Friday, February 15, 2019

What are the biggest threats to humanity?

A disruptive future While the threats are real, the greatest danger we face in 2019, when viewed from a global perspective, probably lies elsewhere.  With almost eight billion people living on Earth, we are increasingly reliant upon global systems to sustain us. These range from the environment that provides us with food, water, clean air and energy, to the global economy that turns these into goods and services. Yet, from declining levels of biodiversity to overextended infrastructure and supply chains, many of these systems are already stressed to breaking point. And rapid climate change is only making things worse. Given this, it may be that global risks should not be defined by the size of the disaster that caused them, but by their potential to disrupt these vital systems.  

Saturday, January 5, 2019

A sea change: how one small island showed us how to save our oceans

In just 10 years, the Isle of Man has rid its beaches of plastic and earned Unesco status as a world leader in ocean protection. So how did it do it? Standing on a windswept beach on the north-west coast of the Isle of Man, Bill Dale looked out on to plastic bottles, cartons and packaging forming a thick carpet covering the shingle. It was 2007, the global plastic binge was already well under way, but the millions of tonnes of waste seeping into the oceans as a consequence had not reached the public consciousness. “I was with a friend and we thought, ‘Let’s just clean up this one beach.’ We had no idea then of the scale of the problem.” It took six weekends, working long hours, to collect all the plastic litter. “We shifted 30,000 plastic bottles and large pieces of plastic,” said Dale. “You would pick one piece up, and underneath was another and another in layers. Some of the stuff went back 20 years.”  
    The island’s determination to protect the coastal environment from the multiple threats of plastic pollution, climate change and overfishing has earned it the status of a Unesco biosphere region, designated because it is an outstanding example of a place where people and nature work in harmony. It is the only entire island jurisdiction to be granted the status. Read More  

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Climate change refugees share Stories of escaping wildfires, floods, And droughts

  But the climate refugees left most vulnerable live outside the U.S. The yearslong drought in Central America’s Dry Corridor, for example, is quietly driving subsistence farmers and agricultural workers toward the increasingly militarized U.S.-Mexico border. And although the U.S. is responsible for more climate-warming carbon dioxide emissions than any other country in the world, its asylum system does not account for those escaping drought. Indeed, in a world where climate change is already fueling massive movements of people, hardly any nations officially recognize the existence of the climate refugee. Read More

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Playing in the major leagues

