Asia

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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‘Fire Safety for All’ Update: Dublin Declaration & Press Release

2015-02-01:  This important Event is still a few months away, but the following update will be of interest …. a mixture of some good news and some bad news …

Fire-Safety-4-All_smlTo Register / To Attend … please go to the Event WebSite: www.fire-safety-for-all.eu … places are limited in the New Conference Venue.

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1.  2015 Dublin ‘Fire Safety for All’ Declaration – A Call to Action & Successful Implementation !

From the beginning, we promised that this would not be a polite gathering in Dublin.  It will, instead, be a time for hard work and straight talking by everybody attending … and a good opportunity to have some fun also.  Dublin is a very ‘sociable’ city !

As an indication of our serious intent … please now download and examine the Proposed 2015 Dublin Declaration on ‘Fire Safety for All’ in Buildings (PDF File, 153 Kb) …

Proposed 2015 Dublin Declaration on 'Fire Safety for All' in Buildings

Proposed 2015 Dublin Declaration on ‘Fire Safety for All’ in Buildings

If you would like to comment on this document, or if you have any questions … please send an e-mail message to: fireox@sustainable-design.ie

Drafting of the CIB W14 Research Working Group V Reflection Document has already commenced.

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2.  Dublin Fire Safety for All Event’s First Press Release

A strong message from and about the Dublin Event must be widely disseminated at international and national levels … download and read / forward / circulate / publish FireOx International’s First Event Press Release (PDF File, 49 Kb), dated 1 February 2015 …

FireOx International's First Event Press Release

FireOx International’s First Event Press Release

Please help us to spread the word !

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3.  Embarrassment about Original Conference Venue

Accessibility of a Building … encompasses the complete cycle of independent use, in a dignified manner and on an equal basis with others … and includes the approach, entry and use of a building and its facilities, egress during normal conditions and removal from its vicinity … and, most importantly, safe evacuation during a fire incident to a place of safety which is remote from the building and reached by way of an accessible route.

As I write … Ireland has a truck load of accessibility-related National Building Regulations and EU Safety at Work Law (transposed at national level a long, long time ago).  We have strong Equality Law.  We have ease of access to accessibility-related International Standards (such as ISO 21542: 2011) and National Standards from other European Countries, North & South America, and Asia.  We have accessibility-related National Guidance Documents coming out of our ears, and easy access to all sorts of other guidance from around the world.  Lots and lots and lots and lots of paperwork, in digital and hardcopy formats !

Ireland today … is still one of only a few remaining countries which have yet to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the principal aim of which is to ensure that the Human Environment (including the built, social, economic, virtual and institutional environments) is sufficiently accessible for people with activity limitations to participate positively in all aspects of their local communities … a basic human right, which every able-bodied person takes for granted !

” This is not just a national disgrace, it is a huge embarrassment for our country when you consider that the European Union itself and most of the EU’s Member States have already ratified this UN Convention.”

AND … as I look around Dublin … the City is NOT accessible for its many vulnerable residents and foreign visitors !

Dublin Castle Printworks Building – Main Entrance

Colour photograph showing the Main Entrance to Dublin Castle’s Printworks Building.  Telepathy is required to be ‘aware’ that there is a ramp located way down at the far end of the building.  Notice the limited extent of ground tactile information at the bottom of the steps in the foreground, and the unmarked glazing on the left of the Entrance Doors above.

Are you sitting comfortably ?   Then I will tell you a short story … a ‘real’ story, not a fairy tale … about the Original Conference Venue …

Mr. Sean Sherlock, T.D., Minister of State at Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs with responsibility for Overseas Development Aid, has agreed to open the Event on the evening of Thursday, 9 April 2015.  All of Irish Aid’s Partner Countries in Africa have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Given the serious, socially transformative topic of this Conference … the Minister had also kindly offered to waive the fee for the hire of the Printworks Building in Dublin Castle – a very prestigious location in the City, and a building which was been extensively refurbished in time for Ireland’s recent Presidency of the European Union.  The audio-visual fit-out for this building is magnificently elaborate.  Most unfortunately, the building’s accessibility is entirely inadequate (‘ATROCIOUS’ would be a better word to describe it) !

