UN Announces New Sustainable Development Network led by @JeffDSachs to help solve global problems #MDG #SDSN @earthinstitute

9 August 2012

Prof.  Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute and Special Advisor to the Secretary‐General on the Millenium Development Goals, to lead new  Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN)

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today launched a new independent global network of research centres, universities and technical institutions to help find solutions for some of the world’s most pressing environmental, social and economic problems.
The Sustainable Development Solutions Network will work with stakeholders including business, civil society, UN agencies and other international organizations to identify and share the best pathways to achieve sustainable development.This initiative is part of the work undertaken in response to the mandate on post-2015 and the outcome of UN Conference on Sustainable Development , which took place in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, in June. (Rio+20)
The Solutions Network will be directed by Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Special Advisor to Secretary-General Ban on the global anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals. It will operate in close coordination with the High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
“The post-2015 objectives will help the world to focus on the vital challenges of sustainable development and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network will be an innovative way to draw upon worldwide expertise in the campuses, universities, scientific research centres and business technology divisions around the world,” Mr. Ban said.
The High-level Panel will advise on the global development agenda beyond 2015, the target date for achieving the MDGs, and it will hold its first meeting at the end of September, in the margins of the annual high-level debate of the General Assembly. It is expected to submit its findings to the Secretary-General in the first half of 2013, and those findings will inform his report to Member States.
The eight MDGs, agreed on by world leaders at a UN summit in 2000, set specific targets on poverty alleviation, education, gender equality, child and maternal health, environmental stability, HIV/AIDS reduction, and a ‘Global Partnership for Development.’
According to the news release, given that politics around the world too often focuses on short-term issues while governments often lack the timely information needed for long-term sustainable-development strategies, it is essential that scientists and technology experts outside of government support the development of long-term analyses, demonstration programmes and development pathways.
The SDSN is expected to provide an independent global, open and inclusive process to support and scale up problem-solving at local, national and global levels.“In the 20 years since the first Rio Earth Summit, the world has largely failed to address some of the most serious environmental and social problems pressing in on us,” Mr. Sachs said. “We can’t afford business as usual. We need to engage the academic and scientific community, and tap into worldwide technological know-how in the private sector and civil society, in order to develop and implement practical solutions.”

Substantial emphasis will be placed on collaboration across countries to analyze common problems and learn from each other’s experiences. The network will accelerate joint learning and help to overcome the compartmentalization of technical and policy work by promoting integrated “systems” approaches to addressing the complex economic, social and environmental challenges confronting governments.

UN News Centre 

Rio+20 Legacy: Sec-Gen Ban Ki-moon’s #ZeroHungerChallenge for a future without hunger! @zerohungerchall

From the UN News Centre: Rio+20: Secretary-General challenges nations to achieve ‘zero hunger’

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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the ‘Zero Hunger Challenge’ at Rio+20, where all countries were invited to work for a future where every individual has adequate nutrition and where all food systems are resilient.

“In a world of plenty, no one – not a single person – should go hungry,” Mr. Ban said during the launch of the initiative at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Thursday night. “I invite all of you to join me in working for a future without hunger.”

“Zero hunger would boost economic growth, reduce poverty and safeguard the environment. It would foster peace and stability,” Mr. Ban added, calling on farmers, business people, scientists, civil society and consumers to join the challenge by honouring past promises and work together to put an end to hunger.

Rio+20 has delivered a pretty good text for farmers; now it’s up to governments

Rio+20 has delivered a pretty good text for farmers; now it’s up to governments and agencies to act on these words, and put into place the financial commitments and practical policies that can truly deliver. Photo: N. Palmer (CIAT)
by Vanessa Meadu

The ‘Zero Hunger Challenge’ has five main objectives: to achieve 100 per cent access to adequate food all year round; to end malnutrition in pregnancy and early childhood; to make all food systems sustainable; to increase growth in the productivity and income of smallholders, particularly women; and to achieve a zero rate of food waste.