  As I said in 2011, having looked at the state of the world, and again in 2016, and I say again today on December 2018, unless carbon output into the atmosphere is drastically reduced there will be casualties, political casualties and eventually millions of human casualties. Casualties from run-away climate change, sea level rise and from conflict. Not to mention from from difficulties in feeding an ever increasing population.   Continued burning of fossil fuel, driven mainly by capitalist greed, will eventually pollute the atmosphere and the environment to the degree that is will no longer support life. What future are we leaving to our children and grandchildren and future generations? There are those scientists like James Lovelock who argues that it is too 'little too late'.   Even if we did suspend the burning of petroleum and coal tomorrow our coastal cities and small island developing states would continue to experience sea level rise for hundreds of years.   We have had now had, besides the American Indians protesting the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion protest, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's Dakota Access Pipeline protest, the election of President Trump, the Occupy Wall Street protests in 2011, protests in Brazil and Turkey, and like it or not social protests are here to stay. As Robbert Muggah said of Brazil's Protests "There is little doubt that the protests have challenged the existing social order and alerted a new generation of youth to the unacceptability of the status quo". This holds true globally.   The political paradigm has changed. Politicians and corporatocracy are proving once again to be slow learners, they are resisting change rather than embracing it, and without listening to their people's protests, they will be swept away by the winds of change.   Globally we are faced with climate change, the most serious peril that has faced humanity in its brief history. However, we are faced with more than climate change, there are the life threatening CO2 levels and looming sea level rise, resource shortages and an out of control population, as well as concerns for water and food security in the years to come.   As I say frequently “failing to plan is planning to fail”.   Humanity is today playing in the major leagues. We are globally between a rock and a hard place.  If we can keep the planet habitable by mitigating and adapting to the changing climate, switching to alternative sources of energy such as solar, wind, geothermal, wave, and ocean thermal, sequester CO2, and provide the population with adequate supplies of water and food, as well as bringing the population under control, humanity may survive . Survival means, amongst all the issues above, learning to navigate successfully through a new political swamp.   Warfare and conflict will need to become a thing of the past, as climate change and energy shortages may well exacerbate global tension and trigger conflict. With a 9.5+ billion global population by 2050 ensuring that everyone has adequate food and water will be problematic.   There is however, no ‘Plan B’ if we fail to resolve all the problems facing us.   When playing in the major leagues, there is no time out, there is no one that is going to offer help, let alone rescue us. Look around, the neighbourhood is somewhat sparsely populated, and there are no other worlds on which humanity can survive. Even if there were other habitable worlds nearby they would in all probability belong to someone else. Neo-colonialism on an intergalactic scale may well not end well for humans.   There are, in all likelihood, other intelligent races out there somewhere, however, in the major leagues one survives on ones own. As a young civilization it is up to us to solve all our problems, to make peace among ourselves, to bring the population under control, to implement the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and resolve the inequality that is partially responsible for the protests that are occuring around the world.   We must solve our own problems. As a young race we are as children, and as such we may not be able to solve our own problems. But solve them we must. If we are able to solve the situation facing us and make it to adulthood, in the galactic meaning of the world, we may then be introduced to the neighbors. If we do not make it to adulthood we will be just another minor statistic, a failure, a insignificant footnote in the universal history book.   Humanity  needs a Leader to be the Global Climate Change Champion, to direct struggle against Climate Change and Global Warming   They must be a dedicated visionary who is willing to spend multiple decades advocating for carbon sequestration and renewable energy as well as adaptation and mitigation of the myriad outcomes of the dangers we are faced with. The individual must be a compelling speaker with an understanding of global politics, and  be someone with global recognition, with access to global leaders and with the charisma and the personality to carry out this crucial task.   Nicholas Robson  December 4th. 2018 Cayman Islands     

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Low-lying Vanuatu threatens to sue culprit countries for climate change

Low-lying Vanuatu isconsidering suing fossil fuel companies and industrialised countries that use them for their role in creating catastrophicclimate change, the foreign minister of the Pacific island nation said on Thursday. Speaking at the Climate Vulnerable Forum’s Virtual Summit,Ralph Regenvanu said the impact of climate change is felt firstand hardest by those who are least responsible for it. "Vanuatu is on the front lines of climate change and yet wehave benefited least from the exploitation of fossil fuels thathas caused it," Regenvanu said. "My government is now exploring all avenues to utilize thejudicial system in various jurisdictions - including underinternational law - to shift the costs of climate protectionback on to fossil fuel companies, the financial institutions andthe governments that actively and knowingly created thisexistential threat to my country,” he said in a video of thesummit posted online.   Vanuatu, with an estimated population of 280,000 peoplespread across roughly 80 islands, is among the more than a dozenPacific island nations that already face rising sea levels andmore regular storms that can wipe out much of their economies. Read More

Sunday, September 16, 2018

One Year Aniversary of Hurricane Maria

Dear Friends:

The first anniversary of Hurricane Maria's landfall on Puerto Rico is almost upon us. Our people have endured the devastation left behind since the storm. The loss of the nearly 3,000 lives will hurt forever. We take this moment to honor and remember the ones who left us sooner as a result of this tragic event.  However, the Boricua spirit is strong and together we are overcoming this disaster.   

