Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Book: From Rio+20 to a New Development Agenda Building a Bridge to a Sustainable Future (22 Jan 2014)

From Rio+20 to a New Development Agenda

Building a Bridge to a Sustainable Future

By Felix DoddsJorge Laguna-CelisLiz Thompson

Routledge – 2014 – 264 pages
Twenty years after the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, "The Earth Summit", the Rio+20 conference in 2012 brought life back to sustainable development by putting it at the centre of a new global development partnership, one in which sustainable development is the basis for eradicating poverty, upholding human development and transforming economies.
Written by practitioners and participants involved in the multilateral process of negotiations, this book presents a unique insider analysis of not only what happened and why, but also where the outcomes might impact in the future, particularly in the UN development agenda beyond 2015.
The book throws light on the changing nature of multilateralism and questions frequent assumptions on how policy is defined within the UN. It shows that Rio+20 was more than an international meeting; it represented a culminating point of decades of successes and failures and a watershed moment for seminal concepts, ideas and partnerships including the Green Economy, zero tolerance on land degradation, the introduction of Sustainable Development Goals, the creation of national measurements of consumption, production and well-being that are intended to go beyond GDP, the introduction of national green accounting and the commitment of billions of dollars for sustainable development partnerships, including Sustainable Energy for All.
The authors conclude by mapping out a new agenda for development in 2015, when the current Millennium Development Goals framework is due to expire. An agenda that will restore faith in the UN and inspire a global response to the demographic, economic and environmental challenges that will define our future in the decades to come.
1. The Re-birth of Sustainable Development
President Lula da Silva’s & Brazil’s case for a Rio+20
The 2008 crisis as a catalyst for breaking the silos between development and sustainable development
The old order changes and the emergence of new players in the developing world
The science underpinning an integrated approach towards development
2. Chronicling the Key shapers of Rio+20
How was Rio+20 constructed
The formal preparations process and the lessons to be drawn
The political role of the UN Secretary-General
Innovative partnerships supporting Rio+20
The informal process in New York and its importance for consensus building
International meetings that gave Rio+20 a global impact
Stakeholders preparations and their growing influence in the policy definition process
The transition from the informal and the global to the textual of The Future We Want
Enabling UN leaders behind Rio+20
The Rio+20 Secretariat
3. How did it All Come to Happen?
The decisions that were required to start building a new development framework
Key divergences as the meeting started
The Group of developing countries too diverse to negotiate as a single block?
The European Union and Rio+20
The United States of America and Rio+20
A final push to conclude the process
No perfect outcome: the gaps in The Future We Want
4. Multiplying Commitments
The stakeholder dialogue days
Voluntary commitments
National sustainable development councils and economic and social committees
Subnational and local government
Future Earth
Education and training
World Congress on Justice, Governance and Law for Environmental Sustainability
Initiatives on transparency and access to information
Sustainable Energy 4 All (SE4All) and commitments and achievements at Rio+20
Financial commitments
5. From Rio+20 to 2015 and the New Development Agenda
Was Rio+20 a failure or a success?
A new inspiring narrative: development for all within the limits of our planet
Institutions for a new development agenda
How can universal sustainable development goals build a single yet differentiated development agenda?
Resource mobilization and financing for sustainable development
A reformed Economic and Social Council and the High Level Political Forum
The UN Environment Assembly and a new governance model for environmental sustainability
The role of stakeholders in global policy making
Ahead of January 2016
Appendix I: Stakeholder Forum
Appendix II: Earth Negotiations Bulletin

Book: Transport, Climate Change and the City By Robin Hickman, David Banister (21 Jan 2014)

