Water management in Europe faces rising challenges as ecosystems weaken
Water pollution and excessive water use are still harming ecosystems, which are indispensable to Europe’s food, energy, and water supplies. To maintain water ecosystems, farming, planning, energy and transport sectors need to actively engage in managing water within sustainable limits.
Water is finite, and cannot continue to absorb limitless amounts of pollution without damaging the resources and ecosystems we rely on.
Jacqueline McGlade, EEA Executive Director
‘European waters – current status and future challenges’ brings together findings from nine other European Environment Agency (EEA) reports published during the course of 2012 and early 2013. The report shows a mixed picture for the status of Europe’s water bodies, while the findings are worrying when it comes to ecosystems' ability to deliver essential services.
Strong ecosystems should be maintained, partly because they provide vital services which are often overlooked, the report says. For example, restoring a wetland is not only good for biodiversity but also water filtration, water retention and flood prevention. Although essential, these services are not accounted for in current financial and economic systems.
“Water is finite, and cannot continue to absorb limitless amounts of pollution without damaging the resources and ecosystems we rely on,” Jacqueline McGlade, EEA Executive Director, said. “Farmers, planners and companies need to cooperate more, to make sure that the combined pressures on ecosystems do not pass harmful limits.”
"Climate Conference in Doha to lead us into a dangerous impasse"
Coalition of the willing instead of waiting for consensus – climate bailout fund needs to be implemented quickly
Statement by Dr. Thiemo Gropp, Director of the DESERTEC Foundation, on the climate conference in Doha (Qatar)
Hamburg 27th November, 2012. For the 18th UN Climate Change Conference around 20,000 people from over 190 countries have boarded planes to stay in air-conditioned hotels and produce huge amounts of CO2 all in the name of climate protection. And what is the result of almost two decades of this annual meeting? The world emits more CO2 today than ever before.
Climate protection is a global issue that cannot be solved by one country alone. But the premise of the UN climate conference that the start of comprehensive climate action must depend on the global consensus of all concerned parties brings us to a dangerous impasse. As long as countries believe that further negotiation can bring them economic advantages there will always be delay. What we need is a coalition of the willing committed to funding solutions from which all parties will benefit.
UNDP Annual Report 2011/2012: The Sustainable Future We Want
UNDP has a presence on the ground in over 170 countries and territories and decades of concrete development experience in countries ranging from fragile States to middle-income countries like Brazil and Indonesia. This, combined with our four focus areas — poverty reduction and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); democratic governance; crisis prevention and recovery; and environment and sustainable development — make us uniquely situated and qualified to answer the UN’s call for a better and more sustainable future.
- In Nepal, more than 50,000 people benefited from an off-grid network of micro-hydropower systems set up with support from UNDP and the World Bank; globally, with UNDP’s support, 41 countries adopted initiatives successfully increasing access to renewable and clean energy.
- The Government of South Africa incorporated four pro-poor UNDP policy recommendations into its 20-year national development plan.
- On 23 October 2011 — the date of Tunisia’s first free and democratic elections — 76 percent of the country’s 4.1 million registered voters cast their ballots, with critical support from UNDP and the European Union.
- About 1.6 million people benefited from UNDP jobs programmes, including those established following major disasters.
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A zero energy building (ZEB) or net zero energy building is a general term applied to a building's use with zero net energy consumption and zero carbon emissions annually. Zero energy buildings can be used autonomously from the energy grid supply – energy can be harvested on-site. The net zero design principle is overlaid on the requested comfort of the building occupant. Generally, the more extreme the exposure to the elements the more energy is needed to achieve a comfortable environment of human use.
The zero fossil energy consumption principle is gaining considerable interest as renewable energy harvesting is a means to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Traditional building use consumes 40% of the total fossil energy in the US and European Union. In developing countries many people have to live in zero-energy buildings out of necessity. Many people live in huts, yurts, tents and caves exposed to temperature extremes and without access to electricity. These conditions and the limited size of living quarters would be considered uncomfortable in the developed countries.
