Africa

Rigorous Implementation Of Environmental Law – A Priority !

2019-03-17:  Saint Patrick’s Day …

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP – https://www.unenvironment.org/) has recently published the First Global Report on Environmental Rule of Law … which finds weak enforcement to be a global trend that is exacerbating environmental threats, despite the prolific growth in environmental laws and agencies worldwide over the last four decades.

The answer, of course, is rigorous implementation of environmental law … most particularly in those developed countries which have amassed their riches, over past centuries, from the plunder of natural, human and cultural resources in Central & South America, Africa and Asia.

UNEP: ‘Environmental Rule of Law – First Global Report’ (2019)

Download The Full UNEP Report Here … https://www.unenvironment.org/resources/assessment/environmental-rule-law-first-global-report   (PDF File, 30.76 MB)

Executive Summary

If human society is to stay within the bounds of critical ecological thresholds, it is imperative that environmental laws are widely understood, respected, and enforced … and the benefits of environmental protection are enjoyed by people and the planet.  Environmental rule of law offers a framework for addressing the gap between environmental laws on the books and in practice, and is key to achieving the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.

Environmental laws have grown dramatically over the last three decades, as countries have come to understand the vital linkages between environment, economic growth, public health, social cohesion, and security.  As of 2017, 176 countries have environmental framework laws; 150 countries have enshrined environmental protection or the right to a healthy environment in their constitutions; and 164 countries have created cabinet-level bodies responsible for environmental protection.  These and other environmental laws, rights, and institutions have helped to slow – and in some cases to reverse – environmental degradation and to achieve the public health, economic, social, and human rights benefits which accompany environmental protection.

The 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment brought the global environment into the public consciousness, leading to the establishment of the United Nations Environment Programme.  Following the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (known as the Rio Earth Summit), many countries made a concerted effort to enact environmental laws, establish environment ministries and agencies, and enshrine environmental rights and protections in their national constitutions.  By the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, the focus had shifted to implementation of environmental laws, which is where progress has waned.

Too often, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws and regulations falls far short of what is required to address environmental challenges.  Laws sometimes lack clear standards or necessary mandates.  Others are not tailored to national and local contexts and so fail to address the conditions on the ground.  Implementing ministries are often underfunded and politically weak in comparison to ministries responsible for economic or natural resource development.  And while many countries are endeavouring to strengthen implementation of environmental law, a backlash has also occurred as environmental defenders are killed and funding for civil society restricted.  These shortfalls are by no means limited to developing nations: reviews of developed nations have found their performance on environmental issues lacking in certain respects.  In short, environmental rule of law is a challenge for all countries.  This Report discusses the range of measures that countries are adopting to address this implementation gap – and to ensure that rule of law is effective in the environmental sphere.

As the first assessment of the global environmental rule of law, this Report draws on experiences, challenges, viewpoints, and successes of diverse countries around the world, highlighting global trends as well as opportunities for countries and partners to strengthen the environmental rule of law.

The Report highlights the need to undertake a regular global assessment of the state of environmental rule of law.  To track progress nationally and globally, it is necessary to utilize a set of consistent indicators.  The Report proposes an indicator framework for environmental rule of law and highlights existing datasets that may be utilized in support of the global assessment.

The Report also calls for a concerted effort to support countries in pilot testing approaches to strengthen environmental rule of law.  Such an initiative could support testing of approaches in diverse contexts, and then adapting them before scaling them up.  It should also foster exchange of experiences between jurisdictions to foster learning.

In addition to these two cross-cutting recommendations, the Report highlights numerous actionable steps that States can take to support environmental rule of law.  For example, States can evaluate the current mandates and structure of environmental institutions to identify regulatory overlap or underlap.  States and partners can build the capacity of the public to engage thoughtfully and meaningfully with government and project proponents.  They can prioritize protection of environmental defenders and whistle-blowers.  States may consider the creation of specialized environmental courts and tribunals, and use administrative enforcement processes to handle minor offences.  And there is an ongoing need to research which approaches are effective under what circumstances.

The benefits of environmental rule of law extend far beyond the environmental sector.  While the most direct effects are in protection of the environment, it also strengthens rule of law more broadly, supports sustainable economic and social development, protects public health, contributes to peace and security by avoiding and defusing conflict, and protects human and constitutional rights.  As such, it is a growing priority for all countries.

