Friday, November 28, 2014

Laying the Foundations of a World Citizens Movement

How can civil society organizations (CSOs) build a broad movement that draws in, represents and mobilises the citizenry, and how can they effect fundamental, systemic transformation, rather than trading in incremental change?

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - Has organised civil society, bound up in internal bureaucracy, in slow, tired processes and donor accountability, become simply another layer of a global system that perpetuates injustice and inequality?

How can civil society organizations (CSOs) build a broad movement that draws in, represents and mobilises the citizenry, and how can they effect fundamental, systemic transformation, rather than trading in incremental change?

This kind of introspective reflection was at the heart of a process of engagement among CSOs from around the world that gathered in Johannesburg from Nov. 19 to 21 for the “Toward a World Citizens Movement: Learning from the Grassroots” conference.

Organised by DEEEP, a project within the European civil society umbrella organisation CONCORD which builds capacity among CSOs and carries out advocacy around global citizenship and global citizenship education, the conference brought together 200 participants.

“It is important that people understand the inter-linkages at the global level; that they understand that they are part of the system and can act, based on their rights, to influence the system in order to bring about change and make life better – so it’s no longer someone else deciding things on behalf of the citizens”
– Rilli Lappalainen, Secretary-General of the Finnish NGDO PlatformKey partners were CIVICUS (the World Alliance for Citizen Participation, which is one of the largest and most diverse global civil society networks) and GCAP (Global Call to Action Against Poverty).

The three-day gathering was part of a larger series of conferences and activities that were arranged to coincide during the 2014 International Civil Society Week organised by CIVICUS, which closed Nov. 24.

Global citizenship is a concept that is gaining currency within the United Nations system, to the delight of people like Rilli Lappalainen, Secretary-General of the Finnish NGDO Platform and a key advocate for global citizenship education.

At the heart of this concept is people’s empowerment, explains Lappalainen. “It is important that people understand the inter-linkages at the global level; that they understand that they are part of the system and can act, based on their rights, to influence the system in order to bring about change and make life better – so it’s no longer someone else deciding things on behalf of the citizens.”

The process of introspection around building an effective civil society movement that can lead to such change began a year ago at the first Global Conference, also held in Johannesburg.

The discourse there highlighted the need for new ways of thinking and working – for the humility to linger in the uncomfortable spaces of not knowing, for processes of mutual learning, sharing and questioning.

This new spirit of inquiry and engagement, very much evident in the creative, interactive format of this year’s conference, is encapsulated in an aphorism introduced by thought-leader Bayo Akomolafe from Nigeria: “The time is very urgent – let us slow down”.

Akomolafe’s keynote address explored the need for a shift in process: “We are realising our theories of change need to change,” he said. “We must slow down today because running faster in a dark maze will not help us find our way out.”

“We must slow down today,” he continued, “because if we have to travel far, we must find comfort in each other – in all the glorious ambiguity that being in community brings … We must slow down because that is the only way we will see … the contours of new possibilities urgently seeking to open to us.”

A key opportunity for mutual learning and questioning was provided on the second day by a panel on ‘Challenging World Views’.

Prof Rob O’Donoghue from the Environmental Learning Research Centre at South Africa’s Rhodes University explored the philosophy of ubuntu, Brazilian activist and community organiser Eduardo Rombauer spoke about the principles of horizontal organising, and Hiro Sakurai, representative of the Buddhist network Soka Gakkai International (SGI) to the United Nations in New York, discussed the network’s core philosophy of soka, or value creation.

A female activist from Bhutan who was to join the panel was unable to do so because of difficulties in acquiring a visa – a situation that highlighted a troubling observation made by Danny Sriskandarajah, head of CIVICUS, about the ways in which the space for CSOs to work is being shrunk around the world.

The absence of women on the panel was noted as problematic. How is it possible to effectively question a global system that is so deeply patriarchal without the voices of women, asked a male participant. This prompted the spontaneous inclusion of a female member of the audience.

