Category Archives: SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

La Via Campesina calls on States to exit the WTO and to create a new framework based on food sovereignty

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

A press release June 15 from La Via Campesina

La Via Campesina, the global peasant movement representing the voices of more than 200 million small-scale peasants from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas, has been mobilizing all week against the WTO. The food crisis that is currently hitting the world is further proof that free trade – far from bringing about food security – is making people starve.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has once again failed to offer a permanent solution on public stockholding for food security purposes. For more than eight years, rich countries have been blocking concrete proposals from African and Asian members of the G33 in this regard.

Jeongyeol Kim, from the Korean Women Peasant’s Association and an International Coordination Committee (ICC) member of La Via Campesina, points out that:

“Free Trade Fuels Hunger. After 27 years under the rule of the WTO, this conclusion is clear. It is time to keep agriculture out of all Free Trade Agreements. The pandemic, and the shock and disruptions induced by war have made it clear that we need a local and national food governance system based on people, not agribusinesses. A system that is built on principles of solidarity and cooperation rather than competition, coercion, and geopolitical agendas.”

Burry Tunkara, from the Gambian Organization of Small-scale Farmers, Fishermen and Foresters and one of the main youth leaders of La Via Campesina, echoes the same sentiment in this testimony:

“The WTO only defends the rich and their commercial interests. It is a tool of neo-colonialism. It only serves the interests of multinationals to find new markets and cheaper labour. It’s time to stop that!

The socio-economic agenda of the poorest and low-income countries is not a priority for the WTO. The proof: its inability to provide a safeguard mechanism against the “dumping” of rich countries and its approach to fisheries subsidies to the detriment of small-scale fisherfolk. There is no point in trying to reform an institution built to favour the business interests of a handful of multinational corporations.

Perla Álvarez from Paraguay, and member of the Latin American Coordination of La Via Campesina (CLOC) stated that a systemic change is urgent and necessary:

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(Click here for the article in French or click here for the article in Spanish).

Question for this article:

What is the relation between movements for food sovereignty and the global movement for a culture of peace?

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“The global food crisis is our moment of reckoning. There is no place for a ‘business as usual’ approach here. We are presenting short-term and long-term proposals that can radically shift the way in which trade affects farming communities around the world.”

Today, June 15, from Geneva, while the WTO Ministerial Conference has once again betrayed the expectations of the populations that have been most affected by the food crisis, we, La Via Campesina, share our proposals;

La Via Campesina calls on all national governments to rebuild public stocks and to support the creation of food reserves at the community level with local products from agroecological practices. LVC also called on all governments to put in place the anti-dumping legislation necessary to prevent exporters from destroying local markets.

Yudhvir Singh of the Bhartiya Kisan Union, one of the unions that spearheaded the historic mobilization of Indian peasants in 2021, shared his country’s experience with public food stocks:

“Peasants need strong public policies, such as minimum prices and public stock, to continue to make a decent living by producing food. The WTO’s attacks against our model of market regulation are extremely dangerous. The G33 must continue to resist and build based on the aspirations and hopes of small-scale producers.”

La Via Campesina has called for an immediate suspension of all existing WTO rules that prevent countries from developing public food stocks and regulating market and prices. Governments should have the right to use self-selected internal criteria to protect and promote their food sovereignty. Each country should be able to develop its own agricultural and food policy and protect the interests of its peasants, without harming other countries. The use of agricultural products for agro-fuels should be prohibited. La Via Campesina has also called for a halt in speculation.

“Agrarian Reform is necessary to build food sovereignty,” added Zainal Arifin Fuat of Serikat Petani Indonesia and member of LVC’s International Coordination Committee. “Governments must put an end to grabbing water, seeds and land by transnational corporations and ensure small-scale producers fair rights over common resources.”

We, La Via Campesina, insist that within the framework of the pandemic and the global supply crisis, governments should prioritize local markets.

Morgan Ody, peasant in Brittany, France, and general coordinator of La Via Campesina, stated on behalf of the global peasant movement:

“The World Trade Organization is a failed project. Our global peasant movement calls on all States, especially those in the South, to leave the WTO immediately. We must create a new international framework for agriculture and trade based on food sovereignty. Only then can we defend the interests of small-scale food producers.”

For queries, write to press@viacampesina.org | Press Kit: https://linktr.ee/laviacampesina

Note: La Via Campesina counts 181 peasant organisations in over 80 countries as its members. The global peasant network and its allies led the negotiations in the UN for 17 years, resulting in the United Nations adopting a UN Declaration for Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP) in 2018.

Australia: On our “frightening” future: how this election shows young people are taking back their voice

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article by Rose Mary Petrass from The Fifth Estate

This election, young people turned out to vote in record numbers to address the issues they care about most: climate change, housing affordability and the rising cost of living.


Greens candidate Max Chandler-Mather unseated Labor in the Queensland electorate of Griffith

You may or may not have heard the news: young people felt ignored in this election.

They felt there was no plan put forward to address the issues that affect them the most: namely, the climate crisis, housing affordability and cost of living. 

Against a backdrop of unprecedented social upheaval, economic uncertainty and collective trauma, young people feel that the future is uncertain. 

They felt that politicians were short-sighted and with selective hearing; that they were prioritising the short-term over the long-term.

So young people turned up in record numbers to let their voices be heard.

A record number of more than 700,000 enrolment applications were received by the Australian Electoral Commission in the span of just one week. 

In fact, 18 April set a record as the biggest single-day enrollment in Australian history, in what was described by the electoral commission as a “modern-day democratic miracle”.

The AEC said about 80,000 18-24 year olds enrolled to vote in the lead up to the election. That means 97 per cent of the eligible population is now enrolled.