Transport, Climate Change and the City

By Robin HickmanDavid Banister

Routledge – 2014 – 400 pages
Sustainable mobility has long been sought after in cities around the world, particularly in industrialised countries, but also increasingly in the emerging cities in Asia. Progress however appears difficult to make as the private car, still largely fuelled by petrol or diesel, remains the mainstream mode of use. Transport is the key sector where carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions seem difficult to reduce.
Transport, Climate Change and the City seeks to develop achievable and low transport CO2emission futures in a range of international case studies, including in London, Oxfordshire, Delhi, Jinan and Auckland. The aim is that the scenarios as developed, and the consideration of implementation and governance issues, can help us plan for and achieve attractive future travel behaviours at the city level. The alternative is to continue with only incremental progress against COreduction targets, to ‘sleepwalk’ into climate change difficulties, oil scarcity, a poor quality of life, and to continue with the high traffic casualty figures. The topic is thus critical, with transport viewed as central to the achievement of the sustainable city and reduced COemissions.
1. Transport, Climate Change and the City 2. Futures, Scenarios and Strategic Conversations 3. Ambitions Towards Sustainable Mobility (London) 4. Affluent Rurality and Car Dependence (Oxfordshire) 5. Breaking the Projected Trend 5. Breaking the Projected Trend (Delhi) 6. Building a New World 7. Urban Dispersal and High Motorisation (Auckland) 8. Sustainable Transport and the City
A hugely authoritative book on a hugely important subject.
–Peter Hall, University College London, UCL
While transport’s contribution to climate change is of global importance, it needs to be addressed at the city or metropolitan scale. Yet cities differ, precluding easy one-size-fits-all solutions. By taking a scenario approach to a wide variety of cities this highly readable book provides insights to what can be done and how in a comprehensive manner. It is a major contribution, of interest to academics and practitioners alike.
–Eran Feitelson, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
Quirky, intriguing, confronting stories of how the world's cities are slipping further into car dependence – and some possible solutions.
–Peter Newman, Curtin University Sustainability Policy (CUSP) Institute, Australia
This fantastically illustrated book is a joy to read and adds to other books on sustainable transport in its case based focus on the instrumental role that transport can and should play in the sustainable city. The scenarios developed for London, Oxfordshire, Delhi, Jinan and Auckland illustrate that different futures, away from the car, are possible, and that a 0.5 tCO2 per capita target can be achieved in different contexts. A must for everyone looking for inspiration to design sustainable travel solutions!

World News: Making best out of waste (25 Jan 2014)

Making best out of waste

AHMEDABAD: As part of Republic Day celebrations, students pursuing design course fromUnitedworld Institute of Design have initiated an awareness programme on solid waste management. The initiative-'Heal The World'aims to educate school going kids regarding the need to save environment by reducing, recycling and reusing waste.

The programme will engage students of age from 10 years to 18 years and make them create sculptures, utility product, decorative products and other products out of waste like empty plastic bottles, wires, newspapers, polythene bags and glass.

"It is believed that any positive change in habit and culture is developed only at tender age which once inculcated remains forever. We can save our environment by changing our outlook and become the change agent," one of the students from the institute said.

Students from Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata will be competing with each other with their creations with the best 10 models being selected from each zone to compete in the final and best three models will be conferred with award in Ahmedabad on February 9, 2014 at Unitedworld campus.

Ritesh Hada, managing director, Unitedworld, said, "Such awareness programmes should be integrated in the academic curriculum itself not only for school going children, but also in colleges and for professionals at their workplace, where a lot of waste is created."

More than 3,000 students are expected to participate in this programme. More than 30 schools from Ahmedabad have registered for participation.

source from:

Book: Fairness and Justice in Environmental Decision Making Water under the bridge (Jan 2014)