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Urgent ! … Next Generation Architectural Design Concepts

2013-05-30:  Further to the recent post here, dated 2013-04-02 … and this Page on our Corporate WebSite …

Pausing … and stepping back … to consider conventional architectural practice, how architects are educated, and whether or not the professional institutes are helping, or handicapping, the forward progress of Architecture for a Better, More Sustainable World … I am deeply concerned about the future …

1.  Should it be ‘Multi-Disciplinary’ or ‘Trans-Disciplinary’ ?

The word ‘trans-disciplinary’ is confusing to a lot of people … surprisingly, to many at senior levels in construction-related industries, research sectors, and academia … not just in Ireland, but internationally.  The more senior the level, it seems the higher are the walls of that proverbial ‘box’.  But, let me reassure you, thinking outside the ‘box’ is not confined to people in their early 20’s !!

Looking over just the initial list of Consultant Specialists in a complex architectural project … it is the task of the Architect to transform a widely ‘multi-disciplinary’ input into a coherent ‘trans-disciplinary’ output.  These two concepts are very different.

Next Generation Architectural Processes and Procedures are urgently required …

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2.  EU Climate & Energy Policies – Key Driving Forces for Sustainability !

Recently, the European Commission issued this Green Paper … (which, by the way, has absolutely nothing to say about Climate Change Adaptation !) …

European Commission - COM(2013) 169 final Cover

Click to enlarge.

European Commission COM(2013) 169 final – Brussels, 2013-03-27

EU Green Paper – A 2030 Framework for Climate and Energy Policies

Click the Link Above to read and/or download PDF File (104 Kb)

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Concerning this Green Paper … Two Important Points …

(i)    Current European Union (EU) Climate and Energy Policies are not just a passing fad … they are here to stay.  With certainty, we also know that they will become more and more stringent … and that higher levels of performance will be mandated … not just on paper or a computer printout … but in reality, for example, in buildings which are constructed and actually occupied by ‘real’ building users.  Refer also to recent findings, in Europe, about the large and growing discrepancy between car fuel efficiencies claimed after testing in a laboratory, and when later monitored under ‘real’ driving conditions.

(ii)   It has now become obvious that the European Commission has lost the plot … big time !   Policies and Actions in closely related fields have been permitted to become fragmented, disjointed, and even counter-productive.  Written into the EU treaties is the term ‘sustainable development’ … an intricate, open, dynamic and continuously evolving concept.  However, senior levels (both political and bureaucratic) in the different Directorates-General of the European Commission have long ago forgotten, mislaid and/or lost the proper meaning of ‘sustainability’ … and the essential interdependency of its many aspects.

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… which brings me to the urgent necessity for Next Generation Architectural Design Concepts

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In Europe … the 1990’s and early 2000’s, taken together, was a period of construction experimentation and research.  We thought we could afford the resources and the lazy times … to try this, that and the other.  Little emphasis was placed on practical implementation in ‘real’ buildings.  However, the scale and immediacy of today’s Sustainable Development Challenges in the Built Environment have, within a few short years and much more quickly than expected, become unprecedented.

The Yanks (Gringos) are very strong on marketing … much stronger than Europe … so let’s examine a small model building … and see if its Architectural Design Concept is both coherent and comprehensive …

Mr. Amory Lovins, of the Rocky Mountain Institute in the USA ( www.rmi.org ) … has produced a very snazzy Visitor’s Guide to the sprawling complex that is ‘his home, bioshelter and office’ in Snowmass, Colorado … a Guide intended for wide public circulation.

Concerning this Building … Three Points of Interest(?) …

(i)    For a fleeting moment … let us imagine that a percentage – not even all – of the vast populations living in Africa, India and China wanted the same sort of lifestyle, including the house, that Amory Lovins possesses.  What would be the resource implications for this planet ??

RMI / Amory Lovins House, Colorado, USA - Exterior - Roof Photovoltaic (PV) Panels

Click to enlarge.

(ii)   In a first construction ‘try’ … separate solar and/or photovoltaic panels fixed in place on a roof … attached to the building, almost as an afterthought … were the norm.  Now, however, these building systems are no longer innovative … they must be properly shown to be ‘fit for their intended use’ (to comply with building regulations and codes) … and they should now be fully integrated into the architectural design concept for the building … which is not the case in the photograph above.  [ Car manufacturers face a similar design challenge today … how to successfully integrate new technologies, e.g. satellite navigation screens, smartphone docking stations, usb sockets, bluetooth, etc., etc., into the front dashboard.]