“The majority of people who have enrolled to vote since the election was announced are young Australians aged 18 to 24,” Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers said.

According to the AEC, young people make up 26 per cent of enrolled Australians; 55 years and older make up around 40 per cent. 

Yet only two per cent of 18-29 year olds believe that politicians are working in the best interests of young Australians, a recent Triple J survey found.

What’s more, a Plan International report in early May revealed that most young women don’t think politics is an equal space for women and people of colour.

Young people are feeling left out of the political discussions, but have proven to be more politically engaged than ever

The unprecedented wins for The Greens, teal independents, women of colour and Indigenous candidates  demonstrate just how powerful that vote really is. 

Let’s take a look at why this election saw such a turnout

In the ABC’s Vote Compass survey, climate change, cost of living and the economy were ranked as the most important issues to Australians this election, with the cost of living seen as more important to voters in 2022 than in the past two elections.
 
Young people are often quickly labelled as being self-absorbed and narcissistic, but it was 18-29 year olds that most commonly put climate action on the top of their wishlists. 

They are seeing climate change as the massive existential threat that it really is, and also seeing the lack of action from those in leadership as a serious red flag.

The climate crisis, like the pandemic and the housing crisis, is also inextricably linked to a mental health crisis, with one study last year finding that young people feel abandoned by their governments and by older generations. Inadequate action by those in power has, according to the study, led to feelings of betrayal, abandonment and “moral injury”.

The results of the study were harrowing. Over half the respondents said they believed “humanity is doomed”.

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Question for this article:

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

Are we seeing the dawn of a global youth movement?

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Among young people surveyed 84 per cent were “at least moderately worried,” nearly 60 per cent were “very or extremely worried,” and 75 per cent felt that the future was “frightening”. 

Seventy five per cent. 

Let that sink in for a moment.

Yet there was largely radio science from the major parties on climate in this election. No wonder the younger demographic turned out in higher numbers than ever before to vote Green.

The “greenslide” is made mostly of wins for seats that have the highest population of young people. 

Electorates that turned Green (Brisbane, Griffith, and Ryan) have the highest proportion of youth voters in the country.

For example, Greens candidate Max Chandler-Mather unseated Labor in the Queensland electorate of Griffith after knocking on 90,000 doors. 

He lives in a sharehouse with his partner and two friends. He represents the majority of youth today who are living in similar circumstances. And his party has had climate at the top of its agenda since the beginning. 

Chandler-Mather says that people have “lost faith in a political system that puts the interests of a few big corporations ahead of the rest of us”. 

Griffith has the third-highest proportion of voters under 30 in the country, at 24.7 per cent.

A similar number of young people live in Melbourne (25.7 per cent), where Adam Bandt held strong. 

“People have delivered a mandate for action on climate and inequality,” Greens leader Adam Bandt said. 

Only 1 per cent of young people believe politicians are working in the best interests of our planet.

This election dragged into the daylight how much those in power treat our high-stakes future like a game, offering what last week we called “show bags stuffed with a few self-interested goodies” against large-scale existential threats to the survival of humanity.

Young Australians simply didn’t have many options on the ballot paper.

For example, much of the election focused on cost of living, without much in the way of housing affordability. 

Young people have been actively encouraged to tap into their superannuation in recent years, and steal from their future in order to afford a roof over their head. 

Australia is staring down the barrel of a housing affordability crisis. This year, house prices have jumped by 22.4 per cent, the biggest price increase since 1989. Rental prices in capital cities rose by up to 21.2 per cent in the 12 months to April.

With the average house in Sydney and Melbourne selling for over $1 million, many young adults are forced to keep living at home with their families or renting homes with friends or strangers well into their 30s.

Meanwhile, the rate of annual wage growth has stagnated over the past decade, with wages growing by 2.4 per cent – less than half the rate of inflation. 

In the Reserve Bank’s quarterly statement on monetary policy  released this month, Australians’ real wages are set to shrink by 3 per cent in 2022 as salaries lag behind inflation.

New PM Anthony Albanese’s plans to address the cost of living include a “Help to Buy” scheme that would only be available for up to 10,000 homes a year. 

That’s a drop in the ocean compared to the estimated two-thirds (roughly 2.6 million people) of young Australians who said last year that they would never be able to afford a home

Young people are looking for some kind of beacon in the darkness of an increasingly uncertain future. 

The “Greenslide”, the “teal independants”, and unprecedented success of women of colour on Saturday night should not have come as a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to the increasingly politically engaged young people around them. 

For many young people, it was the first time that they saw an election win that showed positive signs for the future. 

Berta Cáceres has been declared a national heroine by the National Congress of Honduras

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article from La Prensa Honduras (translation by CPNN)

The Honduran National Congress, in plenary session this Wednesday, approved raising Berta Cáceres to the category of national heroine. The environmentalist was murdered in 2016.

The legislative proposal would put the face of Cáceres, whose assassination echoed internationally, on bills of the Honduran currency issued by the Central Bank of Honduras.


Cáceres was one of the most emblematic environmentalists in the Latin American region.

Also, Cáceres would give her name to the highest environmental award granted by the Honduran Legislative Power. The latter was celebrated by one of Cáceres’s daughters, Olivia Zúniga, a former congresswoman for Intibucá.

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(Click here for the Spanish version)

Questions related to this article:
 
Despite the vested interests of companies and governments, Can we make progress toward sustainable development?

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The crime against Berta Cáceres occurred on March 3, 2016. International and local condemnation led to arrests related to it. For her murder, Roberto David Castillo , a businessman with interests in the Intibucá region, was found guilty.

EMBLEMATIC CRIME

Cáceres was shot dead in her house in La Esperanza, in western Honduras, despite having precautionary measures from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the fact that she had reported multiple death threats.