In the spirit of embracing not-knowing, the panellists were asked to pose the questions they think we should be asking. How do we understand and access our power? How do we foster people’s engagement and break out of our own particular interests to engage in more systems-based thinking? How can multiple worldviews meet and share a moral compass?

Ubuntu philosophy, explained O’Donoghue, can be defined by the statement: “A person is a person through other people.”

The implications of this perspective for the issues at hand are that answers to the problems affecting people on the margins cannot be pre-defined from the outside, but must be worked out through solidarity and through a process of struggle. You cannot come with answers; you can only come into the company of others and share the problems, so that solutions begin to emerge from the margins.

The core perspective of soka philosophy is that each person has the innate ability to create value – to create a positive change – in whatever circumstances they find themselves. Millions of people, Sakurai pointed out, are proving the validity of this idea in their own contexts. This is the essence of the Soka movement.

His point was echoed the following evening in the address of Graca Machel, wife of the late Nelson Mandela, at a CIVICUS reception, in which she spoke of the profound challenges confronting civil society as poverty and inequality deepen and global leaders seem increasingly dismissive of the voices of the people.

Then, toward the end of her speech, she softly recalled “my friend Madiba” (Mandela’s clan name) in the final years of his life, and his consistent message at that time that things are now in our hands.

What he showed us by his example, she said, is that each person has immense resources of good within them. Our task is to draw these out each day and exercise them in the world, wherever we are and in whatever ways we can.

Those listening to Machel saw Mandela’s message as a sign of encouragement in their efforts to create the World Citizens Movement of tomorrow. More


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Secrets: shining a light on hidden power

The truth can be a slippery thing. We each have a version but it slips and slides about in our minds as we deal with the constant flood of information coming at us from all sides, not to mention trying to balance this expert view against that, between what we know, what we think we know, and what we suspect.

We are all at the mercy of cognitive biases and layers of assumptions and associations built up over our lifetimes. And so we need reference points to help mark the key geographical features of our worldview. And, sometimes, we need some of those reference points visible in our world, amongst our tribes of friends, colleagues, allies and families. It’s very difficult for most of us to make our way in the world and act with the determination we often crave without some acknowledgement that we’re not the only ones seeing the world as we do. The bigger the thought, the less pleasant it is to assimilate, and the further out from the mainstream it lives, the more important that acknowledgment can be.

The 1%-99% Occupy meme was one of those markers. The reason it travelled so far and fast wasn’t because it told people something altogether new, but rather that it capped off and gave voice to thoughts they already had. It didn’t teach as much as it validated and articulated.

At /The Rules, we think its time for a new marker; one that grows very much from the 1%-99% meme, and, hopefully, adds something important. And it’s that we now all live on a One Party Planet.

This is a provocative claim, pregnant with meaning and implication. If it’s true in the way we believe it to be, it means there is an identifiable form of totalitarianism casting a shadow over the entire human race. It means that there is a force so broad, so enmeshed within the logic of modern global power, that the solutions we all work toward in the specific struggles we care most about – be that rampant inequalities in income and opportunity, widespread poverty, or climate change - are all facing it. Not a force that lives in any single person, organization or structure, but that is ephemeral in the way that all ideology is ephemeral. It transcends and thereby unites the leadership of the vast majority of political parties, governments and corporations that have any proximity to global power. But for all this, it is also specific, definable, and visible through the right lenses. Which means it can be challenged.

It’s got many names but we call it Neoliberalism, because that fits it well enough and is very common, recognizable currency. It’s not primarily an economic agenda; it’s a moral philosophy. As Margaret Thatcher, one of its seminal champions herself said, “economics are the method, the object is to change the heart and soul”.

It is defined by a circular and hermetically sealed logic, in three parts. Firstly, that survival of the fittest through eternal competition between self-interested parties is, practically speaking, the only law upon which human society can realistically be ordered; secondly, that, in the moral hierarchy, financial wealth equates with life success which equates with virtue; and thirdly that man [sic] is, if not an island, then, at most, a part of an archipelago of islands of shared interests, answerable only to himself, his peers and, possibly, his God, in that order. To see only the familiar economics – i.e. belief in small government, low taxes, the sanctity of private property and private industries, and 'free' markets, particularly in labor, all of which feed, above all else, the double-headed hydra of profit and economic growth – and not connect it back to the moral philosophy is to miss the point.