The modern evolution of zero-energy buildings
The development of modern zero-energy buildings became possible not only through the progress made in new construction technologies and techniques, but it has also been significantly improved by academic research on traditional and experimental buildings, which collected precise energy performance data. Today's advanced computer models can show the efficacy of engineering design decisions.
Energy use can be measured in different ways (relating to cost, energy, or carbon emissions) and, irrespective of the definition used, different views are taken on the relative importance of energy harvest and energy conservation to achieve a net energy balance. Although zero energy buildings remain uncommon in developed countries, they are gaining in importance and popularity. The zero-energy approach has potential to reduce carbon emissions, and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Most ZEB definitions do not include the emissions generated in the construction of the building and the embodied energy of the structure. So much energy is used in the construction of a new building that this can dwarf the operational energy savings over its useful life.
A building approaching net zero-energy use may be called a near-zero energy building or ultra-low energy house. Buildings that produce a surplus of energy during a portion of the year may be known as energy-plus buildings.
If the building is located in an area that requires heating or cooling throughout parts of the year, it is easier to achieve net zero-energy consumption when the available living space is kept small.
Despite sharing the name zero energy building, there are several definitions of what ZEB means in practice, with a particular difference in usage between North America and Europe.
- Net zero site energy use
- In this type of ZEB, the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable energy sources is equal to the amount of energy used by the building. In the United States, “zero energy building” generally refers to this type of building.
- Net zero source energy use
- This ZEB generates the same amount of energy as is used, including the energy used to transport the energy to the building. This type accounts for losses during electricity transmission. These ZEBs must generate more electricity than net zero site energy buildings.
- Net zero energy emissions
- Outside the United States and Canada, a ZEB is generally defined as one with zero net energy emissions, also known as a zero carbon building or zero emissions building. Under this definition the carbon emissions generated from on-site or off-site fossil fuel use are balanced by the amount of on-site renewable energy production. Other definitions include not only the carbon emissions generated by the building in use, but also those generated in the construction of the building and the embodied energy of the structure. Others debate whether the carbon emissions of commuting to and from the building should also be included in the calculation.
- Net zero cost
- In this type of building, the cost of purchasing energy is balanced by income from sales of electricity to the grid of electricity generated on-site. Such a status depends on how a utility credits net electricity generation and the utility rate structure the building uses.
- Net off-site zero energy use
- A building may be considered a ZEB if 100% of the energy it purchases comes from renewable energy sources, even if the energy is generated off the site.
- Off-the-grid buildings are stand-alone ZEBs that are not connected to an off-site energy utility facility. They require distributed renewable energy generation and energy storage capability (for when the sun is not shining, wind is not blowing, etc). An energy autarkic house is a building concept where the balance of the own energy consumption and production can be made on an hourly or even smaller basis. Energy autarkic houses can be taken off-the-grid.
Ecology and Islam: review of Abdul-Matin's "Green Deen"
Muslim Americans are slowly beginning to make their mark on their conflicted society. There are more Muslims than Jews in the US now --approximately 5 million. They are the most diverse of all American believers, 35 per cent born in the US (25 per cent Afro-American), the rest -- immigrants from southeast Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Traditionally they have voted Republican, but have shifted to Democrat and Green parties in recent years.
Ibrahim Abdul-Matin is the son of black converts, raised in New York, a community organiser now environmental adviser to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. His book about Islam and the environment -- Green Deen -- is a stimulating overview of both the US environmental movement and how American Muslims are becoming part of it, bringing their own unique perspective.
Abdul-Matin sees the weakness of the environmental movement today in its secular, legalist approach to problems: pass enough laws and you can curb the negative practices of business and consumers, and push them along an environmentally-friendly path.
