Category Archives: Ecosystem-Base on Solution

Governments commit to promote a more resource efficient and pollution free Asia-Pacific

Thanks;Kavita Sukanandan

PUBLISHED;8 Sep 2017

Issued:

8 Sep 2017
News Number:

G/36/2017
Location:

Bangkok
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Environment ministers and high-level officials from over 30 countries in Asia-Pacific have committed to move towards a clean and green Asia-Pacific, one that is more resource efficient and pollution free at the first Asia-Pacific Ministerial Summit on the Environment that concluded today in Bangkok. This will advance global agendas like the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, the UN Environment Assembly resolutions and other global commitments.

The Summit culminated in a call for collaborative action to ensure that environment and development is approached in an integrated way, from promoting the sustainable management of natural resources, urban planning and spatial development, to fostering sustainable agriculture practices and advancing the green economy to reduce waste and pollution.

Participants at the Summit, jointly organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and UN Environment also highlighted the urgency of addressing environmental health risks associated with pollution, promoting resource efficiency measures and practices, and protecting natural capital and ecosystem integrity including wildlife, biodiversity and oceans.

United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Dr. Shamshad Akhtar said, “This is an important cornerstone of regional collaboration on sustainable management of natural resources in Asia and the Pacific. It underpins the agreement already reached in the regional roadmap for sustainable development and provides us with the vision of our member States on future cooperation.”

“There is a clear resolve to bring about a pollution free Asia Pacific. Political leadership, private sector engagement and citizen action is essential to ensure that people’s basic needs like access to healthcare, water and proper sanitation are met. At the same time, it is imperative that we step up efforts to reduce plastic waste and marine litter,” said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment.

Other issues addressed at the periphery of the Summit include gender and environment, oceans governance, climate geoengineering, investments in water infrastructure and the Astana Green Bridge Initiative.

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People in this Swedish town gather in a ‘Solar Egg’ sauna instead of having town halls

Thanks;Leanna Garfield

Published ; Jun. 21, 2017, 5:41 PM

The Solar Egg by Bigert & Bergström.Jean-Baptiste Béranger

On the western border of Kiruna, Sweden, the state-owned mining company, LKAB, has been extracting iron ore from the Kirunavaara mountains for over a decade. But the long-term mining has caused fissures that are creeping closer to the city center of Kiruna.
Now, LKAB — which also founded the Arctic town in 1900 — is funding Kiruna’s relocation nearly two miles east, so that it can continue mining in the mountains.
Moving an entire town is no easy task and requires lengthy discussions with officials, the mining company, and residents. Local architects from Bigert & Bergström have designed one place where those talks can take place: a golden, egg-shaped sauna. 
Completed in late April, the sauna is a place for locals and officials to unwind and discuss questions and concerns about Kiruna’s relocation, the firm told Business Insider.


Located in Kiruna, Sweden, the Solar Egg is a sauna that’s free for anyone to use.

Visitors can book time in the saun ~> https://instagram.com/p/BTI25TCB8px/

By Jean-Baptiste Béranger

Its exterior is made of reflective sheets of plexiglass that were painted gold.


By Jean-Baptiste Béranger

The interior walls are made of pine ….

… and the benches from aspen wood. In the center, there’s a wood-powered stove made from iron and stone. The temperature inside can range from 167 to 185 degrees Fahrenheit (75 to 85 degrees Celsius).


Jean-Baptiste Béranger

The space, which fits up to eight people, is meant to serve as a local meeting place to discuss Kiruna’s relocation plan. “The egg shape seeks to symbolize rebirth and new opportunities at the start of Kiruna’s urban transformation,” the architects said.

Jean-Baptiste Béranger

To avoid being swallowed by the mine, Kiruna will need to move nearly two miles east. The Stockholm-based firm White Architects will be in charge of moving the town, where approximately 23,000 people live. Below is a rendering of what the new city center may look like:


Producing 90% of all iron in Europe, Kiruna’s mine has become the world’s largest iron ore extraction site. LKAB is also the biggest energy consumer in Sweden.
 