To back up this provocative claim, we have released a pamphlet today called, The One Party Planet. We start it by looking inwards, at our cognitive capacities. The world we see around us today is a reflection of human consciousness; we long since passed the point where we could say, "it wasn't us." So whatever challenges we face—climate change, rampant inequality, endless violent conflict or vast impoverishment—are challenges, first and foremost, of and for the human mind. It helps, therefore, to spend a small amount of time reflecting on what we know about its character in a section called, How True is True?

Then we turn to what might be more familiar territory: power theories, processes and players. This breaks into six parts; The Neoliberal Heart and Soul, Fashions in Global Power, Financial Might, Concentration of Corporate Power, Active Political Projects, and In their Own Words. And finally, a few thoughts on the system's internal logic; that alignment of forces that mean none of this was really planned and no one is actually to blame. We conclude with the most human considerations in Facing Ourselves, and Where Hope Lies.

We have written it as a political pamphlet to honor all those that were written against the wishes of the ruling elite in the past, and that played some part in monumental change, from the English Civil War to the Abolition of Slavery. We’d like help spreading it around, translating it, and building on it. If it’s wrong in important ways, we want to know how. If there more that should be said, we want to help people say it. You can comment on our facebook page, or write to More


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Naomi Klein’s ‘This Changes Everything’

"Every inhabitant of this planet must contemplate the day when this planet may no longer be habitable." Thus spoke President Kennedy in a 1961 address to the United Nations.

Naomi Klein

The threat he warned of was not climate chaos — barely a blip on anybody’s radar at the time — but the hydrogen bomb. The nuclear threat had a volatile urgency and visual clarity that the sprawling, hydra-headed menace of today’s climate calamity cannot match. How can we rouse citizens and governments to act for concerted change? Will it take, as Naomi Klein insists, nothing less than a Marshall Plan for Earth?

"This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate" is a book of such ambition and consequence that it is almost unreviewable. Klein’s fans will recognize her method from her prior books, "No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies" (1999) and "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism" (2007), which, with her latest, form an antiglobalization trilogy. Her strategy is to take a scourge — brand-driven hyperconsumption, corporate exploitation of disaster-struck communities, or "the fiction of perpetual growth on a finite planet" — trace its origins, then chart a course of liberation. In each book she arrives at some semihopeful place, where activists are reaffirming embattled civic values.

To call "This Changes Everything" environmental is to limit Klein’s considerable agenda. "There is still time to avoid catastrophic warming," she contends, "but not within the rules of capitalism as they are currently constructed. Which is surely the best argument there has ever been for changing those rules." On the green left, many share Klein’s sentiments. George Monbiot, a columnist for The Guardian, recently lamented that even though "the claims of market fundamentalism have been disproven as dramatically as those of state communism, somehow this zombie ideology staggers on." Klein, Monbiot and Bill McKibben all insist that we cannot avert the ecological disaster that confronts us without loosening the grip of that superannuated zombie ideology.

That philosophy — neoliberalism — promotes a high-consumption, carbon-hungry system. Neoliberalism has encouraged mega-mergers, trade agreements hostile to environmental and labor regulations, and global hypermobility, enabling a corporation like Exxon to make, as McKibben has noted, "more money last year than any company in the history of money." Their outsize power mangles the democratic process. Yet the carbon giants continue to reap $600 billion in annual subsidies from public coffers, not to speak of a greater subsidy: the right, in Klein’s words, to treat the atmosphere as a "waste dump."

So much for the invisible hand. As the science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson observed, when it comes to the environment, the invisible hand never picks up the check.

