Monday, June 27, 2016

IOM, Governments Launch Guidelines to Protect Migrants in Countries in Crisis

IOM, Governments Launch Guidelines to Protect Migrants in Countries in Crisis
15 June 2016: The International Organization for Migration (IOM) launched a set of guidelines for improving responses to ensure the wellbeing of migrants in countries experiencing conflict and natural disasters, following the outcome of a government-led, multi-stakeholder initiative launched in May 2014.   The Migrants in Countries in Crisis (MICIC) guidelines, released on 10 June 2016, highlight the great diversity of migrants' situations, including: those who may be in an irregular situation; those who are fleeing natural disasters or violence; those who are victims of trafficking or in bonded labor; and those who are traditionally nomadic, such as some indigenous pastoralists. The guidelines were launched at an event in New York on 15 June, to be followed by an event in Geneva on 28 June.   The voluntary, non-binding guidelines include recommended actions for crisis preparedness, emergency responses, and post-crisis actions. The document notes that conflict and disasters often disproportionately affect migrants, who may become stranded or experience greater vulnerability. The IOM report also explains the basic principles underpinning the recommendations, and suggests ways to put the guidelines into practice. These include researching migration trends and demographics, requiring employers to maintain data on migrant workers, carrying out "positive communications" to counter prejudice against migrants, and providing language training to enable migrants to communicate in the language of their host country.   At the UN High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development (HLD) in 2013, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for addressing the plight of stranded migrants, and Peter Sutherland, UN Special Representative for International Migration, called for developing better ways to protect and assist migrants in crisis. Subsequently, the MICIC initiative was launched at the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) in Stockholm, Sweden, in May 2014. The US and Philippines co-chaired the MICIC process, supported by a working group with representatives from the Governments of Australia, Bangladesh, Costa Rica and Ethiopia, the European Commission, IOM, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the International Centre for Migration Policy and Development (ICMPD) and other partners. IOM served as the secretariat for this initiative, and the US and Australia funded several stakeholder consultations on the issue.   Separately, the EU has supported a four-year project launched in January 2015, known as ‘Migrants in Countries in Crisis; Supporting an Evidence-based Approach for Effective and Cooperative State Action.' This project aims to support and complement the MICIC Initiative through research, regional consultations, and capacity building activities with governments, with particular attention being paid to socio-economic impacts of crises with migration implications. [MICIC Website] [Publication: Guidelines to Protect Migrants in Countries Experiencing Conflict or Natural Disaster] [ICMPD Webpage on EU Project]       Read More

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Competency Based Training In Barbados - A Silent Revolution?

 

Young Barbadians sign their contracts for participation in training

“We needed to reduce the rates of accidents during the transfer of cargo resulting from improper rigging of containers at the Bridgetown Port, the major port of entry in Barbados. By training dockers, operators, and cargo supervisors in appropriate lashing and unlashing, as well as securing cargo according to international standards, we will reduce the damage to cargo (…) and increase productivity”

 

The story above is one of the many that emerge from the silent revolution going on in Barbados, one that is transforming how technical and vocational trainingcontributes to the development of the human capital and the competitiveness of this small island of 300,000 people. Behind this revolution is the Competency Based Training Fund (CBTF), an innovative scheme to finance employer-driven, competency-based training initiatives that respond to industry standards and lead to national and international certification of trainees.

The upgrading of the competencies and skills of the island’s workforce has been at the center of Barbados’ Human Resource Development Strategy (HRD) for the last five years. As a result, the central government and the IDB developed the “Skills for the Future Program”, an initiative to improve the quality and relevance of secondary education by strengthening academic core skills and “life skills”; as well as to align the supply and demand for skills by supporting an employer-driven training system. It is in the context of this program that the Competency Based Training Fund (CBTF) emerged as a way to creative productive partnerships between key stakeholders.

The CBTF’s guidelines require employers to partner with training institutions to jointly identify skills gaps and develop competency-based training modules that respond to the needs of their industries. Trainees are then assessed and certified by the national agency, the TVET Council, according to national or international standards. This is a critical change in the way training programs were designed, developed and implemented, because it promotes a closer and more continuous interaction between employers, training providers, and the external assessing/certifying public agency.

This new approach is a shift from traditional training in Barbados where providers defined the content of the training; the development of industry recognized standards and certifications was slow; and the engagement of training institutions with employers was limited.  Moreover, in-house company training by employers was scarce and short-termed, lacking a strategic perspective and the resources needed to develop competency-based standards and certifications.

Evidence of the revolutionary changes initiated by the CBTF two years ago can be seen in the size and nature of training initiatives and, more importantly, in the way in which the program has truly redefined the dynamics of interaction between actors. As of this year, more than 100 proposals in key sectors such as hospitality and tourism, energy, and manufacturing have been submitted as a result of strategic partnerships between employers and training providers.  Out of these 100, the best 25 proposals have been financed and led to the training of almost 4,000 men and women in relevant competency-based programs.

