RSS

Tag Archives: Earth Summit

Post Rio+20 – the path towards the actual Green Economy.


English: Graph showing Human Development Index...

English: Graph showing Human Development Index and Ecological Footprint. The “sustainable” criteria of ecological footprint within global capacity, and human development index above 0.8, is shaded. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On the eve and post Rio+20 UNFCCC meet a lot of things happened which needs to be understood for its far reaching implications in the near future. Highlighted below are a few paragraphs –

The world’s fixation on economic growth ignores a rapid and largely irreversible trend of natural resources depletion that will seriously harm future generations, according to a newly released report that unveils a new indicator aimed at encouraging sustainability.

On 17 June 2012, at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (the Rio+20 Summit), the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP) and partners launched the Inclusive Wealth Report 2012.(IWR 2012)

The IWI report examined changes in the combined wealth of twenty countries, which together account for almost three quarters of global GDP, from 1990 to 2008. Despite reporting a growth in GDP Brazil, China, South Africa and the United States were shown to have significantly depleted their natural capital including fossil fuels, forests and fisheries.

Around the same time a letter was published at the Rio+20 Summit.The Clean Revolution campaign, a major initiative by The Climate Group and a range of partners from the public and private sectors that calls for a ‘green growth’ push out of global recession. The letter, says: “By the end of the decade, the low carbon market could triple in value to over US$2 trillion. At a time when government and business leaders everywhere are calling for strategies that deliver growth, we have an historic opportunity before us to lead the world out of recession and into a more stable, sustainable future. This is the time for a green industrial revolution led by real investment in clean technologies and infrastructure. The ‘Clean Revolution’ is essential if we want to ensure we save our economies from the crippling costs of runaway climate change, and create meaningful jobs and enhance energy security.” It will be a new Industrial Revolution – Tony Blair.

The attempt to have subsidies removed all together from fossil fuel was the first  step in the right direction. It was bound to fail, but that itself is a success. Because never before so many groups from such diverse back ground could raise the collective voice against the fossil fuel lobby and be heard.

English: Created in Photoshop, based on "...

English: Created in Photoshop, based on “Sustainable development” diagram at Cornell Sustainability Campus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What must be understood is that to have a resurgent economy, one must have the resources in place. And today, the World has an historic opportunity to remove inequality. Today we do not, other than in theory; have a developed against a developing world. Because once we change the indices which measures development and growth, it is the “least developed” and “emerging economies” which have more Natural wealth than some of the developed Nations who have over exploited their own.

However, the developed Nations like the EU & the USA, Japan, Russia, Australia and others have enormous technological advancement and knowledge base, which should be exchanged in fair-value for equitable distribution of the Earth’s Natural resources. And at the same time efforts must be made to replenish what is possible. It is indeed a fantastic time to do business which by default has to be sustainable because there are no options left. The best part is the large conglomerates and corporations survival depends on continued and constant supply of raw material for production. And they will ensure that Sustainability in all form of modern living is applied. It would be done either with partnership or coercion.

The call for going beyond material wealth to gauge our well-being and make sure that well-being is achievable and sustainable for future generations has long appeared in much of the sustainable development, environmental, and ecological economics literature, significantly less in economics and development literature. The present pre-occupation with the Green Economy, we fear, will not provide the change we seek if we do not address the fundamental problem of what precisely we are measuring and the indicators we need to develop. 

English: Sustainability chart

English: Sustainability chart (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These words in the IWR 2012, underscores the changing mindsets of the economies which have an impact in this World. And it would be well for all Nations to adapt and adopt measures which lead to an age and era where history will define it as the Golden Age of Mankind, when generating wealth would no more mean accumulation of riches which are intrinsic in nature but have the true resonance of Sustainable Development Goals and Millennium Development Goals .

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A clarion Call to Sustainable Living


A couple of days ago, I was giving a presentation as how through my firm I can provide Solar Photo Voltaic system to all Commercial and Infrastructure projects which require large amount of energy to operate.  And that too in an OPEX format, by that I mean I have investor backing who would want to become RESCO. Presently it is  on roof-top model. So Hospitals, Hotels, Malls, Commercial Complexes and Airports, Rail-stations etc, which have large roof-top can have power. It would obviously lower Diesel consumption, which is generally used for back-up.

The idea as I have mentioned in my earlier article Green Business Ideas – Applying Solar OPEX model on Green Buildings will make Grid parity easy. is becoming popular but when we want to scale, its facing the biggest road block of subsidised tariff on fossil fuel. Even when my concept of Solar OPEX is ready to handover ownership on the 10th -15th year, and only charging discounted tariff on generation, due to heavy subsidy in the industrial sector the idea just can not germinate under the intense competition from the subsidy. We can provide power to all at about INR 8.50/- but all arguments fall flat when the industry and in some states even commercial power is at INR 4.50 – 6.00/-.