The environmentalist opposed the construction of Agua Zarca, on the Gualcarque River, considering that it caused damage to the environment, mainly to the communities of the Lenca ethnic group.

After learning of the new date for the reading of David Castillo’s sentence, the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (Copinh), of which Cáceres was coordinator and co-founder, said today that the sentencing court has “the obligation” to incorporate in the ruling all the information collected in the trial and dictate a “certain sentence”.

The environmentalist was murdered in her house in the western city of La Esperanza. In December 2019, a Honduran court sentenced four of eight defendants to 34 years in prison for the murder of Cáceres and 16 for the attempted murder of Mexican Gustavo Castro, who was the environmentalist’s guest on the day of the crime. Three others were sentenced to 30 years in prison as co-authors of the murder.

France: “Desertons”: young engineers call for refusing “destructive jobs”

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article from Reporterre (translation by CPNN)

During a speech delivered at the AgroParisTech graduation ceremony on May 10, eight students said they refused to perform “destructive jobs” and called on their comrades to join the ecological struggles and to work with their hands.

The large bright screen announced the end-of-year speech of a young graduate. But at the podium, they arrived as eight instead of one. In turn, they described the role that their training and their profession play in the ecological and social disaster and called on their colleagues to “take another path”.


A frame from the from video of their speeches
(click on the image to watch the video)

The 2022 graduates are now meeting for the last time after three or four years at AgroParisTech. Many of us do not want to pretend to be proud and deserving of obtaining this diploma at the end of a training which globally pushes to participate in the social and ecological devastations in progress.

We do not see ourselves as “the talents of a sustainable planet”.

We do not see ecological and social devastation as “issues” or “challenges” to which we should find solutions as engineers.

We do not believe that we need “all agricultures”. Rather, we see that agribusiness is waging a war on the living and on the peasantry everywhere on Earth.

We do not see science and technology as neutral and apolitical.

We believe that technological innovation or start-ups will save nothing but capitalism.

We do not believe in “sustainable development”, nor in “green growth”, nor in “ecological transition”, an expression which implies that society can become sustainable without getting rid of the dominant social order. .

AgroParisTech trains hundreds of students every year to work for the industry in various ways: tampering with plants in the lab for multinationals that reinforce the enslavement of farmers; designing prepared meals and then chemotherapy to treat the diseases caused; inventing good conscience labels to allow managers to believe themselves heroic by eating better than others; developing “green energies” which make it possible to accelerate the digitization of society while polluting and exploiting on the other side of the world; producing CSR [corporate social responsibility] reports that are all the longer and more delirious because the crimes they hide are scandalous; or even counting frogs and butterflies so that concrete workers can make them disappear legally.

“We speak to those who doubt”

These jobs are destructive, and to choose them is to harm… by serving the interests of the few.

Yet these are the opportunities that were presented to us throughout our studies at AgroParisTech. On the other hand, we have never been told about graduates who consider that these professions are more part of the problems than of the solutions and who have chosen to desert.

We speak to those who doubt. Whether this doubt is daily — or fleeting.

To you, who accepted a job because “you need a first experience”.

To you, whose loved ones work to perpetuate the system, and who feel the weight of their gaze on your professional choices.

To you, who, seated behind a desk, look out the window dreaming of space and freedom.

To you who take the TGV every weekend in search of a well-being never found.

To you who feel uneasiness rising without being able to name it, who often find that this world is crazy, who want to do something but don’t really know what, or who hoped to “change things from the inside” and don’t believe it already.

We wanted to let you know that you’re not the only ones who think there’s something wrong. Because there really is something wrong.

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(Click here for the original article in French

Question for this article:

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

Are we seeing the dawn of a global youth movement?

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We too have doubted, and sometimes we still doubt.

And we refuse to serve this system, we have decided to look for other ways, to build our own paths.

How did it start?

We met people who were struggling, and we followed them on their battlefields. They made us see the other side of the projects that we could have carried out as engineers. I think of Christina and Emmanuel who see the concrete flowing on their land on the Saclay plateau. I think of this dry hole, a derisory compensation for a pond full of newts. Or to Nico who sees from his tower block the popular gardens of his childhood razed for the construction of an eco-district.

Here and there, we have met people who are experimenting with other ways of life, who are reclaiming knowledge and know-how so as to no longer depend on the monopolies of polluting industries.

People who understand their territory to live from it without exhausting it. Who actively fight harmful projects. Who practice a popular, decolonial and feminist ecology on a daily basis. Who find the time to live well and take care of each other. All these encounters have inspired us to imagine our own paths.

… I have been living for two years at the zad of Notre-Dame-des-Landes where I do collective and subsistence farming, among other things.

… I am in the process of setting up in beekeeping in the Dauphiné.

… I joined the Les Uprisings of the Earth movement to fight against the grabbing of agricultural land and its concrete everywhere in France.

… I live in the mountains, I have a seasonal job and I start drawing.

… We settle in a collective in the Tarn on a Terre de Liens farm with a peasant baker, brewers and arboriculturists.

… I am committed against nuclear power near Bure.

… I train today to settle tomorrow and work with my hands.

We consider these ways of living to be more than necessary and we know that they will make us stronger and happier.

Worried about stepping aside because it wouldn’t “do well” on your resume?

To distance yourself from your family and your network?

To deprive you of the recognition that a career as an agricultural engineer would bring you?

But what life do we want? A cynical boss? A salary that allows you to fly? A thirty-year loan for a pavilion? Not even five weeks a year to breathe in an “unusual lodge”? An electric SUV, a Fairphone and a Biocoop loyalty card?