One year after Maria, the island faces another challenge: the poverty rate has increased to 52.3%. Since its inception in 2015, Friends of Puerto Rico has invested its resources in under-served communities on the island. To eliminate poverty and to bring prosperity is one of our main objectives. With this present in our agenda, we have joined efforts with the Global Island Partnership in order to catalyze the power of global partnerships as well as the diaspora to help overcome this reality. All of us working together will bring positive solutions to the current challenges that Puerto Rico is facing.

We invite those in Washington, DC to join us at a summit hosted by the House Committee on Homeland Security on September 20th, at 9:30 AM at the Capitol Visitor's center: HVC-215. Here, we will continue our conversation on how to work together for the benefit of our beautiful island.

As always, we thank you for your support and enthusiasm.Abrazos,
We are excited to join forces with Global Island Partnership. The partnership is led by the Presidents of Palau and Seychelles, Prime Minister of Grenada and Premier of the British Virgin Islands. The Global Island Partnership's mission is to promote action to build resilient and sustainable island communities by inspiring leadership, catalyzing commitments and facilitating collaboration for all islands. We know that together we will bring sustainable solutions to Puerto Rico.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

The Best Medicine for My Climate Grief

A climate scientist talks to a psychologist about coping with the crushing stress related to climate change. Here’s what he learned.

Sometimes a wave of climate grief breaks over me. It happens unexpectedly, perhaps during a book talk, or while on the phone with a congressional representative. In a millisecond, without warning, I’ll feel my throat clench, my eyes sting, and my stomach drop as though the Earth below me is falling away. During these moments, I feel with excruciating clarity everything that we’re losing—but also connection and love for those things.

Usually I don’t mind the grief. It’s clarifying. It makes sense to me, and inspires me to work harder than ever. Occasionally, however, I feel something quite different, a paralyzing sense of anxiety. This climate dread can last for days, even weeks. It can come with nightmares, for example, my favorite shady oak grove baking in the full sun of a heat wave, the oaks all dead and gone. During these periods, writing about climate change becomes all but impossible, as if hundreds of thoughts are jostling to squeeze through a narrow doorway onto the page. My scientific output slows to a trickle, as well; it feels like it just doesn’t matter.

I sense a social barrier to talking about these emotions. If I bring up climate change in casual conversation, the topic is often met with awkward pauses and the polite introduction of new subjects. Aside from increasingly frequent articles in the news about the typically incremental and sometimes disastrous progression of climate breakdown, we seldom talk about it, face to face. It’s as though the topic is impolite, even taboo. Read More

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Wanted: A Champion for the Earth


A 'Champion for the Earth'to raise awareness of and direct the struggle against Climate Change and Atmospheric Heating at a International level

Must be a dedicated visionary who is willing to spend multiple decades advocating for carbon sequestration and renewable energy

The individual must be a compelling speaker with a working knowledge of global politics

A background in science would be helpful but not necessary

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Rising tide of rubbish threatens Dominican Republic's golden shores

Saturday July 21 2018: An estimated 54 tons of plastic has already been scooped up by the squad of more than 500 helpers, but the waves of rubbish keep arriving.

The Dominican Republic is a popular tourism destination, but the rising tide of waste is threatening its reputation as an unspoiled natural paradise - and poses a deadly hazard to marine and bird life which becomes entangled in the toxic soup.
Much of the problem is home-grown, according to David Collado of the Santo Domingo local authority.
"All the rubbish that we have here comes from metropolitan Santo Domingo, including Monte Plata (a nearby province)," he said.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

CG/LL Infrastructure 16Th Latin American & Caribbean Infrastructure Leadership Forum

CG/LL Infrastructure 16Th Latin American & Caribbean Infrastructure Leadership Forum | SIDS DOCK

OPENING KEYNOTE: The Honorable Al Binger, Secretary-General, SIDS DOCK
Discussion of challenges faced by Caribbean island and coastal nations in finding reliable and economic sources of clean fuels and feed-stocks, need for diverse mix of products for diverse uses – power generation, to fuel for stoves and vehicles to feed-stocks for chemical production. Read More

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Millions will be hit by poverty due to climate change

Millions will be hit by poverty due to climate change - economist

Cape Town - An estimated 20 million people will be pushed into poverty because of climate change in 2030, which may possibly rocket to more than 100 million people if speedy social developments are not conducted, an economist said on Wednesday.