Recently there has been an article which says that a lobby consisting of industry captains, NGO‘s and common persons are petitioning the UNFCCC meet at Rio, to come out with strong laws which would abolish subsidy on fossil fuel. And to be honest, this would give birth to the best Green Business Idea of this century.

Long there has been talk of how one must charge the true value of water, only then the waste of it can be limited. Longer has been the demand to remove subsidy from fossil fuel. Granted it is a political hot-potato, but if one shows a slight more maturity and instead of short-sighted goal explain to the people the farsightedness of this measure, I am sure people would understand. Unfortunately, mostly vote bank politics and corporate greed drive policy.That we have finite resources must be advertised with all the collective forces we can gather and impart that knowledge to all.

We must now begin to evolve an universal law. Not laws which govern different countries. Constitution of each country is different. What is crime for one can be heroism for another. How then we are the United Nations?Let there be diversity in approach to a solution but let laws that govern the sustainability of Earth be one. To be adopted by every member nation. It is only then we can have prosperity. It is not a tall task to achieve because, when 134 Nations can come together to force a recalcitrant Nation to subjugate, it can as well be applied to save the Earth from disaster.

Today our civilisation is in a cusp. It is time we move away from the era of Capitalist consumerism. Human history had many epoch – the stone age, the bronze age, the iron age. And Human Civilisation did thrive. Excellence was achieved. So much so that they still stand testimony in the name of Arayabhatta, Chanakiya,Confucius, Aristotle. In great monuments like the Pyramids in the Americas and West Asia, the monuments in Macedonia and Greece, the Great Wall and many more. They stand testimony to time. Sustainable thoughts & deeds and also sustainable buildings. Sadly today we can not be as advanced in thoughts as our ancestors, the reason is complete disconnect from Nature.

Though I do not advocate any religion, yet in paganism which was followed around the globe once, there was a direct connect to Nature. We must evolve ourselves into a collective which can rise above religion and creed, greed and short-sightedness to evolve a solution which is the NEXT CIVILISATION. An era where B-Crop are norm then exception and Sustainable is not a catch phrase but a human and corporate agenda.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Rio+20 – the Green Initiative.


The statement from Paul Simpson, CDP’s Chief Executive Officer reads;

….. as we approach the Rio+20 Earth Summit, which will focus heavily on how to account for the way businesses use the planet’s natural capital. Investors and corporations are becoming increasingly aware of the extent to which their value chains are influenced by natural resource constraints which lead to increasing price volatility and risk of business interruption. CDP has pioneered a global disclosure system that helps businesses understand and value the current and future impacts from a changing climate and natural resource scarcity, as the world seeks to move towards a sustainable economy.

Forests provide essential ecosystem services that underpin our well being and economic prosperity and their destruction contributes around 15% of global carbon emissions. The issues of energy, climate change, water and forests should not be considered in isolation as all are inextricably linked. Having this information in one place will encourage and facilitate joined up thinking on the subject.

Making climate finance an effective driver of sustainable development, is now the most important subject that needs a through discussion, it was observed at the side events in the run up to Rio+20 Summit – on the 13th June that, Climate finance could become a powerful driver of sustainable development. By supporting mitigation, adaptation and capacity building, it can help build the governmental, social, economic and physical infrastructures needed to achieve poverty reduction and green economy growth. However, without concerted efforts to strengthen the governance of climate financing, these goals will remain elusive.

Presently climate money is channelled through a complex network of public and private institutions, where decision-making can be opaque and unaccountable, and independent oversight absent or under-funded. This heightens the risk of policy capture, mismanagement or corruption; all serious impediments to the Rio+20 agenda. Fiduciary standards such as those espoused by the GEF represent an important attempt to safeguard climate financing against abuse. Transparency, accountability and ethics are fundamental. But what are the challenges to implementing and enforcing these safeguards? And what are the best practice scenarios we can learn from?

The Rio+20 conference comes at a critical time in the development of climate finance governance. This year the global Green Climate Fund will enter into operation, once key decisions are taken over its governance structures. In 2012, OECD countries will also have to deliver on outstanding fast-track climate finance commitments, meaning billions of US dollars should enter circulation before December. Given the potential volumes involved and the relatively untested nature of its institutional framework, climate finance must be treated as a new and emerging challenge’, distinct from development aid. The Rio+20 outcome document currently under negotiation is missing this link.

World leaders have a chance at Rio+20 to stop subsidizing fossil fuels to the tune of nearly $1 trillion and make an important dent in reducing global warming.

