Categories
Environment

Surviving the Coming Scarcity

Middle-class consumption patterns place additional stress on already diminishing resources, photo: Daniel Kulinski/flickr

The world appears to be in the midst of transitioning from a planet of relative surplus to one of scarcity. This week the ISN examines what happens when ever-more acute resource limitations meet unsustainable consumption patterns.

This ISN Special Report contains the following content:

  • An Analysis by Vivian Brailey Fritschi about what happens when ever-more acute resource constraints collide with the entrance of new, insatiable consumers.
  • A Podcast interview with Stefan Giljum from the Sustainable Europe Research Institute on the unique challenge of non-renewable resources running out..
  • Security Watch articles about resource conflicts from Africa to the Middle East.
  • Publications housed in our Digital Library, including the Institut für Strategie- Politik- Sicherheits- und Wirtschaftsberatung on ‘The Geopolitical Dimension of Resource Scarcity’.
  • Primary Resources, like the full-text of UN Security Council Resolutions on natural resource depletion as a threat to international peace and security.
  • Links to relevant websites, such as the Oxford Research Group’s Sustainable Security website, which provides the latest news, comment, analysis and research relating to threats to global security and sustainable responses to those threats.
  • Our IR Directory, featuring the Global Footprint Network, an international think tank working to advance sustainability through use of the ecological footprint, a resource accounting tool that measures how much nature we have, how much we use and who uses what.
Categories
International Relations Government Foreign policy

Responsibility in Practice

Oil rig in a forest, courtesy of DW from the peg/flickr

Last December in Copenhagen, the Northern and Southern Hemispheres were at odds over how climate protection and economic development should be linked.

To make it short, the North argued that southern countries should develop themselves in a sustainable and ecological way. The South replied vehemently by claiming their right to development and their right to do it the same way the North did.

Apparently, Ecuador got a head start in understanding the concerns of the West and decided to put responsibility in practice. The country started the project Yasuni ITT in 2007. This project implies a conceptual break in the understanding of development and climate change.

The idea is pretty simple. Ecuador will not exploit the 850 millions of oil barrels that lie below the Yasuni forest for the sake of world heritage and climate change.

The rest of the world, mostly western countries, should in exchange contribute financially to a fund that will be internationally monitored and that will allow Ecuador to diversify its energy sources. The fund will amount to half of the benefits that Ecuador could make if it decided to exploit the oil, which is approximately €6 billion.

The project is supported by various Nobel Prize Laureates such as Mohammed Yunus, Desmond Tutu and Al Gore. Prominent environmental personalities are also on board.

This initiative is revolutionary for more than one reason.

  • It acknowledges the notion of ecological world heritage. The Yasuni forest not only benefits Ecuador. It’s also a reserve of biodiversity for the whole planet.
  • The project forces western countries to face up to their responsibilities. European and North American countries need to join the project if they want to remain credible. Unfortunately, only a few European countries, Germany, Norway, Spain and Switzerland, support the initiative.
  • It creates an example for the southern hemisphere. By renouncing oil exploitation, Ecuador acknowledges the responsibility of southern countries in the fight for climate change. It sets an example of ecological development that other countries could use. Being host of the most natural resources, the southern hemisphere has surely something to learn from the Ecuadorian experiment.
  • The project proposes to add a third generation of carbon bonds that could be traded on the ‘carbon market.’ This new generation (G3) of bonds would be given to countries that avoid or prevent environmental pollution of the atmosphere. This new concept challenges the previous understanding of carbon bonds that so far were only available for countries or companies that reduce  their level of pollution. By rewarding countries and companies that prevent pollution, this new system would move away from the “license to pollute” that has been created by the Kyoto Protocol and would ensure a more positive understanding of the carbon market.

So, why has such an alternative project not been given a greater public attention worldwide? Why only a few European countries are supporting it?

I think it is time for the West to put responsibility in practice.

Categories
Uncategorized

ISN Weekly Theme: Social Resilience

Basketball bouncing
Can society bounce back after catastrophe? Photo: Kristin/flickr

In a new millennium that must face complex, transnational challenges ranging from climate disruption to cyberwar, averting disaster is not always an option. How then can society quickly rebound from unavoidable disruptions to its social fabric? Social resilience helps guide us toward a sustainable answer.

This ISN Special Report contains the following content:

  • Jamais Cascio’s Analysis outlines a vision for the resilient society of the future.
  • In our Podcast interview Jennifer Giroux discusses the concept of resilience in light of the Iceland volcano eruption, particularly the impact of social media and the private vs public sector relationship.
  • A Security Watch article about “The Complexity of Social Resilience” by Professor Norman Vasu of the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies.
  • Publications housed in our Digital Library, like the Center for Security Studies’ policy brief, “Resilience: A Tool for Preparing and Managing Emergencies.”
  • Links to relevant websites, among them the UN’s International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.
  • Our IR Directory with relevant organizations, such as the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, which provides a research outlet for ‘non-traditional’ security studies, like social resilience.
Categories
Environment

ISN Weekly Theme: E-Waste’s Toxic Trail

Recompute
The Recompute computer / Photo:sirtrentalot, flickr

Ever wanted to toss your desktop in the trash?

*Now you can!

Recompute, termed “the sustainable desktop computer” according to its website, has gone into production. The computer’s housing is made out of corrugated cardboard.

But the housing is just the tip of the garbage heap (forgive me, I just had to pop that in there). According to Recompute, the goal is achieving “sustainability in design.”

You can check out the entire development process here.

Recompute says that its computers can be easily taken apart without tools, making not only the cardboard case recyclable, but the components inside easier to access and recycle as well. The machines should be ready by next month…and there’s already a waiting list.

What wonderful news to kick off our weekly theme: E-waste.

In this week’s Special Report:

    • Daniel Ott says in our Analysis that e-waste is the world’s fastest growing waste stream, leading industrialized nations to examine measures to control it. But, the impact of e-waste on the developing world remains to be seen.

 

    • In our Podcast, Dr Mathias Schuelp states that even though e-waste can be a problem, it can also offer those in developing countries various opportunities.

 

    • We’re featuring a UK Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology brief on the environmental hazards of e-waste in Publications.

 

    • You can find the full-text of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, a landmark document signed by 172 countries, in Primary Resources.

 

    • We also have Links to relevant websites, among them an e-waste guide by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs.

 

  • In our IR Directory we have more information on relevant organizations, including Empa, an ETH institute for material sciences and technology development.

And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and join our join our Facebook fan page.

*Okay, okay. Please use proper recycling methods. I was just a tad bit excited.

Categories
International Relations Security Environment

Fifteen Questions to Save Earth

If you have ever asked yourself one of the following questions, August 1st will bring you answers:

  • 1. How can sustainable development be achieved for all while addressing global climate change?
  • 2. How can everyone have sufficient clean water without conflict?
  • 3. How can population growth and resources be brought into balance?
  • 4. How can genuine democracy emerge from authoritarian regimes?
  • 5. How can policymaking be made more sensitive to global long-term perspectives?
    Futurism, photo: Adam Kang/flickr
    Futurism, photo: Adam Kang/flickr