And then a burnout at 40?

“Let’s not wait for the 12ᵉ IPCC report”

Let’s not waste our time. But above all, let’s not lose this energy that is boiling somewhere in us.

Let’s not give up when we are stuck with financial obligations.

Let’s not wait for our kids to ask us for money to go shopping in the Metaverse because we ran out of time to make them dream of something else.

Let’s not wait to be incapable of anything other than a pseudo-reconversion in the same job, but repainted in green.

Let’s not wait for the 12th IPCC report, which will demonstrate that states and multinationals have never done anything but make the problems worse, and which will place its last hopes in popular uprisings and revolts.

You can fork now.

Start training as a farmer-baker. Leave for a few months of woofing. Participate in a construction site on a zad or elsewhere. Engage with those in need. Get involved in a self-managed bike workshop or join a weekend of struggle with the Earth Uprisings.

It can start like this.

It’s up to you to find your ways to take another path.

Brazil’s Lula proposes creating Latin American currency to ‘be freed of US dollar’ dependency

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article by Benjamin Norton in Multipolarista

Brazil’s left-wing leader Lula da Silva has proposed creating a pan-Latin American currency, in order to “be freed of the dollar.”

A founder of Brazil’s Workers’ Party, Lula served as president for two terms, from 2003 to 2011. He is now the leading candidate as Brazil’s October 2022 presidential elections approach.

If he returns to the presidency, “We are going to create a currency in Latin America, because we can’t keep depending on the dollar,” Lula said in a speech at a rally on May 2.

He revealed that the currency would be called the Sur, which means “South” in Spanish.

Lula explained that countries in Latin America could still keep their sovereign domestic currency, but they could use the Sur to do bilateral trade with each other, instead of having to exchange for US dollars.

The Sur could also help to contain inflation in the region, Lula argued.

Lula said the goal of the currency would be to deepen Latin American integration and strengthen the region’s economic sovereignty, weakening its dependence on the United States.

Under Brazil’s current government, led by far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro, the South American giant has subordinated itself to Washington, while viciously attacking the left-wing governments in the region.

Bolsonaro’s Brazil has refused to recognize the legitimacy of the leftist Chavista government in its neighbor Venezuela, and has even supported violent cross-border terrorist attacks against it.

If he returns to the presidency, Lula pledged that Brazil “will strengthen its relations with Latin America.”

Lula has also vowed to revive the BRICS system, integrating Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa in an independent economic architecture to challenge Western financial hegemony.

In 2020, Lula published a call “For a Multipolar World.” He explained his goal is “the creation of a multipolar world, free from unilateral hegemony and from sterile bipolar confrontation,” that “would permit a true re-founding of the multilateral order, based on principles of real multilateralism, in which international cooperation can truly flourish.”

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(Click here for the Spanish version)

Questions related to this article:
 
Can Latin America free itself from the dollar?

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Hugo Chávez’s attempt to create a pan-Latin America currency, the Sucre

Lula’s proposal for the Sur is certainly not the first time progressive politicians in Latin America have tried to create a common currency. This has long been a dream of left-wing leaders in the region.

Venezuela’s revolutionary former president Hugo Chávez developed an international currency as part of the Bolivarian Alliance (ALBA), an economic coalition of left-wing governments in Latin America and the Caribbean.

This currency was called the Sucre, and was adopted in 2009 by Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba, Bolivia, and Ecuador.

Sucre was an acronym for “Unified System for Regional Compensation,” but also a reference to Antonio José de Sucre, who helped lead the South American independence struggle against Spanish colonialism, alongside Simón Bolívar.

Ecuador’s government, under leftist President Rafael Correa, who has a Ph.D. in economics, was the main adopter of the Sucre.

At its peak in 2012, the Sucre was used for more than $1 billion in bilateral annual trade in the region.

But the currency fell out of use by 2016, following Chávez’s death in 2013, a massive drop in commodity prices in 2014, the imposition of US sanctions on Venezuela in 2015, and violent coup attempts against Chávez’s successor Nicolás Maduro.

Ecuador’s subsequent right-wing President Lenín Moreno, with US backing, later removed his country from the ALBA, dealing a huge blow to the Sucre and dreams of regional integration.

Lula leads polls for Brazil’s 2022 elections, following US-backed judicial coup

Brazil’s presidential elections will be held in October 2022.

Polls consistently show Lula leading over far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s sitting president.

Bolsonaro only came to power in the 2018 elections due to a soft coup d’etat backed by the United States.

Lula had been significantly ahead in the polls in the lead-up to the 2018 vote, but Brazil’s judicial system imprisoned him on false charges, handing the victory to Bolsonaro.

The US Justice Department helped support this campaign of what Lula calls legal warfare, or lawfare, to prevent him from returning to the presidency.

The US government also backed the 2016 political coup against Brazil’s democratically President Dilma Rousseff, also a member of Lula’s left-wing Workers’ Party.

The UN Human Rights Committee found this April that the prosecution of Lula was politically motivated and violated his rights.

“The investigation and prosecution of former President Lula da Silva violated his right to be tried by an impartial tribunal, his right to privacy and his political rights,” the UN legal experts determined.

UN climate report: It’s ‘now or never’ to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article from the United Nations

A new flagship UN report on climate change out Monday (April 4) indicating that harmful carbon emissions from 2010-2019 have never been higher in human history, is proof that the world is on a “fast track” to disaster, António Guterres has warned, with scientists arguing that it’s ‘now or never’ to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.


© UNICEF/Sebastian Rich. A young boy collects what little water he can from a dried up river due to severe drought in Somalia.

Reacting to the latest findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN Secretary-General insisted that unless governments everywhere reassess their energy policies, the world will be uninhabitable.