RMI / Amory Lovins House, Colorado, USA - Exterior - Tracking Photovoltaic (PV) Panel

Anyway … how reproducible is this model building in urban and suburban contexts … in the USA … or elsewhere in the world ??   How many people would have access to sufficient land outside a building to ‘plant’ one, or a series of photovoltaic panels ?   Tracking photovoltaic panels, as shown above ??   And as seen in Italy, with those ridiculous photovoltaic fields (in a post, dated 2011-11-07 ) … good agricultural lands should not be used for this purpose … not now, not ever, never !

RMI / Amory Lovins House, Colorado, USA - Interior - Building Services

Photograph taken by Judy Hill Lovins. Click to enlarge.

(iii)  Sustainable Buildings are ‘high-tech’ … and a very large amount and variety of electronic and mechanical equipment is necessary in order to reliably monitor and tightly control their performance … in other words, to operate a building in accordance with its design specification.  Again … these services should be fully integrated into the architectural design concept for what is, no longer, just a simple dwelling.  Do similar houses without basements, for example, now need a central well-ventilated service room, complete with compact workstation ?

RMI / Amory Lovins House, Colorado, USA - Interior - Battery Array

Photograph taken by Judy Hill Lovins. Click to enlarge.

In my opinion … the Architectural Design Concept for this building is not coherent.  The overall architectural impression is one of a large sprawling house, on a very large plot of land … with many different ‘environmental/energy’-related appendages, or add-ons.  Can you see any coherence ?

It is the task of the Architect to consider all facets of building performance at the earliest stages of design … whether a small building, or a very large complex building … and to integrate those many diverse, but interdependent, facets into a coherent architectural statement … having a conceptual single crystalline shape … while also bearing in mind ‘person-centredness’‘flexibility’, ‘adaptability’, ‘accessibility for all’, and a ‘long and useful life cycle’.

[ An aside … closer to home … we are now witnessing the rise of the ‘Passive House Designer’.  This person, who is able to use a specific computer software package … no less, and no more … need not necessarily be an architect, or have any architectural education/training.  Is it possible to refer to the realized output from this software as ‘architecture’ … or are they merely drab, boring boxes ?? ]

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3.  Sustainable Buildings, Fire Safety & Fire Engineering ?

In the elaborate Amory Lovins Visitor’s Guide above … there is only one mention of fire hazard in the building … and that is in relation to a Passive Clothes Dryer (Page 40).  End of story with regard to the Fire Safety Issues for its Users … and the Fire Engineering Implications arising from a chosen architectural design and chosen construction materials and methods.

When I was referring to a centrally located service room in # 2(iii) above … that room should also be structurally hardened, and fire and smoke ‘separated’ from other spaces in the house.  Or … if the service equipment is located in a roof space, there are implications for roof structural reliability in a fire situation, and the fire resistance of the ceiling construction beneath.  Or … if the equipment is located in a basement, a simple intermediate timber floor construction overhead is inadequate.

Furthermore … an intelligent fire detection and warning system … and a suitable domestic fire suppression system … are no longer luxuries or optional extras, but essential requirements !   Who would want to lose such a valuable investment ??

And insofar as fire safety issues are not being considered … it seems, at all … in the case of most ‘high-tech’, sustainable buildings … and certainly not in the case of the Lovins House … the Architectural Design Concepts for these buildings ‘suffer’ from a gaping hole … an enormous void … they are incomplete and, therefore, entirely inadequate.

Fire Engineering involves much, much more than mere compliance with building regulations and codes … whose fire safety objectives are limited, and whose performance requirements are sometimes inadequate and always minimal.

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Unfortunately … there is a fundamental conflict between Sustainable Building Design Strategies and the current state-of-the-art in Fire Engineering Design.  As an example … for cooling, heating and/or ventilation purposes in a sustainable building, it is necessary to take advantage of natural patterns of air movement in that building.  On the other hand, fire consultants in private practice, and fire prevention officers in Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ’s), will demand that building spaces be strictly compartmented in order to limit the spread of fire and smoke … thereby dramatically interfering with those natural patterns of air movement.

