The Switch is a monthly newsletter distributed by the Northern Alliance for Sustainability (ANPED) on initiatives that are making the switch to a sustainable society. The Switch covers various campaigns, new book releases, academic papers, policy processes and more. It takes a holistic and progressive approach to the sustainability debate and does not shy away from addressing controversial topics. The Switch also keeps you updated on upcoming conferences and events.
The Switch is open for your news, events and articles as well. So please send them to us !!
If you have any other recommendations or comments, dont hesitate to contact the editor of The Switch, Nick Meynen, meynen.nick[at]gmail.com
websites to bookmark
The UNCSD launched an official website dedicated to the 2012 RIO+20 summit. At www.uncsd2012.org you will find all the latest news, the important milestones from here to Rio and more detail on how you can get involved.
The latest news, for example, gives an overview of responses to the questionnaire for the synthesis report. With a simple click you can see the answers from Member States, Major Groups and UN Organisations.
If you are planning to participate in this summit, make sure to keep an eye on this website as well: http://www.earthsummit2012.org/ This site has a lot of background information, like a handy sustainable development timeline. This is where you will get a good idea of the process towards the summit. It also brings news and it aims to connect organizations and stakeholders who want to engage in the preparations to the RIO+20 summit.
Requested: your input for the 10 Year Framework of Programs on Sustainable Consumption and Production
On 13 and 14 January 2011 there will be an intersessional meeting on SCP in Panama City. Topics of discussion will be: potential programs to be included in the 10 Year Framework of Programs on SCP (10YFP) to support regional and national initiatives, the structure the 10YFP could take and the possible visions and objectives it could serve. To ensure Member States have a fruitful dialogue, the UN invites all interested parties to submit proposals by sending completed templates to Dr. Chantal Line Carpentier, Sustainable Development Officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org or fax: (212) 963-1267. The templates are available on: http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/csd/csd_csd19.shtml
The deadline for submission is November 26, 2010.
Modern-day slavery at sea off Africa
On 30 September, The Guardian published a remarkable article and video on its website. What you can read and see there is probably the closest thing to the opposite of fishing by the principles of ecological economics. It shows that pirate fishers run rusty illegal vessels who never come onshore, which makes it easier to let illegal workers do the most disgusting jobs you can imagine. These pirate fishers are overexploiting both the fish and the humans who work for them. There were horrific scenes of people working 18-hour shifts in the non-ventilated belly of a rusting ship with only trash fish as salary and salt water to wash themselves.
The research was done by EJF, Environmental Justice Foundation. EJF empowers people who suffer most from environmental abuses to find peaceful ways of preventing them. They provide film and advocacy training to individuals and grassroots organizations in the global south, enabling them to document, expose and create long term solutions to environmental abuses.
think globally, sabotage locally
A report with this title has received some media attention in Europe. Research from CAN Europe (Climate Action Network - Europe) revealed that some of the biggest carbon dioxide emitters in Europe are funding campaigns of leading opponents of action on climate change in the US Senate. They used publicly available campaign finance records to find out who is paying who. The very same companies are arguing that carbon emission reductions in Europe should not be pursued until the US takes action. At the global level, these companies act as if they are responsible stakeholders, but at the local level they try to sabotage any action of climate change. This is hypocrisy at its best.
Globalization of corporate political activities asks for a globalization of action against these anti-democratic forces. We need to keep exposing such practices to show the public who is keeping us away from action on climate change and how. As the election results from the US show, climate change deniers are gaining more and more popular support. The reason can all too often be traced back to one candidate having more money for campaigning than the other.
How will the US mid-term elections influence the forthcoming COP16 in Cancun?
Even well before voting in the mid-term elections in the US started, hope for a legally binding agreement in Cancun, one that could halt the most dangerous human made climate change, was hitting rock bottom. Lord Prescott, the Council of Europe Climate rapporteur, in a reaction to the results of the US election, claimed that there is no more hope for getting a legally binding deal done any time soon. ''Let's have a voluntary agreement. Let's stop the clock. Instead of Kyoto having to be done by 2012, stop it for about five years, put in a voluntary agreement and a verification system.
Unfortunately, you just can not stop the clock. You can not put climate change in the fridge and expect to take it out again, five years later, finding it in the same state but in a better political climate to solve it. What will come out after five years is something so ugly that nobody will ever want to touch it again. We're dealing with a process that has positive feedback effects, a problem that will keep on growing exponentially if nothing is done. What we need in Cancun, which will kick off on 29 November, is not stopping the clock but serious progress. If there is no way of making progress with the US, we surely need progress with everybody else. We could call it a 'coalition of the willing', one that is strong enough to isolate, in the long run, the few unwilling.