His comments reflected the IPCC’s insistence that all countries must reduce their fossil fuel use substantially, extend access to electricity, improve energy efficiency and increase the use of alternative fuels, such as hydrogen.

Unless action is taken soon, some major cities will be under water, Mr. Guterres said in a video message, which also forecast “unprecedented heatwaves, terrifying storms, widespread water shortages and the extinction of a million species of plants and animals”.

Horror story

The UN chief added: “This is not fiction or exaggeration. It is what science tells us will result from our current energy policies. We are on a pathway to global warming of more than double the 1.5-degree (Celsius, or 2.7-degrees Fahreinheit) limit” that was agreed in Paris in 2015.

Providing the scientific proof to back up that damning assessment, the IPCC report – written by hundreds of leading scientists and agreed by 195 countries – noted that greenhouse gas emissions generated by human activity, have increased since 2010 “across all major sectors globally”.

In an op-ed article penned for the Washington Post, Mr. Guterres described the latest IPCC report as “a litany of broken climate promises”, which revealed a “yawning gap between climate pledges, and reality.”

He wrote that high-emitting governments and corporations, were not just turning a blind eye, “they are adding fuel to the flames by continuing to invest in climate-choking industries. Scientists warn that we are already perilously close to tipping points that could lead to cascading and irreversible climate effects.”

Urban issue

An increasing share of emissions can be attributed to towns and cities, the report’s authors continued, adding just as worryingly, that emissions reductions clawed back in the last decade or so “have been less than emissions increases, from rising global activity levels in industry, energy supply, transport, agriculture and buildings”.

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Question for this article:
 
Despite the vested interests of companies and governments, Can we make progress toward sustainable development?

(Article continued from the left column)

Striking a more positive note – and insisting that it is still possible to halve emissions by 2030 – the IPCC urged governments to ramp up action to curb emissions.

The UN body also welcomed the significant decrease in the cost of renewable energy sources since 2010, by as much as 85 per cent for solar and wind energy, and batteries.

Encouraging climate action

“We are at a crossroads. The decisions we make now can secure a liveable future,” said IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee. “I am encouraged by climate action being taken in many countries. There are policies, regulations and market instruments that are proving effective. If these are scaled up and applied more widely and equitably, they can support deep emissions reductions and stimulate innovation.”

To limit global warming to around 1.5C (2.7°F), the IPCC report insisted that global greenhouse gas emissions would have to peak “before 2025 at the latest, and be reduced by 43 per cent by 2030”.

Methane would also need to be reduced by about a third, the report’s authors continued, adding that even if this was achieved, it was “almost inevitable that we will temporarily exceed this temperature threshold”, although the world “could  return to below it by the end of the century”.
Now or never

“It’s now or never, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F); without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, it will be impossible,” said Jim Skea, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III, which released the latest report.

Global temperatures will stabilise when carbon dioxide emissions reach net zero. For 1.5C (2.7F), this means achieving net zero carbon dioxide emissions globally in the early 2050s; for 2C (3.6°F), it is in the early 2070s, the IPCC report states.

“This assessment shows that limiting warming to around 2C (3.6F) still requires global greenhouse gas emissions to peak before 2025 at the latest, and be reduced by a quarter by 2030.”

Policy base

A great deal of importance is attached to IPCC assessments because they provide governments with scientific information that they can use to develop climate policies.

They also play a key role in international negotiations to tackle climate change.

Among the sustainable and emissions-busting solutions that are available to governments, the IPCC report emphasised that rethinking how cities and other urban areas function in future could help significantly in mitigating the worst effects of climate change.

“These (reductions) can be achieved through lower energy consumption (such as by creating compact, walkable cities), electrification of transport in combination with low-emission energy sources, and enhanced carbon uptake and storage using nature,” the report suggested. “There are options for established, rapidly growing and new cities,” it said.

Echoing that message, IPCC Working Group III Co-Chair, Priyadarshi Shukla, insisted that “the right policies, infrastructure and technology…to enable changes to our lifestyles and behaviour, can result in a 40 to 70 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. “The evidence also shows that these lifestyle changes can improve our health and wellbeing.”

Historic day in the campaign to beat plastic pollution: Nations commit to develop a legally binding agreement

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

A press release from the United Nations Environment Program

Nairobi, 02 March 2022 – Heads of State, Ministers of environment and other representatives from 175 nations endorsed a historic resolution at the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) today in Nairobi to End Plastic Pollution and forge an international legally binding agreement by 2024. The resolution addresses the full lifecycle of plastic, including its production, design and disposal.


Scene from video of UNEP meeting

“Against the backdrop of geopolitical turmoil, the UN Environment Assembly shows multilateral cooperation at its best,” said the President of UNEA-5 and Norway’s Minister for Climate and the Environment, Espen Barth Eide. “Plastic pollution has grown into an epidemic. With today’s resolution we are officially on track for a cure.” 

The resolution, based on three initial draft resolutions from various nations, establishes an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC), which will begin its work in 2022, with the ambition of completing a draft global legally binding agreement by the end of 2024. It is expected to present a legally binding instrument, which would reflect diverse alternatives to address the full lifecycle of plastics, the design of reusable and recyclable products and materials, and the need for enhanced international collaboration to facilitate access to technology, capacity building and scientific and technical cooperation.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) will convene a forum by the end of 2022 that is open to all stakeholders in conjunction with the first session of the INC, to share knowledge and best practices in different parts of the world. It will facilitate open discussions and ensure they are informed by science, reporting on progress throughout the next two years. Finally, upon completion of the INC’s work, UNEP will convene a diplomatic conference to adopt its outcome and open it for signatures.

