Showing posts from October, 2016

Now OUT Negotiating the Sustainable Development Goals: A transformational agenda for an insecure world by Felix Dodds, Ambassador David Donoghue and Jimena Leiva-Roesch

Time to order christmas presents. Here are two books for any sustainable development advocate. Negotiating the Sustainable Development Goals:  A transformational agenda for an insecure world by Felix Dodds, Ambassador  David Donoghue and Jimena Leiva-Roesch Avialable 8th of November "Learning from the process that engaged so many stakeholders at national and international level is important for future multilateral negotiations. This contribution from three actors intimately involved in the process offers rare insights into a long, challenging and ultimately fruitful process. I hope many readers will enjoy the insights presented in this book and be inspired to realise that the impossible is possible through compromise, partnership and leadership."
– from the foreword by Mary Robinson, President of the Mary Robinson Foundation: Climate Justice, Former President of Ireland (1990–1997) and Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997–2002)
"This is an important book that cha…

Leonardo DiCaprio's new film: Before the Flood

Leonardo DiCaprio's new film:'Before the Flood' went live on Monday and gradually the team behind the film are adding in more and more content this week on the film web site to get ready for Monday's global broadcast.   I had the pleasure of working with them and producing the Sustainable Development Goals page.  The film could be one of the most watched film events in history -- broadcasting to 500 million homes in 137 countries on National Geographic (NatGeo). It is also more importantly for the millennial folks,  streamed all week on Facebook, Youtube, Hulu, Playstation, and can be viewed on demand on Apple iTunes, Amazon, and GooglePlay. The website is designed to help those less familiar with the climate issue or are perhaps even a little skeptical. The section called EXPLORE is designed to showcase not only to the latest facts about climate change but also the amazing individuals who have dedicated much (if not all) of their careers to the climate cause. Its a g…

All change at the UN

With Antonio Guterres as the new UN Secretary General now agreed by the UN General Assembly it will not only be Hilary Clinton who will be working with their transition team.  A number of key positions in the secretariat are expected to change. We also don't know how many of the present Under Secretary Generals and Assistant Secretary Generals he will want to change. This includes the appointment of a new Deputy Secretary General or possibly two? There have been suggestions particularly in the report  by the ECOSOC the Independent Team of Advisors Co-Chaired by Mr. Juan Somavia (former ILO Executive Secretary) of Chile and Mr. Klaus Töpfer of Germany (former Executive Director of UNEP) that there should be two one for development (sustainable) and the other for peace and security.

In the summer we also saw the change at UNEP with Erik Solheim taking over as Executive Director.
He faces a very immediate challenge of expressing the vision of what should UNEP now represent. Many of …

Guest Blog by Charlotte Webster: Can we put the environment at the heart of culture by 2020?

Charlotte Websteris is founder and curator of the environmental art platform Human Nature, which produces events and projects promoting art and sustainability..

This is the challenge Human Nature has set itself. By Human Nature I mean myself as founder, Tim Godwin, Creative Director and the growing number of international artists we work with. We’re an environmental art platform based in London, carving a space for artists and organisations who value nature to be heard, collaborate and enhance one another’s voice.

Our vision is a world in which nature thrives. Our artists and partners share that vision. The premise is simple, together we are more powerful.

The art and environment today

The political, commercial, technological and scientific direction we must take is clear. But I’m looking at the less defined role of the arts and culture in our transition to a low carbon society. Art as a means to touch emotions, be the visual, visceral, subtle, powerful means for change. Simply put, ar…

Guest blog by Don Chen: A city upon a hill: How to fulfill the promise of Habitat III

This is reprinted with kind permission from the Ford Foundation web site. The original can be read here
Don Chen is participating in the Habitat III Conference in Quito this week. Follow him on Twitter at @donchennyc for live updates from the conference.
This week, the city of Quito will host the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, also known as Habitat III. With more than 40,000 participants attending Habitat III—double the number that attended Habitat II—expectations are high for the conference and for the conference’s final agreement, called the New Urban Agenda.
Why is the Habitat III conference generating so much buzz?
First, it has the potential to build on and localize the implementation of a series of momentous UN agreements, such as the Paris climate deal and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), recognizing that cities and urbanization are critical to addressing global inequality, poverty, and climate change. For example, SDG 11 sets …

Guest Blog Mike Barry: 5 things we learnt on Marks and Spencer Plan A journey over last 12 months