The success of competency-based training is driven by the demand from employers in the key sectors of the Barbadian economy. There is a pipeline of training initiatives underway and new cohorts of graduates need to be assessed and certified.  This has prompted the TVET Council to strengthen its capacity to not only develop new standards in record time but also to modernize the assessment process to make it more efficient.

Initial results based on data collected from both winner proposals as well as non-winning eligible proposals are promising. Results indicate that the introduction of the CBTF has produced a clear increase in the number of firms undergoing competency-based training, in the amount of resources invested in that type of training and in the number of trainees certified. In addition, feedback obtained from the various firms shows that the majority of them have a positive perception about the impact of the training on the productivity of their employees (60%) and their prospects for employability beyond the firm (60 to 80%).

 

A fourth call for proposals is planned for 2016, and as the program enters its next stage, the hope is that success will continue, providing evidence of the potential that better synergy between public and private sector actors can have on the effectiveness of vocational training programs and, ultimately, in the life of thousands of young men and women ready to contribute to their society. The Caribbean and the rest of the region might have lots to learn from small Barbados. More

Friday, June 3, 2016

European Union Overseas Countries and Territories Association Innovation Strategy

The Innovation Strategy

Introduction

The European Union has 22 Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) as members of its Overseas Countries and Territories Association (OCTA).  One aim of OCTA is to contribute to the sustainable development of all of the EU’s OCTs, with priority given to innovation, competitiveness and green growth.  Based on this aim, OCTA has developed a dedicated project to spur innovation in OCTs, called ‘Territorial Strategies for Innovation’, which was officially launched on the 6th June 2014 in Brussels.  This project provides technical and demand-driven services to OCT governments.

The European Commission (EC) has allocated a budget of €5m for the ‘Territorial Strategies for Innovation’ project, specifically for technical assistance and the implementation of pilot projects in OCTs.  The technical assistance contract was awarded to Eurecna (Italy) and Egis (France) for a four-year period (April 2014-March 2018) and a core team of experts will be based in Brussels.  The experts will help OCTs to;

  • Establish an innovation strategy;
  • Establish actions plans for implementing the innovation strategy;
  • Create training tools to raise awareness of innovation;
  • Facilitate an innovation network through digital platform and training sessions;
  • Develop regional cooperation.

Accordng to OCTA, the definition for innovation is as follows;

“Innovation is really about responding to change in a creative way; it’s about generating new ideas, conducting R&D, improving processes or revamping products and services. At another level, it’s also a mindset in your business; your employees are always focused on continuous improvement and constantly thinking outside of the box.

 

 In the context of TSI this means changing or creating more effective processes, products and ideas that will increase the likelihood in the OCTs of increasing in competitiveness and achieving sustainable economic growth.”

Territorial Strategies for Innovation in the Falkland Islands

The Falkland Islands Development Board approved the establishment of the 'Innovation Strategy for the Falklands Islands' in April 2014.  Subsequently, Michael Betts, FIDC Business Relations Manager, was appointed as the Innovation Manager for the Falkland Islands.

 

The first task for the Innovation Manager was to set up an Advisory Board, which was completed in June 2015. The overall purpose of the Advisory Board is to provide advice, experience and knowledge to the Innovation Manager and facilitate the formulation and implementation of an Innovation Strategy for the Falkland Islands.

The Strategy

The Advisory Board agreed a phase of stakeholder consultation to take place in October 2015.  The consultation centred around an Innovation Workshop, which was held on the 16th October 2015 at the FIDF Club.  An Innovation Questionnaire was also produced to capture the views of those who were unable to attend the workshop.  The workshop was structured in a way to gather information regarding the current environment for innovation in the Falklands, barriers that prevent innovation, how innovation can be encouraged, identifying innovation opportunities and the key factors needed to deliver a national innovation strategy.  A total of 31 individuals, from both the public and private sectors, attended the workshop.  The workshop was led by the Innovation Manager, assisted by six facilitators.

The draft Innovation Strategy has been broken down into three parts.  Part A details the stakeholder consultation structure and results, providing the context and outlining the process that has been followed.  Part B is the strategy itself and Part C is the strategy’s Action Plan.  Part C provides the detail of how and when the recommendations, expressed in Part B, will be delivered.  Parts B and C can be found in Appendix A.

Part B is influenced by three elements; (1) the Advisory Board agreed vision for innovation in the Falkland Islands, (2) the results of the Stakeholder Consultation and (3) the OCTA definition for innovation.  Using these three elements as a guide, as well as research regarding innovation strategies adopted by other countries, the Innovation Strategy for the Falklands was drafted.

The Innovation Strategy aims to instil a mentality of innovation throughout the Falkland Islands’ public and private sectors.  This is to be achieved by making innovation a national priority, by specifically encouraging more local and overseas collaboration between the public sector, the private sector and institutions, increased investment in research and development, long-term planning in the development of people, encouraging innovation through the sharing of risk, and the continuous review and improvements to the Innovation Strategy itself.

