sustainable development

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Change, Renew, Rejuvenate: The Club of Rome – A Case For Embracing Intergenerational Leadership

“How do we create the positive energy to fuel real change?” Ian Johnson, Secretary General of the Club of Rome, asks to a young audience of artists, activists entrepreneurs, and representatives of international (youth) movements in his opening remarks at the Change Course Conference on December 8th, 2012.  

The scene in Winterthur, Switzerland was an atypical one for the Club of Rome. While traditionally, the organization’s member base consists of influential, elderly white males, the average age on that day was 25 years. Sixty young men and women from over fifty countries came together to deliberate for four days on how to “change course” towards a sustainable world. Founded in 1968 as an association of leading independent thinkers from politics, business and science, the Club of Rome is today primarily known as the think tank that published the influential “Limits to Growth” report in 1972. In its founding days, the Club focused on the nature of the global problems, often referred to as the “problematique.” After its initial success and the rapid expansion of local chapters that followed in the years thereafter, the organization’s influence began to diminish.

The Practical Politician from the Philippines

Student Reporter Andreas Slotte had the privilege of interviewing Secretary Mary Ann Lucille Sering, Vice Chairperson of the Climate Change Commission of the Philippines, during the UNEP Switch-Asia Sustainable Consumption and Production Conference (SCP) in Asia, held in Bangkok, Thailand. A government official in a unique position, Ms Sering is in charge of finding practical, implementable SCP policies that could be enacted in the Philippines. Unlike the comparatively steady states of developed economies, the Philippines present an exciting challenge of a country seeing high-single digit growth rates (the Philippine’s Gross Domestic Product grew by 6.6% in 2012, and has had an annual growth rate of 5% for the past 10 years), yet in pressing need of infrastructure and other macro-scale projects. (more…)

The Many Roads to Our Common Future

At the UNEP Switch-Asia SCP conference in Bangkok, Thailand, Student Reporter Mas Dino Radin sat down with Dr Magnus Bengtsson, Director of Sustainable Consumption and Production Research at the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), to tackle the issues surrounding implementing SCP policies in the developing, as juxtaposed with the developed world. (more…)

Asia to Take the Lead towards a Sustainable Future: Pipedream or a Possible Reality?

Like many buzzwords, sustainable development can mean a variety of things depending on who is using it and how. A quick Google search (as well as asking experts) would reveal the same: the definitions might not differ that much, but the implications vary vastly, ultimately implying that there really is no one way towards sustainable development. Among the varying opinions that exist out there, some suggest that the developed bloc (such as the U.S. or the European Union) should take charge in the matter. However, there seems to be a growing trend nowadays that looks at Asia to take a more leading role in paving the way for a sustainable future. This subject was at the forefront during one of the panel discussions at the UNEP SWITCH-Asia Conference on Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) in November 2012. The question then is what makes Asia so special when it comes to hoping for a more sustainable future?

A Universal Diet – Can the Same Sustainable Development Plans Work for Emerging Economies?

‘Nature provides a free lunch, but only if we control our appetites.’ William Ruckelshaus, the former Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, made this famous statement in BusinessWeek in 1990. Twenty years later, we are still seeking the right ‘diet’ for sustainable development. While the recent developments in the global dialogue on sustainable consumption and production (SCP) and resource efficiency have helped create a better “diet plan”, the question remains: could it work for all economies? First, let’s have a look at some of the hottest items in our new sustainable development diet. At the World Resources Forum 2012 held in Beijing, China, 2007 Nobel Peace Prize co-winner Dr. Mohan Munasinghe was one of those tackling the topic.

Young Dreamers Take Action: New Ways of Financing and Capacity Building in Indonesia

There was a young face sitting at the panel in one of the sessions at the UNEP Sustainable Consumption and Production in Asia conference. With no name in the conference agenda or on the table, there were no clues as to her identity. While everyone was still wondering who she was, she started her presentation on new models of microfinancing and capacity building for socio-eco-preneurs (innovative entrepreneurs who minimize or eliminate negative ecological and socio-cultural impacts when developing goods and services for profit). Given that the attendees were here for both practical and innovative solutions, Vrilly Rondonuwu, along with her three colleagues, Idda Mahbubah, Adie Nugroho and Airin Azizah did not fail to deliver as they represented Leadership for Environment and Development (LEAD) Indonesia to a captivated audience. These young people’s main objective is to create a sustainable financing and capacity building model for Indonesia by involving multiple stakeholders, which include financial institutions, banks, corporations, and socio-eco-preneurs.

Can Developing Asia Make The Switch?

In the restrooms of the Plaza Athénée in Bangkok, Thailand, where the UNEP Switch-Asia Conference on Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) took place in November 2012, I noticed I had two choices when it came to drying my hands: paper or cloth. I’ve often alternated between the two but at this time and place, it got me thinking – which one is the more resource heavy option? The paper towel is a single-use commodity, while the cloth towel can be reused after washing it. This experience raised the question of what if the hotel could just buy a product that promises to be good for the environment, whilst delivering the same function – a win-win situation, right? That’s where the Green Public Procurement (GPP) plan comes into play.

Quo Vadis, Terra? An Overview of the Rio+20 Follow-up Process

“It’s better than nothing.” This was the general resigned tone of the remarks heard at the conclusion of the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro on June 22nd, 2012. Others echoed a bleaker outlook, proclaiming that the past twenty years of large UN conferences had merely resulted in the pointless exercise of talking the talk without walking the walk ad infinitum. The result from the countless preparatory meeting sessions and tedious negotiations is Resolution 66/288 – The Future We Want. All UN member states adopted the resolution document which serves, amongst other things, as the foundation for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Through the Green Looking Glass: Moving Beyond Switzerland’s Stereotypes

Having just reached a population of 8 million this summer, Switzerland seems minuscule compared to China and its roughly 1.35 billion residents. Nor can Switzerland’s economic and political power be compared to the upcoming superpower that is China. However, with Swiss founders and co-organizers, Switzerland was featured quite prominently at the World Resources Forum 2012 in Beijing. But why should China and other countries around the world be interested in Switzerland when it comes to resources? And how can Switzerland benefit from these Sino-Swiss relations?

The UNEP Asia SCP Legacy: “Now It is Time to Take Action”

Despite beginning the UNEP Switch-Asia Sustainable Consumption and Production conference with big picture, governance- and thematic-related discussions, the focus slowly narrowed in on the development and implementation of SCP strategies during day two. It is no surprise that panelists have all been in support of “implementing” SCP strategies, but what exactly are these policies? United on Improvements But What About Solutions? One of the more interactive discussions occurred when discussing how green financing and government policy making could help encourage more sustainable production practices. While important areas requiring improvement were recognized, the agreement on implementable solutions showed far less consensus amongst the participants.