“Today marks a triumph by planet earth over single-use plastics. This is the most significant environmental multilateral deal since the Paris accord. It is an insurance policy for this generation and future ones, so they may live with plastic and not be doomed by it.” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP.

“Let it be clear that the INC’s mandate does not grant any stakeholder a two-year pause. In parallel to negotiations over an international binding agreement, UNEP will work with any willing government and business across the value chain to shift away from single-use plastics, as well as to mobilise private finance and remove barriers to investments in research and in a new circular economy,” Andersen added.

Plastic production soared from 2 million tonnes in 1950 to 348 million tonnes in 2017, becoming a global industry valued at US$522.6 billion, and it is expected to double in capacity by 2040. The impacts of plastic production and pollution on the triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature loss and pollution are a catastrophe in the making:

Exposure to plastics can harm human health, potentially affecting fertility, hormonal, metabolic and neurological activity , and open burning of plastics contributes to air pollution .

By 2050 greenhouse gas emissions associated with plastic production, use and disposal would account for 15 per cent of allowed emissions, under the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C (34.7°F).

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(Click here for the article in French or here for the article in Spanish

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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More than 800 marine and coastal species are affected by this pollution through ingestion, entanglement, and other dangers.

Some 11 million tonnes of plastic waste flow annually into oceans. This may triple by 2040.

A shift to a circular economy can reduce the volume of plastics entering oceans by over 80 per cent by 2040; reduce virgin plastic production by 55 per cent; save governments US$70 billion by 2040; reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 per cent; and create 700,000 additional jobs – mainly in the global south.

The historic resolution, titled “End Plastic Pollution: Towards an internationally legally binding instrument” was adopted with the conclusion of the three-day UNEA-5.2  meeting, attended by more than 3,400 in-person and 1,500 online participants from 175 UN Member States, including 79 ministers and 17 high-level officials.

The Assembly will be followed by “UNEP@50,” a two-day Special Session of the Assembly marking UNEP’s 50th anniversary where Member States are expected to address how to build a resilient and inclusive post-pandemic world.

NOTES TO EDITORS

Quote from the Government of Japan: “The resolution will clearly take us towards a future with no plastic pollution, including in the marine environment,” said Tsuyoshi Yamaguchi, Japan’s Environment Minister, whose draft resolution contributed to the final resolution. “United, we can make it happen. Together, let us go forward as we start the negotiations towards a better future with no plastic pollution.”

Quote from the Government of Peru: “We appreciate the support received from the various countries during this negotiation process,” said Modesto Montoya, Peru’s Minister of Environment, whose draft resolution, proposed with the Government of Rwanda, contributed to the final resolution. “Peru will promote a new agreement that prevents and reduces plastic pollution, promotes a circular economy and addresses the full life cycle of plastics.”

Quote from the Government of Rwanda: “The world has come together act against plastic pollution – a serious threat to our planet. International partnerships will be crucial in tackling a problem that affects all of us, and the progress made at UNEA reflects this spirit of collaboration,” said Dr Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, Rwanda’s Minister of Environment. “We look forward to working with the INC and are optimistic about the opportunity to create a legally binding treaty as a framework for national ambition-setting, monitoring, investment, and knowledge transfer to end plastic pollution.”

The full text of the adopted resolution

UNEP@50: A time to reflect on the past and envision the future

The 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, Sweden, was the first-ever UN conference with the word “environment” in its title. The creation of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) was one of the most visible outcomes of this conference of many firsts. UNEP was created quite simply to be the environmental conscience of the UN and the world. Activities taking place through 2022 will look at significant progress made as well as what’s ahead in decades to come.

About the UN Environment Programme (UNEP )

UNEP is the leading global voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.

For more information, please contact:

Keisha Rukikaire, Head of News & Media, UN Environment Programme – rukikaire@un.org/


Moses Osani, Media Officer, UN Environment Programme – moses.osani@un.org/
 

Central Africa : Safeguarding the Lake Chad basin, a major regional challenge

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article from The Conversation (translated by CPNN and republished under a Creative Commons license)

Located at the crossroads of five African countries (Central and West) – Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic, Niger and Nigeria – the Lake Chad basin represents an important and vital source of water shared by more than 40 million inhabitants.

This basin is home to biodiversity as well as an extremely valuable natural and cultural heritage. Rich and varied production systems built on diversified uses of space, as well as ancient local conventions, attest to the rational exploitation of natural resources.


Fishermen on the shores of Lake Chad, in 2015 north of N’Djamena (Chad). PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP

For several decades, this area has unfortunately been plagued by an anthropo-ecological imbalance, to which must be added the climatic changes that began in the 1970s; these have led to a gradual drying up of the basin.

As a result, there is competition for the use of natural resources, exacerbated by armed conflicts orchestrated by the sect of Boko Haram that has engaged in illegal timber trafficking, poaching of protected species and agro-pastoral conflicts.
This situation leads to significant population migrations.

“Biosphere reserves” to preserve resources

The challenges currently facing the Lake Chad Basin are three-fold:

– A security challenge for the restoration of peace and security in the countries of the Lake Chad Basin;

– an ecological challenge, with the conservation of biodiversity, the management of ecosystems and their rehabilitation;

– a socio-economic challenge, for the revival of agricultural, pastoral and fish farming activities, poverty reduction, participatory planning and inclusive governance.

To safeguard and sustainably manage the hydrological, biological and cultural resources of this area, contribute to poverty reduction and promote peace, the five states of the basin have decided to apply the model of transboundary “biosphere reserves” and sites of World Heritage.
It is with this in mind that Unesco, within the framework of the Biosphere and Heritage of Lake Chad (BIOPALT) project, has set itself the task of supporting the five States in the preparation of files for the nomination of national and/or transboundary biosphere reserves and a transboundary World Heritage site in the basin.