English: CSR approaches CSR framework

English: CSR approaches CSR framework (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The above statements which I have gathered together, shows that there is a lot of movement towards actually having a GEF which can make the desired positive change towards climate change. But what is most important is to have CSR mandatory, in India we are having a lot of buzz around the Government proposal of making CSR mandatory with both FICCI and CII opposing it. Before we understand in depth the reason for this opposition, let us put on record that nearly 16% of the top 100 listed companies in India are already having an  CSR policy in place.

Now how many from the 16% are actually into People -Planet -Profit the 3 bottom line, which should make the baseline of any CSR is not known.

Authenticity in Corporate Social Responsibility

Authenticity in Corporate Social Responsibility (Photo credit: Geoff Livingston)

Corporate will do anything in which they see value. So when we speak of  CSR, and CDP would be seen as such; we must be able to actually gauge which corporate is actually  utilizing Community resources, and giving back to the People and Planet over and above what it must. Because more often than not, the mandatory obligation such as rehabilitating the project affected people, say from a mining site or a hydro-power project is passed on as CSR.  So the danger lies in the CDP being used for market study of a corporate to understand its future business plans and passed on as CSR.

Another, danger is that we are already seeing a lot of commitment  based  on absent funds, especially in relation to solutions which have a direct bearing to climate change. There are Governments which in one hand declaring a financial crisis and on the other hand committing Millions for Climate change mitigation. How are both possible ? At Rio+20 we must keep our hearing sharp to understand fact from fiction.

Having said that, we all know that Peoples are interested in mitigation and adaptation to climate change. And this may be somewhat possible even without “money” as we understand the term. My suggestion would be that policy makers around the World can sit down and list product and process which they have in excess and find a system to barter that advantage with other Nations who have a deficit of the same. Thus some of the commitments which otherwise would have required money and man-power can be overcome. The idea is to look at “profit” from all-together different perspective and thus give a new meaning to the “triple bottom line”.

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

CIICESD : Business of Green is taught best by those in Business.


World Business Council for Sustainable Development

World Business Council for Sustainable Development (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Rio+20 Summit will be held this year June. And WBSCD would be there in its full force hoping for singular change towards a low carbon economy. On June 1992, the eve of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) [also known as the Earth Summit or Rio Summit] in  a new global organisation – Business Council for Sustainable Development (BCSD) – was founded to involve business in sustainable development issues. The primary focus then was to give industry and business a voice in the Earth Summit. Today, after 20 years, with more than 170 members of important global companies, the WBCSD (morphed from BCSD) continues its business leadership catalyzing change towards sustainable development, based on eco-efficiency, innovation, and corporate social responsibility.

INDIA – named after the river Indus, which the original inhabitants along its banks called -Sindhu  and the ancient army from Greece under Alexander pronounced with a “H” thus the term “Hindu“.  And then we have “Bhagiratha” who brought the Ganges to earth, as depicted in the mythology.

And the most telling – our country is called both India & “Bharat”, at once bridging the modern with the ancient. Reminding us in each word that, one must keep its roots to the glorious  & Eco-responsive past while forging ahead into the future. India the very name itself has been derived from the life giving water, without which no life is Sustainable – anywhere in this Galaxy! And when one reads the story of Bhagiratha, one would find it so close to the story we once again are facing today; scarcity of water. Everyday articles are written about how future Wars would be fought for Water.

So, it comes as no surprise when modern India, whose soul is ancient and steeped in the culture of sustainable living, which I have mentioned more in my previous article, has its businessmen naturally adapt to what each must have learnt between the process of being a child – man – businessman ; Sustainability. Indians always knew of it, but it got buried in the sands of crony capitalism. Which is being dusted off by the efforts of CIICESD and the likes.

Diagram showing aspects of sustainable develop...

Diagram showing aspects of sustainable development as Ecology, Economy and Society bounded by Environment (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The sustainable face of Business  India came out into the fore in 1991 – with a similar and parallel movement at the very same time as the BCSD; CII decided to establish an Environmental Management Division (EMD) that would work under the aegis of the CII National Environment Committee. EMD was established on Monday, June 1, 1992. This was the origin of Indian industry’s contribution towards meeting the goals of Agenda 21, a declaration that was passed during the Earth Summit. This with time, grew to become CII-ITC CESD of today headed by Ms. Seema Arora . The CII – ITC Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development is an institution that creates a conducive, enabling climate for Indian businesses to pursue sustainability goals. It creates awareness, promote thought leadership and build capacity to achieve sustainability across a broad spectrum of issues.

Arm-in-arm with the NAPCC – National Action Plan on Climate Change; CIICESD is the doer of what the Government of India envisages through the various missions within NAPCC. Lush green fields are found where the grass roots are strong, else the moisture from deep within the soil can not be extracted to nourish. The various programs on sustainability CIICESD conducts throughout the year, in training, seminars etc is towards a path of creating awareness among those who already know, yet need to understand how to impart their knowledge to others. This capacity building would enable India adapt to conduct all its business sustainably in the era of grave Business Risk due to human induced Climate Change.