Dublin Castle Printworks Building – Set Down Area

Colour photograph showing a marked Set Down Area at the front of Dublin Castle’s Printworks Building.  Bollards prevent a Taxi from dropping off a passenger, who uses a wheelchair, at the bottom of the ramp.

However, with the right attitude and positive co-operation from the Venue Management Team, many improvements to the building’s accessibility could have been made for the Conference.  From the beginning, however, the Management Team’s response to this issue was negative.

” It is entirely unacceptable that this State’s New and Heritage Building Stock is designed, constructed, and/or managed without a full and proper consideration … and successful implementation … of Accessibility for All and Fire Safety for All ! “

Dublin Castle Printworks Building – Main Entrance Steps

Colour photograph showing, from above, the Main Entrance Steps of Dublin Castle’s Printworks Building.  Also notice the hazardous lack of visual colour contrast in platform and step surfaces.

The Venue Management Team has refused to honour the Minister’s waiver.

Dublin Castle Printworks Building – Top of Ramp

Colour photograph showing the Top of the Ramp at the side of Dublin Castle’s Printworks Building.  Notice the lack of ground tactile information.

We have had no other option but to move the Conference and Workshop to a far better Venue just around the corner … the Radisson Blu Hotel in Golden Lane, Dublin.

Dublin Castle Printworks Building – Bottom of Ramp

Colour photograph showing the Bottom of the Ramp at the side of Dublin Castle’s Printworks Building.  Notice the difficult approach to the Ramp, and also no indication of where there are level surfaces to rest when using the Ramp.

A Building which is NOT Accessible is difficult, if not impossible, for everybody to evacuate during a real fire incident …

‘Rigorous enforcement of building codes and standards by state and local agencies, well trained and managed, is critical in order for standards and codes to ensure the expected level of safety.  Unless they are complied with, the best codes and standards cannot protect occupants, emergency responders, or buildings.’

(2005 U.S. NIST NCSTAR 1: Final Report on the Collapse of the World Trade Center Towers … Page 202, Chapter 9: Recommendations)

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United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

UN CRPD Article 33 – National Implementation & Monitoring

1.  States Parties, in accordance with their system of organization, shall designate one or more focal points within government for matters relating to the implementation of the present Convention, and shall give due consideration to the establishment or designation of a co-ordination mechanism within government to facilitate related action in different sectors and at different levels.
2.  States Parties shall, in accordance with their legal and administrative systems, maintain, strengthen, designate or establish within the State Party, a framework, including one or more independent mechanisms, as appropriate, to promote, protect and monitor implementation of the present Convention.  When designating or establishing such a mechanism, States Parties shall take into account the principles relating to the status and functioning of national institutions for protection and promotion of human rights.
3.  Civil society, in particular persons with disabilities and their representative organizations, shall be involved and participate fully in the monitoring process.

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The Access Consultants for Dublin Castle were O’Herlihy Access Consultancy.

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HASHI (Chopsticks) – Aspects of Japan’s Fascinating Culture (I)

2013-02-20:   Japan … so far from Western Europe … is at a critical juncture in its history.  Soon to be overshadowed by a very large neighbour, China … it is still occupied by the United States of America (a fading imperialistic entity), which is quietly insisting that it become a nuclear power in the region … a story without a happy ending !

However … ‘Real’ Japan is a complete culture shock … both interesting and fascinating at the same time.

This is a bluffer’s guide to Japanese ChopsticksHASHI, in Japanese …

Proper Size of, and Grip to be used with, Japanese Chopsticks (Hashi)

Colour image showing the proper size for Japanese Chopsticks (Hashi), which is related to the size of the user’s hand … and the Grip to be used with Chopsticks … which should be firm, but gentle and flexible. Click to enlarge.