Klein diagnoses impressively what hasn’t worked. No more claptrap about fracked gas as a bridge to renewables. Enough already of the international summit meetings that produce sirocco-quality hot air, and nonbinding agreements that bind us all to more emissions. Klein dismantles the boondoggle that is cap and trade. She skewers grandiose command-and-control schemes to re-engineer the planet’s climate. No point, when a hubristic mind-set has gotten us into this mess, to pile on further hubris. She reserves a special scorn for the partnerships between Big Green organizations and Immense Carbon, peddled as win-win for everyone, but which haven’t slowed emissions. Such partnerships remind us that when the lamb and the lion lie down together, only one of them gets eaten.

In democracies driven by lobbyists, donors and plutocrats, the giant polluters are going to win while the rest of us, in various degrees of passivity and complicity, will watch the planet die. "Any attempt to rise to the climate challenge will be fruitless unless it is understood as part of a much broader battle of worldviews," Klein writes. "Our economic system and our planetary system are now at war."

Klein reminds us that neoliberalism was once an upstart counterrevolution. Through an epic case of bad timing, the Reagan-Thatcher revolution, the rise of the anti-regulatory World Trade Organization, and the cult of privatizing and globalizing everything coincided with the rising public authority of climate science. In 1988, James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute, delivered historic testimony at Congressional hearings, declaring that the science was 99 percent unequivocal: The world was warming and we needed to act collectively to reduce emissions. Just one year earlier, Margaret Thatcher famously declared: "There is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families." In the battle since, between a collective strategy for forging an inhabitable long-term future and the antisocial, hyper-corporatized, hyper-carbonized pursuit of short-term growth at any cost, well, there has been only one clear winner.

But counterrevolutions are reversible. Klein devotes much of her book to propitious signs that this can happen — indeed is happening. The global climate justice movement is spreading. Since the mid-1990s, environmental protests have been growing in China at 29 percent per year. Where national leaders have faltered, local governments are forging ahead. Hundreds of German cities and towns have voted to buy back their energy grids from corporations. About two-thirds of Britons favor renationalizing energy and rail.

The divestment movement against Big Carbon is gathering force. While it will never bankrupt the mega-corporations, it can reveal unethical practices while triggering a debate about values that recognizes that such practices are nested in economic systems that encourage, inhibit or even prohibit them.

The voices Klein gathers from across the world achieve a choral force. We hear a Montana goat rancher describe how an improbable alliance against Big Coal between local Native American tribes and settler descendants awakened in the latter a different worldview of time and change and possibility. We hear participants in Idle No More, the First Nations movement that has swept across Canada and beyond, contrast the "extractivist mind-set" with systems "designed to promote more life."

One quibble: What’s with the subtitle? "Capitalism vs. the Climate" sounds like a P.R. person’s idea of a marquee cage fight, but it belies the sophistication and hopefulness of Klein’s argument. As is sometimes said, it is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism. Klein’s adversary is neoliberalism — the extreme capitalism that has birthed our era of extreme extraction. Klein is smart and pragmatic enough to shun the never-never land of capitalism’s global overthrow. What she does, brilliantly, is provide a historically refined exposé of "capitalism’s drift toward monopoly," of "corporate interests intent on capturing and radically shrinking the public sphere," and of "the disaster capitalists who use crises to end-run around democracy."

To change economic norms and ethical perceptions in tandem is even more formidable than the technological battle to adapt to the heavy weather coming down the tubes. Yet "This Changes Everything" is, improbably, Klein’s most optimistic book. She braids together the science, psychology, geopolitics, economics, ethics and activism that shape the climate question. The result is the most momentous and contentious environmental book since "Silent Spring." More



Sunday, November 9, 2014

'Forest Man’ From Kerala, India

Almost 40 years ago, Abdul Kareem bought five acres of land in what was then a sparsely inhabited area in Kasargod district in Malabar, northern Kerala. As a travel agent his job involved travelling around five days a week. He thought he would use the land as a get-away to relax once in a while when he managed to get time off from his hectic work

Shortly after, he bought some more land, and in just a few years, his 30-odd acres were transformed into a thick, vibrant forest, making Abdul Kareem one of the few people in India to have actually created a forest—and that too almost single-handedly!