Fairness and Justice in Environmental Decision Making

Water under the bridge

By Catherine Gross

Routledge – 2014 – 180 pages
By crossing disciplinary boundaries, this book uniquely connects theories of justice with people's lived experience within social conflicts over resource sharing. It shows why some conflicts, such as local opposition to wind farms and water disputes, have become intractable social problems in many countries of the world. It shows the power of injustice in generating opposition to decisions. The book answers the question: why are the results of many government initiatives and policies not accepted by those affected?
Focusing on two social conflicts over water sharing in Australia to show why fairness and justice are important in decision-making, the book shows how these conflicts are typical of water sharing and other natural resource conflicts experienced in many countries around the world, particularly in the context of climate change. It tells the stories of these conflicts from the perspectives of those involved. These practically-based findings are then related back to ideas and constructs of justice from disciplines such as social psychology, political philosophy and jurisprudence.
With a strong practical focus, this book offers readers an opportunity to develop a deep understanding of fairness and justice in environmental decision-making. It opens up a wealth of fairness and justice ideas for decision-makers, practitioners, and researchers in natural resource management, environmental governance, community consultation, and sustainable development, as well as people in government and corporations who interface and consult with communities where natural resources are being used.
"A clear and compelling case for fairness as a foundation for resource sharing. Catherine Gross' book is essential for those wanting to understand the role of fairness and justice in preventing social conflict". Paul R. Ehrlich, Bing Professor of Population Studies, Stanford University, USA
"Building on real-world examples of environmental conflict over wind power and water access, the author clarifies what fairness and justice mean to those affected. She then argues the need for a theory of justice to guide environmental decision-making and to optimise fairness, as understood and seen. A timely book, as environmental tensions mount."Professor Tony McMichael, Australian National University, Australia
1. A global concern: seeking fairness in resource sharing 2. Theories of Justice and the search for fairness 3. Developing a justice-based research approach 4. Voices and stories: two water conflicts in Australia 5. Finding injustice - seeking justice 6. A sense of justice - processes and outcomes 7. Muddying the waters: worldviews, institutions and change 8. Justice as a means and an end in environmental decision-making

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Book: Sustainability Principles and Practice (20 Jan 2014)

Sustainability Principles and Practice

By Margaret Robertson

Routledge – 2014 – 392 pages
Sustainability Principles and Practice gives an accessible and comprehensive overview of the interdisciplinary field of sustainability. The focus is on furnishing solutions and equipping the student with both conceptual understanding and technical skills for the workplace. Each chapter explores one aspect of the field, first introducing relevant theory and presenting issues, then supplying tools for working toward solutions. Elements of sustainability are examined piece by piece, and wide coverage ranges over ecosystems, social equity, environmental justice, food, energy, product life cycles, cities, and more. Techniques for management and measurement as well as case studies from around the world are provided.
Chapters include further reading, discussion questions, and problems to foster quantitative thinking. The book is supported by a companion website with key website links, detailed reading lists, glossary, and additional case studies, together with numerous projects, research problems, and group activities, all of which focus on real-world problem solving of sustainability issues.
The textbook is designed to be used by undergraduate college and university students in sustainability degree programs and other programs in which sustainability is taught.
Part 1: Context 1. What Is Sustainability? 2. A Brief History of Sustainability 3. The Biosphere 4. The Human Sphere 5. Putting Sustainability into Practice Part 2: Issues and Solutions 6. Climate 7. Water 8. Ecosystems and Habitat 9. Pollution 10. Energy 11. Food 12. Green Buildings and Sites 13. Livable Cities 14. Products 15. Waste, and Recycling Part 3: Becoming an Agent for Change 16. Working in an Organization 17. Education: Preparing a New Generation to Live Well in a Changing World 18. Working as Agents for Change
Author Bio:
Margaret Robertson, a member of
 the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), is coordinator of the Sustainability Coordinator degree program at Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon, USA, and a Sustainability Fellow in the Higher Education Associations Sustainability Consortium.

China News: Vehicle with pangolins seized in Guangxi (25 Jan 2014)

Vehicle with pangolins seized in Guangxi

A total of 39 live pangolins were found hidden inside a sedan by police in Fangchenggang of southern China's Guangxi Province on Jan. 24. [Photo/CNS]
A total of 39 live pangolins were found hidden inside a sedan by police in Fangchenggang of southern China's Guangxi Province on Jan. 24, reported.
Local police noticed a black car suddenly hit the brakes as it was about to pass through a highway toll station in Fangchenggang around 3:00 a.m. last Friday. There were only two men seated inside the car, but the vehicle appeared much heavier, police said.
Police forced a halt to the car after following it for some five kilometers. Officers first discovered a false license plate inside, yet a strong fishy smell aroused further suspicion.
Finally, a lot of pangolins, still alive, were retrieved from a box hidden in the back seat.
One man was placed in custody, while the other managed to escape.
The case has been handed over to the Fangchenggang forest public security bureau and is currently still under investigation.
The pangolin, found naturally in tropical regions throughout Africa and Asia, is under national second-class protection.