In everyday practice, there is a vast chasm in understanding and communication between these two very different design disciplines.  As a result, serious compromises are being enforced on Sustainability Performance.  If, on the other hand, adequate independent technical control is absent on the site of a Sustainable Building … it is the fire safety and protection which is being seriously compromised.

A range of critical fire safety issues (fatal, in the case of firefighters) are also arising from the Innovative Building Products and Systems being installed in Sustainable Buildings.

And because the emphasis is on pre-construction design ‘intent’ rather than the ‘real’ performance of the completed and occupied building … all of these problems are being conveniently sidestepped or ignored … and they remain hidden from everybody’s view.

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Sustainable Fire Engineering Design, on the other hand, is the creative response to Sustainable Design … and the powerful drivers of Climate Change Adaptation, and Energy Conservation/Efficiency in Buildings.

Sustainable Fire Engineering Design Solutions are …

  • Adapted to Local Conditions … Geography, Climate (change, variability and severity swings), Social Need, Culture, and Economy, etc., etc ;
  • ‘Reliability-Based’ … the design process is based on competence, practical experience, and an examination of ‘real’ extreme events, e.g. 2001 WTC 9-11 & 2008 Mumbai Attacks, and 2011 Fukushima Nuclear Incident … rather than on theory alone ;
  • ‘Person-Centred’ … ‘real’ people are placed at the centre of creative endeavours and proper consideration is given to their responsible needs … and their health, safety and welfare … and security … in the Human Environment.

Sustainability continues to fundamentally transform our Fire Engineering, Architectural and Consultancy Practice at Sustainable Design International Ltd (SDI) !

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Mainstream Good Design & Accessibility for All Signage ?

2013-03-06:   Further to an earlier Post, dated 30 November 2012 … on Sustainable Accessibility for All

Accessibility IS a Fundamental Human Right !

‘ For many Weak and Vulnerable People, today’s Complex Human Environment is inaccessible and unsafe … a hostile ‘reality’ which prevents independent functioning and participation in a local community;  it is a blatant denial of their human rights.’

Relevant Human Environment (social – built – virtual – institutional) Factors … factors which are external, or extrinsic, to the context of a person’s life and living situation … include policies and standards, negative attitudes and stigma, lack of services, problems with service delivery, inadequate funding, lack of accessibility in the built environment and to electronic, information and communication technologies, lack of consultation and involvement, and an absence of reliable data and evidence.

Accessibility for All …

Take a really close look at the photograph below … and see a staircase which, in spite of all the legislation in the EU Member States, contravenes almost every accessibility-related design guideline.  It is far from being an unusual scene in our European Built Environment …

Staircase Egress - Unsafe, Difficult Accessibility !!

Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2009-10-31. Click to enlarge.

Now, imagine the consequences of one, tiny slip …

Which is why our concern must be with Accessibility for All … which includes consciously thinking about children under the age of 5 years, women in the later stages of pregnancy, and frail older people (not all older people !) … and how they use and interact with their surroundings.

In addition, however … our attention must also turn to the large numbers of people, in all of our societies, with health conditions which result in serious impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions.  As a prime example, consider the Big-4 Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD’s): Cardiovascular Diseases (e.g. heart attacks and stroke), Cancers, Diabetes, and Chronic Lung Diseases.

These 4 NCD’s – targeted in a World Health Organization (WHO) Global NCD Campaign – share health risk factors (tobacco use, unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity, harmful alcohol use) … cause more than 36 million deaths annually (almost 80 % of deaths, from such diseases, occur in low and middle-income countries) … and result in a high proportion of disability (66.5 % of all years lived with disability in low and middle income countries).

NCD’s can limit one or more of a person’s major life and living activities … such as walking, eating, communicating, and caring-for-oneself.  Examples of common NCD-related impairments include paralysis due to stroke, and amputation as a result of diabetic neuropathy.

When Easily Assimilated Signage IS Essential in Buildings …

Good Architectural Design IS ‘intuitive and obvious’ for building users … design characteristics which are critical in the case of Fire Engineering Design.  However, what is intuitive and obvious in Ireland may not be so intuitive and obvious in Turkey … and what is intuitive and obvious in Europe will certainly not be intuitive and obvious in Africa, India, or China.