Abdul Kareem hadn’t bought the land in order to conserve the environment or do something about global warming, but in a while, as his forest grew, he turned into a passionate Nature lover, with his efforts bringing him numerous awards and much appreciation. ‘Caring for Nature is one major mission of my life,’ this enthusiastic, cheerful 68 year-old man says.

Abdul Kareem was born in a village near the sea. ‘There was no forest there, but you could see hills and jungles far away in the distance. As a child, I would fantasize about forests—they seemed so enchanting! Even then I loved plants, and I planted many saplings around my home.’ he says.

When Abdul Kareem bought the land, much of it was bare. The thick layer of laterite rock that covered much of the area did not allow for much vegetation to survive. But that did not deter this intrepid man. When he planted a hundred saplings, hoping to green the land, and only one survived (the rest wilted away in the heat), he did not give up. ‘I didn’t lose hope. I was inspired by the one sapling that survived!’ he relates. The next year he planted 500 saplings, and they all flourished!

Abdul Kareem lovingly tended to the saplings for a year, and after that they took care of themselves, with no human interference—not even needing to be watered or fertilized by human hands. ‘I let the forest grow naturally,’ he says. In a few years, the land was bursting with greenery, a dense forest hosting almost 300 plant species. Birds attracted by the foliage did their bit to help the forest grow by dropping seeds that they had picked up elsewhere.

Trudging along a mud-path that snakes its way through the forest, for a moment you might think you are in the middle of a wild life sanctuary, so dense is it! Abdul Kareem identifies certain plants as we move ahead. ‘This is an orchid!’ he says with childlike enthusiasm, ‘and that’s a shampoo tree! You can make shampoo out of it! Can you imagine! And that, there, is a medicinal plant!’

The hills around the forest were probably once under thick forest cover and home to numerous wild animals. Now, almost all the land is under cultivation—mainly cash crops like rubber—and the wildlife has probably almost completely disappeared. Abdul Kareem’s forest, however, attracts several species: wild boars, jackals, and, of course, snakes, butterflies, various insects and numerous birds, including peacocks.

We walk up to a little pond, and Abdul Kareem insists that I sample the water. ‘Natural water!’ he says gleefully. When I hesitate, he insists, ‘It’s very, very clean!’ He explains how by allowing the land to regenerate and turn into a forest, the water table in the area, which had sunk very low, has risen considerably. The temperature in and around the forest, he adds, is substantially less than elsewhere in the area. ‘See how even a little forest can make a difference to global warming!’ he exclaims.

As we head to the simple little cottage in the middle of the forest where he and his wife live, I ask Abdul Kareem if he makes any money out of the forest. ‘None at all. Earning from it is not my intention,’ he replies. ‘I don’t sell anything that comes from the forest.’

This large-hearted man allows his neighbours to draw water from the wells and ponds in the forest free of cost. For people who might want to pluck a few leaves or fruits of the medicinal plants that the forest abounds in he doesn’t charge anything.

‘A man from a top hotel chain once approached me. He wanted to buy the land to convert it into a hotel or an ayurvedic resort. He would have offered a huge sum of money, and even said I could remain here, in a small portion of the land, but I declined,’ Abdul Kareem says. ‘Even if you offer to let me stay in the White House, I’d rather stay in my forest! Almost all my children live in the Gulf, and although I occasionally visit them, I can’t get to stay there more than just a few days. After that, I pine to rush back to the forest!’

Land prices in the area have soared in recent years, and the cost of Abdul Kareem’s 32 acres of forest land must run into several crores of rupees now. Yet, the man is happy not earning any money from the forest, living in his simple home and making a living as a small travel agent and managing a petrol pump.

Truly amazing, isn’t it?

After taking me around the forest, Abdul Kareem says, ‘Spend the night here if you like. There’s a room here where you can stay. You can learn even more.’