You can download the Falkland Islands Innovation Strategy by clicking the link below

icon Falkland Islands Innovation Strategy (448.17 kB)

Friday, April 29, 2016

Young Scientist Summer School on Sea Dumped Chemical Weapons

 Science for Peace and Security (SPS), MODUM Partners are pleased to announce “Young Scientist Summer School on Sea Dumped Chemical Weapons" Apr 27, 2016
    Our project “Towards the Monitoring of Dumped Munitions Threat” (MODUM) was approved by the NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS). This international project cooperates closely with CHEMSEA (Search and Assessment of Chemical Weapons) Project for and sharing and knowledge transfer.   International Dialogue on Underwater Munitions (IDUM), with our NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) MODUM Partners, will host a “Young Scientist Summer School Summer School on Sea Dumped Weapons”, at Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC), Dartmouth Waterfront Campus, Nova Scotia, Canada from 27 June till 1 July 2016. The course will include an overview on global dumping of weapons in national and international waters from the 1920’s up-until the 1970’s, when dumping of weapons ceased after governments begin to understand the environmental impact.     Students who wish to attend the course should be interested, in marine science and oceans protection. The course will include concepts of employing underwater vehicles for survey techniques for the detection and mapping of underwater weapons and remote operated underwater vehicles for intrusive and non-intrusive investigations and monitoring of chemical releases from underwater munitions sites.   Students, who are interest to attend the course must request a registration form from diana.pyrikova@gmail.com to fill-out and return the registration form with a brief background on yourself. The cost for students to attend the course is 500USD. Travel, accommodations and meals are the responsibility of the students. Personnel, who are already employed in the environmental services industry and wish to attend, will be considered on a case-by case bases and availability. We encourage both students and personnel working in the environmental services industry to apply for this opportunity to lean more about Policy, Science, Technology and Responses to Underwater Munitions.     NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) MODUM Partners are the Institute of Oceanology Polish Academy of Sciences; International Dialogue on Underwater Munitions (IDUM), Canada; Shirshow Institute of Oceanology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Kaliningrad, Russia; Aarhus University, Roskide, Denmark; Thunen Institute of Fisheries Ecology, Cuxhaven, Germany; VERFIN, University of Helsinki, Finland; Environment Protection Agency Vilnius, Lithuania; Tailinn University of Technology, Tailinn, Estonia. Our associated partners are Royal Military College of Canada (RMC); and University of Georgia. Further Information More

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

This is how far seas could rise thanks to climate change

Picture yourself on a beautiful beach, anywhere in the world. Your favourite beach, maybe. The waves are lapping on the shore, the Sun is sparkling over the water and there is a refreshing ocean breeze.

Now imagine this beach has gone forever. Sea level has risen and the shoreline has moved inland by hundreds of metres, drowning stretch after stretch of former coastline in the process.

It might be a struggle to envision dramatic transformations to such familiar places, but climate change scientists say there is overwhelming evidence that sea levels are indeed rising, and at a rapid rate. So how high will sea levels go? And at what cost to coastal communities?

It was in the early 20th Century that scientists first realised that sea levels were on the move.

In 1941 Beno Gutenberg, a geophysicist, analysed the data from tide gauges – instruments along coastlines that measure sea level – and noticed something odd. Over the period that reliable tide gauge data existed at the time – about 100 years – sea level was rising.

The melting of the world’s glaciers and ice sheets could release vast quantities of water into the oceans 

Tide gauge data is now considered quite unreliable, but in 1993 NASA and the French space agency sent satellite-borne radar altimeters into space. Consequently we now have a much more accurate picture of sea level over the entire globe. These instruments confirmed that sea level is rising.

We now know that our warmer climate is driving the change. For instance, simple physics tells us that as water warms up, it expands.

“Thermal expansion through warmer ocean waters was the largest contributor to global sea level rise over the past century,” says John Krasting, a physical scientist at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory.

This thermal expansion will continue, but there is another, more notorious problem that could lead to really dramatic changes in sea level in the future: the melting of the world’s glaciers and ice sheets could release vast quantities of water into the oceans. How bad could it get? More

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Panama Papers leak exposes how Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping's friends hide money

Washington: A massive leak of documents has blown open a window on the vast, murky world of shell companies, providing an extraordinary look at how the wealthy and powerful conceal their money. Twelve current and former world leaders maintain offshore shell companies. Close friends of Russian leader Vladimir Putin have funneled as much as $US2 billion through banks and offshore companies. Those exposed in the leak include the prime ministers of Iceland and Pakistan, an alleged bagman for Syrian President Bashar Assad, a close friend of Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and companies linked to the family of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Add to those the monarchs of Saudi Arabia and Morocco; Middle Eastern royalty; leaders of FIFA, the international body that controls international soccer; and 29 billionaires included in Forbes Magazine's list of the world's 500 richest people. Also mentioned are 61 relatives and associates of current country leaders, and 128 current or former politicians and public officials. The leak exposes a trail of dark money flowing through the global financial system, stripping national treasuries of tax revenue. The data breach occurred at a little-known but powerful Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonseca & Co., which has an office in Las Vegas, a representative in Miami and presence in more than 35 other places around the world. The firm is one of the world's top five creators of shell companies, which can have legitimate business uses but can also be used to dodge taxes and launder money.  More than 11.5 million emails, financial spreadsheets, client records, passports and corporate registries were obtained in the leak, which was delivered to the Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper in Munich, Germany. In turn, the newspaper shared the data with the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. More

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Climate Change Impacts Human Rights, Says UN Special Rapporteur

4 March 2016: A global temperature increase of one or two degrees Celsius would adversely affect human rights, including the rights to life, development, food, water, health and housing, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, John Knox, told the Human Rights Council (HRC).