A participatory approach

The various consultations – national, led by BIOPALT and regional, led by the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) – have made it possible to identify the major difficulties of the basin and the expectations of the communities in the face of these constraints.

To carry out these initiatives, the participatory approach was adopted. Its modus operandi is built on four main components: know, train and build capacity, rehabilitate and use sustainably, manage and enhance. Here, the various activities were carried out with the support of local and international partners.

The network of project partners is made up of scientists (mainly universities in the Basin, but also other international institutions), NGOs and associations. The work carried out is validated by a scientific and technical council.

A dozen studies on the Lake Chad Basin

From 2017 to 2021, thirteen studies were carried out on the biodiversity, hydrology, culture and socio-economic aspects of the basin. They have allowed a better knowledge of hydroclimatic risks, water quality, biological and cultural diversity and finally the variability and resilience to the climate of this space.

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(Click here for the original article in French)

Question for this article:

What is the relation between the environment and peace

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Two tools have been developed: a portal on water quality in the Lake Chad Basin and a flood and drought monitoring platform. These tools allow the control of pollution of the lake and its tributaries as well as the monitoring of meteorological hazards.

Four workshops – organized around the monitoring of floods and droughts, the monitoring of the water quality of Lake Chad and the establishment of a PHI Cameroon committee – have made it possible to train 90 experts.

Some 2,000 people have also been trained in the peaceful management of natural resources, conflict prevention and the sustainable conservation of Lake Chad. A master and a MOOC have also been created to address the management of biosphere reserves and world heritage sites.

Finally, a biosphere reserve has been created, two others have been proposed as well as a cross-border World Heritage site, while two community radios have been launched to help prevent violent extremism and to promote peace , environmental protection and sustainable development.

Seven income-generating activities have been launched relating to beekeeping, fish farming, agroecological market gardening, rice growing and tree growing enabling 20,000 beneficiaries to diversify their sources of income and strengthen their socio-economic resilience to the impacts of Covid-19.

Three ecological restoration techniques have also been developed, allowing the rehabilitation of degraded lands and the improvement of community skills. Communication actions (website, newsletter and events) aim to publicize the project.

Although 80% of the activities planned under the BIOPALT action plan have been carried out, several points remain to be implemented today: the finalization of four publications, the carrying out of a bioecological and socioeconomic study in Kalamaloué (Cameroon), the realization of a regional workshop relating to the world heritage and the finalization of MOOC on the reserves of biosphere and the world heritage.

Ecological restoration and synergy

Several perspectives are emerging in a second phase of the BIOPALT project. Ecological restoration, for example, has already begun and aims to bring together the various users of the lake and promote peace and development. Income-generating activities have been developed and will make it possible to provide substantial income to actors in the field and to strengthen community management to conserve biodiversity and reduce poverty.

Seasonal movement of live stock across the national borders has been promoted, based on agreements for the peaceful management of natural resources and training (culture of peace, veterinary points). Mobile pastoral schools are being considered.

Finally, a synergy of action between education and literacy is being set up with other initiatives, such as the Project to Strengthen Education and Literacy (PREAT).

The BIOPALT project will thus have made it possible to obtain tangible results in the field of the restoration of degraded ecosystems (ponds, dune plains) and the promotion of income-generating activities based on the green economy.

Training and capacity building on the peaceful management of natural resources, building on UNESCO’s “PCCP approach”, has also been developed, as has the strengthening of cross-border cooperation, regional integration and the production of dossiers for the inscription of Lake Chad on the World Heritage List and the creation of biosphere reserves.

For 50 years, UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Program has relied on the alliance between exact sciences, natural sciences and social sciences to find solutions implemented at the heart of 714 exceptional natural sites (in 129 countries) with biosphere reserve status.

Authors:

Amadou Boureima, Head of the Laboratory for Studies and Research on Sahelo-Saharan Territories (LERTESS), Abdou Moumouni University of Niamey (UAM)

Aristide Comlan Tehou, Researcher at the Applied Ecology Laboratory of the Faculty of Agronomic Sciences, University of Abomey-Calavi of Benin

Daouda Ngom, Full Professor, Head of the Ecology and Ecohydrology Laboratory, Cheikh Anta Diop University of Dakar

Mallé Gueye, Teacher-Researcher, Hydrosciences and Environment Department, Iba Der Thiam University of Thiès

The Conversation

Mexico: The government integrates the Mayan Train in the program Promotion of the Culture of Peace and Reconstruction of the Social Fabric

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article from Polìtico MX

The Ministry of the Interior (Segob), has reached an agreement with the Undersecretariat of Democratic Development, Social Participation and Religious Affairs, and the National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism (Fonatur) for the integration of 13 municipalities on the route of Mayan Train in the program Promotion of the Culture of Peace and the Reconstruction of the Social Fabric.


Editor’s note: But the route is being contested by some of the indigenous communties that will be displaced.

The project reinforces the indigenous consultation process, according to the agency’s statement. In this way, it seeks to guarantee a state of well-being and security in the communities that are part of the development plan.

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(Click here for the Spanish version)

Questions related to this article:
 
How can tourism promote a culture of peace?

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Segob explained that among the municipalities that are integrated into the program are:

Quintana Roo: Isla Mujeres, Benito Juárez, Solidaridad, Tulum, Felipe Carrillo Puerto

Tabasco: Tenosique, Balancán

Campeche: Candelaria, Escárcega

Yucatan: Mérida, Maxcanú, Valladolid,

Chiapas: Palenque

The program for the Promotion of the Culture of Peace and the Reconstruction of the Social Fabric seeks to promote actions among local communities, municipalities, and the Government of Mexico to meet the 2030 sustainable development objectives, specifically those that refer to the reduction of inequalities; generation of spaces for equality and eradication of gender violence, as well as guaranteeing peace, security and justice to the communities.

