Archive for March, 2013

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Weekly News # 11 – Education 4 Sustainability online Forum summary

Written by admin on . Posted in General Information, News, Weekly news

 
On March 25th Nektarina Non Profit organised an online Forum for the Education 4 Sustainability project. With the help of new available technology we were able to bring together virtually representatives of organisations that are interested or already on the way to become our partners in the project.
 
We had altogether 9 guests from 8 countries in Europe and Asia. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who participated for their time and input. We hope this was a useful experience to everyone.
 
We intended this meeting to be a starting point in getting to know eachother and share a little from our experiences. Here are some of the highlights:
 
– we presented the Education 4 Sustainability project and answered questions related to it
– the attendees presented the work of their organisations
– we discussed what are the main challenges that could come in the way of our project in the focus countries, but also some positive examples from other countries (http://www.education4sustainability.org/wiki/doku.php?id=positive_examples_regarding_eduaction_for_sustainable_development)
– we agreed to hold bi-weekly calls with partners in order to have the latest updates on how the project is developing on-site – organisations that are not yet partners but would still like to join the meetings are also welcome.
 
To conclude, we believe this was a very interesting event and we look forward to the next Forum.
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Easter break at Nektarina Non Profit

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Dear friends, Nektarina will take a break starting Wednesday March 27th for a week with the occasion of Easter. The activity will be resumed on April 3rd. In the meantime, stay sustainable. We look forward to seeing you here again with more interesting news and updates from our Education 4 Sustainability project! The Nektarina Non Profit Team Photo credits: Livia Minca
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Earth Hour 2013