Inspiration for the initiative came from work being carried out by many countries and organizations to end hunger, including Brazil.

The ‘Zero Hunger Challenge’ is supported by UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), World Food Programme (WFP), UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Bank and Bioversity International.

“Big problems call for bold goals. The Zero Hunger Challenge can help us mobilize political commitment, the first step to eradicate hunger,” said FAO’s Director-General, José Graziano da Silva, said at a high-level meeting in Rio de Janeiro today. “This is a personal challenge from the Secretary-General, but one that all of us should answer, as individuals and collectively. FAO embraces this challenge of a Zero Hunger World.

More than 40,000 people – including heads of State and government, parliamentarians, mayors, UN officials, business and civil society leaders – are attending Rio+20, which ends on Friday. It seeks to shape new policies to promote global prosperity, reduce poverty and advance social equity and environmental protection.


Photo: IRIN/Siegfried Modola – UN News Centre

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Planet Near Tipping Point: Every person needs to work towards making a greener, safer world.

Planet Earth Near Tipping Point 

By Proloy Bagchi  July 04, 2012

“World leaders having failed them, many in Rio believed that progress on environmental issues must be made locally without the help of international accords. That probably is the only way ahead to avoid the approaching catastrophe. The time has come when every country, every state, every local body, every individual and every organisation – public or private – needs to work towards a greener and safer world.”

Despite a dire warning issued by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) about the catastrophe that Planet Earth was headed for, the recent United Nations Rio+20 Conference at Rio de Janeiro on sustainable development proved to be a damp squib.

Branding the current era as the “Age of Irresponsibility”, the UNEP, in a 525-page report, warned that “the earth’s environmental systems are being pushed towards their biophysical limits beyond which loom sudden, irreversible and potentially catastrophic changes.”

Painting a grim picture, the report indicated melting of the polar ice caps, desertification in Africa, deforestation of tropical jungles, spiralling use of chemicals and the emptying out of the world’s seas of fish as some of the myriad environmental disasters that pose a threat to life as we know it.

The report adds that “several critical global, regional and local thresholds are close or have been exceeded… Once these have been passed, abrupt and possibly irreversible changes to the life-support functions of the planet are likely to occur, with significant adverse implications for human well-being.”

One such threshold was crossed only recently.

Monitoring stations across the Arctic this spring detected more than 400 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. Readings of 400ppm and higher have been recorded in Alaska, Greenland, Norway, Iceland and even Mongolia. Currently, only the Arctic has attained the 400 level, but the unrestrained way the things are going there is no reason why the rest of the world will not follow soon.

The number isn’t quite a surprise, because it’s been rising apace for some decades. It is a disconcerting new milestone. Years ago, it passed the 350ppm mark that many scientists consider the highest safe level for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere for restricting the rise of global surface temperature below 2C (over pre-industrial level) to save the planet from catastrophic changes. But, globally it now stands at 395 and already rising seas and extreme weather patterns are much in evidence.

Indicating the gravity of the problem, climate scientists say it’s been at least 800,000 years since the Earth saw carbon dioxide levels in the 400s.

Before the industrial age the level was around 275-280 ppm. It has been in 300s during the last sixty years. Scientists say that increasing use of fossil fuels like coal and oil caused the alarming rise in the levels of CO2.

The Arctic Ocean with leads and cracks in the ice cover of north of Alaska. Photograph: Courtesy Eric Kort/Jet Propulsion Laboratory/NASA
The world’s air has reached what scientists call a troubling new milestone for carbon dioxide, the main global warming pollutant. Monitoring stations across the Arctic this spring are measuring more than 400 parts per million of the heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere. The number isn’t quite a surprise, because it’s been rising at an accelerating pace. Years ago, it passed the 350ppm mark that many scientists say is the highest safe level for carbon dioxide. It now stands globally at 395. So far, only the Arctic has reached that 400 level, but the rest of the world will follow soon.

Global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels hit a record high of 34.8 billion tonnes in 2011, up 3.2%, the International Energy Agency announced recently.