Array of Japanese Chopsticks (Hashi), with Accessories

Colour photograph showing an array of Japanese Chopsticks (Hashi), with Accessories. A simple way to differentiate between Japanese Chopsticks and Chinese Chopsticks … Japanese Chopsticks have pointed tips. Click to enlarge.

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Wednesday, February 20th, 2013 art, design, social environment, sustainability, travel No Comments

A Very Special Place – Miyajima Island in Japan

2012-11-15:  A Sacred Place … also known as Itsukushima, after its world famous Shinto Shrine … located just off the coast from the city of Hiroshima

Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2012-10-06. Click to enlarge.

Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2012-10-06. Click to enlarge.

Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2012-10-06. Click to enlarge.

Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2012-10-06. Click to enlarge.

Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2012-10-06. Click to enlarge.

Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2012-10-06. Click to enlarge.

Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2012-10-06. Click to enlarge.

Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2012-10-06. Click to enlarge.

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Kinsuikan Hotel / Ryokan / Traditional Japanese Inn – Miyajima Island, Japan ]

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OVE ARUP & Hong Kong’s New Fire Safety Code of Practice

2012-02-18:  It will be of interest to people in this part of the world that Hong Kong has introduced a New Code of Practice on Fire Safety in Buildings, which will come into effect from 1 April 2012.  The reason for this interest will be strange and unusual …

Hong Kong Buildings Department

2011 Hong Kong Code of Practice for Fire Safety in Buildings

Click the Link Above to read and/or download PDF File (3.96 Mb)

The following extract from the Foreward (paragraph #3) to this Code of Practice explains how it came to be developed … and then issued back in September 2011 …

This Code of Practice may be cited as the Code of Practice for Fire Safety in Buildings.  It is prepared and issued by the Buildings Department on the basis of the consultancy study on fire engineering approach and fire safety in buildings.  The consultancy study was conducted by Ove Arup & Partners Hong Kong Ltd., commissioned by the Buildings Department, and was supervised by a Steering Committee comprising representatives of professional institutions and other stakeholders of the building industry, as well as other Government Departments.

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It so happens that, here, a few weeks ago … I was wondering how the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was being implemented in a number of countries which had ratified it.  China ratified the Convention on 1 August 2008.  Once again, this is Article 11 …

UN CRPD  Article 11 – Situations of Risk & Humanitarian Emergencies

States Parties shall take, in accordance with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law, all necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk, including situations of armed conflict, humanitarian emergencies and the occurrence of natural disasters.

[ Note:  An outbreak of fire in a building is a situation of serious risk for all vulnerable building users ! ]

So … what has been the response of Hong Kong to this issue … and to the voluntary obligation which China has accepted, under International Law, to comply with Article 11 of the UN CRPD ?

The issue has been completely ignored in the New Code of Practice !

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MACLAREN Strollers – Bad Consumer Protection in Europe ?

2009-11-11:  In the case of the recent recall of MACLAREN Baby Strollers in the USA … it is troubling to witness what is NOT happening here in Europe … either at the level of the European Union (EU) and its Institutions … or, at national level, in EU Member States.

ALL are failing the European Consumer !!

IF the Maclaren Stroller’s hinge mechanism poses a fingertip amputation and laceration hazard to a child when a consumer is unfolding/opening the stroller … ANDMaclaren has received 15 reports of children placing their finger in the stroller’s hinge mechanism, resulting in 12 reports of fingertip amputations in the United States … HOW ARE THESE PRODUCTS SAFE IN EUROPE ????

Maclaren Baby Strollers are sold in the Americas, Oceania … and throughout Europe and Asia …

Colour photograph of one model of the Recalled MACLAREN Baby Strollers in the USA.  Photograph from U.S. CPSC WebSite.

Colour photograph of one model of the Recalled MACLAREN Baby Strollers in the USA. Photograph from U.S. CPSC WebSite. Click to enlarge.