“It’s a dystopian choice,” Krister Lindstedt, a partner at White Architects, told The Guardian. “Either the mine must stop digging, creating mass unemployment, or the city has to move – or else face certain destruction. It’s an existential predicament.”Jean-Baptiste Béranger/Source: The Guardian

Later this summer, the Solar Egg will move to Nikkaluokta, a Swedish town about 45 miles west of Kiruna.

Three nations plan 500% increase in global offshore wind

Thanks;Sami Grover Sami Grover (@samigrover)

Published;June 12, 2017
When governments put their minds to it, big things can happen.

Offshore wind advocates cheered recently at news that a German wind farm is going to be built entirely without government subsidy. That said, however, it seems likely that government support—whether in the form of direct subsidies or more generally favorable policy/planning policies—is likely to be a major factor in the success (or not) of offshore wind for some time to come.
That’s why it’s encouraging to hear from Steve Hanley over at Cleantechnica that three nations—Germany, Denmark and Belgium—have signed on to an agreement to support a 5-fold increase in installed offshore wind capacity in the next decade. They’re not just talking about their own capacity either; the target is a global one, meaning an increase of capacity from today’s 13.8 gigawatts to more than 60 gigawatts.
Just imagine what would happen if every nation with suitable shoreline made a similar commitment. (I’m looking at you, USA.)
According to Steve, there’s hope that the agreement will eventually be signed on to by a broader coalition of ten nations who had previously pledged their support for offshore wind energy expansion. At least one of those nations, Great Britain, is currently in a state of political and environmental uncertainty as the world waits to see what its surprise election results really mean for government policy.
Either way, with China and India making more progress on emissions reductions than originally expected, France jockeying hard to seize climate leadership, and large swathes of the United States still pledging to honor the Paris Agreement, this is one more encouraging sign among many that a coalition of the willing could keep climate action well on track, even if there are efforts to sabotage progress in other parts of the world.

Paris agreement or not, solar employment looking brighter than coal

Thanks;Andrea Riquier

Published: June 2, 2017 1:20 p.m. ET

Nearly 400,000 people are employed in solar, more than double the number of coal workers

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a sign supporting coal during a rally at Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania on October 10, 2016.

As he introduced President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden yesterday, Vice-President Mike Pence said the president’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord was his way of putting “forgotten men and women” first.

And if anyone had any doubt who those “forgotten” souls were, the president himself departed from his prepared remarks to riff, “I happen to love the coal miners”But observers of the energy industry say it’s not that coal miners are forgotten. Instead, a perfect storm of workforce automation, a glut of natural gas, and consumer preferences has combined to make them obsolete.

“There are huge tectonic trends that are almost all mitigating against any near-term recovery of coal,” said Mark Muro, director of policy at the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution. “It simply is not needed given the onset of extremely cheap and clean natural gas and the onset of renewables.”
On Friday, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn was asked about the administration’s emphasis on employment in a shrinking industry. Cohn told CNBC, “At some point in the cycle, coal will be competitive again. We want to keep coal available, we want to be in the coal business.”

But observers of the energy industry say it’s not that coal miners are forgotten. Instead, a perfect storm of workforce automation, a glut of natural gas, and consumer preferences has combined to make them obsolete.

“There are huge tectonic trends that are almost all mitigating against any near-term recovery of coal,” said Mark Muro, director of policy at the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution. “It simply is not needed given the onset of extremely cheap and clean natural gas and the onset of renewables.”
On Friday, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn was asked about the administration’s emphasis on employment in a shrinking industry. Cohn told CNBC, “At some point in the cycle, coal will be competitive again. We want to keep coal available, we want to be in the coal business.”  

But modern technology – particularly in the large-scale open-pit mining centers of the west, far from the Rust Belt – means that “even if demand for coal returned, the jobs wouldn’t. It’s pretty devastating,” Muro told MarketWatch.

