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« Misunderstanding FOI | Main | The right to be rude »


Back from my travels and there has clearly been plenty to occupy everyone in my absence. The mountain of email extends as far as the eye can see, so please excuse me if you don't get a personal response. Thanks though to everyone who has sent interesting stories.

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Reader Comments (9)

Great to have you back your grace and I mean no disrespect to those who have battled manfully to hold the fort :)

Oct 20, 2012 at 2:29 PM | Registered CommenterDung

I second that

Oct 20, 2012 at 8:12 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

I tird that...being Oirish I can't pronounce my th's.

Your moderators have done you proud!

Oct 20, 2012 at 8:34 PM | Registered Commenterpeterwalsh

There is one incident that gave me pause for reflection, and I hope I am not skating on thin ice. While you were away on one thread, someone simply asked 'what is the Green Agenda?' I posted a reply giving a link to the downloadable UN Agenda 21 pdf. Both his and my comments promptly vanished into the ether.

Agenda 21 is, according to Wikipedia, a non-binding, voluntarily implemented action plan of the United Nations with regards to sustainable development. It is a product of the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992. It is an action agenda for the UN, other multilateral organizations, and individual governments around the world that can be executed at local, national, and global levels. The "21" in Agenda 21 refers to the 21st century. It has been affirmed and modified at subsequent UN conferences. In 2012, at the Rio+20 (2012) United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development the attending members reaffirmed their commitment to Agenda 21 in their outcome document called "The Future We Want".

Dung has blogged in comments on unthreaded and elsewhere on this Agenda 21 document and its ramifications, as have I at Jun 19, 2012 at 12:20 PM on

and EForster on Oct 10, 2012 at 12:08 PM on

and a google search of his LA21 sure enough finds links to a number of our local councils.

Now it may be true that Agenda 21 has been cited as evidence of global governance conspiracy theories and the like, but the fact remains that it is an environmental ambition ('sustainability') that has been officially adopted, and thus deserves to be audited scrutinised and debated, IMHO.

Oct 20, 2012 at 9:13 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

I second that :)

Oct 21, 2012 at 1:51 AM | Registered CommenterDung

Oct 20, 2012 at 9:13 PM | Pharos

Now it may be true that Agenda 21 has been cited as evidence of global governance conspiracy theories and the like, but the fact remains that it is an environmental ambition ('sustainability') that has been officially adopted, and thus deserves to be audited scrutinised and debated, IMHO.

Speaking of "environmental ambition" ('sustainability') etc .... I wonder how many are aware of the recently concluded nine-day confab of the "Rio Conventions Pavilion" (RCP) held "in parallel with the Eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 11) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), in Hyderabad, India,"

In the IISD's dutiful reportage of the RCP, there are some interesting highlights (and lowlights). <Shameless plug alert> Details at:

Mid-agenda warm period detected in biodiversity hockey stick

Oct 21, 2012 at 6:35 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov


I find this 'biodiversity' venture particularly amusing, because I happen to have started in early career as a geologist specialising in micropalaeontology and palaeoecology analysing the European Lower Cretaceous. The contrast between the impoverished cold 'boreal' fauna and the prolific warm 'tethyan' fauna tends to leave a strong impression.

However, I don't think 'biodiversity' has yet seeped into the local council standard vocabulary as much as 'sustainability'. As you may know, every local council was obliged to submit a Local Development Plan or Scheme, sometimes called the Core Strategy, under legislation in the Localism Act and the National Planning Policy Framework. These invariably contain more genuflexion to the ultimate green buzzword 'sustainability' than a devout Buddhist parambulating clockwise around the holiest relic of Buddha. It's great fun to download your local council's version of the core strategy and do a wordcount on sustainable and sustainability.

Oct 21, 2012 at 10:55 PM | Registered CommenterPharos


I don't think 'biodiversity' has yet seeped into the local council standard vocabulary as much as 'sustainability'.

