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Hajer M.,PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency | Hajer M.,University of Amsterdam | Nilsson M.,Stockholm Environment Institute | Nilsson M.,KTH Royal Institute of Technology | And 7 more authors.
Sustainability (Switzerland) | Year: 2015

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) have the potential to become a powerful political vision that can support the urgently needed global transition to a shared and lasting prosperity. In December 2014, the United Nations (UN) Secretary General published his report on the SDGs. However, the final goals and targets that will be adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2015 risk falling short of expectations because of what we call " cockpit-ism": the illusion that top-down steering by governments and intergovernmental organizations alone can address global problems. In view of the limited effectiveness of intergovernmental efforts and questions about the capacity of national governments to affect change, the SDGs need to additionally mobilize new agents of change such as businesses, cities and civil society. To galvanize such a broad set of actors, multiple perspectives on sustainable development are needed that respond to the various motives and logics of change of these different actors. We propose four connected perspectives which can strengthen the universal relevance of the SDGs: " planetary boundaries" to stress the urgency of addressing environmental concerns and to target governments to take responsibility for (global) public goods; " the safe and just operating space" to highlight the interconnectedness of social and environmental concerns and its distributive consequences; " the energetic society" to benefit from the willingness of a broad group of actors worldwide to take action; and " green competition" to stimulate innovation and new business practices. To realize the transformative potential of the SDGs, these four perspectives should be reflected in the focus and content of the SDGs that will be negotiated in the run up to September 2015 and its further implementation. © 2015 by the authors.