Knox stressed that human rights obligations with respect to climate change include decisions about how much climate protection to pursue, as well as the mitigation and adaptation measures through which protection is achieved.

In its resolution 29/15, the HRC requested the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a detailed 'Analytical study of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on the relationship between climate change and the human right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health (A/HRC/31/36).' The High Commissioner has asked for additional time and research, and will submit its report to the HRC at its 32nd session.


The Special Rapporteur shared an informal summary of inputs received on the 'Relationship between climate change and the human right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health (A/HRC/31/CRP.4),' which is expected to inform OHCHR's final report. The informal summary notes, inter alia, that climate change: threatens to undermine the last half century of gains in development and global health; impacts physical and mental health in several ways; and disproportionately impacts the poor and other disadvantaged, marginalized and vulnerable groups.


According to the informal summary, respondents called for further integration of human rights in climate action at all levels of governance, as well as further analysis and study of the impacts of climate change on the right to health, among other recommendations.


During discussion, several delegations expressed support for protecting human rights in relation to climate adaptation and mitigation, including the European Union (EU) and Costa Rica. South Africa, on behalf of the African Group, supported enhanced, quick action to adapt to climate change to ensure the full realization of human rights, stressing that climate change threatens sustainable development. The Philippines called for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to keep temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and scaling up additional and predictable means of implementation. Brazil recognized the impacts of climate change on human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights. The EU asked how to better plan and manage urban areas to address synergies among climate change, sustainable development and urbanization.


The world does not need to wait until 2018 to start strengthening its efforts to address climate change and begin implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change, the Special Rapporteur reminded participants in his response, pointing to the use of renewable energy by Iceland, Morocco and Uruguay.


Knox presented on two aspects of his mandate, clarifying the human rights obligations relating to climate change, and on methods of implementing those obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, in Geneva, Switzerland, on 3 March 2016. [UNOG Press Release] [OHCHR Press Release] [A/HRC/31/36] [Special Rapporteur Website]



read more: http://larc.iisd.org/news/climate-change-impacts-human-rights-says-un-special-rapporteur/


 

Yes, Scientists Can Link Extreme Weather Events To Climate Change

When asked about a particular weather event’s link to climate change, scientists are typically cautious to make definitive statements — especially in the immediate aftermath, before they’ve had the chance to study the event.

But according to a new study, it’s getting easier for scientists to make the link between climate change and some forms of extreme weather. The study, published Friday by the National Academies Press, found that scientific advances over the past several years have helped scientists link increases in frequency and intensity of temperature and precipitation-related events like droughts and heat waves to climate change.

“In the past, a typical climate scientist’s response to questions about climate change’s role in any given extreme weather event was ‘we cannot attribute any single event to climate change,'” the report, completed by a committee of scientists, reads. “The science has advanced to the point that this is no longer true as an unqualified blanket statement. In many cases, it is now often possible to make and defend quantitative statements about the extent to which human-induced climate change (or another causal factor, such as a specific mode of natural variability) has influenced either the magnitude or the probability of occurrence of specific types of events or event classes.”

The report calls this branch of science, wherein researchers work to determine whether climate change contributed to a certain event, “event attribution.” To determine how and if climate change is linked to a certain event, scientists typically either reference the observational record of similar events — i.e. the recorded history of droughts leading back several decades — or use models to determine how likely a similar event would be in different warming scenarios. Most studies, the report states, use both of these tactics. More

 

Monday, March 14, 2016

Warming ocean water undercuts Antarctic ice shelves

“Upside-down rivers” of warm ocean water threaten the stability of floating ice shelves in Antarctica, according to a new study led by researchers at the National Snow and Ice Data Center published today in Nature Geoscience. The study highlights how parts of Antarctica’s ice sheet may be weakening due to contact with warm ocean water.

“We found that warm ocean water is carving these ‘upside-down rivers,’ or basal channels, into the undersides of ice shelves all around the Antarctic continent. In at least some cases these channels weaken the ice shelves, making them more vulnerable to disintegration,” said Karen Alley, a graduate research assistant at NSIDC and lead author of the study. Alley is also a Ph.D. student in the University of Colorado Boulder’s Department of Geological Sciences.

Ice shelves are thick floating plates of ice that have flowed off the Antarctic continent and spread out onto the ocean. As ice shelves flow out to sea, they push against islands, peninsulas, and bedrock bumps known as “pinning points.” Contact with these features slows the flow of grounded ice off the continent. While ice shelves take thousands of years to grow, previous work has shown that they can disintegrate in a matter of weeks. If more ice shelves disintegrate in the future, loss of contact with pinning points will allow ice to flow more rapidly into the ocean, increasing the rate of sea level rise.