But not all news from the mid term elections was bad for climate change legislation. In California, voters said no to proposition 23, which would have suspended the climate and energy legislation in this state. If California was a country, it would be in the top ten economies worldwide, so it counts. Even within the US there is still reason for hope. But after such elections, the question of a legally binding treaty with the US in Cancun has become a no-brainer: it will not happen.
Will the Nagoya Protocol halt the destruction of biodiversity?
To stop the mass extinction of species, governments on 29 October 2010 signed the new Aichi-Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefits Sharing, a new Strategic Plan and new protected areas targets at sea and on land. Protected land area will be boosted to 17% and marine protected areas should cover 10% of our oceans by 2020. In brief: they agreed, there's a plan, a deadline and some money. Compared to Copenhagen, this is a success. But will it halt biodiversity loss?
Most media just took the press statement and claimed that the Protocol was u huge success. Most NGOs like WWF and Greenpeace were relieved to see that global environmental deals are still possible, although they were also disappointed that the goals did not go far enough and all the necessary money was not on the table yet. But three days later the Guardian wrote that the world was kind of fooled to believe that Nagoya was a success. The author found out that the Declaration was not even published yet and none of the journalists writing about the success had seen it.
First of all, the agreement is not legally binding. The world had an agreement in 2002 but the 2010 goal utterly failed because that deal was also not legally binding. Second, the US is not a party in this deal. And third: they are not the only country who was not really interested in biodiversity loss. Only five heads of State attended the summit, from the Prince of Monaco to the prime Minister of Yemen. Most world leaders still consider saving the natural world we all live in a hobby, while saving the places where we keep our money is, for them, a true question of survival. The Nagoya Protocal is a small step in the good direction, at best. At worst, it is a distraction that makes us feel save for another decade, while actually doing nothing substantial to stop the biggest mass extinction of species since dinosaurs were wipped out by a comet hittign our earth, some 60 million years ago.
The empathic civilization from Jeremy Rifkins
Time once described him for being The most Hated man in Science. With his latest book, Jeremy Rifkin, will surely cause some more headaches in ivory towers around the world. He questions fundamental issues on which a whole chuck of modern day science is founded. Ever since Enlighment thinkers established that the human nature is basically self-centered and materialistic, we were made to believe that this nature explains everything from market economies to our failure to come to global action on climate change. Rifkins, however, makes an argument that human nature is not self-centered, but empathic. From the day we are born. He then recognized evolution from empathy within the tribe, to empathy within a religion and later in a nation state. So why not move on towards empathy for the human race, for all living creatures and for the biosphere in its whole? Technology has evolved in such a way that this is no longer a nice theory that just can't work in practice. Rifkins uses the example of the Haiti earthquake, where Twitter was full of cries for help 1 hour later, Youtube had video's online 2 hours later and help started to come from all over the world in just 3 hours time. An ten minute animated introduction to this book is found on http://www.ted.com/talks/jeremy_rifkin_on_the_empathic_civilization.html
More important books and ideas are brought to live in entertaining animation videos on http://comment.rsablogs.org.uk/videos/
Energetic campaigns against nuclear energy
During CSD16+17, it was very clear that civil society still resist nuclear energy as an alternative for fossil fuels. In recent years, the lobby of the nuclear energy has convinced more and more people and policy makers that their energy is clean and safe. This asks for some more drastic actions, such as a recent stunt by Greenpeace. They collected radioactive samples from unsecured public places such as beaches and brought them to the European Parliament. A coalition of organizations just stopped a train with nuclear waste in Northern Germany. Everywhere in the world, people are resisting the revival of nuclear energy. These are just a few of the organizations currently working to stop the nuclear energy lobby: The Stop Nuclear Power Network, Nukefree.org and No2NuclearPower.
Sustainability and technology
Those of you looking for sustainable solutions to unsustainable process have a natural tendency to be skeptical when someone proposes technical fixes. With good reason, as most technology-optimists neglect rebound effects or the reality that most technologies are resource intensive and benefit only those who can afford them. But Technology for the Poor is different. On this website, anybody can access practical manuals to use simple technologies with cheap materials you can find almost anywhere. Technologies such as a dual use bicycle are especially useful in poor regions with low energy needs. Technology for the Poors mission is to develop, innovate and disseminate sustainable technologies to the poor all over the world.