“We estimated that 20 million people will be pushed into poverty because of climate change in 2030, and 20 million is a big number, more especially when you are one of that 20 million people, but still small compared with the global population," lead economist at the World Bank, Stephane Hallegatte said.

"If we don't do this big push, then numbers balloon for like more than 100 million people," Hallegatte, who also has many years experience of academic research in environmental economics and climate science said speaking at the Adaptation Futures 2018 -- the world’s leading conference on climate change adaptation held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) said. Read More

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Liberal philanthropy is dooming the planet to climate disaster

EXCLUSIVE: Liberal philanthropy is dooming the planet to climate disaster, documents reveal

A 2017 paper in Science lead authored by Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, concluded that global carbon emissions would have to be cut in half by 2020, then cut in half again by 2030, and then cut in half again each decade out to 2050.
This entails that emissions should be slashed by about 75 percent by 2030, and by nearly 95 percent by 2050 to stay within a safe climate.
A Nature Geoscience study similarly found that “limiting warming to 1.5C is not yet a geophysical impossibility, but is likely to require delivery on strengthened pledges for 2030 followed by challengingly deep and rapid mitigation.” Read More

Thursday, June 7, 2018

A manifesto to save Planet Earth (and ourselves)

Seen in this way, renewable energy for all takes on an importance beyond stopping climate breakdown; likewise free education and the internet for all has a significance beyond access to social media – as they empower women, which helps stabilise the population.

More energy and greater information availability appear to be the necessities for any new kind of society - although these changes alone could increase our environmental problems, as in the past. To usher in a new way of living today’s core dynamic of ever-greater production and consumption of goods and resources must also be broken, coupled with a societal focus on environmental repair.
Read More

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Waiting for Korowicz – Albert Bates

Waiting for Korowicz – Albert Bates – Medium

Even though the coming of the Korowicz singularity cannot be Post-It’d to a particular date on the calendar, it’s wise to keep a foot in the prepper camp. A wall calendar, for instance.
Know where your water comes from. Have an anti-fragile supply of food — like the shiitake mushrooms that come after a big storm. They are a complete protein. Have back-up power that does not involve fossil fuels. Be able to cook. Keep your tools sharp and well-oiled. And have a good idea what you will do with your time when the internet goes away suddenly and permanently.
In the meantime, we are at the pinnacle of a gilded age. Be sure to enjoy it while it lasts.


Thursday, May 24, 2018

Puerto Rico issues microgrid rules

Puerto Rico issues microgrid rules, gives PREPA 120 days to establish interconnection rules - New Energy Events

Puerto Rico regulators take important steps to lay the groundwork for developing a microgrid industry as they issued final microgrid rules just five months after draft rules were released. The Puerto Rico Energy Commission issued the rules (CEPR-MI-2018-0001), ordering the utility PREPA to establish interconnection rules in 120 days. Until these rules are in place, only off-grid cooperative or personal microgrids are legal.

The new rules establish classes of microgrids, define types of generation they can use, and clarify the role of utilities and municipalities. Jared Leader, SEPA senior associate for utility strategy, issued a brief Friday describing the three classes of microgrids that can be developed under the rules.

Personal microgrids, which will provide power to one or two consumers and can, with PREC permission, provide excess energy and grid services to neighboring customers
Cooperative microgrids, which will serve three or more cooperative members, under two subcategories, small co-op microgrids of less than 250 kW or large co-op microgrids of more than 250 kW. Like personal microgrids, co-op microgrids can sell excess energy and services to others.
Third-party microgrids, which have owners or operators who sell energy services to customers under rates approved by PREC and set on a project-by-project basis. Owners can earn a reasonable rate of return for the first three years of operation.
Humanitarian workers, non-profits and private companies have cited the need for regulatory clarity and planning to build out a robust network of permanent microgrids.