It’s very challenging to break out how many people are employed in any part of the energy industry, in part because there are so many different components to each. There are jobs created in the initial energy generation process, and then there are support categories: manufacturers and installers of rooftop solar panels, for example. The Labor Department classifies many of those installation jobs within the construction industry, for example.
The Labor Department reported Friday that 51,000 people were employed in coal mining in May. But BLS doesn’t break out employment in other forms of energy production in any way for comparison.
In January, the outgoing Obama administration Energy Department released a report on energy and employment that showed that over 370,000 people were employed in the solar industry, compared to 86,000 in the coal industry. Over 101,000 people work in the wind power generation industry.
It’s worth noting that solar is so labor-intensive now in part because it’s just gaining a foothold. About 37% of solar electric generation jobs are construction and installation, the Energy Department’s report noted. So it’s likely that over time, solar won’t be as much of a job creator as it is now.
In 2011, Brookings released a substantial research report on what it termed the “clean economy,” which delved more deeply into job categorizations, among other things. The researchers noted that green energy efforts are beneficial in many ways, including by being manufacturing and export intensive. In 2009, the authors wrote, 5.3% of all U.S. goods exports were from “clean economy establishments.”
The clean economy also “offers more opportunities and better pay for low- and middle- skilled workers than the national economy as a whole,” the report noted.
In May, the International Renewable Energy Agency said the number of people working in the renewables sector internationally could more than double in the next 13 years, “more than offsetting fossil-fuel job losses and becoming a major economic driver around the world.”

How ‘guerilla’ start-ups can make the world a better place

Thanks;  & Word Economic Forum

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REUTERS/Thomas Peter

At the Stockholm Tech Fest this year, Swedish entrepreneur Niklas Zennström issued a rare and refreshing call to implement the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in their next startup idea. As founder of Skype, he knows a thing or two about opportunity-spotting.

The UN goals involve complex problems, but when it comes to clever startups, a lot can happen between now and 2030. After all, some of the most exciting ideas in recent decades have come from the “guerilla” startups rather than from the “gorilla” corporations; use of the guerilla’s creativity could help to find solutions to sustainable development problems.

However, it is important to ask: Is Zennström’s call to action just fluff, or is there are a deep enough bench of entrepreneurs with robust ideas? Are there resources to support such startups through different phases of growth?

Historically, keeping the growing body of “social” entrepreneurs nourished has largely fallen to impact investors, foundations, NGOs and a few progressive government agencies. so far, the track record of guerillas has not been stellar; far too often it is the same handful of examples that make the rounds. This is a field that, while not starved for people or ideas, is in need of fresh sources of nourishment. Getting big “gorilla” corporations to work with the “guerilla” startups could provide this nourishment.

Findings from our Inclusion, Inc. research initiative suggest that large corporations are well-placed to unblock startups’ path to wider impact.

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How do we find ideas?

There is a growing pool of budding social entrepreneurs; the Skoll World Forumevent alone offers an encouraging and uplifting glimpse of the many guerillas in our midst. We are experiencing a surge in interest and ideas on university campuses. At UC Berkeley, the Blum Center has highlighted examples of businesses and people already helping to fulfil the goals.

Closer to home, The Fletcher School’s collaboration with the One Acre Fund’s D-Prize draws numerous contestants with ideas for social enterprises that take on “poverty solutions”; in recent years, we have funded a startup that used bus networks to distribute solar lamps to far-flung communities in Burkina Faso; a venture finding sponsors for girls’ high school education; and a ground transportation brokerage to serve as “the connective tissue” between smallholder farmers and transporters.

A second piece of good news is that capital is ready to be mobilised. A 2014 study by J.P. Morgan and the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) identified $46bn in impact investments under management, with annual funding commitments estimated to increase by 19% in 2014. Sir Ronald Cohen, chair of the Global Social Impact Investment Taskforce, believes the impact investing market can grow to match the “$3tn of venture capital and private equity.”

According to Judith Rodin and Margot Brandenburg of the Rockefeller Foundation: “Aspirational estimates suggest that impact investments could one day represent 1% of professionally managed global assets, channeling up to hundreds of billions of dollars towards solutions that can address some of our biggest problems, from poor health to climate change.”