Hong Kong News: Landfill plan to be resubmitted (24 Jan 2014)

Landfill plan to be resubmitted

January 24, 2014
Secretary for the Environment KS Wong says the need for landfill extension is urgent, and the Government will re-submit its extension proposal to the Legislative Council in the first quarter of this year.

Speaking to reporters today, Mr Wong said the Government has done a lot to communicate with stakeholders on the issue, and has improved the operation of landfills, to gain public support.

Meanwhile, Mr Wong said the waste charging public engagement ended today, and the Council for Sustainable Development will submit a report to the Government.

Surveys show the majority of people support waste charging, although there are concerns on whether the scheme can be implemented in an effective way.

The Government will study feedback to review the scheme and work with the community to build support for the plan.

Mr Wong also said claims that Under Secretary for the Environment Christine Loh has resigned have no foundation.

Book: The Ethics of Japan's Global Environmental Policy The conflict between principles and practice (Jan 2014)

The Ethics of Japan's Global Environmental Policy

The conflict between principles and practice

By Midori Kagawa-Fox

Routledge – 2012
This book examines the Japanese government policies that impact on the environment in order to determine whether they incorporate a sufficient ethical substance. Through the three case studies on whaling, nuclear energy, and forestry, the author explores how Western philosophers combined their theories to develop a ‘Western environmental ethics code’ and reveals the existence of a unique ‘Japanese environmental ethics code’ built on Japan’s cultural traditions, religious practices, and empirical experiences.
Kagawa-Fox’s discussions show that in spite of the positive contributions that Japan has made towards the global environment, the government has failed to show a corresponding moral obligation to the world ecology in its environmental policy. The book argues that this is a result of the integrity of the policies having been compromised by vested interests and that Japanese business and politics ensure that the policies are primarily focused on maintaining sustainable economic growth. Whilst Japan's global environmental initiatives are the key to its economic survival in the 21st century, and these initiatives may achieve their aims, they do however fail the Japanese code of environmental ethics.
This book is essential reading for anyone interested in Environmental Studies, Environmental Policy and Ethics, Japanese Politics and Japanese Culture and Society.

Book: Community-Based Adaptation to Climate Change (Jan 2014)

Community-Based Adaptation to Climate Change

Scaling it up

Edited by E. Lisa F. SchipperJessica AyersHannah Reid,Saleemul HuqAtiq Rahman

Routledge – 2014 – 304 pages
As climate change adaptation rises up the international policy agenda, matched by increasing funds and frameworks for action, there are mounting questions over how to ensure the needs of vulnerable people on the ground are met. Community-based adaptation (CBA) is one growing proposal that argues for tailored support at the local level to enable vulnerable people to identify and implement appropriate community-based responses to climate change themselves.
Community Based Adaptation to Climate Change: Scaling it up explores the challenges for meeting the scale of the adaptation challenge through CBA. It asks the fundamental questions: How can we draw replicable lessons to move from place-based projects towards more programmatic adaptation planning? How does CBA fit with larger scale adaptation policy and programmes? How are CBA interventions situated within the institutions that enable or undermine adaptive capacity?

Combining the research and experience of prominent adaptation and development theorists and practitioners, this book presents cutting edge knowledge that moves the debate on CBA forward towards effective, appropriate, and ‘scaled-up’ adaptive action.

Monday, January 27, 2014

World News: Coca-Cola in Myanmar – a model for others? (20 Jan 2014)

As pressure grows on Chinese companies operating overseas, does Coca-Cola’s approach in Myanmar offer a way forward?
article image
Coca-cola has attempted to tackle problems including land rights, gender discrimination and environmental regulations (Image by Nathan Gibbs)
The Coca-Cola Company recently submitted its first report on its Myanmar operations to the US State Department under the Responsible Investment Reporting Requirements required of all US companies investing more than US$500,000 in Myanmar.

In recognition of Myanmar’s reform efforts, the US Government eased sanctions but established reporting requirements for newly authorised investment in the country. The State Department has said the reports are intended to help companies address impacts and empower civil society to monitor investment in Myanmar and work with companies to promote responsible investment.