Architectural & Fire Engineering Design must, therefore, be adapted to Local conditions … culture, social need, etc., etc.

When a building is NOT ‘intuitive and obvious’ for the broad range of potential building users … easily assimilated signage IS essential …

International Standard ISO 21542: ‘Building Construction – Accessibility & Usability of the Built Environment’ was published in December 2011, as a full standard.  In its Introduction, ISO 21542 is linked to the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) … almost like an umbilical cord.

The scope of ISO 21542 covers public buildings.  The Accessibility Agenda in the U.N. Convention is very broad … so much standardization work remains to be completed at international level.

Concerning Accessibility Symbols and Signs … reference should be made to ISO 21542: Clause 41 – Graphical Symbols … and on Pages 106, 107, 108, and 109 … the following will be found:

  • Figure 66 – Accessible Facility or Entrance ;
  • Figure 67 – Sloped or Ramped Access ;
  • Figure 68 – Accessible Toilets (male & female) ;
  • Figure 69 – Accessible Toilets (female) ;
  • Figure 70 – Accessible Toilets (male) ;
  • Figure 71 – Accessible Lift / Elevator ;
  • Figure 72 – Accessible Emergency Exit Route.

I use the word ‘accessibility’, and not ‘access’ … because Accessibility has been defined in ISO 21542 as including … ‘access to buildings, circulation within buildings and their use, egress from buildings in the normal course of events, and evacuation in the event of an emergency’.

A note at the beginning of the standard also clarifies that Accessibility is an independent activity, i.e. assistance should not be necessary … and that there should be an assurance of individual health, safety and welfare during the course of those (accessibility-related) activities.

During the very long gestation of ISO 21542, an overwhelming consensus emerged in favour of using the term Accessibility for All … thereby sidestepping the thorny issue of different design philosophies which are described as being accessibility-related but, in practice, are limited and/or no longer fit-for-purpose.

'Accessibility for All' Symbol ?The Accessibility Symbol used throughout ISO 21542 is shown above.  I know that a small group of people from different countries worked very hard on this particular part of the standard.  My only contribution was in relation to the inclusion of Figure 72, concerning Fire Evacuation.

This ‘accessibility’ symbol is an attractive, modern and, of course, abstract representation of a concept … a person with an activity limitation using a wheelchair.  The symbol succeeds very well in communicating that concept.

However … as an Accessibility for All Symbol … encompassing people with other than functional impairments, e.g. hearing and visual impairments … and children under the age of 5 years, women in the later stages of pregnancy, frail older people … and people with the four main types of non-communicable disease discussed above … is this symbol, also, limited and no longer fit-for-purpose ??

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Proposed New Sign for 'Area of Rescue Assistance'

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Shown next, above, is the proposal for a new Area of Rescue Assistance Sign … which is contained in ISO 7010:2011 / FDAM 115 (2013).  While it is nice to finally see this Safety Sign appear in the mainstream of safety signage … the title being proposed for the sign and the explanatory texts which accompany it are very problematic …

  • The technical term being proposed – Evacuation Temporary Refuge – is too long and too difficult to understand ;
  • The explanatory texts which accompany this Sign are very confusing and misleading.

This problem has arisen because the people who drafted ISO 7010:2011 / FDAM 115 (2013) hadn’t a bull’s notion that ISO 21542 even existed !

In ISO 21542, we use the term Area of Rescue Assistance … which is easy for everybody to understand, including building users, building managers and firefighters, etc., etc.

We also explained, in ISO 21542, that a Place of Safety is a remote distance from the building … not anywhere inside the building !

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Mainstreaming Disability …

U.N. CRPD – Preamble

(g)  Emphasizing the importance of mainstreaming disability issues as an integral part of relevant strategies of sustainable development,

As ‘disability’ moves closer towards … and is integrated and fully included in the ‘mainstream’ of sustainable community life and living … it is absolutely imperative that individuals and organizations who make up the Disability Sector become much more cohesive (far less fractious within) … that they begin to fully understand the practices and procedures of the mainstream … and actively and robustly engage with that mainstream.