What are the bottlenecks?

So, why does all this good news not translate into more meaningful outcomes? Two bottlenecks are worth highlighting. The first is what a Monitor and Acumen study calls the “pioneer gap”. Their 2012 study, From Blueprint to Scale, observes that pioneer firms are starved of capital and support at very early stages in their development.

The second choke point occurs in the phase of actually getting to scale. A second report, Beyond the Pioneer, identifies a chain of barriers to scale, ranging from those within the firm and the industry to those in the domain of public goods and the government.

These bottlenecks represent different forms of market failures. An approach to the first of them involves “de-risking” early stage social ventures. However, a key source of risk is the chain of barriers to scale in later stages. If we can make meaningful advances on lowering the barriers, it helps in de-risking and also supports early-stage startup development.

Given the breadth of the barriers to scale, impact investors, NGOs and foundations would find it challenging to facilitate end-to-end solutions. Apart from funding and convening, such organisations have few other levers. Large corporations, on the other hand, can tackle business model and managerial issues within the firm and help boost negotiating power within the value chain or the public sector.

The biggest questions, of course, have to do with whether the gorilla corporations can ever be organisationally and culturally compatible with the startups. Given the potential for value creation these gaps are worth taking on.

The Monitor and Acumen study lists potential barriers: “firm level” barriers, which include weak business models, propositions to customers/producers, leadership and managerial and technical talent and a lack of capital.

Eye Mitra, launched in 2013, had trained over 1,000 young entrepreneurs and reached 150,000 people by the end of 2015. The business helps individuals to set up eye care provider businesses in rural communities using low-cost products.

According to a study by Dalberg Global Development Advisors [pdf], the programme added $4m a year in impact across the six districts surveyed; with Essilor’s scaling resources, Eye Mitra could represent the potential to unlock economic impact of $487m a year across India.

“Value chain barriers”

There are also value chain barriers which include lack of suitable labour inputs and financing for bottom-of-the-pyramid (BoP) producers and customers, weak sourcing channels and weak distribution channels involving BoP producers and customers, and weak linkages and support service providers.

Corporations with experience have become adept at finding creative ways around barriers in the value chain. Consider Unilever’s Project Shakti, which enables rural women to become entrepreneurs by distributing goods to hard-to-access rural communities.

Over 70,000 Shakti Entrepreneurs distribute Unilever’s products in more than 165,000 villages, reaching over 4m rural households. At the other end of the value chain, Coca-Cola’s Source Africa initiative facilitates sustainable and financially viable supply chains for key Coca-Cola agricultural ingredients, e.g. mango production in Kenya and Malawi and citrus and pineapple production in Nigeria.

In another sector, when Saint-Gobain builds a plant in a new country, it trains the local workforce in collaboration with YouthBuild. The latter trains disadvantaged youths in professional skills, while Saint-Gobain adds training in construction science.

“Public goods barriers”

Then, there are the public goods barriers: Lack of hard infrastructure; lack of awareness of market-based solutions; lack of information, industry knowhow and standards.

Olam offers a good illustration of a company’s deep involvement in a nation’s hard infrastructure. Olam jointly owns Owendo, a port in Gabon and is a key partner in the country’s special economic zone. On the “soft” public goods front, Janssen, a unit of J&J, works with multiple stakeholders to increase access to medicines and has formed the Janssen Neglected Disease Task Force to advocate for legislation to support new research into treatments for neglected diseases. It also coordinates a consortium to support HIV patients and their caretakers in managing the disease.

Fourth and finally, there are the government barriers: inhibitory laws, regulations and procedures; inhibitory taxes and subsidies; adverse interventions by politicians or officials.

MasterCard and its growing collaboration with the Association for Financial Inclusion to educate public officials about issues relevant to financial inclusion. This includes technical capacity building, developing national-level public-private engagement strategies, research and best practices to inform policymaking and exposing officials to innovative products, business models and approaches.