Written by admin on . Posted in General Information, News, Take Action

Earth Hour is the single, largest, symbolic mass participation event in the world. Born out of a hope that we could mobilize people to take action on climate change, Earth Hour now inspires a global community of millions of people in 7,001 cities and towns across 152 countries and territories to switch lights off for an hour as a massive show of concern for the environment (http://www.earthhour.org/page/about). This year Earth Hour will take place on Saturday March 23, 2013 at 8:30 p.m. So join in to show your support for environmentally sustainable action. In a very interesting article that appeared in the Huffington Post, Andy Ridley, the Executive Director of Earth Hour stated: “This year, Earth Hour communities have taken the event to a new level. Much more than an hour-long event, it is being used by WWF teams and volunteer communities across the planet to generate significant environmental outcomes. Russia really set the standard last year when the community there secured major legislative change for marine protection by mobilizing tens of thousands of people to lobby parliament. Now many other countries are following suit, using the Earth Hour movement as the vehicle to create monumental changes. In Botswana and Uganda, they are creating forests from degraded areas. In Kuwait, Earth Hour is being used to introduce comprehensive recycling. In Romania, people collected nine tonnes of plastic bottles in the lead up to Earth Hour! The hour itself is celebrated on an enormous scale in countries such as India where Earth Hour was started by IT workers in Bangalore. Even war-torn parts of the world are participating, and areas only recently out of civil war like Sri Lanka. This tells me that people everywhere care about the planet. But there are three questions I always get asked: How much energy does Earth Hour save? Is one hour enough? Whose idea was it? On the cusp of our seventh Earth Hour this Saturday, March 23, here again are the answers to all three questions. How much energy does it save? I genuinely have no idea — and more importantly, that genuinely isn’t the point. We started Earth Hour because we wanted to find a way for citizens to show their desire for action on climate change and their willingness to be part of that process. In other words, we stole from many other successful major social change movements and created a symbolic moment — one for which it didn’t matter what your background was — young or old, gay or straight, right or left — you could show where you stood. Unbelievably, it worked that first year, with more than two million people taking part in Sydney. And then the story went around the world, from the original concept of Earth Hour becoming like New Year’s Eve fireworks with lights of celebration rolling around the planet. We even planned the date so it fell on the equinox to get the most number of cities dark at the earliest point in the night. Just for a moment I thought it was really simple to change the world — it was just about a good idea, good partners and hard work… the naivety! But here’s the thing: People responded to it. And people continue to respond to it. Those who participate in it year after year understand that the hour itself is symbolic. It signifies their concern for the future of this planet, but it doesn’t mean an hour-long lights off is the one action they are committed to. From the IT worker in Nigeria committing to do a peace walk to Mali if 20,000 people sign the country’s pending Climate Change Bill petition, to a six-year-old Greek boy who has committed to give up chocolate if 50 people green their balconies, individuals and organizations from all pillars of society and all corners of the globe are using Earth Hour’s I Will If You Will campaign as a platform to share their commitment to the world. Is one hour enough? This has to be the craziest question asked because if the basic premise of Earth Hour is that we need to mobilize governments, businesses, organizations and people on an incredible scale if we are to avoid hitting a two-degree temperature rise and secure the Earth’s sustainable future, how could one hour in any way be enough? The hour itself is a moment to reflect, a moment to summon the determination to make changes in the coming year. So the question is not ‘is an hour enough?’ but rather how will you go beyond the hour? Will your government implement tougher standards on car emissions or implement a carbon tax? Will your Mayor govern with an eye to developing your city not only sustainably but also to become a better place to live (LED lighting in streets looks better, cost less and cuts emissions)? Do the brands you choose walk the talk and are they doing everything they can to move the agenda forward? Or are they spending money to hold things back? And from an individual level, can you reduce your footprint? Can you vote for that change you want to see in the world? So finally whose idea was it? I’ve actually sat at two separate dinners and been told by the person sitting next to me that they were at the original meeting where the idea was first discussed. I was a bit surprised given that they weren’t. As I sit here a few days out from the seventh Earth Hour, I know that actually there are a lot of founders out there. There are the youth groups in Gaza and Palestine, divided by geography and politics, and the team hoping to secure Argentina’s largest ever Marine Protected Area (3.4 million hectares) by mobilizing citizens. There are the thousands of girl scouts who changed 135,000 light bulbs to LEDs in community centers across the U.S. and there is the mayor who was there right at the beginning and had been pushing the idea of Sydney becoming a more sustainable city long before I turned up. Lots of people make Earth Hour happen around the world. These to me are the founders of Earth Hour. Earth Hour the movement, over and above the event. So if you haven’t been a founder of Earth Hour before — join us this year on March 23 at 8:30 p.m. local time, and be inspired by the stories from around the world, expect more from your politicians and your brands and yourself — I will if you will.” The article can be found at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andy-ridley/earth-hour-one-hour-is_b_2923430.html. Earth Hour is happening everywhere in the world. For example, The Times of India website stated that in India more than 150 cities will join the Earth Hour (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/environment/the-good-earth/Over-150-Indian-cities-set-to-join-Earth-Hour/articleshow/19123980.cms). So do your part: participate and go beyond the hour!
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Weekly News # 10 / Spring time – the time for new beginnings