It is ridiculous, for example, that a large amount of the Sector’s energy is still being diverted into meaningless meditations and endless tracts on whether it is ‘universal design’, or ‘design-for-all’, or ‘inclusive design’, or ‘facilitation design’, etc … when an entirely new design paradigm is being demanded by a world (our small planet when seen from the moon !), which is experiencing enormous levels of human poverty, natural resource shortages, human rights violations, and severe weather events.  The overriding priority must be ‘real’ implementation … Effective Accessibility for All !

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'Earthrise' from Apollo 14

Colour photograph – ‘Earthrise’ – taken from the Apollo 14 Spacecraft … showing a bright colourful Earth, in a dense black ‘sky’, rising above the pale surface of the Moon. Click to enlarge.

NASA’s Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth

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And … Effective Accessibility for All is but one component of …

‘Social Wellbeing for All in a Sustainable Built Environment’

Refer also to …

2004 Rio de Janeiro Declaration on Sustainable Social Development, Disability & Ageing

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Update:  2013-05-31 …

While the wider international design community is working hard on developing an array of Accessibility Symbols to facilitate different health condition and impairment categories, and to suit different environmental situations, e.g. a fire emergency in a building … I recently encountered another interesting contribution …

Alternative Accessibility Symbol (USA-2011) - Functional Impairment

Click to enlarge. For more information: www.accessibleicon.org

Any comments ??

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Sustainable Climate Adaptation – 2008 G-77 Statement to the UN

How did the Developed Countries get everything so wrong in Copenhagen during December 2009 ?   Why was the European Union irrelevant to what was taking place ?   Were there no obvious signals … no straws in the wind … well in advance of the Climate Summit ?

Yes, there definitely were !   Almost two years beforehand !!   Take a deep breath … and suck this up …

Colour image showing the logo of the Group of 77 (G-77)Statement on Behalf of the Group of 77 & China by Ambassador John Ashe, Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations, at the Thematic Debate of the General Assembly on ‘Addressing Climate Change: The United Nations and The World at Work’  (New York, 12th February 2008)

Introduction

1.  Mr. President, the Group of 77 & China thank you for convening this debate in the General Assembly on the theme ‘Addressing Climate Change: The United Nations and The World at Work’.  It provides the Assembly with an additional opportunity to exchange views among Member States and with other partners on one of the important issues on the development agenda of the UN.

2.  At the outset, the Group of 77 & China reiterates that the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change is, and should remain, the primary comprehensive framework for addressing climate change.  Therefore, this thematic debate should be recognized as an opportunity for Member States to dialogue on ways of increasing support for the Framework and on meeting the urgent need for immediate action to fully implement commitments under the Convention and its Kyoto Protocol; supporting the Bali Action Plan and other mechanisms of the Convention.

3.  Mr. President, the Group of 77 & China is of the view that there should not be a parallel process of debates that would detract from the negotiation process under the Convention.  The Group of 77 & China believes that multilateral action to address climate change should remain firmly rooted in the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol.

4.  Furthermore, this thematic debate, as well as the Secretary General’s report on the Overview of UN activities in relation to Climate Change should not attempt to influence any other processes such as the system wide coherence debate or the discussions on international environmental governance.

*** Climate Change as a Sustainable Development Challenge ***

5.  Mr. President, the Group of 77 & China is of the view that discussions on climate change should be placed within the proper context of sustainable development.  It is imperative that our discussion reinforces the promotion of sustainable development, highlighting the three pillars – economic development, social development and environmental protection – and the need to promote all three in an integrated, co-ordinated and balanced manner.

6.  We must not lose sight of the fact that climate change is a sustainable development challenge.  As such we should adhere steadfastly to the Rio Principles, in particular the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.  We must take fully into account that poverty eradication, economic and social development are the paramount priorities of developing countries.  Hence, we must ensure that the discussion on climate change is placed in its proper context so that it does not undermine the overall discourse on sustainable development.

7.  Mr. President, urgent action is needed now to fully implement the commitments under the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, especially commitments on financing for adaptation, technology transfer and capacity building, if we are to make progress towards the achievement of the sustainable development goals of developing countries, in particular the Internationally Agreed Development Goals (IADG’s), including the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s).

8.  Urgent action is particularly needed on commitments, as climate change threatens the livelihoods of the very poor and vulnerable developing countries, in particular Africa, the Least Developed Countries (LDC’s), Land-Locked Developing Countries (LLDC’s), Small Island Developing States (SIDS), and disaster prone developing countries.  The G-77 & China is of the view that while addressing the challenge of climate, the most affected countries and most vulnerable countries should be given adequate attention and support.