Combining global reach with entrepreneurial creativity

Perhaps the best mechanism for bringing gorilla and guerilla together is through a corporate venture or impact investing fund. Consider Unilever Ventures as an example. It has invested in a range of enterprises, including ones that focus on water management as part of its “sustainable living” portfolio, e.g. Recyclebank, a social platform that creates incentives for people to take environmentally responsible actions, WaterSmart, that develops tools for water utilities to help customers save water and money or Aquasana, Voltea and Rayne Water that develop water purification, desalination and filtration technologies.

Gorillas have the global reach and scale but they need the proximity to the problem, local knowledge and the entrepreneurial creativity of the guerillas. Zennström’s call-to-action requires guerillas and gorillas to dance. It is, no doubt, an awkward coupling; but it can – and must – happen for guerilla entrepreneurs to have gorilla impact on the world’s hardest problems.

Engines of the Future: How Tiny Bacteria Could Power Your Smartphone

A team of scientists has discovered that bacteria could power micromachines such as smartphones by harnessing energy from its movement. (Photo : Flickr/Creative Commons/NIAID)

Thanks;Monica Antonio 

Jul 12, 2016 07:15 AM EDT

Can you imagine your phone being solely powered by microscopic bacteria?A team of scientists from Oxford University has devised a way to harness energy from the natural movement of bacteria, which, they say, could power man-made micromachines.

According to the study published in the journal Science, these bacteria powerplants have a big potential to power various micromachines.

To test their theory, the team created computer simulations that showed how the movement of dense active matter, like swarms of bacteria, could be arranged in a cylindrical form to produce energy. The researchers noted that it is important that these bacteria are dense enough in order for them to be organised for power extraction, Science Daily reports.

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Dr. Tyler Shendruk, co-author of the study, said harvesting power from biological systems has a lot of great potential. It does not need any pre-designing in order to function, as the swarm of bacteria could assemble itself into a form of a windfarm without any human help.

The swarm of bacteria not only self-assemble, but can also spin in the opposite direction, just like what a windfarm does.

“When we did the simulation with a single rotor in the bacterial turbulence, it just got kicked around randomly. But when we put an array of rotors in the living fluid, they suddenly formed a regular pattern, with neighbouring rotors spinning in opposite directions,” Shendruk said.

TechRadar notes that even though the amount of power produced by bacteria is limited, it still opens the doors for more study of its use in sensors and microscopic robots.

Also, the new discovery is a costless and effortless way to harness energy–there’s no need for mechanical work as the bacteria reassemble themselves to continually generate power.

“Nature is brilliant at creating tiny engines, and there is enormous potential if we can understand how to exploit similar designs,” said Julia Yeomans, senior author of the study.

http://youtu.be/sY4JQBMZ6gQ

Biodegradable Plastic Won’t Help Ocean Pollution

Thanks; Sarah T 

Published ;May 25, 2016 01:17 AM EDT

Even the biodegradable plastics are not the best solutions for plastic litters in the ocean. 

(Photo : Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Biodegradable plastic does not mean a perfect solution to ocean waste problems, according to an environmental scientist.

A United Nations environmental scientist warned the public that biodegradable plastics, shopping bags, and bottles are a false solution to the current problem of litter in the ocean.

According to a UN report published on Monday, plastics are extremely durable, and the series of throwing plastics in any bodies of water like a river and canal, will lead into large plastic debris and spreading of “microplastics” via currents of ocean from the Arctic to the Antarctic.

Greener plastics were introduced to the public as a sustainable alternative that could reduce a huge amount of plastic litter that usually ends up to the sea after being dumped. However, Jacqueline McGlade, chief scientist at the UN Environment Program said this alternative is not the solution to reduce plastic waste problems.

“It’s well-intentioned but wrong. A lot of plastics labelled biodegradable, like shopping bags, will only break down in temperatures of 50C and that is not the ocean. They are also not buoyant, so they’re going to sink, so they’re not going to be exposed to UV and break down,” McGlade told The Guardian.

Meanwhile, UN Environment assembly has been officially open in Nairobi, Kenya, on Monday, Aljazeera reports. Expected attendees are environment ministers and representatives from 173 countries, campaigners, scientists, and industry executives.

