"The road to success is often riddled with challenges and failures. No matter the outcomes that transpire at Rio+20, we must never give up the fight for the rights of future generations to be able to enjoy what we have taken for granted. Give people of the world a voice and they have power. Focus that human power and we can achieve anything.
My name is Fabien Cousteau, and I believe in miracles.”
UN Environmental Summit Largely Seen As a Failure
Leaders from around the globe gathered Wednesday to open three days of talks at the United Nations conference on sustainable development, where a sober, unambitious mood prevailed as negotiators produced what critics called a watered-down document that makes few advances on protecting the environment.
Negotiators worked for months to hammer out a document that many hoped would lay out clear goals on how nations could promote sustainable development - making economic advances without eating up the globe’s resources.
Caption: Activists push an inflatable globe during a “Global March” as part of the People’s Summit for Social and Environmental Justice in Defense of the Commons. Image: AP Photo, Felipe Dana
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news-un-environmental-summit-largely-seen-as-a-failure-062112.aspx
For the third year in a row, United Nations Headquarters participated in Earth Hour. Here’s a photo taken by UN staff member Bo Li looking across the East River towards Manhattan from Queens.
Related article: Spotlighting sustainability, the UN goes dark for Earth Hour 2012
More on the UN’s Earth Hour participation, including a video message from Ban Ki-moon
Find out about the Future We Want ahead of June’s Rio+20 conference
Save coral reefs today, dive the Green Fins way!
As part of my Zoox internship, my fellow volunteers and I are co-managing Green Fins in Puerto Galera, Mindoro, PH.
Green Fins is an UN environment programme initiative whose mission statement is:
"To protect and conserve coral reefs by establishing and implementing environmentally friendly guidelines to promote a sustainable diving tourism industry.”
Green Fins - managed by The Reef World Foundation - operates in Philippines, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia and Indonesia - where reefs are the most biodiverse and subject to heavy diver traffic.
Membership is free, dive centres that sign up agree to adhere to a set of 15 rules - the Code of Conduct - that will reduce their impacts on the marine environment, both in and out the water.
Green Fins provides training and materials to dive centres and their staff to understand the ecological reasons behind the code of conduct. Where resources allow [Green Fins is non-profit and can’t take donations], dive centres are evaluated annually and given feedback, support and advice on how to improve [i.e. what I’m doing]. This is what sets this project apart from others like PADI Project A.W.A.R.E. There is an incentive and most importantly the support for dive centres to improve.
There is, like any initiative that requires change, resistance from some. Co-ordinators have heard that “divers aren’t the problem, fishermen are”, or that “divers don’t cause damage” or that “its not their dive shop it’s the [insert stereotype nationality here] who cause all the damage”.
The bottom line is that Green Fins isn’t saying divers are the biggest threat to reefs. That’s obviously climate change. But what the project aims to do is to reduce the impacts divers do have, to allow reefs to be more resilient to these larger threats. And Green Fins does work with the local communities to increase awareness, and with the “stereotypes” who tend to show the biggest improvement of them all.
At the end of the day, the dive industry does have impacts. Cleaning products, masking tape on tanks, anchors, touching coral, changing engine oil all have detrimental effects on reefs. Any anything we do to reduce these impacts will help.
On top of the help Green Fins acts as a go-between for dive centres and local and national governments. Dive centres are the eyes and the ears on the reefs, and if they encounter any problems Green Fins can follow it up. Similarly, they can also disseminate information on new marine laws etc.
Dive centres are also encouraged to do regular reef monitoring and reef clean ups! Check out our last one here. For those who wouldn’t recognise me, I’m the one who isn’t white and has a stripy headband when diving.
If you are at all interested in diving follow Green Fins progress. I believe it is a really powerful tool for protection and education. Their lastest news is on the Green Fins facebook page - so come and join the Green Fins party!
Uniting communities around the World
This Earth Hour, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon is urging people, organisations and businesses to stand in solidarity with the 20% of men, women and children who don’t have access to electricity.
Of Forests and Men - 2O11 was the UN International Year of Forests
A beautiful video produced by one of my favourite Nature photographers Yann Arthus-Bertrand and narrated by Edward Norton.
“Over the past 6O years we have inflicted more rapid degradation on the planet than in all human history”
A sample of the common bycatch species from an inshore prawn trawler. These are the different species of sea life caught in one three-hour tow.
Bycatch is fish caught unintentionally in a fishery while intending to catch other fish. Basically, it’s the collateral damage of unselectively scooping wildlife out of our oceans while in search of one or a few commercially viable species.
For every 1Kg of shrimp caught in a trawl net, there is an estimated 15kg of by-catch! To me, this statistic has been the most shocking that I’ve come across. I just don’t see how we can abide it.
Last week at the United Nations, countries took the first, essential steps towards closing the huge gaps which exist in international law which leave the high seas—those areas beyond national jurisdiction—so poorly protected.
The high seas cover nearly 50% of our planet and 64% of the ocean. They are the largest area of unprotected wilderness. Since 2003, IUCN has played a key role in fostering international action to safeguard this blue heart of the planet, just as it supports efforts at the national level to conserve coastal and marine biodiversity within national waters.
This is great news. The Tragedy of the commons affects so many of the world’s remote ecosystems.
"The tragedy of the commons is a dilemma arising from the situation in which multiple individuals, acting independently and rationally consulting their own self-interest, will ultimately deplete a shared limited resource, even when it is clear that it is not in anyone’s long-term interest for this to happen."
To have laws and regulations on international waters meaning protecting the processes which connect ecosystems through currents, such as coral larvae dispersal, and populations of fish that [surprisingly] don’t adhere to arbitrary national boundaries.
“A key element of last Friday’s decision is that it recognizes, for the first time, the need to share the benefits of marine genetic resources fairly and with particular concern for the needs of developing countries, which often lack the capacity to explore and exploit these resources…”
Everything is connected, and protection should take that into consideration, which means countries must work together, the rich and the poor, to close the loopholes that allow industries exploiting marine resources to go unchecked. You can’t just turn a blind eye to the happenings over the imaginary line, but you do need the go-ahead from a set of regulations, else the whole world will be up in arms over acting beyond your jurisdiction.
This is why a step like this, is no small one. It is huge, half the world huge, and we should celebrate, support and demand progress for the future.
Over the last few decades Marine scientists have been discovering the significance of marine ecosystems (e.g. Reefs, Mangroves, Sea Grass beds) as carbon sinks for atmospheric carbon. The hype has reached political heights and the Blue Carbon community is growing fast.
Another to keep your eye on.