9.  Developed countries Parties must take the lead in addressing the implementation gap, since the extent to which developing countries Parties can effectively respond to the challenge depends on the effective implementation by developed country Parties of their commitments relating to financing and technology transfer.

Scaling-Up Financing, Technology Transfer and Capacity Building Support

10.  While the UN can support the efforts of developing countries in formulating policies for attracting climate change related investment flows, adaptation and nationally appropriate mitigation actions will have to be enabled by technology, financing and capacity-building that are commensurate with the magnitude of the tasks ahead of us, that is, in a measurable, reportable and verifiable manner, as agreed in the Bali Action Plan.  The provision of financial resources is a binding commitment of developed country Parties.  Clear guidance should be given to facilitate access to financial resources and investments without conditionalities.  It is essential that such financial resources not be considered as Official Development Assistance (ODA), but additional, and in compliance with existing binding commitments under the Convention.  Further, financing for adaptation to climate change and the impact of response measures should not be a reallocation or realignment of existing development financing.

11.  Developing countries should be provided with greater access to cost-effective, efficient and affordable advanced clean technologies.  The Group of 77 & China has repeatedly led calls for developing countries to have greater access to climate-friendly technologies.  Efforts in this regard need to be scaled up.  Furthermore, the UN can play an important role through the promotion of an Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Regime that facilitates the transfer of such technologies.

12.  The Group of 77 & China reiterates its call for increased support for capacity building in developing countries to enhance national efforts to promote an integrated approach to climate change response measures and sustainable development planning.

Greater Support by the UN System for Developing Countries to Address the Climate Change Challenge

13.  The UN’s efforts in supporting national adaptation activities must be strengthened, so that developing countries can achieve their sustainable development goals while responding to the challenges of climate change.  The role of the UN in supporting the overall development efforts is vital.  However, the G-77 & China finds that technology transfer and financing, have not been addressed adequately in the background documents made available in preparation for today’s debate.

14.  On the issue of partnerships, Mr. President, the G-77 & China is of the view that multi-stakeholder partnerships have an important role to play in addressing climate change.  The UN system should assist in fostering and promoting partnerships in support of national efforts.  However, partnerships should not replace ODA or international co-operation.

15.  Additionally, South-South co-operation is useful in the area of adaptation efforts, and greater support for South-South co-operation can also help developing countries better respond to the challenges of climate change.  However, South-South co-operation should not be considered within the context of multi-stakeholder partnerships.  Further, South-South co-operation on climate change should complement North-South co-operation.

Report on the Overview of UN Activities in Relation to Climate Change

16.  Mr. President, in General Assembly Resolution 62/8 Member States requested a comprehensive report providing an overview of the activities of the UN system in relation to climate change.  Based on this mandate the G-77 & China anticipated a factual report that takes stock of current UN system activities in this regard.  As such, there is no mandate with regard to ‘an indication of the way forward’, and ‘co-ordination of the UN system action on climate change’.  This remains the purview of the Member States to decide on.  Work on co-ordination mechanisms, and structures or frameworks, including clusters of activity or lead agencies, must be subject of inter-governmental consideration and decision prior to implementation.

17.  In general, the UN system entities should assist in the effective implementation of the provisions, commitments and action plans of the UNFCCC.  Co-ordination of UN system activities to enhance its role in meeting the challenge of climate change requires inter-governmental consideration, agreement and oversight by Member States.

18.  The G-77 & China recognizes the primacy of the UN in directing and supporting global efforts to meet the global challenge of climate change, and in supporting its Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  The General Assembly, given its universality, should unequivocally urge Parties to undertake urgent action now to meet their commitments under the Convention, provide clear policy direction in this regard and to support to the Bali Plan of Action.

