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[From the web] Beyond Rio+20: NGO key focus areas -Climate Action Network – International

Beyond Rio+20: NGO key focus areas

Wael Hmaidan, Director, Climate Action Network – International (CAN-I)

In light of short-term politics and traditional benchmarks, Rio+20 could easily be described as a lost opportunity. Despite over one hundred Heads of State attending the conference, no new political will was created and the Outcome Document itself was agreed upon before they even arrived. Barely any new commitments are included in ‘The Future We Want’ and, unlike 1992, no treaties were signed nor any major new agencies or funds created. Instead of agreeing on actual numbers and targets, new processes were established to agree on numbers and targets at a later stage. In other words, what Rio+20 mainly did is kick the ball a few years further down the line.

In the aftermath of Rio+20, it is important for us as civil society to follow the various processes coming out of the Conference, most notably the development of post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs process has already begun and the time is therefore now for us to start engaging. At the UNGA this September, an open-ended Working Group on SDGs will begin its work, starting with the setting out of their terms of reference, which is to be based on recommendations from the UN Secretary-General. The next 3 to 6 months are therefore crucial in influencing the set-up of that process. Beyond this, the next high profile event to take place will be the MDG review Summit (high level event of the UNGA) in New York on 23rd September 2013. Finally, an end Summit in 2015 is currently planned for the signing of the SDGs.

However, the SDGs are not the only important process coming out of Rio. Also to be launched is a negotiation process to establish a high level political forum on sustainable development. This forum was a compromise following the inability of states to reach an agreement on a new Sustainable Development Council, but it is hoped by some that this forum could still lead to the formation of a body with a similarly strong mandate. This forum will provide high level political guidance and possibly determine the agenda of the UN-led sustainable development process. Civil society must therefore follow these discussions closely.

Ban Ki-moon’s Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative was only noted in the Outcome Document and thus weaked. Nevertheless, SE4ALL is being used as a prototype and could feed into the development of other SDGs as part of the post-2015 development framework. SE4ALL is based on three goals: universal access, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. The metrics for this initiative are very weak and based on what politicians will action.

Also relevant to the energy issue is the removal of fossil fuel subsidies, which was one of the key demands of civil society. The final text on fossil fuel subsidies is not inspirational or ambitious. Nevertheless, it is the first time in a UN context where phasing out fossil fuel subsidies is mentioned. The momentum created within civil society must continue, building upon several global initiatives on this issue already underway. For example, several countries, including Denmark, New Zealand, Norway, Luxembourg, Ethiopia and Costa Rica, have formed a fossil fuel subsidy reform group, which will be expanded in the coming six months. The group will create strategies and plans for how to phase out fossil fuel subsidies with the aim of presenting them at the UNFCCC COP 18 in Doha, Qatar.

Other elements of the Rio+20 Outcome Document that civil society should keep an eye on include:

The adoption of the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production, which is an agreed paper that needs to be implemented. This element is being led by UNEP and civil society has not been especially involved so far.

The agreement on corporate sustainability reporting.
Going beyond GDP to measure well-being, which is due to be reviewed by the UN Statistical Commission but with no clear timeline.

In addition to working on the different elements of the Rio outcomes, NGOs should also rethink their approach and explore how they can become more effective. For example, one key area that civil society can improve in is the link between the environment and development movements. At the moment, there is a divide between the two at a government, UN, and NGO level, and it is essential that this relationship is strengthened and not weakened further.

Source: http://www.stakeholderforum.org/sf/outreach/index.php/post-rio/117-wrap-up/1085-postrio1item12

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[From the web] Filipino-American Personal Development Author Launches Inspirational Book with a Purpose -AMSDaily

Filipino-American Personal Development Author Launches Inspirational Book with a Purpose

On July 30, 2012, Filipino-American Alpha Miguel-Sanford, the editor and founder of the personal development website Aspire.Motivate.Succeed! (AMSDaily) is releasing her second book, “The Best Inspirational Stories I Ever Read: Guide to a Purposeful Life,” as a way to help individuals define their understanding of themselves and start living a purposeful life. Her book also encourages readers to self reflect by answering guide questions that help assess their strengths, weaknesses, values and beliefs, which could also assist them to form a clearer vision of a purposeful life.

With a mission to offer her readers an inspirational book about living purposefully, Alpha was inspired to write this book months after launching her website in June 2011. The book, a collection of stories by seven writers (Avdhessh Arya, Ronald Colunga, Buenaflor Laoang-Rosete, Ria Rombaoa, Elizabeth Scala, Kenton Sefcik and Stuart Young) from around the world, focuses on self-confidence, relationships, family, health, dreams and goal-setting, aims to guide readers in defining their personal missions, talents as well as goals that contribute to creating meaningful lives.

Alpha works as a school leader at the Randolph Public School in Massachusetts, and understands the importance of education and how it contributes to the future of students, especially underprivileged children. Hence, aside from the message that the book offers to the readers, it also aims to serve as a vehicle to help underprivileged kids in the Philippines to receive proper education. In collaboration with Mon Corpuz, the book cover designer and also the co-founder of the Black Pencil Project, Alpha will donate ten pencils to the Black Pencil Project for every book sale made.

The book released price is $12.99 and will be available online at http://amsdaily.net or http://alphasanford.com/ starting July 30, 2012. For exclusive offers, promotional discounts and free downloadable materials of the book, subscribe for FREE at http://amsdaily.net or become a fan of AMSDaily at http://facebook.com/amsdaily.

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[From the web] Principles on Extra-Territorial Human Rights Obligations Adopted

The Maastricht Centre for Human Rights of Maastricht University and the International Commission of Jurists are pleased to announce the adoption
of the Maastricht Principles on Extra-Territorial Obligations (ETOs) of
States in the area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. These
international legal principles clarify the human rights obligations of
States beyond their own borders.

en.wikipedia.org

The Principles cover all economic, social and cultural rights, including
among others the right to just and favourable conditions of work, social
security, an adequate standard of living, food, housing, water,
sanitation, health, education and participation in cultural life.

The Maastricht Principles constitute the outcome of the deliberations of a
group of 40 distinguished experts in international law and human rights
from all regions of the world. The expert group includes present and
former members of international human rights treaty bodies; present and
former special procedures mandate holders of the United Nations Human
Rights Council; and leading academic and civil society legal experts. The
experts met in Maastricht from 26 to 28 September 2011 at a conference
co-convened by the Maastricht University and the ICJ and considered legal
analysis conducted over a period of four years by the ETO Consortium,
consisting of academic, civil society and other independent experts on
economic, social and cultural rights.

The Principles take as their starting point the conviction that the human
rights of individuals and peoples are necessarily impacted substantially
in both negative and positive ways by the conduct of States other than
their own. The Principles affirm that States are obliged to cooperate and
assist other states in realizing economic, social and cultural rights of
all people. They also make clear that States may be held responsible for
the adverse effects that their conduct brings to the enjoyment of rights
beyond their own borders.
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The experts stressed that economic globalization and the increasing shift
in decision-making competency and authority to international bodies were
placing great strain on the capacity of each State to realize human rights
of their own nationals and residents, and that all States acting singly or
jointly must act to ensure that human rights do not become a casualty of
this trend.

The Maastricht Principles complement and build on the 1986 Limburg
Principles for the implementation of the International Covenant on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and on the 1997 Maastricht Guidelines
on Violations of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. They constitute a
significant contribution towards the achievement of the historic promise
made by States in the Charter of the United Nations to promote universal
respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for
all.

The text of the Maastricht Principles is available at:
http://www.maastrichtuniversity/humanrights and http://www.icj.org