The rules define ‘renewable microgrids’ as those that can generate 75 percent of their energy from renewables — solar, wind, geothermal, hydropower or biomass – and 25 percent from fossil fuels. A combined heat and power (CHP) microgrid must produce at least half of its total energy from the useful thermal energy captured from the plant. A hybrid microgrid may incorporate CHP and renewable systems, but the non-CHP system must generate 75 percent of its energy from renewables. Read More

NCCO announces Youth Video Competition

Belize: The National Climate Change Office (NCCO) invites interested young people (“Entrants”) to tell the country how they are shaping a more sustainable future by entering its second National Climate Change Youth Video Competition.

The National Climate Change Youth Video Competition highlights climate action by youth through videos, giving them a platform to share their successes and inspire other youths and policy-makers. The 2018 competition is stemming from the Global Youth Climate Video Competition which is co-organized by UN Climate Change, GEF-UNDP SGP and Connect4Climate, with support from BNP Paribas Foundation and the constituency of youth non-governmental organizations (YOUNGO).

This video competition offers an opportunity for Entrants to showcase their positive climate actions in order to inspire their community leaders and policy makers in Belize to address Climate Change.

Peruse the following: Entry guidelines, Entry form and the Official Rules for Youth Video Competition

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Recycling is suffering from system failure; it's time for a system redesign

We are sacrificing our oceans and filling our landfills in the name of convenience. It's time to pay the bill.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The U.S. recycling industry is breaking down.” Bob Tita writes:

Prices for scrap paper and plastic have collapsed, leading local officials across the country to charge residents more to collect recyclables and send some to landfills. Used newspapers, cardboard boxes and plastic bottles are piling up at plants that can’t make a profit processing them for export or domestic markets.
It all worked for a while as much of the recycling was shipped to China, where cheap labor made it possible to separate the pizza-covered boxes from the clean cardboard, but the government won’t let them do that anymore. So mixed paper that used to sell for $150 a ton now sells for $5. So instead, much of it is going to landfill.

Stuff is definitely getting thrown away in landfills. Nobody is happy about it,” said Dylan de Thomas, vice president of industry collaboration for the Recycling Partnership in Virginia. “There are very few landfill owners that don’t operate recycling facilities, too. They’d much rather be paid for those materials.”
Essentially, we have a system failure. All of which brings us back to the argument about recycling: who is it for? Who benefits? What do we do now? Read More

Thursday, May 10, 2018

1st Ocean Risk Summit

IISD/ENB+ @ 1st Ocean Risk Summit | 9 May 2018 | Southampton, Bermuda

On Wednesday, participants of the Ocean Risk Summit met throughout the day to hear opening remarks, keynote speakers, and presentations on ocean risk, describing and analyzing the changing ocean, and addressing ocean volatility. Two ‘deep-dive’ sessions took place in the afternoon, where panelists addressed in round-table discussions the topics of weather and climate, and health and security.

José María Figueres, Former President of Costa Rica and Founder of Ocean Unite, welcomed the risk management sector to the extended family of ocean partners, explaining that the ocean-related complex threats require a multi-sectoral response.

The Hon. C. Walton Brown, Minister of Home Affairs, Bermuda, welcomed the wide array of stakeholders represented at the Summit, and encouraged participants to commit to creating lasting change.

