Showing posts from July, 2016

Is Clos killing UN Habitat?

I’m recovering from the third PrepCom for Habitat III held in Surabaya. If you are not aware of where Surabaya is, it is an industrial city in Indonesia a little below Jakarta. Not somewhere that is on many people’s tourist plans. I have to say as always the Indonesian people were amazing and the entertainment on the first night spectacular. The urbanization of the world is one of the greatest challenges we face.  Its impacts are and will continue to be huge. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s fifth Assessment Report said that 40-50% of all GHG emissions are attributed to be originated to urban activities According to the World Bank up to 80 % of the expected $80 billion to $100 billion per year in climate change adaptation costs are expected to be borne in urban areas; see the World Bank. We also know due to the excellent work of the Stockholm Environmental Institute that the increase in urbanization (60% of all people will live in urban areas by 2050) [UN Habitat]),

UNCTAD 14: Nairobi “Maafikiano” barely saves minimal finance and development mandates

Guest blog by Aldo Caliari Rethinking Bretton Woods Project Director Aldo Caliari writes on the Outcome of the XIV UNCTAD Conference.Republished from the Center for Concern website . Due to UNCTAD's decidedly pro-South and uncompromising development-focused mission, its quadrennial conferences have traditionally been North –South showdowns. Coming a few months after the adoption of the ambitious and universal 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 associated goals, the theme of the XIV Quadrennial Conference of UNCTAD (the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) was “From Decisions to Actions.” There was, therefore, reason to expect that this time members would bridge their differences for the sake of reinforcing mandates of the organization critical to the Agenda’s implementation. But that was not the case, and the dynamics were a lot more akin to the difficult ones witnessed in the inaugural Financing for Development (FFD) Forum last April. The

Abandoning Syria to Two Tyrannies

WRITTEN BY Alexandra Tohme  is an independent journalist and program coordinator at The Lebanese Center for Policy Studies in Beirut. The impending siege of Aleppo will have horrific ramifications for Syria, the region and global security. If the current U.S. policy in Syria does not change, the war-torn country risks falling into the hands of both Assad's regime and the Islamic State group. BEIRUT – The total encirclement and besiegement of Aleppo by brutal forces is imminent. On one front, Bashar al-Assad’s regime forces backed by Iranian militias and Russian airpower is closing in from the west, on the other, the so-called Islamic State group is closing in from the east. Some 300,000 civilians and moderate rebel groups are now trapped between these two tyrannical forces. A total besiegement of Aleppo would translate into the worst humanitarian catastrophe in the Syrian conflict thus far, and the political ramifications of the siege would be devastating to the curr

ICSU at the High Level Political Forum: SDGs and the science-policy interface

Guest blog by Anne-Sophie Stevance ICSU  Science Officer The annual session of the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), the deliberating body for sustainable development at the UN, took place in New York from 11-20 July. The International Council for Science led an 8-person scientific delegation to the event, and was an active participant in several events during the week. Participants at the ICSU/IRD/Colombia side event on SDGs interactions. This session of the HLPF was the first one following the adoption of the 2030 Agenda reviewing early initiatives to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). ICSU, in partnership with the French  Institut de Recherche pour le Développement  (IRD) and the Government of Colombia, organized a side event on 15 July to present  a draft framework for understanding SDGs interactions . This framework was the subject of  a recently published commentary in  Nature . The event was moderated by Felix Dodds and introduced by ICSU

First straw poll for new UN Secretary General

The problem of being on a plane or rather five planes for two days is that you miss a lot of things. Ted Cruz and his speech at the Republican Convention and the first straw poll for the next UN Secretary General  As my readers know I have and am a strong supporter that the next UN Secretary General should be a woman and I also support regional rotation. We have to remember that this is decided by the 15 members of the UN Security Council who may work by different criteria than the rest of us. There is no veto in this round by the Permanent Members of the Security Council - the P5 - all the papers of the same color and ask Member states to put their mark against three options encourage, dis-encourage and no opinion. Was I surprised that Former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres   (12 encourage, 0 dis-encourage and 3 no opinion)  top the first poll and is now considered by the media as the front runner to be the next United Nations secretary-general, perhaps not. I hadn