“Ice shelves are really vulnerable parts of the ice sheet, because climate change hits them from above and below,” said Ted Scambos, NSIDC lead scientist and study co-author. “They are really important in braking the ice flow to the ocean.”

The features form as buoyant plumes of warm and fresh water rise and flow along the underside of an ice shelf, carving channels much like upside-down rivers. The channels can be tens of miles long, and up to 800 feet “deep.”

When a channel is carved into the base of an ice shelf, the top of the ice shelf sags, leaving a visible depression in the relatively smooth ice surface. Alley and her colleagues mapped the locations of these depressions all around the Antarctic continent using satellite imagery, as well as radar data that images the channels through the ice, mapping the shape of the ice-ocean boundary.

The team also used satellite laser altimetry, which measures the height of an ice shelf surface with high accuracy, to document how quickly some of the channels were growing. The data show that growing channels on the rapidly melting Getz Ice Shelf in West Antarctica can bore into the ice shelf base at rates of approximately 10 meters (33 feet) each year.

The mapping shows that basal channels have a tendency to form along the edges of islands and peninsulas, which are already weak areas on ice shelves. The team observed two locations where ice shelves are fracturing along basal channels, clear evidence that basal channel presence can weaken ice shelves to the point of breaking in vulnerable areas.

While no ice shelves have completely disintegrated due to carving by basal channels, the study points to the need for more observation and study of these features, said co-author Helen Amanda Fricker of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. “It's feasible that as ocean temperatures around Antarctica continue to rise, melting in basal channels could contribute to increased erosion of ice shelves from below."

The study, “Impacts of warm water on Antarctic ice shelf stability through basal channel formation,” was led by University of Colorado Boulder Ph.D. student Karen Alley, who worked with coauthors Ted Scambos of NSIDC and Matthew Siegfried and Helen Amanda Fricker of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego. Their work was funded in part by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey. More

Contacts

Jane Beitler,Communications, National Snow and Ice Data Center, press@nsidc.org, +1-303-492-1497
Brittany Hook, Communications Coordinator, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, scrippsnews@ucsd.edu, 858-534-3624

 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A Take-No-Prisoners World of Oil

It’s evident that we’re still on a planet where oil rules. The question increasingly is: What exactly does it rule over? After all, every barrel of oil that’s burned contributes to a fast-approaching future in which the weather grows hotter and more extreme, droughts and wildfires spread, sea levels rise precipitously, ice continues to melt away in the globe's coldest reaches, and... well, you know that story well enough by now. In the meantime, Planet Earth has a glut of oil on hand and that, it turns out, doesn’t mean -- not for the major oil companies nor even for the major oil states -- that the good times are getting ready to roll.

Of all the powers struggling with that oil glut and the plunging energy prices that have gone with it, none may be more worth watching than Saudi Arabia. While exporting its own extremists and its extreme brand of Islam from Afghanistan to Syria, and lending a decades-long hand to the destabilization of the Greater Middle East, that kingdom has itself been a paragon of stability. Nothing, however, lasts forever, and so keeping an eye on the Saudis is a must. That’s especially so since the latest version of the royal family has also made what might be called the American mistake (with the backing of the Obama administration, no less) and for the first time plunged the Saudi military directly into a typically unwinnable if brutal war in neighboring Yemen.

Combine the destabilizing and blowback effects of wars that won’t end, including the Syrian one, and of oil prices that refuse to rise significantly and, despite the kingdom’s copious money reserves, you have a formula for potential domestic unrest. Already the royals are cutting their domestic subsidies to their own population, pulling billions of dollars in aid out of Lebanon, and exploring a possible $10 billion bank loan.

As TomDispatch’s invaluable energy expert Michael Klare suggests today, when oil prices began plummeting in 2015, the Saudis launched an “oil war of attrition,” imagining that others would be devastated by it (as OPEC partners Nigeria and Venezuela already have been) but that the royals themselves would emerge triumphant.

Should the unimaginable happen, however, and should the kingdom itself begin to come unglued in a Greater Middle East that is increasingly the definition of chaos -- watch out. Tom


Energy Wars of Attrition
The Irony of Oil Abundance
By Michael T. Klare

Three and a half years ago, the International Energy Agency (IEA) triggered headlines around the world by predicting that the United States would overtake Saudi Arabia to become the world’s leading oil producer by 2020 and, together with Canada, would become a net exporter of oil around 2030. Overnight, a new strain of American energy triumphalism appeared and experts began speaking of “Saudi America,” a reinvigorated U.S.A. animated by copious streams of oil and natural gas, much of it obtained through the then-pioneering technique of hydro-fracking. “This is a real energy revolution,” the Wall Street Journal crowed in an editorial heralding the IEA pronouncement.