The offer does seem tempting. For a moment, I imagine sitting in the verandah as the sun goes down, listening to frogs croaking and crickets chirping, and maybe even spotting a jackal on the prowl and then waking up to the plaintive cry of a peacock. But the auto-rickshaw I came in is waiting, and so I give Abdul Kareem a parting hug.

‘Your forest is truly amazing, and so are you!’ I say. More


Friday, November 7, 2014

The Man Who Creates Artificial Glaciers To Meet The Water Needs Of Ladakh

Ladakh’s beautiful mountains might be a paradise for tourists, but ask the locals who have to struggle to meet their basic water needs every year. Chewang Norphel put his engineering skills to a better use and created artificial glaciers to provide water in this cold and dry mountainous region. Know more about his remarkably innovative technology and how it works.

Chewang Norphel, a 79-year old retired civil engineer, has always been a solution provider. The story goes back to 1966 when he was posted in Zanskar, one of the most backward and remote areas in Ladakh, as Sub Divisional Officer. He, along with his team, had to construct school buildings, bridges, canals, roads etc. in that area. The task was very difficult to execute due to lack of skilled labour.

So he started doing the masonry work himself and trained a few villagers to help him. After some years, when he went back to that village, he found out that the villagers he had trained had become perfect mistry and were earning handsome salaries.

Today, he is called the “Ice Man of India” and has created 10 artificial glaciers in Ladakh to help people deal with water scarcity in this cold, mountainous region.

Ladakh, a beautiful location with magnificent scenery around and exquisite beauty, takes everyone’s breath away. But, it is not the same with the people of Ladakh as the cold, dry and infertile land makes their lives harder than we could imagine.

Fortunately, the situation is slowly changing as Ladakh now has artificial glaciers to meet their needs and people have Norphel to thank for his amazing contribution.

Born in 1936, Norphel comes from a farming background and has served in the government service for more than 36 years before he had to take an early retirement due to his bad health. Being at home was not something Norphel enjoyed doing, and at the same time, the poor living conditions in Ladakh constantly troubled him. He thought of putting his engineering skills to a better use.

“Almost all the villages in Ladakh have roads, culverts, bridges, buildings or irrigation systems made by me,”says Norphel. But his biggest contribution came in the form of artificial glaciers.

Being a cold mountain desert, Ladakh sees a low average rainfall of 50 mm annually making people dependent upon glaciers as their primary water source.

80 percent of the population depends on farming, and their main source of irrigation water is the water that comes from the melting of snow and glaciers. Because of global warming, the glaciers are receding quickly and as a result, farmers face a lot of difficulty in getting adequate water. On the other hand, a lot of water gets wasted during the winter months as, due to the severe cold climate, farmers cannot grow any crops in that season.

“So I thought that if we could conserve this water in the form of ice, it can be of help to farmers to some extent during the irrigation period, particularly during the sowing season. The artificial glaciers, being quite close to the villages, melt earlier than the natural glaciers. Also, getting water during the sowing period is the most crucial concern of the farmers because the natural glaciers start melting in the month of June and sowing starts in April and May,” he says.

The idea first came to him when he saw water dripping from a tap which was kept open so as to avoid the water from freezing in winter and bursting the tap. The water gradually froze into the shape of an ice sheet as it came in touch with the ground and made a pool.

It struck him that the water that melts from natural glaciers due to high temperatures in summer goes to waste as it flows into the river. Instead, if this water can be stored in summer and autumn so that it can form a glacier in winter, then this artificial glacier would melt in spring and provide water to the villagers at the right time.

It was now time for action, and he put all his engineering knowledge, field experience and passion to work. He started his first experiment in Phutse village. He made canals to divert the water from the main stream to small catchment areas located four kms away from the village. He also created a shaded area to keep the water frozen in winters.

And, as these glaciers are located at a lower altitude of 13,000 feet as compared to the original glaciers which are located at 18,000 feet, they start melting earlier than the mainstream ones and provide water to the villagers when they need it the most in April.