The US reporting requirements cover key areas of business operations in Myanmar including land acquisition, labour rights, grievance mechanisms, stakeholder engagement, anti-corruption, communications with the military, and environmental policies and procedures. Companies are due to submit reports 180 days after meeting the US$500,000 investment threshold, and annually thereafter.

A model for overseas companies?

So how does the Coca-Cola report match up with those submitted thus far, and should it be seen as a model for others?

First, it should be said that Coca Cola’s report is by far the most substantive and comprehensive of the six reports which have been made public since the requirements came into force in May 2013. The Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB) commends Coca-Cola for publicly reporting not only on the positive steps it has taken but also ongoing human rights challenges it faces.

Second, the report serves as a rare example of a company reporting transparently on how it has undertaken human rights due diligence in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

It is important to note that this process appears to be driven not by regulatory requirements but to meet the company’s internal policies and to figure out how it would do so in a high-risk environment like Myanmar. This is probably the most important message from the report – not how to do the minimum to meet the US reporting requirements, but instead an apparently thoughtful and well-structured due diligence process that supports the company in doing business in high risk environments in a manner that is aligned with the content and spirit of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. At the same time, the report sets an important precedent for subsequent reporters under the US Reporting Requirements.

Coca-Cola’s report sets out a description of the company’s due diligence processes that will provide useful tips for other businesses. The company used independent experts and auditors to conduct an initial risk assessment and engaged with a broad range of stakeholders. The company has prioritised the prevention and elimination of facilitation payments, another welcome step.

With regard to corruption, and human and workplace rights, employees can make complaints about violations of these policies through several mechanisms. Coca-Cola also makes clear that it expects its suppliers to establish grievance mechanisms.

The report goes on to provide details about the results of human and workplace rights assessments in the two plants Coca-Cola acquired. Some of the findings include gender discrimination, with women being paid approximately 11% less than male colleagues; overtime above the legal limits and overtime payments either incorrectly calculated or not provided at all; and the discharge of untreated wastewater from facilities. A plan for corrective action was developed on these and other issues.

As part of training efforts,the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business (IHRB’s joint initiative with the Danish Institute for Human Rights) worked with Coca-Cola on an initial training session for its suppliers on business and human rights, and arranged for a briefing by a local trade unionist.

Environmental due diligence was conducted by an independent external expert and a corrective action plan was put in place, which Coca-Cola recognised was crucial given the weak environmental legal and regulatory frameworks in Myanmar – although an Environment Law was adopted in 2012, no regulations are yet in place covering issues such as water pollution and air quality.

The company has developed a wide stakeholder engagement program to address the high risk of adverse human rights impacts in Myanmar, and we hope that Coca Cola’s next reports will highlight how this is being developed, what issues are being raised and how they are being addressed. One particular aspect to focus on will be what complaints and grievance mechanisms Coca-Cola is using with non-employee stakeholders.

Land grabs

The report explains that the company did not acquire any land during the reporting period. Coca-Cola's investigations were not able to establish how the land had originally been acquired from the government, which highlights a major concern with regard to land tenure in Myanmar. Land laws and regulations are complicated and not properly harmonised and it is difficult to establish the history of legal tenure. Moreover land grabs and forced evictions in both rural and urban areas in Myanmar have been ongoing for decades. With the country opening up to foreign investment and land prices escalating, the risk of these land rights abuses has increased.

In this regard, IHRB welcomes Coca-Cola’s recent commitment of zero tolerance for land grabs globally. As Coca-Cola starts to source more local inputs, and in particular if it switches to sourcing Myanmar sugar, land grabs will be a key risk. While there may be no obvious land risks related to current plants, it will be interesting to learn how Coca-Cola is addressing land grabs and other risks that will arise as it builds a local supply chain.

Coca Cola’s first report on its operations in Myanmar has set a high bar for other companies to meet. This report and Coca Cola’s approach to responsible business conduct will be a useful resource for Myanmar companies who face similar challenges and for international companies investing in the country, but also for companies entering other ‘frontier markets’. Perhaps most importantly, Coca Cola’s report has also provided a helpful starting point for Myanmar civil society and community-based organisations to engage with it and other companies on these important issues.