19.  Mr. President, the G-77 & China believes that the road to Copenhagen, where the concluding talks on the current process on the Bali Roadmap will be held in 2009, will be a difficult one, particularly for developing countries and the poorest and most vulnerable.  Leadership will therefore be critical if our response is to reflect the scale of the challenge.  We need an effective and comprehensive global response, within the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, to cover adaptation, technology transfer and financing, as well as mitigation.  Without rapid and tangible efforts by developed countries in this regard, climate change will lead to increased poverty and will negate our efforts at achieving sustainable development.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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NOTE:  The Group of 77 (G-77) was established on 15th June 1964 by seventy-seven developing countries – signatories of the ‘Joint Declaration of the Seventy-Seven Countries’, issued at the end of the first session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Geneva.  Beginning with the first Ministerial Meeting of the Group of 77 in Algiers (Algeria), from 10-25 October 1967, which adopted the ‘Charter of Algiers, a permanent institutional structure gradually developed which led to the creation of Chapters of the Group of 77, with Liaison Offices in Geneva (UNCTAD), Nairobi (UNEP), Paris (UNESCO), Rome (FAO/IFAD), Vienna (UNIDO), and the Group of 24 (G-24) in Washington, D.C. (IMF and World Bank).  Although the Members of the G-77 have increased to 130 Countries, the original name was retained because of its historic significance.

Brazil, South Africa, India and China (BASIC) are all Members of G-77.

Bolivia, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and the Caribbean island states of Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Dominica (ALBA – Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América / Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America) are also all Members of G-77.

The Group of 77 (G-77) WebSite is located at … www.g77.org

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FCCC COP-15: Historical Responsibility & Poverty Reduction ?

2009-12-16:  ‘Chaotic’ is not the only word to describe what is happening right now in Copenhagen !   A few additional parliamentary expletives are required.  Is it just me … or is it obvious to everyone … that the Danes could not organize an orgy at an International Golf Tournament ?

What the world urgently needed was an ambitious, legally binding agreement … a Kyoto II Protocol, for want of a better title … to slot into place when the 1st Commitment Period ends in 2012.  What we may end up with is an ambiguous ‘political’ agreement … which will be worth approximately 1 cent more than the paper on which it will be scrawled.

There is something definitely rotten in the State of Denmark !   Multiple drafts of the same working document circulating at the same time … backroom meetings away from public scrutiny … greedy developed countries trying to avoid responsibility and action … strutting, self-important NGO’s thinking that they know all the answers … etc., etc … kill any confidence in the process stone dead.  These are not the ways of Sustainable Social Partnership.

However … at a far distance from the hustle and bustle … it can be observed that Interesting Side Events are taking place … and Thought Provoking Reports are being presented … before, during and after the main gatherings between the 7th and 18th December 2009:

  • 15th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP-15) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) ;
  • 5th Meeting of the Parties (MOP-5) to the Kyoto Protocol.

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African Countries are not the only Group having difficulty with what is/is not happening in Copenhagen …

Two recent Discussion Papers from The Energy & Resources Institute (TERI), in India, are worth bringing to your attention.  Both raise issues which are not very popular in this part of the world.  And … it so happens that Dr. Rajendra K Pachauri – Director-General of TERI … is also Chairman of the WMO-UNEP Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) !

  1. Right to Sustainable Development: An Ethical Approach to Climate Change (December 2009), by Leena Srivastava, Neha Pahuja, Manish Shrivastava & Prabhat Upadhyay.  PDF File, 228 Kb.  Click link to read and/or download.  Discusses ideas such as: ‘equity’, ‘fairness’, ‘historical responsibility’ (of UNFCCC Annex I Countries), ‘climate justice’, etc.
  2. Linking Climate Action & Poverty Alleviation – An Approach to Informed Decision-Making (December 2009), by Atul Kumar.  PDF File, 488 Kb.  Click link to read and/or download.

Notes:

To gain worldwide acceptance – across developed, developing and least developed regions of the world – and to have a reasonable chance of reliable implementation in those disparate regions … mitigation of, and adaptation to, climate change, including variability and extremes, must be fully compatible with the concept of Sustainable Human & Social Development.  This is clearly elaborated in both the 1992 UNFCCC and the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

To be clear among ourselves on this island … Ireland is specifically named (without any qualification), among other Developed Countries … in Annex I and Annex II of the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) … and in Annex B of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which is legally binding.  The European Union is not mentioned, at all, in either document.

It is of concern to note that although India ratified the 2006 United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in October 2007 – TERI (India) has very recently placed a Document (No.1 above) in the public domain, at Copenhagen, which actively forbids content extraction by people with activity limitations for the purposes of equitable accessibility !   Joined-up thinking !?!?

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