But this, as he shows in this book, is not enough. He interprets Islam's focus on One Creator as giving "humankind the opportunity to be one and to have a common purpose", to bring back ethical principles into our daily lives. He points to six principles which underlie Islam and shows how they relate to our relationship to the environment:
*understanding the Oneness of God and His creation (tawhid);
*seeing signs of God (ayat) everywhere;
*being a steward (khalifah) of the Earth;
*honouring the trust we have with God (amana) to be protectors of the planet;
*moving toward justice (adl); and
*living in balance with nature (mizan).
October 17th – 31st @ The Panya Project Chiang Mai
This workshop will cover all aspects of Eco-village design & the fundamentals of Deep Ecology, Community Building & Permaculture using interactive participatory action learning. Based on the belief that every body has a piece of the truth inside of them. Participatory, interactive teaching methods are designed to empower through experiential learning & reflection. Our aim is to create a supportive learning community for the duration of the workshop, where trust, love, compassion, support & connection is built among participants.
Eco-village design / Deep Ecology:
Our community will spend time on the four key elements of Eco-village design.
Social - New relations in community that bring happiness; Building community & embracing diversity.
World-view - New ways of looking at the universe; listening to & reconnecting with nature.
Ecological - Design an eco-village & practice basic principles & skills.
Economics - Right livelihood in communities, shifting the global economy towards sustainability.
There will be a series of sessions throughout the workshop designed to heal & connect with our inner self & nature. There will be visioning sessions that will be conducted in the beautiful forest next to the Panya project. These sessions will be led by Om an experienced & powerful facilitator who has studied & been inspired by the work of Joanna Macy.
The growing demand for power generated from renewable energy sources also drives innovation in the sector, according to research on the German renewables industry. An increase in the number of patents granted for green technologies in Germany was linked to both increased demand – driven by renewable energy policies – and increased public spending on the sector.
Under the Renewable Energy Directive (2009/28/EC), the EU has set mandatory national targets for the share of total energy to be generated from renewable sources by 2020.1 Germany is an example of a country with more ambitious goals for renewable energy. While the EU as a whole is committed to achieving a 20% share, Germany has set its 2020 target at 35%. The new study provides insights into how developing energy policy in the country has shaped the market for, and driven innovation in, renewable energy over the last two decades.
Two key pieces of national legislation on renewable energies have influenced the adoption of green technologies in Germany. The Electricity Feed Law or Stromeinspeisungsgesetz (SEG) came into effect in 1991, requiring utilities providers to connect those generating renewable energy to the grid and to buy their electricity at 65-90% of the cost charged to consumers of that electricity. In 2000, the Renewable Energy Sources Act or Erneuerbare-Energien-Gesetz (EEG) extended the range of renewable energy technologies covered and set different tariffs for different types of energy. Between 2007 and 2010, Germany more than doubled the proportion of its energy mix made up by renewables – from 7% to 17%.2 The renewables industry in Germany currently produces 20% of total electricity generated, with around 382,000 jobs linked to the industry.3
Soaring temperatures and low precipitation could not occur at a worse time for many farmers in the United States. Intensifying drought conditions are affecting corn and soybean crops throughout the Midwest, raising grain prices as well as concerns about future food prices. The U.S. Drought Monitor reports that 88 percent of this year’s corn crop and 77 percent of the soybean crop are now affected by the most severe drought since 1988. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is providing drought assistance to 1,584 counties across 32 states and warns of increased food prices in 2013 as a result of corn and soybean yield losses.
Corn is currently selling at around $9 a bushel, a 50 percent increase from June, while soybeans are selling at a record high of $17 a bushel as a result of drought-related losses in crop yields. The increased prices may benefit farmers in the short run, but consumers will experience the aftermath of price increases in the form of more money spent on poultry, beef, pork, and dairy products.