Hong Kong News: Deal signed on radiation checks (24 Jan 2014)

Deal signed on radiation checks

January 24, 2014
Radiant atmosphereRadiant atmosphere:  Hong Kong Observatory Assistant Director Tsui Kit-chi (third right) and Mainland Environmental Radiation Monitoring Technical Centre Deputy Director Zhao Shunping (fourth right) sign the agreement.
Hong Kong Observatory signed a co-operation agreement with the Mainland Environmental Radiation Monitoring Technical Centre in Hangzhou today.

The move is to promote exchange and co-operation on environmental radiation monitoring technology.

It is the first technical co-operation agreement between the observatory and an environmental radiation monitoring service on the Mainland.

Both services share the objective of using technology to protect public safety.  

The two sides will collaborate closely in exchange of information and technology, inter-comparison of instruments, training and research activities, to enhance their technical and service levels.

Japan News: Announcement on the certification system application for business detoxifying waste low-contaminated PCB waste (24 Jan 2014)

Announcement on the certification system application for business detoxifying waste low-contaminated PCB waste

Ministry of the Environment Government of Japan
January 21, 2014
To promote the appropriate treatment of PCB waste, the MOE implemented a certification system for businesses detoxifying waste low-contaminated PCB waste using sophisticated technologies in compliance with Waste Management and Public Cleansing Law.
The Minister has announced today that an application has been submitted by UNITED KEIKAKU CO.,LTD. Their application documents will be open for public inspection for 1 month, from January 21 to February 20, 2014. Stakeholders interested in the relevant facilities may submit their comments to the Minister from the perspective of life environment conservation by March 6, 2014. All comments should be submitted in Japanese. 

For further details, please visit 

Publication: Shining a Light on Fossil Fuel Subsidies at the WTO: How NGOs can contribute to WTO notification and surveillance (Jan 2014)

IISD Publications Centre

Shining a Light on Fossil Fuel Subsidies at the WTO: How NGOs can contribute to WTO notification and surveillance

» Liesbeth Casier, Robin Fraser, Mark HalleRobert Wolfe, IISD, 2014.Paper, 29 pages, copyright: IISD
Fossil fuel subsidies undermine efforts to mitigate climate change and damage the trading system. However, multilateral discussion is hampered by inconsistent definitions and incomplete data. Members do not notify such subsidies as much as they should under the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing measures (ASCM), which limits the usefulness of the SCM Committee. The reports of the Trade Policy review mechanism on individual countries and on the trading system draw on a wider range of sources, creating an opportunity for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to provide the missing data from publicly available sources. We suggest a new template that could be used for such third-party notifications. The objective is to shine a light on all fossil fuel subsidies that cause market distortions, especially trade distortions. The result should be better, more comparable data for the Secretariat, governments, and researchers, providing the basis for better-informed discussion of the incidence of fossil fuel subsidies and rationale for their use.

  • Hard copy not available.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

China News: Beijing to build 16 water reclamation plants in 2014 (26 Jan 2014)

Beijing to build 16 water reclamation plants in 2014

Beijing will begin construction on 16 new water reclamation plants this year to ease the thirsty capital with a stable "second water source," said water authorities on Saturday.
In addition to the 16 projects, Beijing will complete another 14 under-construction reclamation plants, said Jin Shudong, director with the Beijing Water Authority.
Beijing will make efforts to upgrade the quality of reclaimed water with low-noise and non-polluting processing technologies, he said.
To date, there are already 16 reclamation plants in Beijing. It is estimated that the consumption of reclaimed water in the city will reach 860 million cubic meters in 2014.
Use of reclaimed water supports the sustainable development of the Chinese capital by effectively reducing fresh water consumption.
In 2013, Beijing used a total of 3.6 billion cubic meters of water, including 800 million cubic meters of reclaimed water.
Beijing plans to introduce more capital from the social sector into the operation of its reclamation and sewage treatment plants, which are currently run as municipal works with government financial investment, said Jin.