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Finally, after months of waiting and enduring the cold, the moment we were all waiting for has come: spring is here at last. That is at least what the calendar says, anyway. Even though in some places the winter is still trying to impose its will, there is no turning back now. The sun will shine longer and cast a warmer light upon us, the trees will blossom and the numb world will come back to life. This is what makes spring the most loved season of all: it is the symbol of a new beginning, a new cycle of life that is starting, a new world full of possibilities. Since ancient times, people have created special celebrations to greet the arrival of spring. And even if many of them are lost today or have been replaced by others, the joy of spring coming cannot be hidden and it is still warming up our hearts just like every other year. The equinox This year, on March 20 at 11:02 a.m. Universal Time, the March Equinox (also known as the Spring Equinox or Vernal Equinox) occured, meaning that the sun was directly overhead the equator. On this day, there were twelve hours of daylight and twelve hours of darkness at all points on the earth’s surface. The sun rises at the North Pole to the horizon on the March Equinox and the North Pole remains lit until the September Equinox. At the same time, at the South Pole, the sun sets after the South Pole having been lit for the previous six months (since the September Equinox). It has been a tradition that spring “officially begins” on March 20, and the three other seasons begin on their solstices or equinox. However, there is no set scientific standard for the beginning of the seasons. March, April, and May are most commonly thought to be the spring months. On March 20, most consider that spring begins in the Northern Hemisphere and autumn begins in the Southern Hemisphere. The beginning of spring often represents a mild transitional climate between the extremes of winter and summer. Seasonal changes primarily impact the higher latitudes (those above 23.5 degrees). The areas between the Tropic of Cancer in the north and the Tropic of Capricorn in the south effectively do not have seasons because the sun is always high in the sky. And now that the spring is here, the sun is shining and the birds are singing, what to do with all the energy that we have stored during the winter? We think this is the best time to be outside, enjoy and connect to the nature. Here are a few suggestions for you. Planting a tree After the autumn planting round, the next best period to plant a tree is in early spring. At this point, trees are still dormant and the chances of their survival are better than when the weather turns warm. If you do decide to try tree planting this spring, either with your school or in your own garden, here are some steps that you should follow: 1. Choose location and tree species. Do some research to find out what trees are best suited for your soil and moisture conditions. Don’t forget the tree’s eventual height and spread, and plan for its size at maturity. If you have a restricted planting area or overhead power lines or buried pipes, this will limit the size of the tree you plant. Before getting started, give entire planting area a soaking (the day before so you don’t work in muck) or plant after rain has moistened the soil. 2. Dig the hole. Be careful at its size: too deep and the roots don’t have access to sufficient oxygen to ensure proper growth; too narrow and the root structure can’t expand sufficiently to nourish and properly anchor the tree. As a general rule, trees should be transplanted no deeper than the soil in which they were originally grown.  The width of the hole should be at least 3 times the diameter of the root ball or container or the spread of the roots in the case of bare root trees.  This will provide the tree with enough worked earth for its root structure to establish itself. 3. Place the tree in the hole. Balled and burlapped trees should always be lifted by the ball, never by the trunk. The burlap surrounding the ball of earth and roots should either be cut away completely (mandatory, in the case of synthetic or plastic burlap) or at least pulled back from the top third of the ball (in the case of natural burlap).  Any string or twine should also be removed. In the case of container trees, once carefully removed from the container, check the roots. If they are tightly compressed or ‘pot bound’, use your fingers or a blunt instrument to carefully tease the fine roots away from the tight mass and then spread the roots prior to planting. For extremely woody compacted roots, it may be necessary to use a spade to open up the bottom half of the root system. The root system is then pulled apart or ‘butterflied’ prior to planting. Loosening the root structure in this way is extremely important in the case of container plants.  Failure to do so may result in the roots ‘girdling’ and killing the tree. Bare-rooted trees should be planted as soon as possible after purchasing. Care should be taken to ensure that the roots are kept moist in the period between purchase and planting. To plant, first build a cone of earth in the centre of the hole around which to splay the roots.  Make sure that when properly seated on this cone the tree is planted so that the ‘trunk flare’ is clearly visible and the ‘crown’, where the roots and top meet, is about two inches above the soil level.  This is to allow for natural settling. 4. Fill the hole. Backfill soil (combinations of peat moss, composted manure, topsoil, etc.) is then placed in the hole surrounding the tree just to the height of the ball or the former container level to allow for some settling.  Be careful not to over-compress the backfill soil as this may prevent water from reaching the roots and the roots from expanding inside the soil. Compress gently using your hands instead of your feet. 5. Water well after planting, but don’t apply fertilizer until second growing season. If you don’t get regular rainfall, continue to water newly planted trees thoroughly (an inch of water once a week), in the first season. If you have the possibility, apply a two- to four-inch layer of mulch to soil at tree base in a 3-foot circle. This helps conserve moisture, reduces competition from grass and weeds and encourages you to keep string trimmers away from trunk. Don’t heap mulch up against trunk, as this can promote decay. Riding the bike The longer, sunny days and the warmer temperatures are certainly inviting for a trip outdoors. Just hop on your bike (or roller-blades, skateboard or any other un-motorised device that you know how to ride) and take it to the roads. If your local conditions allow, you can expand from just an occasional ride for fun to start riding your bike to work, to the shop, to meet your friends, instead of using a car or a bus. This will keep your tonus high and your carbon footprint low. Spring Cleaning Since it is spring again, the Spring Cleaning concept should not come as a surprise for anyone. Whether we use it for cleaning our houses from top to bottom or for tidying up our gardens in preparation for the summer, one thing it’s for sure: it does take a lot of energy. So if you feel like putting those muscles to work, this is the activity for you. While you get busy, keep in mind the environment. Try to use environmentally friendly detergents and cleaning products and use water efficiently. Don’t just let that tap running; remember, we just celebrated World Water Day. And if you find things that need to be disposed of, try to see if they match any recycling options. Sources: http://geography.about.com/od/timeandtimezones/a/marchequinox.htm http://www.tree-planting.com/tree-planting-4.htm http://www.flower-gardening-made-easy.com/how-to-plant-a-tree.html Photo credits: Livia Minca
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World Water Day & the International Year of Water Cooperation