Guest Blog by Mike Barry:  Director of Sustainable Business (Plan A) at Marks and Spencer

It’s that time of year, publication of our annual sustainability (Plan A) report. After the harum scarum dash to gather, collate, assure, sign-off and publish a wealth of data we can breathe (for a moment!) and reflect on what it all means.
Here are some quick insights into what we’ve learnt at M&S in the last 12 months on our Plan A journey.
1. Succession – Nine years is a long time in the world of sustainable business. How many corporate plans have come and gone since we launched Plan A in 2007? Too many! The continuity offered by having a single multi-year plan has been incredibly important. It’s allowed us to take long term decisions in a very short term turbulent retail marketplace. It’s allowed us to build the skills and capabilities in our business units to integrate Plan A into their ways of working. It’s allowed us to pick our battles, knowing that occasionally we’ve just got to let a …

Mission to Mars

In 1962 President Kennedy asked us to look to the stars he said:
“We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win.” (Kennedy, 1962)  As a child it inspired me – as did Star Trek – and yes I had a telescope for my eighth birthday and looked to the stars. For my ‘works experience’ as a 15-year-old I went for two weeks to work at the at the Bayfordbury Observatory in Hertford just outside London.
I was also inspired by my father who had also worked on the UK’s Blue Streak programme which was being developed to maintain the independent nuclear deterrent for the UK but also to give the UK the possibility of developing their own space programme. Government apathy killed the project.
I used to love reading Edgar …
António Guterres to be the next UN Secretary-General: Good choice, bad processAdil Najam, Boston UniversityThe next secretary-general of the United Nations, most everyone agreed, was supposed to be a woman. To be exact, a woman from Eastern Europe. Now it is clear that it is going to be António Guterres, former prime minister of Portugal. Guterres is not from Eastern Europe. And he’s certainly not a woman.Guterres is generally considered a good choice. The process by which he was chosen, less so. Among those who, like me, have long studied the United Nations and how it makes its leadership choices, hopes had been raised that this time around things would be different. They were, but not nearly as different as they needed to be if the process is to be seen as globally representative.A more open but still flawed processThe way we choose the world’s chief diplomat has always been badly flawed. Essentially, the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council (China, France, Russia, th…

Paris Climate Agreement ratified in record time

The news that the Paris Agreement will come into force on November 4th (11 months) is great news. The original UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was signed on the 4th of June and came into force on the 21st of March 1994  - twenty one months later. The Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC was signed on the 11th of December 1997 but did  come into force until the 18th of February 2005 - over eight years later.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said.

“This is a momentous occasion,” Secretary-General said after the deal was ratified by 72 countries accounting for more than 56 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Global momentum for the Paris Agreement to enter into force in 2016 has been remarkable. What once seemed unthinkable is now unstoppable. Strong international support for the Paris Agreement entering into force is a testament to the urgency for action, and reflects the consensus of governments that robust global cooperation, grounded in national action, is es…

António Guterres is elected new UN Secretary General

I have to say I did not expect them to make a final decision today and so I felt a good bike ride would clear my head before unpicking the next round of voting. So one of the lessons for today is do not go on a bike ride while they are having the straw poll for the next UN Secretary General.

First the good news  António Guterresis a very good candidate for UN Secretary General he becomes the first former Prime Minister to  take the position. He was Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002 and he also brings with it an understanding of the UN from his time as he served as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 to December 2015. Finally he is a left of center politician having served as President of Socialist International.

He had led the voting since the beginning of the straw polls and today was elected with 13 encourage and 2 no views  and then under the Russian Presidency of the Security Council they reached consensus on Antonio Guterres. The United Nation…

Guest Blog By Daniel Perell: What role for the NGO Major Group?

By Daniel Perell: One of Two Global Organizing Partners for the NGO Major Group
Many readers of this blog are no doubt very aware of both the role and challenge of being an organizing partner for the NGO Major Group. As I understand it, all the Major Groups and Other Stakeholders are responsible for building the structures which will deliver the substance, as well as refining the substance itself. This can be likened to being responsible both for building the pipes as well as ensuring the quality of the water they will channel. Pure water with no mechanism for delivery and a perfect mechanism with no water are equally useless.
Therefore, we need to be working equally on both of these issues. Fortunately, this is something NGOs having been doing since the first groups unified to amplify their voices. NGOs have as much experience as anyone in overcoming barriers to entry and in finding creative solutions to administrative challenges while concurrently working for the betterment of communi…