H. E. Peter Thomson, UN Special Envoy for the Ocean, emphasized that the ocean is the source of life on the planet, elaborating on its decline by the accumulating effects of a wide range of human impacts.
Mike McGavick, CEO, XL Group, stressed that “the risks are moving ashore with ferocity,” estimating that US$320 billion were lost last year due to natural disasters, and urging action to reverse ocean degradation.
Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan underscored the need to “reverse the damage we have inflicted on the vital oceanic system,” stressing that the next decade will be crucial for securing a sustainable future.
Read More

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Credit Rating Agency Issues Warning On Climate Change To Cities

One of the largest credit rating agencies in the country is warning U.S. cities and states to prepare for the effects of climate change or risk being downgraded.

In a new report, Moody's Investor Services Inc. explains how it assesses the credit risks to a city or state that's being impacted by climate change — whether that impact be a short-term "climate shock" like a wildfire, hurricane or drought, or a longer-term "incremental climate trend" like rising sea levels or increased temperatures.

Also taken into consideration: "[communities] preparedness for such shocks and their activities in respect of adapting to climate trends," the report says.

"If you have a place that simply throws up its hands in the face of changes to climate trends, then we have to sort of evaluate it on an ongoing basis to see how that abdication of response actually translates to changes in its credit profile," says Michael Wertz, a Moody's vice president.


Wednesday, May 2, 2018

When will the world’s polluters start paying for the mess they made?

The climate wars have begun and we call to you from its front line. Climate change is not a concept or a future risk, it is our reality.

A few months ago, Hurricane Maria caused economic losses and damages of 226% of Dominica’s GDP. Only two years before, Tropical storm Erika cost Dominica 90% of GDP, and Tropical Cyclone Pam battered Vanuatu, costing 64% of Vanuatu’s GDP. Last year Bangladesh suffered the worst flooding in a century covering one third of the country and affecting 11 million people, and in 2007 and 2009 Tropical Cyclones Sidr and Aila devastated Bangladesh. High coastal tides have reached deep inland in the Seychelles, threatening its economic livelihood.

Warmer seas have made tropical storms and coastal flooding more destructive than before, and that is before we consider the human costs of lost lives, homes, roofs, jobs and livelihoods. The trauma of monumental disasters cost lives long after the disaster passes.

We choose to be captains of our fate. We are endeavouring to waterproof our livelihoods and societies. But to do so will cost more than 100% of our GDP. We cannot do so overnight and yet each day takes us closer to the next hurricane, cyclone or monsoon. Climate change is relentless for us.

It is not only unjust that we should pay the costs of loss and damage from a climate change we did not cause, this very iniquity is a force behind climate change. As long as those who profit from the production of greenhouse gases are not those who suffer its most extreme consequences, climate change will accelerate. Soon the whole world will be affected, but soon it will be too late. Read More

Get the science right

The Earthquake That Will Devastate the Pacific Northwest | The New Yorker

In 2005, however, at a conference in Hokudan, a Japanese geologist named Yasutaka Ikeda had argued that the nation should expect a magnitude 9.0 in the near future—with catastrophic consequences, because Japan’s famous earthquake-and-tsunami preparedness, including the height of its sea walls, was based on incorrect science. The presentation was met with polite applause and thereafter largely ignored. Now, Goldfinger realized as the shaking hit the four-minute mark, the planet was proving the Japanese Cassandra right.

The next full-margin rupture of the Cascadia subduction zone will spell the worst natural disaster in the history of the continent.

For a moment, that was pretty cool: a real-time revolution in earthquake science. Almost immediately, though, it became extremely uncool, because Goldfinger and every other seismologist standing outside in Kashiwa knew what was coming. One of them pulled out a cell phone and started streaming videos from the Japanese broadcasting station NHK, shot by helicopters that had flown out to sea soon after the shaking started. Thirty minutes after Goldfinger first stepped outside, he watched the tsunami roll in, in real time, on a two-inch screen.