The most interesting part, is that CIICESD with its depth of reach among all the leading industries, imparts the knowledge to the young managerial staff who are slated to move up the ladder, thus in the process inculcate the training received in all their real time assignments. But it is easier said than done, unless the Companies itself takes a board-room decision to implement the thoughts of CIICESD on their shop-floors. There is room for scope in this.

The three pillars of sustainability. Click on ...

The three pillars of sustainability. Click on image areas for more information. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As awareness on Global Warming and Climate change will grow, with its immediate impacts felt  around the World, ( as is happening ) the task of CIICESD and other forums engaged in the task of  promoting sustainable economy would become more and more critical.  As was evident with the recently concluded  Business forum on Climate Change  organised by CIICESD to devise strategies for effective long – term low carbon transformation. For without adapting to the challenges which are already critical, business in all sectors would suffer. The Stern Review concludes in its in-depth study that unless quick and effective measures are taken, beyond 2020, should the World continue in its path of high -carbon growth, the reactionary climate related devastation would cost the world nearly 20% of the World GDP.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What is Agenda 21


The environmental movement might be said to have begun centuries ago as a response to industrialization. As universal concern about the healthy and sustainable use of the planet and its resources continued to grow, the UN, in 1972, convened the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, in Stockholm.

Picking up on the energy generated by the Conference, the General Assembly, in December 1972, established the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which leads the efforts of the United Nations family on behalf of the global environment.  Its current priorities are environmental aspects of disasters and conflicts, ecosystem management, environmental governance, harmful substances, resource efficiency, and climate change.
In 1988, UNEP and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) came together to create the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which has become the pre-eminent global source for scientific information relating to climate change.  The main international instrument on this subject, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was adopted in 1992.  And its Kyoto Protocol, which sets binding targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European community for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, was adopted in 1997.
In 2002, the World Summit on Sustainable Development was held in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 26 August to 4 September 2002, to take stock of achievements, challenges and new issues arising since the 1992 Earth Summit. It was an “implementation” Summit, designed to turn the goals, promises and commitments of Agenda 21 into concrete, tangible actions.
2005 -2014 is  the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development  and Agenda 21 is a comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the United Nations System, Governments, and Major Groups in every area in which human impacts on the environment.
The Green Economy Report, to be published in late 2010, uses economic analysis and modeling  approaches to demonstrate that greening the economy across a range of sectors can drive economic recovery and growth and lead to future prosperity and job creation, while at the same time addressing social inequalities and environmental challenges. Supported by UNEP’s expert guidance, countries can make sound policy, technology, and investment choices that reduce emissions and drive sustainable social and economic development. From assisting in the deployment and scaling up of cutting-edge clean technologies to helping remove financial and other barriers to transforming energy generation, UNEP helps developing countries to capitalize on the transition to the Green Economy.
Over the last quarter of a century, the world economy has quadrupled, benefiting hundreds of millions of people. In contrast, however, 60% of the world’s major ecosystem goods and services that underpin livelihoods have been degraded or used unsustainably. Indeed, this is because the economic growth of recent decades has been accomplished mainly through drawing down natural resources, without allowing stocks to regenerate, and through allowing widespread ecosystem degradation and loss.
For instance, today only 20% of commercial fish stocks, mostly of low priced species, are underexploited, 52% are fully exploited with no further room for expansion, about 20% are overexploited and 8% are depleted. Water is becoming scarce and water stress is projected to increase with water supply satisfying only 60% of world demand in 20 years; agriculture saw increasing yields primarily due to the use of chemical fertilizers, which have reduced soil quality and failed to curb the growing trend of deforestation – remaining at 13 million hectares  of forest per year in 1990-2005. Ecological scarcities are therefore seriously affecting the entire gamut of economic sectors, which are the bedrock of human food supply (fisheries, agriculture, freshwater, forestry) and a critical source of livelihoods for the poor. And ecological scarcity and social inequity are definitional signatures of an economy which is very far from being “green”.
Meanwhile, for the first time in history, more than half of the world population lives in urban areas. Cities now account for 75% of energy consumption and 75% of carbon emissions. Rising and related problems of congestion, pollution, and poorly provisioned services affect the productivity and health of all, but fall particularly hard on the urban poor. With approximately 50% of the global population now living in emerging economies that are rapidly urbanizing and will experience rising income and purchasing power over the next years – and a tremendous expansion in urban infrastructure – the need for smart city planning is paramount.
Note: This article has been created from various UN publications.
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,