“The main technique used to create artificial glaciers is to control the velocity of water as much as possible. The region is a hilly area and that is why the gradient of streams is very steep. As a result, in the main streams the water usually does not freeze. So what we have done is we have diverted the water to a shadow area by constructing a diversion channel with a mild grade. When it reaches the site, the water is released downward of the hill, distributing it in a small quantity so that the velocity can be minimized, and side by side we have constructed ice retaining walls in series to store the frozen water. This is the entire methodology of the artificial glacier,” he explains.

Retaining walls for artificial glacier

His first project cost him Rs.90,000. The width of the glacier ranges generally from 50 to 200 feet and the depth from 2 to 7 feet. This low cost model used only locally sourced material and help from the local community. Norphel has successfully built 10 glaciers so far. The smallest one is 500 feet long in Umla and the largest is 2 km long in Phutse.

His efforts have increased the agricultural production, thereby increasing the income of the locals. This has also reduced the migration to cities. His simple technique has brought water closer to the villages, and most importantly, made it available when the villagers need it the most.

In the future, he wants to continue making the glaciers and plans to build in other areas like Lahol, Spiti, Zangskar, etc. The only thing that comes as a challenge is lack of adequate funds.

“As you sow, so you reap. There is no doubt that if one has strong determination and dedication, there is nothing impossible in the world. That is what I believe,” Norphel says.

His simple idea has received acclaim across the globe and he has proved that if man is the one responsible for disturbing nature, he also has the capacity to save it. You just need the right intention to do so. More



Thursday, November 6, 2014

AGWA Launches Toolkit for Climate Change Adaptation in Water Resources Management

4 September 2014: The Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA) and partners have launched a manual for dealing with uncertainty under climate change by applying climate-informed decision-making to water resource management, project design and risk evaluation.

The manual was launched in a seminar held during World Water Week, on 4 September.

‘Beyond Downscaling: A Bottom-Up Approach to Climate Adaptation for Water Resources Management' is the result of two years' work by AGWA, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), US Army Corps of Engineers, University of Massachusetts and RTI International, among others.

It provides practical guidelines for practitioners and project coordinators for risk-based decision making and adaptation of water systems by using a bottom-up approach. The book aims to “provide an alternative approach contributing to improvement in the quality and effectiveness of water resources management planning and project design under climate variability and change uncertainty.”

The manual covers: AGWA's approach to sustainable water management; climate change impacts on water resources; mainstreaming adaptation into water resources management; key tools for supporting climate risk assessment; and approaches to identifying adaptation strategies for water projects. It also makes the case for moving beyond down-scaling global climate models, to a bottom-up approach to climate adaptation in the water sector, and presents a framework for an AGWA-supported adaptation approach.

The approach supported by AGWA, inter alia: recognizes the need to integrate climate adaptation into existing decision-making processes; advocates for bottom-up approaches to vulnerability assessment; supports the use of “systematic decision trees based on existing water resources management approaches”; stresses the importance of creating flexible decision pathways; and emphasizes the integration of flexible governance mechanisms into water resources management.

Speaking at the launch, Marcus Wijnen, Senior Water Resources Management Specialist, World Bank, noted that the book is “work in progress,” and invited stakeholders to provide feedback. More

The 2014 World Water Week took place from 31 August-5 September, in Stockholm, Sweden. [AGWA Publication Webpage] [Publication: Beyond Downscaling: A Bottom-up Approach to Climate Adaptation for Water Resources Management] [Video of Launch]







Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Future Corporation - Paul Polak

TEDxMileh-ligh - Paul Polak - The Future Corporation

Uploaded on May 26, 201 1 • What is the future of the corporation? Paul Polak's vision will likely transform your view of what's possible through capitalism and may change the way current organizations view their business models. His talk details the tremendous shared value that lies within product and system designs for the bottom 90% of the income pyramid.

In the spirit of "ideas worth spreading," TED has created TEDx. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. Our event is called TEDxMileHigh, where x = independently organized TED event. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x=independently organized

TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events, including ours, are self-organized.