Reflections on the UN Secretary General debate 12th of July

by Alexandra Coe and Felix Dodds On Tuesday the 12 th of July the candidates for the next United Nations Secretary General were debating in the UN General Assembly Hall which was excellently moderated by Al Jazeera's James Bays and Folly Bah Thibault. The first thing to say about the debate is that ALL the candidates performed well and conveyed strong leadership capabilities needed for the next Secretary General. The debate was so much more refreshing than the US Democratic and  Republican debates for President, and gives hope that there are still among us true leaders. The pressing question of the SG debates was if the rotation around the regions was most important in this year’s selection or if representation by a woman was more important at this point in UN governance.  It’s important to understand that the UN has been, since Javier Perez de Cuellar, operating a regional rotation among the five official UN regional blocks. The Eastern European Group has never h

Side Event on the 15th of July on managing interactions across SDGs: a tool for policymakers

Date and time:  Friday 15 July 2016;   6:15-7:30pm  Venue: Conference Room D, UN Conference Building While the scientific community has emphasized the need for a systems approach to sustainable development, scientists, like policy-makers, are now facing the challenge of turning the goals into reality. Recognizing the integrated, indivisible nature of the Agenda 2030, the International Council for Science, with its research partners, is exploring an integrated and strategic approach to the implementation of the SDGs, aiming to create a common conceptual framework to help policymakers and investors identify and manage synergies and tradeoffs across goals and targets.  The side event will present the framework, which is a seven point scale , and explore with policy makers from both developed and developing countries the challenges and knowledge gaps they face in the implementation of the SDGs. Gordon McBean, President of ICSU Måns Nilsson (Stockholm Environment Institu

12th of July in Room A 1:15pm to 2:30pm there will be a side event ‘Water – Food – Energy - Climate Nexus

On Tuesday the 12 th of July in Room A 1:15pm to 2:30pm there will be a side event ‘Water – Food – Energy - Climate Nexus’ The event will have authors from the recently published book ‘ The Water, Food, Energy and Climate Nexus.’ Global trends of population growth, rising living standards and the rapidly increasing urbanized world are increasing the demand on water, food and energy. Added to this is the growing threat of climate change which will have huge impacts on water and food availability. It is increasingly clear that there is no place in an interlinked world for isolated solutions aimed at just one sector. In recent years the "nexus" has emerged as a powerful concept to capture these inter-linkages of resources and is now a key feature of policy-making. This book is one of the first to provide a broad overview of both the science behind the nexus and the implications for policies and sustainable development. It brings together contributions by leading in

Christiana Figueres nominated for post of UN secretary general

UN’s former climate change chief, who was a key architect of the Paris climate agreement, joins the list of candidates to succeed Ban Ki-moon. She was nominated by the  president   Luis Guillermo Solís  of Costa Rica.  Christiana Figueres said in her vision statement:  "The objective of the United Nations is to provide the architecture through which countries can address their common problems, peacefully resolve their disputes and support each other in building strong, prosperous and just societies. This is the foundation of international peace and security. Much has been achieved by this unique institution over the past 70 years, thanks to the dedication of its Member States and the commitment of its staff worldwide. The question before us now is how to address the exigencies of a future so mired in complexity. In the face of rampant injustices, abuses, unrest and conflicts with increasing ramifications, there is understandable despair. But given the stakes, failure

Stunning outcome from the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraqi war. This should be the number one item on US TV not some email issue

As someone who did not support the Iraqi war without a second resolution in the UN Security Council then Sir John Chilcot’s inquiry has shown how right that position was. The above is the position taken by Charles Kennedy the then Liberal Democrat Leader in the UK against entry into war with Iraqi. He wasn't the only voice against there were politicians on the Labour and Conservative side who also raised there concerns. But he was the only national party leader in parliament to oppose. So what are key findings. If you haven't read them elsewhere then let me share them with you. UK went to war before peaceful options exhausted and military action was "not last resort",  Invasion in 2003 was based on “flawed intelligence and assessments” that went unchallenged Threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were "presented with certainty that was not justified" The former UK PM Tony Blair says decision for action made "in good faith&quo

Interview with Erik Solheim the new Executive Director UNEP

 UNEP is under new leadership with Erik Solheim (Norway) the new Executive Director of UNEP and so i took the chance to interview him as he takes up the helm from Achim Steiner. 1.      What would you say is your vision for UNEP? I am very much looking forward to being engaged full time at UNEP. There are such good people in the organization and outside the organization working with UN Environment to ensure that we are an effective voice for the environment. We should remember that UN Environment is just one actor in a world where governments, business, civil society and, of course, public opinion are the driving forces. The key role of UN Environment is to inspire everyone to work very hard on the environment and to set standards on how we should move forward, UN Environment should bring best practices from those that have been successful on the environment so that everyone can learn from those examples. We should be the go-to organization on the environment. 2.