Climate change threatens Botswana's main tourist attraction
June 23, 2012 06:18 AM - Justice Kavahematui, SciDevNet
Botswana urgently needs policies to facilitate climate change adaptation to protect the Okavango Delta, the country's most lucrative tourist attraction, according to a new study. Recent statistics from the Bank of Botswana show that tourism is the country's second largest source of income, contributing US$753 million to GDP in 2011. The Delta is one of the most popular destinations for visitors to the country. Wame L. Hambira, from the Department of Environmental Science at the University of Botswana in Gaborone, warned that unless government policies take account of current and forecasted climate shifts, the tourism sector could be badly damaged, with serious implications for the wider economy.
Rio+20 closing statement - opportunity to act on a sustainable future lost
June 22, 2012 06:35 AM - WWF
With negotiations at an end, WWF Director General Jim Leape today issued the following closing statement about the Rio+20 summit: "This was a conference about life: about future generations; about the forests, oceans, rivers and lakes that we all depend on for our food, water and energy. It was a conference to address the pressing challenge of building a future that can sustain us. Unfortunately, the world leaders who gathered here lost sight of that urgent purpose. With too few countries prepared to press for action, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff chose to drive a process with no serious content — to the planet’s detriment."
Will UN Summit on Sustainable Development in Rio make anyone happy?
June 21, 2012 06:43 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM
As world leaders head to Rio de Janeiro for the UN Summit on Sustainable Development, environmental and poverty groups are denouncing the last-minute text agreed on by dignitaries as "pathetic," (Greenpeace), a "damp squib" (Friends of the Earth), "a dead end" (Oxfam), and, if nothing changes, "a colossal waste of time" (WWF). "We were promised the 'future we want' but are now being presented with a 'common vision' of a polluter’s charter that will cook the planet, empty the oceans and wreck the rain forests,“ the head of Greenpeace, Kumi Naidoo, said. "This is not a foundation on which to grow economies or pull people out of poverty, it’s the last will and testament of a destructive twentieth century development model."
How to help to poorer Nations on Environment
June 20, 2012 06:15 AM - EurActive
World Bank President Lewis Preston called on rich donors to back a $5-billion (€4 billion) fund to help the world's poorest nations protect their environment and make economic development more sustainable. The year was 1992, just six months after the collapse of the Soviet Union and when the ink was barely dry on the European Union treaty. Preston’s "Earth increment" — unveiled at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro that June - was to provide low-cost environmental loans through the bank's International Development Association, a complement to the billions in aid promises made to help heal the economic and environmental rifts left by the Cold War. But Preston's plan would — like other commitments to help the ecology of disadvantaged nations in the two decades since the Earth Summit — never saw the light of day.
OECD launches 'green economy' consultation with developing countries
June 19, 2012 09:14 AM - Aisling Irwin, SciDevNet
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has launched a consultation with developing countries on green growth — just as these countries have been criticising the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) negotiations for being disproportionately dominated by the idea.
Can Making Rum be Sustainable? Serrallés thinks so!
June 19, 2012 07:22 AM - Gina-Marie Cheeseman, Triple Pundit
Rum production produces rather nasty wastewater which needs to be disposed of some how. The Serrallés Rum Distillery in Ponce, Puerto Rico produces DonQ, its main brand of rum, which is the most popular rum in Puerto Rico. It is one of the largest rum distilleries in the Caribbean with an annual output capacity of 15 million proof gallons. The company has spent a decade and $16 million on a new filtration system. Serrallés used to dump its wastewater into nearby fields, but during rainy season the waste would run off and the distillery would have to shut down when flooding starting which cost the company $200,000 a year. A Fast Company article claims that Serrallés has turned the "$75 million distillery into one of the cleanest in the world."
Very Fine Particulates
June 18, 2012 05:05 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has just proposed updates to its national air quality standards for harmful fine particle pollution, including soot (known as PM2.5). These microscopic particles can penetrate deep into the lungs and have been potentially linked to a wide range of serious health effects, including premature death, heart attacks, and strokes, as well as acute bronchitis and aggravated asthma among children. A federal court ruling required EPA to update the standard based on best available science. The current proposal, which meets that requirement, builds on steps already taken by the EPA to slash dangerous pollution in communities across the country. Thanks to these steps, 99 percent of U.S. counties are projected to meet the proposed standard without any additional action.
Indonesia aims to lead in Sustainable Forestry
June 18, 2012 07:12 AM - Editor, MONGABAY.COM
Indonesia "has reversed course" from a forest policy that drove deforestation in previous decades and is poised to become a leader in "sustainable forestry", asserted Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono during a speech on Wednesday at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in Bogor. "Our forestry policy [in the 1970s and 1980s] was to allow anyone to cut our forests so long as it gave benefits to development," he said. "It seemed the logical thing to do back then. We had lots of forests; we had to reduce poverty; we needed to grow our economy. As a result, there was a time when we experienced very serious deforestation." "Today, such a policy is no longer tenable. Losing our tropical rain forests would constitute the ultimate national, global and planetary disaster. That’s why Indonesia has reversed course by committing to sustainable forestry."
Arctic Vegetation Changing in response to warming
June 17, 2012 08:03 AM - ScienceDaily
Recent years' warming in the Arctic has caused local changes in vegetation, reveals new research by biologists from the University of Gothenburg and elsewhere published in the journals Nature Climate Change and Ecology Letters. The results show that most plants in the Arctic have grown taller, and the proportion of bare ground has decreased. Above all, there has been an increase in evergreen shrubs. "We've managed to link the vegetation changes observed at the different sites to the degree of local warming," explains researcher and biologist Robert Björk from the University of Gothenburg. Shrubs and plants more widespread Comparisons show that the prevalence of vascular species, such as shrubs and plants, is increasing as temperatures rise. The degree of change depends on climate zone, soil moisture and the presence of permafrost. Researchers working on the International Tundra Experiment (ITEX) have been gathering data for almost 30 years.
A New Global Architecture for Sustainability Governance
June 15, 2012 02:34 PM - Editor, Worldwatch Institute
At the upcoming Rio+20 summit from June 20 to 22, political leaders will embark on new measures to achieve sustainability by enhancing institutional capacity. In particular, the summit will seek to improve the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and other institutions in order to enhance the global community's ability to achieve sustainable development. In "A New Global Architecture for Sustainability Governance," Chapter 8 in the Worldwatch Institute's State of the World 2012: Moving Toward Sustainable Prosperity, author and assistant professor of global governance at the University of Massachusetts Boston, Maria Ivanova, examines steps that can be taken to improve UNEP's effectiveness as an environmental institution.