The most immediate effect of this “revolution,” its boosters proclaimed, would be to banish any likelihood of a “peak” in world oil production and subsequent petroleum scarcity. The peak oil theorists, who flourished in the early years of the twenty-first century, warned that global output was likely to reach its maximum attainable level in the near future, possibly as early as 2012, and then commence an irreversible decline as the major reserves of energy were tapped dry. The proponents of this outlook did not, however, foresee the coming of hydro-fracking and the exploitation of previously inaccessible reserves of oil and natural gas in underground shale formations. More

Thursday, March 3, 2016

5 Ways to Sustain the Corporate Renewables Market

5 Ways to Sustain the Corporate Renewables Market


THE CORPORATION MOVES IN

The year 2015 represented a major turning point for electricity generation in the United States. The country retired 14 GW of fossil-fueled generation. Meanwhile, it brought online 16.4 GW of carbon-free generation, with wind energy leading the mix at 8.5 GW of new installed capacity, according to BNEF's Sustainable Energy in America 2016 Factbook. Natural gas, despite historical low commodity prices, brought online just 6 GW. This is an exciting sign of a changing tide, but the U.S. bulk power fleet today totals ~1,100 GW of capacity, and two-thirds of generation still comes from fossil fuels. Renewables still have much ground left to cover.

The good news is that renewable capacity growth has a new ally, with the potential of mobilizing tens—at times, hundreds—of additional MWs at each step: corporate demand for renewable energy.

RMI’s Business Renewables Center (BRC) has been focusing on renewables growth in large chunks—through corporations’ appetite to contract large amounts of electricity. And its member companies have been doing exactly that, in record numbers. Though a young market, corporate deals for large-scale renewables have been growing fast, from 0.56 GW in 2013, to 1.18 in 2014, to 3.44 last year. Meanwhile, the number of market participants has blossomedfrom 1 to 26. That corporate demand for renewables is now becoming the nation’s leading source of demand for wind power and an increasingly important source of demand for solar, too. More

 

 

5 Ways to Sustain the Corporate Renewables Market

5 Ways to Sustain the Corporate Renewables Market


THE CORPORATION MOVES IN

The year 2015 represented a major turning point for electricity generation in the United States. The country retired 14 GW of fossil-fueled generation. Meanwhile, it brought online 16.4 GW of carbon-free generation, with wind energy leading the mix at 8.5 GW of new installed capacity, according to BNEF's Sustainable Energy in America 2016 Factbook. Natural gas, despite historical low commodity prices, brought online just 6 GW. This is an exciting sign of a changing tide, but the U.S. bulk power fleet today totals ~1,100 GW of capacity, and two-thirds of generation still comes from fossil fuels. Renewables still have much ground left to cover.

The good news is that renewable capacity growth has a new ally, with the potential of mobilizing tens—at times, hundreds—of additional MWs at each step: corporate demand for renewable energy.

RMI’s Business Renewables Center (BRC) has been focusing on renewables growth in large chunks—through corporations’ appetite to contract large amounts of electricity. And its member companies have been doing exactly that, in record numbers. Though a young market, corporate deals for large-scale renewables have been growing fast, from 0.56 GW in 2013, to 1.18 in 2014, to 3.44 last year. Meanwhile, the number of market participants has blossomedfrom 1 to 26. That corporate demand for renewables is now becoming the nation’s leading source of demand for wind power and an increasingly important source of demand for solar, too. More

 

 

Power to the People

The way we generate and distribute electricity is changing. Now we have the opportunity to choose where we get our power from: to be our own mini power station, or to be tied to the utility company’s grid.

Graham Morse

PV solar panels allow consumers to generate their own electricity. And here in Cayman we can generate plenty. The trouble is it hasn’t been economic to store it for use during the night. So most of the homes and businesses in Cayman which generate their own power use CUC’s CORE (Customer Own Renewable Energy) program: they sell their power to CUC, and buy the electricity they use like everyone else.

But recent development in the production of lithium-ion batteries is a game-changer. Compared with lead-acid batteries, which have been around for a hundred years, lithium-ion batteries are smaller, lighter, produce constant power and have a greatly extended life. But because there was limited demand, they were very expensive. Now, fueled by growing demand from electric vehicles, battery manufacturers have gone into mass production, bringing down the cost. Tesla led the way. Last year they announced the launch of ‘Powerwall,’ a home power storage battery system that will fit on your kitchen wall.

And the cost of battery storage has plummeted. Five years ago it was over $1000 per KW, today it is $250 per KW and it is forecast to drop by 75% over the next year five years. This means that it is now financially viable to install a battery system that will store the power made in the day for use at night. Homes and businesses have a choice: burning fossil fuel and rising process with CUC, or going ‘off-grid’ – described in the industry as ‘grid defection.’ More Cayman Renewable Energy Association CREA

 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Steering Committee on Partnerships for Small Island Developing States

Steering Committee on Partnerships for Small Island Developing States

25 Feb 2016 3:00 PM - 4:15 PMECOSOC Chamber

On December 2015, the General Assembly decided (A/70/472/Add.2 - paragraph 11) to establish the Small Island Developing States Partnership (SIDS) Framework, in accordance with paragraph 101 of the SAMOA Pathway, to monitor and ensure the full implementation of pledges and commitments through partnerships for small island developing States.The SIDS Partnership Framework consists, in short, of:

  • A Steering Committee - open to all States Members of the United Nations or members of the specialized agencies. The Committee should support the follow-up of existing, and promote and advocate the launching of new, small island developing States partnerships. Entities of the United Nations system, international and regional organizations, major groups and other stakeholders will be invited to contribute, The Committee will be supported by the Secretariat, in particular the Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.
  • Organization of an annual an action-oriented, results-focused Global Multi-stakeholder SIDS Partnership Dialogue. The dialogue will provide an opportunity for reviewing progress made by existing partnerships, including, where applicable, review inputs from regional and national partnership dialogues, and be a place for sharing of good practices, lessons learned and challenges and solutions from SIDS partnerships. The dialogue will also be a platform for the launch of new partnerships for Small Island developing States.
  • Development of a standardized partnership reporting template and process of SIDS partnerships, which takes into account existing reporting mechanisms and the need to minimize the reporting burden of all stakeholders involved in SIDS partnerships.

The SIDS Partnership Framework also encourages national and regional partnership dialogues to be organized through existing forums and meetings. The first meeting of the Steering Committee will be held on 25 February 2016, from 3pm - 4.15pm in the ECOSOC Chamber, UNHQ. The President of the General Assembly has appointed Maldives and Italy as co-chairs of the Steering Committee. More

 

 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

University College of the Cayman Islands Offering Partial scholarships in Logistics


Anyone who may be interested in studying Logistics in Frankfurt and Rotterdam this summer, UCCI is offering a partial scholarship. Interested persons who have at least a Bachelor’s degree should contact J.D. Mosley-Matchett this week. +1(345).623-0552


 

Friday, February 19, 2016

TEDx University College of the Cayman Islands

Did you get a chance to see Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, etc.) doing her TED talk on Monday evening? If not, you can catch her online at:http://www.ted.com/talks/shonda_rhimes_my_year_of_saying_yes_to_everything

Her talk entitled “My year of saying yes to everything” was absolutely inspiring.


But that’s what TED is about, as you already know if you were one of the 124 people who registered for this past Tuesday’s simulcast at UCCI of the big TED 2016 event in Vancouver, Canada.

However, nothing beats the thrill of seeing live speakers, engaging with them face-to-face, and discussing those great ideas with other TED event attendees.

Of course, the cheapest admission ticket for TED 2016 in Vancouver was US$8500. (Not an admission price that just anyone can afford in these challenging economic times.)


So, keep in mind that just next month, on March 19th, you can experience the same excitement of live speakers and great ideas at TEDxUCCI 2016. The theme this year is FutureVision…and it will undoubtedly be the most insightful TEDx ever for investigating the many pressing issues facing Cayman and the world.

From 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., you’ll hear great talks on topics including conservation, energy use and production, the ocean’s potential, heath, technical literacy, economic and social sustainability, creative professions, and dealing effectively with today’s complex world. There will also be a new production by the UCCI theatre arts students and great food prepared by UCCI’s Hospitality students.


Nick Robson of the Cayman Institute shall be presenting a talk entitled Predicting The Future. Come out and be entertained and hopefully learn a thing or two.


Early Bird 2-for-1: Bring a Friend for Free!

Through the end of this week, two registrants can pay just one admission fee to attend TEDxUCCI 2016. Both people must register for the TEDxUCCI 2016 event online atwww.TEDxUCCI.ky and then both registration confirmations can be taken to the UCCI campus within 10 working days for payment. As long as both registrations were made before February 21st, only one admission fee will be charged.

Admission costs $25 for non-students and $10 for students. But this week’s 2-for-1 special can provide as much as a 50% savings for TEDx-enthusiasts on a budget. TEDxUCCI 2016 is hosted by UCCI and generously sponsored by the Ministry of Community Affairs, Youth & Sports and Foster’s Food Fair.

To register or for more information, go to www.TEDxUCCI.ky or contact info@TEDxUCCI.ky

 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

WEF: 2016 Year of Implementation on Climate Change, SDGs

23 January 2016: The World Economic Forum's (WEF) Annual Meeting convened under the theme, 'Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution,' with the aim of building a shared understanding of current changes and shaping a collective future that places humans at the center.


Participants reflected that 2016 must be a year of implementation on climate change and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


The WEF Annual Meeting addressed, among other topics: climate change; environmental protection and resource scarcity; food security and agriculture; inclusive, sustainable growth and security; employment, skills and human capital; and gender parity. It also showcased the private sector's role in achieving the SDGs. The event brought together over 40 Heads of State and government with 2,500 leaders from UN agencies, business and civil society.


'The New Climate and Development Imperative' session addressed the implications of the Paris Agreement and the SDGs, drivers for action for development and climate targets, and the role of technology in improving ambition over time. Speaking at the session, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed that “The SDGs and climate change must go together.” He outlined five steps forward: conversion of national climate plans into bankable investment strategies and projects; financing for developing countries to use low-carbon sources to meet high energy demands; increased attention and resources for climate resilience; increased climate actions at all levels, including public-private partnerships; and ratification of the Paris Agreement. Also addressing the session, Norway's Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, stated that “We will never manage to reach climate targets if we don't create social fairness in the world.”


