Third Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Workshop in Sustainable Development April 12th-13th, 2013: Columbia University in the City of New York, USA
Archive for January, 2013
Third Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Workshop in Sustainable Development April 12th-13th, 2013: Columbia University in the City of New York, USA
Posted by Yula Pannadopoulos
Continuing on last week’s post, today I’ll be sharing more links on UNEP resources.
In the past couple of days I explored their Resource Efficiency Programme, and I found it absolutely great – the content they shared and the way they have presented it.
Here is what they say about the programme on UNEP’s website:
UNEP works to promote resource efficiency and sustainable consumption and production (SCP) in both developed and developing countries. The focus is on achieving increased understanding and implementation by public and private decision makers, as well as civil society, of policies and actions for resource efficiency and sustainable consumption and production. This includes the promotion of sustainable resource management in a life cycle perspective for goods and services.A key approach to UNEP’s work on resource efficiency is the life cycle perspective. By reducing the environmental impact of goods and services at every stage, from raw material extraction and transportation to manufacturing, distribution, use and disposal, we can achieve more wellbeing with less material consumption. This enhances our potential to meet human needs while respecting the ecological carrying capacity of the Earth. This is closely related to the decoupling concept used in UNEP: decoupling economic growth from resource use and environmental degradation – or doing more and better with less. Reforms in government policies, changes in private sector management practices and decisions, and increased consumer awareness are needed to achieve decoupling. It is very worth while going through their Multimedia and Publications pages as well. ==== PS : Interested in our blog post from the past week? Check it out : The World Economic Forum and Sustainability – any connection?
A very special event is taking place these days (23-27 January) in Davos, Switzerland. It is the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting and important international figures from the political and economic world are meeting to discuss the hottest topics of the moment relating to how the world economy is advancing and what solutions can be tackled in the future for the problems that we are facing. On the event’s webpage the following statement is given:“For over 40 years, the mission of the World Economic Forum – committed to improving the state of the world – has driven the design and development of the Annual Meeting programme. The Annual Meeting remains the foremost creative force for engaging leaders in collaborative activities focused on shaping the global, regional and industry agendas. Today, we live in the most complex, interdependent and interconnected era in human history. We are increasingly confronted by major adaptive challenges as well as profound transformational opportunities. This new leadership context requires successful organizations to master strategic agility and to build risk resilience.” An overview of the event can be consulted at: http://www3.weforum.org/docs/AM13/WEF_AM13_ExecutiveSummary.pdf But how does this and the Forum in general relate to our issue at hand, sustainability? Does it, indeed? Well, for one thing, we are promoting our “Education 4 Sustainability” project in the spirit that today’s young people – tomorrow’s adults and decision-makers – should learn in school about sustainability in all its forms (environmental, social and, yes, economical). So that when they grow up they are not only able to live in a world where all natural resources that we have enjoyed are still available, but also to understand the mechanisms of an economy that undoubtedly is already changing and will continue to do so in the future. And the way it will be shaped will influence the very core of their lifestyles. So yes, organisations and events such as the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting should be watched closely because they have the potential to change the course of future sustainability. In the last years the ever-so-present dispute “environment vs economic developement” has been continuously diminnished by the intriguing cohabitation of the two notions into the “Green Economy” syntax. So far it does seem that this tandem is working, as the sector of Green Economy is increasing its share every day, but only time will say if this has been the miracle sustainability option that everyone was hoping for. In the meantime, an article on GreenBiz.com by Aron Cramer (president and CEO of BSR , recognized globally as an authority on corporate responsibility by leaders in business and NGOs and by his peers in the field) talks exactly about our topic: “Davos 2013: The building blocks for a sustainable future?” Below are some excerpts from the article, that is available in full at: http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2013/01/23/davos-2013-building-blocks-sustainable-future. “The World Economic Forum’s 2013 meeting in Davos kicked off this week amidst ongoing stagnation in the world’s economy. This will be the fifth Davos since the global financial crisis took hold. And while 2013’s stagnation is far preferable to the fear and loathing that permeated Davos in 2009, the leaders who gather here this week continue to grasp for answers. This year’s theme, Resilient Dynamism, speaks to a more balanced world: one that continues to innovate without creating bubbles and achieves widespread prosperity without consuming more natural resources than the planet has or can