Nearly half of all domestic corn production is used as livestock feed, a trend that is now encouraging larger livestock producers to import corn from Brazil while smaller farmers must reduce herd sizes by sending more animals to the market. Most immediately, poultry prices are expected to rise 3.5 to 4.5 percent due to the animals’ more rapid growth and therefore more sudden response to higher feed prices. The price of beef is projected to rise the highest—4 to 5 percent by November—but at a slower rate, reflecting the longer growth period and higher feed requirements of beef cattle.
Water Security and Emergency Preparedness Conference & Exposition (WSEPC) 2012
Adancing Security and Emergency Preparedness in the Water Sector
8 - 10 June 2012
ECOFEST ISTANBUL is a culture, arts and social responsibility project aimed at developing a broader environmental public awareness concerning nature friendly and sustainable living culture in many fields of life from manufacture to design, energy to nutrition, through inspiring and innovative artistic events that will take place from 8 to 10 June.
Bringing together environmentally sensitive disciplines and sectors, ECOFEST ISTANBUL events and fair booths will be based primarily at KüçükÇiftlik Park, but will also spread to the streets of Nisantasi. These include thematic concerts, open kitchen and taste activities, ecological fashion shows, workshops for kids, recycled art works, installations, street events and many other festivities.
World Environment Day 2012: “Green Economy: Does it include you?”
The 2012 theme for World Environment Day is Green Economy: Does it include you? Evidently, there are two parts to this theme and the first tackles the subject of the Green Economy. This is where some people shut off their minds because they find the concept of the Green Economy a little too complex to understand. On the contrary, the Green Economy is really something that is applicable all around you and it is easy to imagine how one can fit in it.
From social ecologist Cagrideniz Eryilmaz in Turkey:
Social Ecology Challenges Environmentalism: HES Opposition Cases in Turkey
I have completed a sociology dissertation aiming to analyze environmental grassroots movements in Turkey within a frame of social ecology. Hundreds of local movements rose against the construction of thousands of HES (hydroelectric power plants) in the last few years. HES opposition shows new and unique aspects challenging traditional ‘environmentalism’ in Turkey. Except for the Bergama movement (against a gold mining company, 1990-2005), this was the first time local people developed such numerous grassroots movements throughout the country. Local people, who had not joined any protests in their lives, became pioneers of protest, voicing new slogans like “we will resist for our right to live until the end.” Not only did they join the environmental movement but they also used concepts of ‘rights of nature’ and ‘living space’ for the first time. The unique difference between traditional urban environmentalism and these local grassroots activities pushed me to write this thesis after years of professional Environmental NGO (ENGO) experience in several areas of Turkey.
Social ecology is necessary in order to analyze this movement, especially through environment/nature and environmentalism/ecology dualities. Only the critique of liberal environmentalism and the radical proposals of Libertarian Municipalism (LM) can uncover dominant urban environmentalism and analyze the significance of the rising environmental grassroots in Turkey. Beyond the scope of social movement literature, social ecological analysis provides insights for the environmental grassroots in terms of ideology, economics, politics, activities, and forms of organization that challenge domination.
Asia Geospatial Forum has matured as a conference and is now widely recognised as one of the largest and most important geospatial industry event in Asia Pacific. Being a media company born out of the sheer need for reliable information, resource material and latest developments in the realm of geospatial technology, Geospatial Media & Communications endeavours to create awareness about geospatial technology; connect various stakeholders of geospatial community; advocate in creating the right policy environment; and provide an ideal platform for business development activities. For these exact reasons, developing countries with emerging geospatial drive are chosen to host Asia Geospatial Forum, with main objective of fostering the industry’s growth within the country and region.
Vietnam has been putting itself on the path of economic growth and development post the War. The country is adopting modern technologies to be on par with other South East Asian countries and is capitalising on the second mover advantage to evolve its geospatial footprint. With its first remote sensing satellite on the way, and Spatial Data Infrastructure Program initiated, Vietnam is on the right track towards full utilisation of geospatial information. Although the major usage is still in the natural resource management such as land and forestry, geospatial elements has also tapped into the fast-rising sectors such as transportation, utilities, public safety and urban planning.