 

On 9th November 2009, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)www.cpsc.gov … issued the following Press Release #10-033 …

Maclaren USA Recalls to Repair Strollers Following Fingertip Amputations

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in co-operation with the firm named below, today announced a voluntary recall of the following consumer product.  Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed.

Name of Product:  Maclaren Strollers

Units:  About one million

Distributor:  Maclaren USA, Inc., of South Norwalk, Conn.

Hazard:  The stroller’s hinge mechanism poses a fingertip amputation and laceration hazard to the child when the consumer is unfolding/opening the stroller.

Incidents/Injuries:  The firm has received 15 reports of children placing their finger in the stroller’s hinge mechanism, resulting in 12 reports of fingertip amputations in the United States.

Description:  This recall involves all Maclaren single and double umbrella strollers.  The word “Maclaren” is printed on the stroller.  The affected models included Volo, Triumph, Quest Sport, Quest Mod, Techno XT, TechnoXLR, Twin Triumph, Twin Techno and Easy Traveller.

Sold at:  Babies’R’Us, Target and other juvenile product and mass merchandise retailers nationwide from 1999 through November 2009 for between $100 and $360.

Manufactured in:  China

Remedy:  Consumers should immediately stop using these recalled strollers and contact Maclaren USA to receive a free repair kit.

Consumer Contact:  For additional information, contact Maclaren USA toll-free at (877) 688-2326 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or visit the firm’s Web site at  http://recall.maclarenbaby.com/

To see this recall on CPSC’s WebSite, including pictures of the recalled products, please go to:  http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml10/10033.html

 

What is Maclaren itself saying on its own  U.S. WebSite ?   Bear in mind that standards … no matter where their origin … are never perfect, and are always requiring revision and regular updates.

IMPORTANT NOTICE

Consistent with our unwavering commitment to child safety we are providing U.S. consumers notice of a voluntary recall of all Maclaren umbrella strollers sold in the U.S.  In cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, we are providing free of charge to all affected consumers and retailers a kit to cover the stroller’s hinge mechanism, which poses a fingertip amputation and laceration hazard to the child when the consumer is unfolding/opening the stroller.  The affected models include Volo, Triumph, Quest Sport, Quest Mod, Techno XT, Techno XLR, Twin Triumph, Twin Techno and Easy Traveller.

Maclaren USA’s Umbrella Strollers meet all U.S. ASTM & JPMA compliance standards.  These certifications guarantee our umbrella strollers meet the maximum safety standards available.  The voluntary recall is to alert the operator when opening or closing the stroller of the possible risk of injury.

Safety is our first priority and through this voluntary effort we urge consumers to contact us immediately to obtain the kit which consists of hinge covers designed specifically to fit all Maclaren strollers.

Maclaren stresses all operators read the instruction manual prior to use which contains valuable safety tips and service recommendations.

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Even though it is slightly premature, by just a few weeks, to be quoting what the Consolidated European Union Treaties, as amended by the 2007 Lisbon Treaty, have to say about Consumer Protection … it still makes interesting reading … and, anyway, the legal intent of Article 169 was not actually amended by the Lisbon Treaty …

Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, Title XV

Article 169

1.  In order to promote the interests of consumers and to ensure a high level of consumer protection, the Union shall contribute to protecting the health, safety and economic interests of consumers, as well as to promoting their right to information, education and to organise themselves in order to safeguard their interests.

2.  The Union shall contribute to the attainment of the objectives referred to in paragraph 1 through:

     (a) measures adopted pursuant to Article 114 in the context of the completion of the internal market ;

     (b) measures which support, supplement and monitor the policy pursued by the Member States.

3.  The European Parliament and the Council, acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure and after consulting the Economic and Social Committee, shall adopt the measures referred to in paragraph 2(b).

4.  Measures adopted pursuant to paragraph 3 shall not prevent any Member State from maintaining or introducing more stringent protective measures.  Such measures must be compatible with the Treaties.  The Commission shall be notified of them.

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