Another session on 'A New Climate for Doing Business' reflected on the opportunities and responsibilities for business, entrepreneurship and innovation as a result of the Paris Agreement. Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), highlighted the potential for change in developing countries, which she said “represent our biggest opportunity to support…growth in a clean, predictable and safe way.” Observing that the world needs US$5.5 trillion per year to meet the Paris Agreement commitments, Stuart Gulliver, HSBC Holdings, expressed confidence that “there is enough money in the private sector to do this.” Panelists shared their companies' efforts to, inter alia: transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy; advocate for a new climate economy; and put a price on carbon for internal operations and supply chains.


In a keynote speech delivered at the Global Goals Dinner, UN General Assembly (UNGA) President Mogens Lykketoft called for a “focus on getting off to the best start possible” in achieving the SDGs. He underlined the importance of signals that “those with power and privilege will live up to their responsibilities” to achieve the Goals and ensure the SDGs gain traction. Lykketoft explained that he will host a high-level meeting in April to showcase implementation. He asked world leaders to come prepared to share their country plans to achieve the Goals and called upon the private sector to align their business practices with the Goals, including on issues such as the environment and taxation.


At a Global Compact event, Ban underscored the business community's “enormous power to create decent jobs, open access to education and basic services, unlock energy solutions and end discrimination…[and] drive global progress.” He stressed 2016 as critical in “turning global promises into reality,” calling on governments to “take the lead with decisive steps” and business to “provide essential solutions and resources that put our world on a more sustainable path.” Ban welcomed the Global Compact's steps to translate the SDGs into action and innovation, highlighting the potential of its 85 Global Compact Local Networks to further mobilize action.


“There is no business case for enduring poverty,” observed Unilever CEO Paul Polman at WEF press conference. He called for tackling poverty, inequality and environmental challenges, saying “every business will benefit from operating in a more equitable, resilient world if we achieve the SDGs.” Polman and former UN Deputy Secretary General Mark Malloch-Brown launched The Global Commission on Business and Sustainable Development, which aims to articulate the economic case for businesses to engage in the SDGs. The Commission will present a report in 2017 that: analyzes how business models can align profitability with social purpose; maps financial tools for aligning economic and social returns; shows how collaboration among governments, international organizations, civil society and the private sector can build a future where businesses can promote job creation and inclusive, sustainable growth; and examines the risks to business performance and stability from not addressing the SDGs.


In a blog post on the WEF, Paul Ladd, Director of the UN Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), suggests three ways for business leaders to commit to the SDGs and increase resilience to future shocks. Ladd describes the positive feedback loops between technology and taxes while cautioning that advances in technology can exacerbate inequalities and the politics of tax reform “are slow and difficult.” He highlights universal social protection as critical in supporting people through their active working lives and beyond, including ensuring a minimum level of income to support socially acceptable standards of living, access to essential services and opportunities for lifelong education and training.


On business and growth, participants called for a new model of growth beyond a country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Economist Joseph Stiglitz stressed, “What we measure informs what we do. And if we're measuring the wrong thing, we're going to do the wrong thing.” Similarly, MIT professor Erik Brynjolfsson said GDP does not measure “how well we are all doing” but “counts the things that we're buying and selling.”


On gender equality, a panel convened on 'Progress Towards Parity.' Sheryl Sanberg, Facebook, described the “toddler wage gap,” saying gender inequality starts very young. Actress Emma Watson observed that full female participation in the workforce would be “the single biggest stimulus to the economy” and stressed that the world will never achieve gender equality unless everyone—women and men, girls and boys, are involved.


“Women are chronically under-represented in leadership roles and in formal employment overall,” UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said at the launch of the inaugural ‘HeforShe Parity Report,' which finds that the proportion of senior leadership roles held by women ranges from 11 to 33% among the world's ten leading companies. The report presents data on gender diversity in the workforce, including data on board membership, leadership roles and new hires among ten companies.


Sessions also convened on, inter alia: financing and operationalizing the SDGs; the global science outlook; and regional and national economic outlooks. Briefings took place on WEF Issue Briefs, including on the plastics economy, the gender gap and jobs. Ban appointed 17 SDG Advocates and launched a panel on women's economic empowerment. More


WEF 46 took place in Davos, Switzerland, from 20-23 January 2016. [UN Secretary-General Statement] [WEF Press Release on A New Climate for Doing Business] [UNFCCC Executive Secretary Reflection on WEF] [UNGA President Statement at Global Goals Dinner] [UN Press Release 20 January/ on Global Compact] [WEF News on Gender Parity] [WEF Press Release on Watson Statement] [Sandberg Statement] [UN Women Press Release 22 January] [UN Women Executive Director Statement] [WEF Recap] [WEF Press Release on Commission Launch] [IISD RS Story on Launch of SDG Advocates]