Segob and Fonatur carried out a work tour in the last months of 2021, holding meetings with the municipal presidents to explain the program and to establish actions to coordinate their collaborative work.

Peace Dividend Signatories: Over 50 Nobel laureates and presidents of learned societies

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

Text and illustration from the website of Peace Dividend

World military spending has doubled since 2000. It is approaching 2 trillion US dollars per year, and is increasing in all regions of the world.

Individual governments are under pressure to increase military spending because others do so. The feedback mechanism sustains a spiralling arms race – a colossal waste of resources that could be used far more wisely. Past arms races have often had the same outcome: deadly and destructive conflicts.

We have a simple proposal for humankind: the governments of all UN member-states should negotiate a joint reduction of their military expenditure by 2% every year for five years.


BROTHERHOOD II, courtesy of www.leclosier.com

The rationale for the proposal is simple:

Adversary nations reduce military spending, so the security of each country is increased, while deterrence and balance are preserved.

The agreement contributes to reducing animosity, thereby decreasing the risk of war.

Vast resources – a ‘peace dividend’ of as much as 1 trillion USD by 2030 

We propose that half of the resources freed up by this agreement are allocated to a global fund, under UN supervision, to address humanity’s grave common problems: pandemics, climate change, and extreme poverty.

The other half remains at the disposal of individual governments. All countries will therefore have significant new resources. Some of these can be used to redirect the strong research capacities of military industries towards urgently needed peaceful applications.

History shows that agreements to limit the proliferation of weapons are achievable: thanks to the SALT and START treaties, the United States and the Soviet Union have reduced their nuclear arsenals by 90% since the nineteen eighties. Such negotiations can succeed because they are rational: each actor benefits from its adversaries’ armaments reduction, and so does humanity as a whole.

Humankind faces risks that can only be averted through cooperation.

Let us cooperate, instead of fighting among ourselves.

Question for this article:

How can we ensure that science contributes to peace and sustainable development?

The signatories: over 50 Nobel laureates and presidents of learned societies:

Hiroshi Amano (Nobel Physics)
Peter Agre (Nobel Chemistry)
David Baltimore (Nobel Physiology or Medicine)
Barry C. Barish (Nobel Physics)
Martin L. Chalfie (Nobel Chemistry)
Steven Chu (Nobel Physics)
Robert F. Curl Jr. (Nobel Chemistry)
Johann Deisenhofer (Nobel Chemistry)
Jacques Dubochet (Nobel Chemistry)
Gerhard Ertl (Nobel Chemistry)
Joachim Frank (Nobel Chemistry)
Sir Andre K. Geim (Nobel Physics)
Sheldon L. Glashow (Nobel Physics)
Carol Greider (Nobel Physiology or Medicine)
Harald zur Hausen (Nobel Physiology or Medicine)
Dudley R. Herschbach (Nobel Chemistry)
Avram Hershko (Nobel Chemistry)
Roald Hoffmann (Nobel Chemistry)
Robert Huber (Nobel Chemistry)
Louis J. Ignarro (Nobel Physiology or Medicine)
Brian Josephson (Nobel Physics)
Takaaki Kajita (Nobel Physics)
Tawakkol Karman (Nobel Peace)
Brian K. Kobilka (Nobel Chemistry)
Roger D. Kornberg (Nobel Chemistry)
Yuan T. Lee (Nobel Chemistry)
Jean-Marie Lehn (Nobel Chemistry)
John C. Mather (Nobel Physics)
Eric S. Maskin (Nobel Economics)
May-Britt Moser (Nobel Physiology or Medicine)
Edvard I. Moser (Nobel Physiology or Medicine)Erwin Neher (Nobel Physiology or Medicine)
Sir Paul Nurse (Nobel Physiology or Medicine and Past President, Royal Society)
Giorgio Parisi (Nobel Physics)
Jim Peebles (Nobel Physics)
Sir Roger Penrose (Nobel Physics)
Edmund S. Phelps (Nobel Economics)
John C. Polanyi (Nobel Chemistry)
H. David Politzer (Nobel Physics)
Sir Venki Ramakrishnan (Nobel Chemistry and Past President, Royal Society)
Sir Peter Ratcliffe (Nobel Physiology or Medicine)
Sir Richard J. Roberts (Nobel Physiology or Medicine)
Michael Rosbash (Nobel Physiology or Medicine)
Carlo Rubbia (Nobel Physics)
Randy W. Schekman (Nobel Physiology or Medicine)
Gregg Semenza (Nobel Physiology or Medicine)
Robert J. Shiller (Nobel Economics)
Stephen Smale (Fields Medal)
Sir Fraser Stoddart (Nobel Chemistry)
Horst L. Störmer (Nobel Physics)
Thomas C. Südhof (Nobel Physiology or Medicine)
Jack W. Szostak (Nobel Physiology or Medicine)
Olga Tokarczuk (Nobel Literature)
Srinivasa S. R. Varadhan (Abel Prize)
Sir John E. Walker (Nobel Chemistry)
Torsten Wiesel (Nobel Medicine)
Mohamed H. A. Hassan (President, World Academy of Sciences)
Annibale Mottana (President, Italian National Academy of the Sciences)
Roberto Antonelli (President, Italian Lincean Academy)
Patrick Flandrin (President, French Academy of Sciences)
Anton Zeilinger (President, Austrian Academy of Sciences)
Carlo Rovelli and Matteo Smerlak (Organizers)