Abdullahi Majeed, a veteran negotiator on climate change for the Maldives who has been warning of the risks of sea level rise since a meeting in 1989, attends U.N. talks in Bonn, Germany, October 22, 2015. Abdullahi Majeed, a veteran negotiator on climate change for the Maldives who has been warning of the risks of sea level rise since a meeting in 1989, attends U.N. talks in Bonn, Germany, October 22, 2015. Now a 60-year-old veteran, Majeed is still repeating that message, one of a handful of delegates to this month's Paris climate summit who have been attending tortuous U.N. negotiations to combat global warming from the start. "It's frustrating," he said. "The sense of urgency is simply not there." In countless conference halls from Bangkok to Buenos Aires, Majeed has seen more setbacks than breakthroughs, not least the failed Copenhagen conference in 2009. He is now pinning cautious hopes on the Paris summit, from Nov. 30-Dec. 11, when almost 200 nations will once more seek an accord to curb manmade greenhouse gas emissions, blamed by almost all leading climate scientists for rising global temperatures and sea levels. "There is more hope," he said. "We can't have another Copenhagen." In November 1989, Majeed was head of his country's meteorological service when 14 island nations met in the capital of the Indian Ocean archipelago to sign the Male Declaration about the risks of climate change. It went almost unnoticed outside the signatories, which included Grenada, Fiji and Malta. At the time, few scientists blamed mankind for global warming, and the fall of the Berlin Wall a week earlier was dominating the world's headlines. "We knew it wouldn't be plain sailing but we thought ‘We have to begin somewhere’," Majeed said. Now, the risks are far more widely known. Sea levels have risen by about 20 cm (8 inches) since 1900 and the U.N. panel of climate scientists says they could swell again by between 26 and 82 cm by the late 21st century, driven by a thaw of ice from Greenland to Antarctica. That would be a creeping threat to coasts from Bangladesh to Florida, to coastal cities from London to Shanghai and to many low-lying coral atolls. The Maldives, with a population of 345,000, is among the most vulnerable since its highest natural point is just 2.4 metres (8 feet) above sea level. Robert Van Lierop of Vanuatu, the first chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) from 1991-94, said Majeed had helped to set the tone for island negotiators by blending concern with humility. "Through the ups and downs of the negotiations, he has been a steady rock," Van Lierup said. Majeed, now Minister of State for Environment and Energy, said he had first become interested in the weather as a child when his father had been unable to answer the question "How do you measure rainfall?". Delegates often jokingly liken the negotiations to herding cats. Just like AOSIS, now grown to 44 members, the United States, China, African nations, OPEC oil producers or left-wing Latin American states all have often-competing national interests. OPEC nations, for instance, immediately realized that any shift to wind and solar power was a threat to oil exports. At climate talks in the early 1990s, "half of the OPEC delegates were lawyers", Majeed said. It was not until 1992 that a U.N. climate convention in Rio de Janeiro finally set a goal of limiting greenhouse emissions to 1990 levels by 2000, albeit only for developed economies. But the goal was non-binding, and was not met. After a grind of unproductive annual U.N. meetings, the next accord was the U.N.'s 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which initially obliged about 40 rich nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions by about 5 percent below 1990 levels in the period 2008-12. Those cuts have been met overall, but Kyoto had fatal flaws, and the number of participants in an extended period to 2020 has shrunk to a small core around the European Union. U.S. President George W. Bush concluded that Kyoto was giving big emerging economies such as China and India a free ride, and would cost U.S. jobs. Having signed the deal, Washington never ratified it. "It was a very minor step in the right direction," Majeed said, remembering that his delegation had to leave before the agreement was reached, in overtime, to avoid missing their expensive flight home. One of the lowest points was a two-week meeting in Buenos Aires in 2004, which ended with an agreement merely to hold a seminar about climate change the following year. To some, given the U.S. opposition to Kyoto, even that was a victory. "At the time, I was very happy to get this workshop," said Yvo de Boer, the U.N. climate chief from 2006-10 who was a senior member of the Dutch delegation in Buenos Aires. He says the core problem is that climate change ultimately means transforming the world economy. Crops will have to be replaced or planted elsewhere, for instance, industry will have to find new ways of working without fossil fuels, and low-lying countries may one day have to move whole cities. "If it was just about cutting emissions, it would be much easier," said de Boer, who now heads the Global Green Growth Institute in South Korea. Majeed said the pace picked up in Bali in 2007, when nations agreed to work out a global accord to succeed Kyoto within two years. Washington dropped its opposition at a stormy final session during which U.S. delegates were booed. But the 2009 Copenhagen summit failed, with only a partial accord for emissions cuts until 2020 and a promise to mobilize $100 billion a year in climate finance for developing nations by 2020. By last year, about $62 billion had been amassed. Majeed says Copenhagen was the worst meeting: "People started with such optimism, and it ended with such doom." Prospects for a global accord are now brighter, partly because the United States and China are working together. But ambitions are also lower: a Paris accord will compile voluntary national pledges for action beyond 2020, forsaking the binding model of Kyoto. In Male, Majeed lives in a house that is about 2 metres (7 feet) above sea level and 50 metres from the waterfront. He grumbles that there are few beaches, because of the sea defenses that occupy much of the capital's coast. After the Paris talks, set to take place under heightened security after the attacks that killed 129 people last week, he reckons he may stay with climate negotiations for another five years. "Nobody likes traveling to so many places," he said. "We all have families too." Majeed has four daughters. Asked why he has stayed on so long when many others have given up, he shrugs: "I've got climate in my veins."

Szulecka J.,TU Dresden | Szulecka J.,Center for International Forestry Research | Obidzinski K.,Center for International Forestry Research | Obidzinski K.,Global Green Growth Institute | And 2 more authors.
Forest Policy and Economics | Year: 2016

Forest plantations have been an important land-use pattern in Indonesia for centuries. Yet the role of timber plantations, their specific goals, perceptions, actors involved, and management systems had been redefined in the past and they continue to evolve today. It is important to understand the driving forces and historical trends shaping timber plantations in Indonesia in order to critically reflect on their changing roles in the forestry sector. This article traces the development of Indonesian forest plantations through time by categorizing them into paradigms. Proposed explanatory framework helps to see the historical legacies in the Indonesian plantation sector. The identification of historical plantation modes is based on a literature review while current approaches and specific policy instruments are discussed based on exploratory empirical case-study material from three Indonesian forest plantation estates (involving joint forest management, community forest management and large private timber company). The historical review shows a range of continuities and helps to explain the problems forest plantations in Indonesia face today. It points to socially-oriented community forest management as highly praised by its stakeholders, able to improve rural livelihoods and secure environmental benefits. © 2015 Elsevier B.V.

