Sunday, 20 November 2011
Maurice Strong- the master mind of UNEP, Carbon schemes and corruption at United Nations designs the map for upcoming RIO+20
THE ENVIRONMENT: RIO+20 MUST SPARK REAL ACTION
By Maurice Strong
NOVEMBER 2011, 2011 (IPS) - The progress made since the 1972 UN Stockholm Conference in our understanding of environmental issues and our capacity to address them effectively is impressive. Unfortunately, the lack of sufficient progress in the implementation of the commitments made by governments at the 1992 Earth Summit have left us on a course that is unsustainable and indeed threatens the future of humankind, writes Maurice Strong, Senior Adviser to the Secretary-General of Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.
In this article Strong writes the objective of the Rio+20 Conference (4-6 June 2012) is to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assess the progress made to date and the gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits, and address new and emerging challenges.
Current economic and political difficulties, however, now pre-empt the attention of governments and the public, undermining the prospects of effective action at Rio+20 to establish the green economy. Rio+20 must produce powerful new momentum towards its realisation at the national, local, and global level. Strong writes that cities are the centres of our civilisation -the principal sources of environmental deterioration but also the principal sources of solutions. The greening of our cities must be at the centre of our efforts.
(*) Maurice Strong is Senior Adviser to the Secretary-General of Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. He was the Secretary-General of the 1992 Earth Summit and the first Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (www.mauricestrong.net). (END)
UN and China launch joint initiative to promote ecosystem management
18 November 2011 –
The International Ecosystem Management Partnership (IEMP), an initiative of the UNEP and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), will have the core mandate of synthesizing the science of ecosystem management for government decision-makers through monitoring, capacity-building and policy.
With ecosystems increasingly under threat as a result of a growing population, highrates of deforestation and transformation into agricultural and pasturelands, the role of ecosystem management has become more important than ever, according to UNEP.
The future of human civilization and sustainable development depends on sound, healthy and resilient ecosystems. For too long, humanity has ignored this fundamental truth at its own peril
The IEMP, based in China, is UNEP’s first South-South cooperation programme to promote sustainable development through sharing best practices and technology among developing countries.
The scope of the partnership’s work covers both terrestrial and marine ecosystems, and its clients will include national governments, intergovernmental bodies and programmes, as well as development agencies and the science community.
Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and Secretary General of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), Sha Zukang, stressed the critical role of ecosystems and the challenges of degradation in the context of population growth and increasing inequality.
“Ecosystems are the foundation of human lives and livelihoods,” he said. “The future of human civilization and sustainable development depends on sound, healthy and resilient ecosystems. For too long, humanity has ignored this fundamental truth at its own peril,” Mr. Sha added.
UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner reaffirmed the agency’s commitment to promoting ecosystem management as a cornerstone of the transition to the green economy in developing countries.
Jian Liu, the IEMP Director, stressed that sustainable management of ecosystems and biodiversity is a critical path to the next civilization, which he called the “ecological civilization,” saying it constituted an integral part of the “fourth industrialization” – the development of the green economy.
News Tracker: past stories on this issue
Saturday, 12 November 2011
The Arab world saw great political turmoil in the beginning of 2011. The Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was overthrown before January 2011 ended. Then a similar turmoil began in Egypt and hundreds of thousands of people poured in Tahrir square to protest against Hosni Mubarak, another long serving dictator who was forced to go and then Libya, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain. Now all this has been much written about and need not be repeated, but what concerns us here is the role of women in these revolutionary changes.
In all these countries, women played a very significant role, right from Tunisia to Yemen. Both in Egypt and Yemen, women’s initiatives proved to be crucial. In fact, the Tahrir mobilisation was due mainly to a young girl’s appeal on Facebook. The role of women was so significant that it was being expected that the Nobel Prize for Peace this year would be given to three women from Arab countries i.e. Tunis, Egypt and Yemen, but instead it went to women from Africa and Yemen, the latter a Muslim woman who also played a crucial role in the protection of human rights and in the political mobilisation for the overthrow of President Saleh, though there still remains a stalemate in Yemen.
The myth that Muslim women merely sit at home and are worth nothing more than domestic workers and house makers has been shattered decisively. Muslim women have proved once again that they can mobilise people efficiently and purposefully. It is also interesting to note that many women in Tunisia and Egypt were quite active in trade unions and have used their experience to proper use and brought about change in the political sphere.
But post-revolution a shadow of doubt hangs over them. What will this democratic revolution give them? Will it take over the rights they had gained under dictators? It is possible that Islamic laws are re-imposed in these countries. In Tunisia, the Ennahda Party has won elections. Though it describes itself as a moderate Islamic party, Ennahda leader Ghanushi has fortunately declared that there will be no change in gender laws, which clearly means polygamy will not be re-imposed.
However, Libyan women are not so fortunate. The Libyan leader who is projected as the new Prime Minister after ousting Gaddafi has already announced that Islamic laws will be the only laws imposed and polygamy will be reintroduced. Gaddafi, undoubtedly a dictator who had to go, had also done lot of good in introducing and consolidating gender justice in Libya. He had given equal rights to women as provided for in the Qur’an. He abolished polyga-my and gave women an important role in public life. He even maintained that to confine women at home is an imperialist conspiracy to paralyse half the population of the Islamic world.
Gaddafi created a special force for women in the army and assigned them duties of body guards. It was a revolutionary step, which is now likely to be reversed.
To say that polygamy is permitted by the Qur’an and hence must be reintroduced is tantamount to injuring the spirit of the Qur’an. At best it is a half truth. Polygamy has been allowed in the Qur’an, but in a specific context and with rigorous conditions. Anyone who reads the two verses in Qur’an on polygamy i.e. 4:3 and 4:129 would see that for the Qur’an, justice is more central than multiple wives. And if justice is so important, can polygamy be made the rule?
In the early seventies, whenever a dictator declared his country to be an Islamic state, he would introduce Hudud laws (Islamic punishments for theft, adultery etc), in an effort to prove that these punishments were more central than the factors which motivated a person to commit the crime. Similarly today when dictatorial regimes end, a declaration is made that family laws will be introduced and polygamy will be permissible.
As this writer has always maintained that gender justice is very central to the Qur’an, provided that the it is read in its proper context, and today with a much greater role being played by women in public life, it is all the more important that gender justice be made equally central in the Shari’ah laws. The present Shari’ah laws will not be acceptable to women as education and awareness among them increases and pressure for change will continue to gather momentum. In fact the Qur’an unambiguously stands for gender justice and has equipped women with all the rights men were given. We are surprised by how male interpreters missed this and equally surprised by how Muslim women submitted to these interpretations.