regenerate. Each Davos is different, and it is impossible for one person to truly understand the entire event: After all, there are 2,500 official attendees and probably twice as many aides circling the perimeter. Government leaders who actually make sustainable growth a priority. With the U.S., E.U., and Japan caught in a low-growth trap, and Brazil and India slowing, growth at any cost appears high on the agenda. In fact, there are some governments slightly off the main stage making green growth a priority, namely the South Koreans and the Danes, who are spearheading the Global Green Growth Initiative. It’s time for the biggest players, though, to get off the sidelines and revitalize their efforts to catalyze investments in green infrastructure, technology transfers and renewable energy. Collaborations that can go to scale. While Davos has the image of alpha males and females strutting their stuff, it is actually partnership central, with many interesting collaborations developed and showcased. I’ll be participating, for example, in efforts to advance WEF’s New Vision for Agriculture, which has powerful partnerships up and running in 10 countries to align nutrition, sustainability, and economic development at the farm level. This is but one example of the kinds of collaborations that are needed, with renewed collaboration needed most around climate, to jump-start policy discussions. An understanding of how empowered individuals are part of the system represented in Davos. Davos is in some ways the original social network, though certainly not on the scale of Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Interesting efforts have been made in the past couple of years to broaden the network, namely, including the establishment of a community of ‘Global Shapers:’ social entrepreneurs, activists, artists, and thinkers under the age of 30. For many, Davos appears to be a top-down event in an increasingly bottom-up world.” Image source: http://www.weforum.org/issues/climate-change-and-green-growth
Posted by Yula Pannadopoulos
This January we are talking about green economy in the context of sustainable development (and poverty eradiction), and today I would like to share some resources that you might finds useful.
In the past two weeks we shared two interesting posts:
- Teaching and learning about green economy and sustainable development, and
- Think, Eat, Save – Global campaign to change the culture of food waste
The Think.Eat.Save. Reduce Your Foodprint campaign is in support of the SAVE FOOD Initiative to reduce food loss and waste along the entire chain of food production and consumption – run by the FAO and trade fair organizer Messe Düsseldorf – and the UN Secretary General’s Zero Hunger Challenge. The new campaign specifically targets food wasted by consumers, retailers and the hospitality industry.The campaign harnesses the expertise of organizations such as WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme), Feeding the 5,000 and other partners, including national governments, who have considerable experience targeting and changing wasteful practices. Think.Eat.Save. aims to accelerate action and provide a global vision and information-sharing portal (www.thinkeatsave.org) for the many and diverse initiatives currently underway around the world. Worldwide, about one-third of all food produced, worth around US$1 trillion, gets lost or wasted in food production and consumption systems, according to data released by FAO. Food loss occurs mostly at the production stages – harvesting, processing and distribution – while food waste typically takes place at the retailer and consumer end of the food-supply chain. “In a world of seven billion people, set to grow to nine billion by 2050, wasting food makes no sense – economically, environmentally and ethically,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. “Aside from the cost implications, all the land, water, fertilizers and labour needed to grow that food is wasted – not to mention the generation of greenhouse gas emissions produced by food decomposing on landfill and the transport of food that is ultimately thrown away,” he added. “To bring about the vision of a truly sustainable world, we need a transformation in the way we produce and consume our natural resources.” “Together, we can reverse this unacceptable trend and improve lives. In industrialized regions, almost half of the total food squandered, around 300 million tonnes annually, occurs because producers, retailers and consumers discard food that is still fit for consumption,” said José Graziano da Silva, FAO Director-General. “This is more than the total net food production of Sub-Saharan Africa, and would be sufficient to feed the estimated 870 million people hungry in the world.” “If we can help food producers to reduce losses through better harvesting, processing, storage, transport and marketing methods, and combine this with profound and lasting changes in the way people consume food, then we can have a healthier and hunger-free world,” Graziano da Silva added. The global food system has profound implications for the environment, and producing more food than is consumed only exacerbates the pressures, some of which follow:
- More than 20 per cent of all cultivated land, 30 per cent of forests and 10 per cent of grasslands are undergoing degradation;
- Globally 9 per cent of the freshwater resources are withdrawn, 70 per cent of this by irrigated agriculture;
- Agriculture and land use changes like deforestation contribute to more than 30 per cent of total global greenhouse gas emissions;
- Globally, the agri-food system accounts for nearly 30 per cent of end-user available energy;
- Overfishing and poor management contribute to declining numbers of fish, some 30 per cent of marine fish stocks are now considered overexploited.