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World Water Day is held annually on 22 March as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. An international day to celebrate freshwater was recommended at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). The United Nations General Assembly responded by designating 22 March 1993 as the first World Water Day. Each year, World Water Day highlights a specific aspect of freshwater. In 2013, in reflection of the International Year of Water Cooperation, World Water Day is also dedicated to the theme of cooperation around water and is coordinated by UNESCO in collaboration with UNECE and UNDESA on behalf of UN-Water. The fulfilment of basic human needs, our environment, socio-economic development and poverty reduction are all heavily dependent on water.
Good management of water is especially challenging due to some of its unique characteristics: it is unevenly distributed in time and space, the hydrological cycle is highly complex and perturbations have multiple effects. Rapid urbanization, pollution and climate change threaten the resource while demands for water are increasing in order to satisfy the needs of a growing world population, now at over seven billion people, for food production, energy, industrial and domestic uses. Water is a shared resource and its management needs to take into account a wide variety of conflicting interests. This provides opportunities for cooperation among users.
In designating 2013 as the UN International Year of Water Cooperation, the UNGA recognizes that cooperation is essential to strike a balance between the different needs and priorities and share this precious resource equitably, using water as an instrument of peace. Promoting water cooperation implies an interdisciplinary approach bringing in cultural, educational and scientific factors, as well as religious, ethical, social, political, legal, institutional and economic dimensions. At the following address you can find out very useful facts and tips on resource efficiency, including water saving advice: http://www.generationawake.eu/en Text and image source: http://www.unwater.org/water-cooperation-2013/home/en/
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The International Day of Forests