Oh, but the UNEP is trying as hard as it can, Pharos! For the better part of 20 years "biodiversity" has taken a back-seat to "climate change" aka "global warming", has it not?

The UNEP's head honcho, Achim Steiner, recently shone his foggy light (as opposed to his more frequent "disaster is upon us light") on the issue with one of his typical word-salads:

Remarks by Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director at the opening session of the High Level Segment of the 11th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity
Tue, Oct 16, 2012


Both events and the processes underpinning [the outcomes of the June Rio+20 Summit at the 67th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York] are mutually supportive and underline both the challenges and opportunities of the next few years for accelerating, scaling up and recalibrating sustainable development.

We are living through a moment in history where many of the risks foreseen over the past 40 to 20 years are fast becoming realities. All too often we seem unable to find the ambition and the actions to reverse this trend. Meanwhile the on-going financial and economic crisis is affecting far too many countries, and potentially undermining our determination.

Despite its shortcomings Rio+20 opened some fresh pathways, [...]
All this builds upon the work of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) which is gaining traction across the globe. TEEB is enlightening us about the wealth of the natural world and is helping to bring the strategic plan and Aichi targets from the fringe into the mainstream; making yet another sound and solid case for an inclusive Green Economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication as one important 'tool' for realizing a sustainable century.

The Rio+20 outcome processes underway in New York are pointing in the same direction-a new indicator of wealth beyond GDP including the Inclusive Wealth Index; sustainable development goals to bring the North and the South in common cause and sustainability reporting by corporations to name but three.
The urgency is to boil down action across sectors and ministries above and beyond environment ones.

An urgent need is too to bring the experience and enthusiasm of the enlightened private sector into the challenge of resource mobilization for the strategic plan and the realization of the Aichi targets in just eight years time.

Biodiversity is essential for sustainable development, in particular for the poor of the world. I call upon you all to develop NBSAPs, to protect our marine environment, and to operationalize the principles of access and benefits sharing - integrating all this into national development plans as key elements of our common endeavor towards sustainable development and the reduction of poverty. This is The Future we Want. [emphasis added -hro]

Even the IPCC's Pachauri saw the "sustainability" bandwagon rising to the fore. From his 2009 "vision paper" for AR5, as I had noted:

Climate change needs to be assessed in the context of sustainable development, and this consideration should pervade the entire report across the three Working Groups. In past assessments sustainable development and its various linkages with climate change were seen largely as an add-on. Most governments who have commented on this issue have highlighted the need to treat sustainable development as an overarching framework in the context of both adaptation and mitigation. [emphasis added -hro]

Perhaps those who've seen the drafts of AR5 can enlighten us as to the extent to which Pachauri's "vision" has been realized. Or perhaps the Lead Authors and Coordinating Lead Authors are awaiting Steiner's promised "recalibrating [of] sustainable development". I'm not sure how one might go about "recalibrating" such an all-encompassing slogan (or where the responsibility might lie for such "recalibrating").

Nonetheless, one certainly hopes that this "recalibrating" was completed prior to any IPCC deadlines so that the IPCC's expert reviewers will have the opportunity to review the draft in light of the (presumably) 'recalibrated overarching framework'.

But I digress ...

As you might have gathered, Pharos, I completely agree with your view that "sustainable/sustainability" is more likely to have permeated the "local council standard" than "biodiversity". But, IMHO, the BIG problem from a global, national, regional and/or local tax authority perspective is that "sustainability" does not offer the "opportunities" for increased taxation that (fear of C02 driven) "climate change" aka "global warming" or the new, improved (fear of Gaia-knows-what) biodiversity "disaster" provides.

Oct 22, 2012 at 8:03 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

Sorry, wrt the "Aichi targets" quoted above (hands up all who have even heard of them!) ... I meant to include a link:

Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, including Aichi Biodiversity Targets

Be sure to check out the link to their "English Flyer", entitled, "Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020 and the Aichi Targets 'Living in Harmony with Nature'"

Oct 22, 2012 at 8:28 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

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