Creutzig F.,Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change | Hedahl M.,U.S. Naval Academy | Rydge J.,Global Green Growth Institute | Szulecki K.,University of Oslo
Global Policy | Year: 2014

Researchers from various disciplines have built impressive but distinct compendia on climate change the defining challenge for humanity. In the spirit of Lord Dahrendorf, this paper represents the output of interdisciplinary collaboration and integrates state-of-the-art academic expertise from the fields of philosophy, economics and governance. Our focus is on Europe, which is widely perceived as a leader in climate change mitigation and adaptation. However, leadership weakness on climate over recent years, largely due to recession and political vacillation, is eroding this perception. What is needed is a firm justification for strong climate action, acknowledgement of the available tools, awareness of the reasons for our failures to date, and a realistic, but goal-oriented strategy for an integrated climate policy. We therefore present current normative insights from climate justice research highlighting the need to make institutions responsive to those most vulnerable we discuss the economics of the transition to a low-carbon economy, pointing to key policy instruments and post-2020 climate targets for the EU; we contrast the normative and quantitative synoptic principles with the particularistic implementation schemes and politics of (not) implementing measures on the ground; and we suggest a careful coordination of European climate policies with acute challenges that could increase both climate justice and political feasibility. © 2014 University of Durham and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

But as the leaders departed Paris, it became apparent that disagreements which have blocked a deal over four years of lead-up negotiations remain unresolved. Negotiators from the 195 countries with a place at the table resumed work on a draft text that still runs to more than 50 pages and is riddled with sticky issues to be settled. The biggest obstacle is money: how to come up with the billions of dollars developing nations need to shift from fossil fuels and adapt to the impacts of climate change. At Tuesday's technical talks, countries restated their well-known negotiating positions on the question with few hints of compromise. China's delegate Su Wei "noted with concern" what he called a lack of commitment by the rich to make deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and help developing nations with new finance to tackle global warming. And the group of the 48 least developed countries urged far tougher action to limit rising temperatures. "It's back to the nitty gritty," said Alden Meyer, of the Union of Concerned Scientists, adding the opening day was "all good but that does not resolve the crunch issues." Certainly there was still some hangover of goodwill from Monday, when a parade of leaders stepped to the podium to assert the imperative of getting a deal. Many delegates said the large turnout of leaders, almost all expressing sympathy for the French people after attacks by Islamic State militants killed 130 in Paris this month, set a less hostile tone than the one that prevailed in the last talks in Copenhagen in 2009. French President Francois Hollande said he was encouraged by the start of a conference that is planned to run until Dec. 11. "It's set off well but it has to arrive too," he told reporters. The mood had also been brightened by major spending announcements, including a plan by India and France to mobilize $1 trillion for solar power for some of the world's poorest people and a private sector initiative led by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates to mobilize billions of dollars for new energy research and development. A deal in Paris would be by far the strongest ever agreed to bind both rich and poor nations to limit greenhouse gas emissions, which scientists say have blanketed the earth, raised global temperatures and begun upending the planet's climate system. But Tuesday showed that the Paris talks are still taking place under the shadow of politics-as-usual back home. In the United States, Republicans have signaled they will oppose authorizing the billions of dollars that President Barack Obama has pledged to help developing nations adapt to climate change. In response, Obama told reporters before boarding Air Force One to return to the United States that the impacts of climate change will force any future U.S. president -- Democrat or Republican -- to act. "Everybody else is taking climate change really seriously," he said of world leaders in Paris, adding: "People should be confident that we'll meet our commitments on this." Developing nations want the rich to pledge rising amounts beyond the current goal of $100 billion a year by 2020 to help them obtain clean energy sources and adapt to the effects of climate change, ranging from more floods to droughts and intense storms. Other disputes concern how to define a long-term goal for reducing or phasing out fossil fuels this century. So far, pledges made by 184 countries to curb greenhouse gas emissions beyond 2020, made in the run-up to the Paris summit, are too weak to limit rising global temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times. That is widely viewed as a threshold for dangerous and potentially catastrophic changes in the planet's climate system. As negotiators grapple with the details, they also appear motivated by the fearful consequences of failing to get an agreement. "Leaders still have the scars of Copenhagen on their hearts and brains," said Yvo de Boer, who was the U.N.'s climate chief in Copenhagen. De Boer, who works for the Global Green Growth Institute, said Monday's big turnout was encouraging for a deal - but acknowledged the challenge ahead. "The elephant in the room is still finance," he said.

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