, but also employ new, innovative tourism models that advance sustainable development, host-guest interaction, and cultural exchange. It promotes integrating sustainable cultural tourism and the protection of heritage in national, regional and international security frameworks. The Declaration also references UNESCO’s 1972 Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage and 2005 Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions in relation to these objectives.

Ahmed Bin Nasser Al Mahrizi, Minister of Tourism of the Sultanate of Oman, highlighted the importance of exchanging experiences and ideas to achieving sustainable tourism development. Participants shared best practices on issues such as community engagement, visitors’ management, and use of resources from tourism in conservation in such diverse locations as the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania, the Ras Al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates or the Palace of Versailles in France. Entrepreneurship, SME’s and the protection of traditional knowledge were viewed as compatible with developing sustainable tourism, with examples from India in the hotel sector and in other regions developing local food initiatives. Other examples included World Bank projects revitalizing cultural heritage for sustainable tourism development, and Seabourn Cruise Line’s partnership with UNESCO to raise awareness of World Heritage with their guests.

Following the first UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture in Cambodia in 2015, this second Conference was part of the official events of the 2017 International Year of Sustainable Tourism, so declared by the United Nations. Istanbul (Turkey) and Kyoto (Japan) will host the 2018 and 2019, editions respectively.

World Bank Group Announcement at One Planet Summit

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

A press release from The World Bank (bold face added by CPNN)

At the One Planet Summit [Paris, 12 December, 2017] convened by President Emmanuel Macron of France, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, the World Bank Group made a number of new announcements in line with its ongoing support to developing countries for the effective implementation of the Paris Agreement’s goals.

1. WBG and upstream oil and gas

As a global multilateral development institution, the World Bank Group is continuing to transform its own operations in recognition of a rapidly changing world.  To align its support to countries to meet their Paris goals:

The World Bank Group will no longer finance upstream oil and gas, after 2019. 
(In exceptional circumstances, consideration will be given to financing upstream gas in the poorest countries where there is a clear benefit in terms of energy access for the poor and the project fits within the countries’ Paris Agreement commitments.)

2. Ramping up WBG climate ambition through its Climate Change Action Plan

The WBG is on track to meet its target of 28% of its lending going to climate action by 2020 and to meeting the goals of its Climate Change Action Plan – developed following the Paris Agreement. 

In line with countries submitting updated and potentially more ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), the World Bank Group will present a stock-take of its Climate Change Action Plan and announce new commitments and targets beyond 2020 at COP24 in Poland in 2018.

3. Transparency and disclosure to drive our own decarbonization

The World Bank Group is working hard to ensure that climate accountability is mainstreamed throughout its operations. In addition to measures already in place:

I) Starting next year, the World Bank Group will report greenhouse gas emissions from the investment projects it finances in key emissions-producing sectors, such as energy. The results will be published in late 2018, and annually thereafter.

II) The World Bank will be applying a shadow price on carbon in the economic analysis of all IBRD/IDA projects in key high-emitting sectors where design has begun since July 2017.  IFC started using carbon pricing in key sectors in January 2017 and will mainstream the same starting January 2018″

4. Mobilizing Finance for transformation in mitigation and climate resilience

To accelerate the mobilization of finance:

I) IFC will invest up to $325 million in the Green Cornerstone Bond Fund, a partnership with Amundi, to create the largest ever green-bond fund dedicated to emerging markets. This is a $2 billion initiative aiming to deepen local capital markets, and expand and unlock private funding for climate-related projects.  The fund is already subscribed at over $1 billion.

II) Last week, the World Bank and the Government of Egypt signed a $1.15 billion development policy loan aimed at reducing fossil fuel subsidies and creating the environment for low-carbon energy development.

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Question for this article:

Divestment: is it an effective tool to promote sustainable development?

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III) The World Bank Group will continue to support investments highlighted at the One Planet Summit which demonstrate opportunities to crowd in different kinds of finance in transformational areas. This includes accelerating energy efficiency in India; scaling up solar energy in Ethiopia, Pakistan and Senegal among other countries; establishing a West Africa Coastal Areas investment platform to build resilience for coastlines of West African countries (partnering with WAEMU, NDF, GEF, GFDRR, AFD, AfDB); and introducing the City Resilience Platform (partnering with the Global Covenant of Mayors) so that up to 500 cities will have access to finance for resilience to climate change.

IV) The World Bank Group will continue to work with the United Nations and other partners on the implementation of the Invest4Climate platform, which will systematically crowd in multiple sources of finance, with a major event showcasing investment opportunities planned for May 2018 at the Innovate4Climate conference in Frankfurt.

V) IFC will work to set a single unifying global standard on green bonds, similar to the Equator Principles, as a means to facilitate the development of the green bond market to crowd in private finance into climate business. And to stimulate the greening of the financial sector, the World Bank Group will partner with the Sustainable Banking Network (SBN) to provide technical support to develop and implement national Roadmaps for Sustainable Finance in six countries. These roadmaps are based on a framework developed jointly with UN Environment.

VI)   AXA Managed Co-Lending Portfolio Program (MCPP) will allocate a substantial portion of projects to climate-smart infrastructure investments.  IFC and Finland launched the Finland-IFC Climate Change Program, a €114 million returnable capital contribution to spur private sector financing for climate-change solutions,targeting low-income countries focused on investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency, green buildings, climate-smart agriculture, and forestry.

5. Working in partnership

To further accelerate climate action, the World Bank Group will be working with various partners to deepen climate action:

I) For the first time, all the Multilateral Development Banks and all International Development Finance Club Members issued a joint statement aligning their finance with the Paris Agreement and identifying areas where they will work together to advance climate-smart development.

II) Canada and the World Bank will work together to accelerate the energy transition in developing countries and, together with the International Trade Union Confederation, will provide analysis to support efforts towards a just transition away from coal.

III) Working with France’s AFD and the Kingdom of Morocco, the World Bank will work to accelerate adaptation in agriculture for Africa.

IV) The World Bank will support a unique partnership between Caribbean leaders and people, multilateral organizations, and local and international private sector to define a vision for the world’s first climate-smart zone. The key priority areas for action include renewable energy, resilient infrastructure, innovative financing, and capacity building.

V) The World Bank Group will support, through the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, the proposed Carbon Markets of the Americas initiative.

VI) Together with Ethiopia, Fiji, Germany, the United Kingdom and other government, NGO and private sector partners so far, the World Bank will support the new InsuResilience Global Partnership with the goal  of significantly scaling up climate risk finance and insurance solutions in developing countries, with a focus on poor and vulnerable people. It will stimulate the creation of effective climate risk insurance markets and the smart use of insurance-related schemes to protect lives and livelihoods from the impacts of disasters. More than $125million has been committed to the initiative so far. It is built on strong G20 and V20 support and has 40 members so far.

VII) The Principles on Blended Concessional Finance, first published in 2013, have been recently enhanced with more detailed guidelines developed by a working group (chaired by IFC) representing Development Finance Initiatives (DFIs) that annually invest more than $35 billion a year in private sector solutions. These principles include promoting commercially sustainable solutions so that the use of scarce public concessional finance is minimized; and state the need for high social, environmental, and governance standards.