In the end, the magnitude-9.0 Tohoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami killed more than eighteen thousand people, devastated northeast Japan, triggered the meltdown at the Fukushima power plant, and cost an estimated two hundred and twenty billion dollars. The shaking earlier in the week turned out to be the foreshocks of the largest earthquake in the nation’s recorded history. But for Chris Goldfinger, a paleoseismologist at Oregon State University and one of the world’s leading experts on a little-known fault line, the main quake was itself a kind of foreshock: a preview of another earthquake still to come. Read More

Monday, April 30, 2018

Greening The Islands" Conference

"Greening The Islands" Conference & Awards (Applications due May 10th)

Greening The Islands Awards gives the opportunity to present viable and innovative projects in the field of sustainability and circular economy. All the islands of the world are allowed to participate as long as they have worked on projects related to the following topics:

  • Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency
  • Sustainable Mobility andTransportation
  • Water

Report and Event on Adaptation in Human Settlements: A Launch-pad For Action

UN Climate Change News 30 April 2018 - A newly released UN report details practical ways of adapting to climate change impacts such as increased flooding or intensifying storms in human settlements, from mega cities to villages.

Importantly, the report provides hands-on tools that national and subnational governments can use to build climate resilience in collaboration with communities, civil society organizations, research centres and the private sector.

Released by UN Climate Change and prepared under the Nairobi work programme, the report called “Adaptation in human settlements: key findings and way forward” aims to share good practices and lessons learned to date and will be taken forward at an event at the May Climate Change Conference.

The report is timely as both the contribution to climate action by cities as well as urbanization are increasing world-wide. Already more than 50% of the world’s population lives in urban areas, a number which is expected to near 70% by 2050.

Climate change is exacerbating the vulnerability of human settlements to natural and human-made hazards globally to a disproportionate degree, especially in developing countries, coastal and delta regions and small island developing States (SIDS). Read More

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Can strong foresight orientation make a nation successful?

Can strong foresight orientation make a nation successful? - Demos Helsinki

Can the Cayman Islands Benefit from Foresight Orientation? Redefining Our Economic Survival

Finland is a future-obsessed nation: it was the first country in the world to offer a masters degree in futures studies; it has a parliamentary committee dedicated to matters of the future; and the government is required by law to produce an official review of the future every parliamentary term (previous reports have focused on issues like climate change and an aging population).

The need for forecasting stems from Finland’s troubled past on the outskirts of Europe. Faced with economic shocks and a quickly changing geopolitical landscape, an understanding of the future has always been vital. Finland’s heavy investments in public education, R&D, infrastructure, and innovation are all indicative of the government’s strong commitment to the future.

This forecasting is partly what allowed Finland to rapidly develop from one of the poorest countries in Europe to one of the most successful ones in the world – all without great reserves of oil or minerals.

Demos Helsinki has previously documented the Finnish approach to future in the Finland Country Brand Report, <> a 20-year plan on how the existing strengths of Finland and Finns could be better used to solve wicked problems and benefit humanity. The report names expertise and creativity as Finland’s soft power and suggests fixes like exporting the famed Finnish education system abroad. Read More


Thursday, March 29, 2018

New 'green list' highlights the positives in nature conservation

News about conservation often seems like an endless battle to merely slow the decline of nature.

Each year, lists such as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) red list and the Unesco list of World Heritage In Danger grow, as more and more plants and animals inch closer to extinction and protected areas are degraded.

But a new list being developed by the IUCN aims to highlight positive steps being taken around the world to protect nature.

“It’s a bit like the flipside to the World Heritage In Danger list,” says University of Queensland’s Marc Hockings – the global lead on the green list for the IUCN.

Hockings says he came up with the idea of a green list about 10 years ago, as a way of setting a standard for how protected areas should be managed. The IUCN green list of protected and conserved areas is meant to celebrate successfully protected areas, and help other protected areas lift their standards by showcasing successful examples.

Since the once-a-decade World Parks Congress in 2004, the international conservation community recognised that while the world was increasing the amount of land and water that was formally protected, there was relatively little data about whether any management practices were in place to actually protect those areas. Read More