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The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed 21 March the International Day of Forests. The Day celebrates and raises awareness of the importance of all types of forests. On each International Day of Forests, countries are encouraged to undertake local, national and international efforts to organize activities involving forests and trees, such as tree planting campaigns. In this inspirational 1 minute clip the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) invites people all over the planet to consider the extraourdinary gift that represent our forests and to participate in their well being by planting trees: http://www.fao.org/news/audio-video/detail-video/en/?uid=9697. On the first International Day of Forests, celebrated by the United Nations today, FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva proposed that countries support a Zero Illegal Deforestation target in the context of the post-2015 debate. “In many countries, illegal deforestation is degrading ecosystems, diminishing water availability and limiting the supply of fuelwood – all of which reduce food security, especially for the poor,” Graziano da Silva said at a ceremony marking the International Day of Forests. “Stopping illegal deforestation and forest degradation would do much to end hunger, extreme poverty and bring about sustainability.” “This is why, I would like to encourage countries to promote tree planting and to consider a Zero Illegal Deforestation target in the context of the post-2015 debate. These two goals should be closely linked. We can achieve positive results if countries, the international financial institutions, the UN, civil society and the private sector join forces to tackle these issues.” Mediterranean countries respond to forest threats In parallel, the countries of the Mediterranean are meeting today at the Third Mediterranean Forest Week, taking place in Tlemcen, Algeria (17-21 March), to discuss the state of Mediterranean forests and adopt a Strategic Framework on Mediterranean Forests. The Mediterranean forests are expected to be hard hit by climate change and are under severe pressure from population growth, according to the first FAO report on The State of Mediterranean Forests, also published today. This results in ever-increasing competition for already scarce food and water resources in the region. Climate change and population growth Temperatures in the Mediterranean increased by one degree during the twentieth century while rainfall decreased by 20 percent in certain Mediterranean areas. By the end of this century, it is expected that temperatures will have risen by a further two degrees, which is likely to put some forest species at risk of extinction and result in loss of biodiversity. Population growth is expected to rise from around 500 million people currently living in the Mediterranean to 625 million by 2050. This will put additional pressure on forests as sources of food and water. The situation differs across the region. In the northern Mediterranean countries an abandonment of forested lands has led to a dramatic increase in the incidence of forest fires. In the southern Mediterranean, population growth has led to forests being overgrazed or lost to agriculture and urban expansion. In both cases, the result is deforestation and forest degradation, exacerbated by the impact of climate change and economic crises. New collaborative strategies are urgently required to sustainably manage these fragile and vital ecosystems, the report said. In countries like Turkey or Tunisia, where the political will has been strong, forest area has recovered significantly in the past decades. “The Mediterranean region is undergoing many changes in their societies, lifestyles and climate”, said FAO Assistant Director-General for Forests Eduardo Rojas-Briales. “If unmanaged, such changes could lead to negative impacts on livelihoods, biodiversity, wildfire risks, watersheds or desertification. There is an urgent need to regularly assess the state of Mediterranean forests using objective and reliable data and to manage endangered forest resources more sustainably.” New strategies to ensure environmental services Mediterranean forests are a significant carbon sink. In 2010 they stocked almost 5 billion tons of carbon, which represent 1.6 percent of the global forest carbon stock. They also provide valuable ecosystem services such as water and climate regulation, the provision of wood and non-wood products, and biodiversity conservation. The Mediterranean region is one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. There are more than 25,000 plant species in the Mediterranean region, compared with about 6,000 in central and northern Europe. The report stresses that the value of Mediterranean forests and their vital role in climate change adaptation and mitigation should be recognized at local, regional and national levels. It calls upon governments and foresters to promote the use of wood and non-wood forest products such as cork for long-term carbon storage, and to reinforce the investment potential of smallholders working in wood and non-wood, forest-based industries (pine nuts, esparto grass, mushrooms, honey, etc.). The report urges foresters to use the variety of forest genetic resources in their silvicultural practices and promote forest species best able to adapt to changing climate conditions. On a local scale, foresters should also improve forest planning to manage forest ecosystems with the optimal density of trees and to deal with water scarcity, whereas the large scale activities should include systematic forest fire prevention. Forest fire prevention Climate change could lead to more frequent and more severe fires, the report warned. Between 2006 and 2010, around two million hectares of forests were affected by fires in the Mediterranean region. Without adequate fire prevention measures, including fire hazard reduction and prescribed fires to burn biomass during the winter season to reduce fuel levels, extreme weather conditions could cause catastrophic forest fire events. The report was developed by more than 20 scientific and technical institutions and non-governmental organizations and nearly 50 authors and other contributors coordinated by FAO and Plan Bleu, the main support centre of the Mediterranean Commission on Sustainable Development. FAO intends to publish The State of Mediterranean Forests every five years, providing further opportunities to unify and mobilize partners in the management of Mediterranean forests and other wooded lands. Based on the key recommendations adopted in the Tlemcen Declaration during its high-level segment, the future implementation of the Strategic Framework on Mediterranean Forests could be a useful regional tool to adapt national forest policies in the face of ongoing global changes which are affecting the Mediterranean region. Sources: http://www.fao.org/forestry/international-day-of-forests/en/ http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/172595/icode/
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An online Education 4 Sustainability Forum

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Nektarina Non Profit is preparing an online Forum for its project Education 4 Sustainability. The Forum will take place on Monday, March 25th, starting 10:00 CET. The Forum aims at bringing together the organizations that have expressed interest in our project so far for detailed discussions focusing on pinning down aspects of future cooperation, exploring the possibility of signing country partnerships and defining further steps. Moreover, the Forum will be a great opportunity for all attendees to share their experiences and practices with the other participants and develop new ideas for the advancement of education for sustainable development in their respective countries. We look forward to an interesting discussion and to a further fruitful cooperation with our country partners. The Nektarina Team