- Shop Smart: Plan meals, use shopping lists, avoid impulse buys and don’t succumb to marketing tricks that lead you to buy more food than you need.
- Buy Funny Fruit: Many fruits and vegetables are thrown out because their size, shape, or colour are deemed not “right”. Buying these perfectly good fruit, at the farmer’s market or elsewhere, utilizes food that might otherwise go to waste.
- Understand Expiry Dates: “Best-before” dates are generally manufacturer suggestions for peak quality. Most foods can be safely consumed well after these dates. The important date is “use by” – eat food by that date or check if you can freeze it.
- Zero Down Your Fridge: Websites such as WRAP’s www.lovefoodhatewaste.com can help consumers get creative with recipes to use up anything that might go bad soon.
- Other actions include: freezing food; following storage guidance to keep food at its best, requesting smaller portions at restaurants; eating leftovers – whether home-cooked, from restaurants or takeaway; composting food; and donating spare food to local food banks, soup kitchens, pantries, and shelters.
- Retailers can carry out waste audits and product loss analysis for high-waste areas, work with their suppliers to reduce waste, offer discounts for near-expiration items, redesign product displays with less excess, standardize labelling and increase food donations, among other actions.
- Restaurants, pubs and hotels can limit menu choices and introduce flexible portioning, carry out waste audits and create staff engagement programmes, among many other measures.
- Supermarkets, hotels, restaurants, companies, cities and countries will be able to use the website to pledge to measure the food they waste and put in place targets to reduce it.
- Understanding Sustainable Development with background materials and activities directly from the United Nations
- Inquiry Based Learning with a focus on pedagogical approaches that start with a question
Classroom Modules and Case Studies about Green Economy and Sustainable DevelopmentGreen Economy Success Stories from around the world explain encouraging results. Compiled by UNEP. Watch a video about Greensburg, Kansas, a small town that recovered from a devastating tornado to rebuild in a green way. Read about communities that are acheiving just and sustainable solutions by linking environmental justice and the green economy. Go on one of the MyCOE Digital Learning Adventures to explore Energy in Ghana. View a compelling Geostory about Economic Innovation. The AAG Center for Global Geography Education online modules on Population and the Global Economy provide additional models for student exchange, study and discussions. Link to these models to find related case studies.
Online Tools and Ideas for Student ProjectsThe World Bank’s International Human Development Indicators mapping toolkit visualizes country level data for the world on economic participation, development, and poverty. Worldmapper is an online visualization tool displaying a collection of nearly 700 world maps, where territories are re-sized on each map according to the subject of interest. These maps invite interesting discussions when data is viewed by values as well as spatial arrangment. The Population Reference Bureau publishes data in an interactive finder tool for International Statistics on the Economy. Nationmaster presents Economic Statistics by Country, compiled from many sources and ranked or rated for variables that can also be graphed or mapped. (Note: further background information about what statistics matter to global debates can be explored in the Fast Facts Bulletins on the Millennium Development Goals.) Find additional online materials linked from MyCOE’s contextual summary on Sustainable Development.
Ideas for Youth Exchange Projects on Green EconomyBegin exploring how to develop a geographic project with the MyCOE Project Toolkit. Consider these ideas:
- Green Economy Scavenger Hunt: brainstorm a list of what types of economic activities contribute to a greener economy, such as alternative energy sources, recycling, public transit, etc. Then identify these in your local community, state, province, or country. Map them, collect photos, describe them. Share what you find with another classroom in a different place. New! Use this Green Economy Scavenger Hunt Guide to help you get started. It includes a hand out to give your students that will help them complete a MyCOE project about the Green Economy.
- Product Lifecycle Pathway: pick one to three items that is commonly used by your family or school and find out how it got to you. What natural resources were needed to make this item and what places did they come from? Map out the pathway that these parts took to bring the item to you and find out more about the people and places that produced them. Are these processes sustainable?
- Global Wealth Map: have your students reflect on global economic distribution and poverty statistics using this hands-on activity arranging chips on a map of the world, from PlanUSA.