“We are holding this assembly against a backdrop of great strides in greening our economies. A global conversation will take place this week to discuss policies and practices that advance environmental sustainability,” Steiner said in a report by English CRI.

The aim of this gathering is to tackle the major issue about the environment including air pollution and illegal trading of wildlife, and talk about immediate action to improve human being environment and human health.

UNEA-2 session will continue through May 27.

http://youtu.be/xosQuqDgZ7U

It’s time to switch from managing disasters to reducing risk

THANKS;Christos Stylianides, ECHO

BRflood

A flooded amusement park is seen in the city of Franco da Rocha, in the north of Sao Paulo state, Brazil, March 11, 2016. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker

Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

By Christos Stylianides, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management

I am proud to celebrate the first anniversary of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction which was adopted on March 18, 2015 at a major U.N. conference in Japan.

The Sendai Framework was the first milestone agreement of the 2030 Development Agenda and paved the way for agreement on the Sustainable Development Goals and the adoption of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The Sendai agreement offers a new approach to disaster risk management policy and operations. The EU and its Member States played a central and assertive role in the adoption of this new global framework.

The EU strongly supports the Sendai Framework’s extension of the traditional focus on natural hazards to include man-made hazards and associated environmental, technological and biological hazards, which brings it in line with progress made at European level in recent years.

The Union Civil Protection Mechanism – the main EU instrument for disaster risk management – addresses prevention, preparedness for, and response to, natural and man-made hazards as equal priorities. In our activities as a main humanitarian donor, resilience-building and disaster risk reduction have also become central components of our decision-making and funding allocations.

The EU has supported a shift from a traditional approach to disaster management to a new and more comprehensive focus on disaster risk management. At the heart of this new framework is the aim to prevent the creation of new risk and to reduce existing levels of disaster risk.

I want to see disaster risk management at the core of global sustainable development and climate change efforts. The escalation of economic losses from earthquakes and weather-related disasters is a serious setback for many developing countries, impacting negatively on their future development and taking money away from areas such as health and education.

The Sendai Framework sets clear targets to achieve substantial reductions in mortality, numbers of people affected, economic losses and damage to critical infrastructure such as health facilities, schools, roads and public utilities. A key target calls for increased access to multi-hazard early warning systems, information and assessments.

In order to achieve these targets, it sets goals for ensuring there are more national and local strategies in place for disaster risk reduction which must be interwoven with national plans developed under the Paris Agreement to adapt to climate change.

It also calls for enhanced international cooperation for disaster risk reduction in developing countries, something which the EU has long endorsed and supported in its programming.

Equally, resilience building is key to reducing humanitarian aid worldwide, as is reflected by the upcoming World Humanitarian Summit. The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 remains in this regard the basis for a risk-informed and resilient sustainable development agenda. This is a priority for the EU.

EU ACTION PLAN

In fact, many of the Sendai recommendations are based on, and have wider implications for a number of existing EU policies – from climate change adaptation to resilient infrastructure and ecosystem-based solutions. The framework also introduces new elements and focus areas, which need to be linked to existing EU policies, and on which we will have to do more.

In particular, we will need to explore how best to link disaster risk reduction to the health and education sectors and the important question of cultural heritage. From an external perspective, it will be important to ensure that all financial assistance is risk-informed.

It is now important to identify how each policy can contribute to the Sendai objectives. We will soon come up with an EU Action Plan on the implementation of the Sendai Framework, building on what is already being undertaken at European level and explore what more should be done across the priorities for action of the Sendai Framework, in close cooperation with the U.N. Office for Disaster Risk Reduction.

These priorities for action have been developed based on the 10 year experience of implementing the Hyogo Framework for Action which preceded the Sendai Framework. These priorities are key to enabling disaster management agencies to move beyond improved disaster management to address the underlying disaster risks.

Those priorities provide a universal formula for resilience: understanding disaster risk; strengthening governance to manage disaster risk; investing in disaster risk reduction for resilience; and enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response and building back better.

We all need to support the switch to Sendai (#switch2sendai).