Those who are committed to 350ppm say that it was the upper limit for the planet if we wished to have it “similar to the one on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted.” The figure is virtually irrefutable as a constant flow of additional evidence from many directions supports it. They claim that though the atmospheric concentration of CO2was around 390 parts per million and the temperature increase is still a shade below 10 C yet it would be prudent to restrict it to 350 ppm to completely obviate the risk of surface temperature rising to and beyond 20C.

Already, they claim, the world has witnessed rapid melt of the Arctic ice, high-altitude glacial systems and perennial snowpack in Asia, Europe, South America and North America, the rapid and unexpected acidification of seawater, warming of seas and rise in their levels, excessive intense short-spell rains, frequent violent storms and damage to coral reefs disrupting the marine eco-system and depriving numerous fish of their habitat.

Many scientists feel that since the CO2 level has reached the 400 mark it would be impossible to immediately arrest its further rise. One cannot shut down all thermal power plants and stop use of gasoline all at once.

Over 80% of world’s energy sources emit large amounts of CO2. During the last few decades the rate of emissions has gone up, particularly since the 1970′s as a result of increased consumption and growth in population.

High economic growth rate in the emerging economies has further boosted up the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. None of these countries would like to cutback on its developmental effort as uplift of millions of poor is involved. The COlevel is, therefore, set to rise.

Kevin Anderson, a climate scientist, feels that avoiding dangerous climate change is no longer possible because the temperature rise is already close to 1Celsius “with effects formerly assumed for 2°C”.

According to him, temperature rise of 4C by 2060 is very likely “given the level of action taken so far on climate, world’s economic realities and the short window of time remaining for limiting the average surface temperature rise to 2°C or even 3°C” – a frightful scenario.

If a rise of 1C is causing such havoc, widespread death and destruction that is likely to occur on the rise of 4C just cannot be imagined. It will be Apocalypse itself.

Some climate researchers, however, offer consolation. They feel that that 2 °C was likely to be exceeded at the level of 550 ppm, at 450 ppm there would be a 50% likelihood of limiting global warming to 2 °C and that it would be necessary to achieve stabilisation below 400 ppm to give a relatively high degree of certainty of not exceeding 2 °C.

With the global COlevel pushing 400ppm restricting its rise to 450 seems to be an impossibility. Perhaps, 475 or 500ppm would be a better target (with all the risks involved) from where humanity, with a concerted effort, could try and bring CO2 concentrations back to 350. But that would require significant reduction in emissions.

Unfortunately, that concerted effort of world leaders is not quite visible. The much-heralded Rio+20 proved to be a fiasco. Martin Khor, executive director of the Geneva-based South Centre, said “We’ve sunk so low in our expectations that reaffirming what we did 20 years ago is now considered a success”.

“Everything has been kicked down the lane a few years”, said another participant from G 77. Nothing was agreed upon; what was agreed upon is to have a few more conferences even if, in the mean time the planet gets saturated with CO2.

World leaders having failed them, many in Rio believed that progress on environmental issues must be made locally without the help of international accords. That probably is the only way ahead to avoid the approaching catastrophe. The time has come when every country, every state, every local body, every individual and every organisation – public or private – needs to work towards a greener and safer world.

By Proloy Bagchi  July 04, 2012

Rio+20: Sustainable Development Through Education with Kenneth Chimese

THE world focus was recently on Rio de Janeiro in Brazil as leaders of countries of the world met to consider the topical issues of sustainable development and propose ways in which life can be made better for all people on the planet.

The Rio+20 conference had the challenge of how the leaders can come up with ideas on how to reduce poverty, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection on an ever more crowded planet, guaranteeing a desirable future…………………… For, when a society is given the right kind of education, such a society will embrace the ideals of sustainable development with full understanding, and advance society’s own economic and social development agenda through sustainable means, using its resources efficiently and sustainably.

Full article here 

Contact Kenneth Chimese at kennethchimese@yahoo.co.uk or sms 0966902506