Note: Items in this page are updated as information is received and as time permits. If the reader knows about new pubs/tools that should be announced in this page, please write to the Editor.
1. Suggestions for Prayer, Study, and Action
SUGGESTION FOR PRAYER
Good is the Flesh
by Brian Wren
Good is the flesh that the Word has become,
good is the birthing, the milk in the breast,
good is the feeding, caressing and rest,
good is the body for knowing the world,
Good is the flesh that the Word has become.
Good is the body for knowing the world,
sensing the sunlight, the tug of the ground,
feeling, perceiving, within and around,
good is the body, from cradle to grave,
Good is the flesh that the Word has become.
Good is the body, from cradle to grave,
growing and aging, arousing, impaired,
happy in clothing, or lovingly bared,
good is the pleasure of God in our flesh,
Good is the flesh that the Word has become.
Good is the pleasure of God in our flesh,
longing in all, as in Jesus, to dwell,
glad of embracing, and tasting, and smell,
good is the body, for good and for God,
Good is the flesh that the Word has become.
One criterion of the grant is to create and make available, via the Internet, an open-source textbook for use in introductory college courses. A self-imposed criterion is to identify an expand ing field of knowledge, common to all three campuses, where the open-source textbook could provide a sound foundation for effective teaching and learning. To that end, the team guiding the project has selected "sustainability" as the general focus of the University's open-source textbook. It should be noted that "sustainability" was also the field of study identified by Illinois community colleges for a potential a partnership with the University of Illinois. This textbook serves a need identified by faculty teaching in the sustainability area, i.e. the lack of a single, comprehensive, introductory text.
"Sustainability: A Comprehensive Foundation" is a free, open-source textbook available for viewing online or as a download for use on e-readers or printing. First and second-year college students are introduced to this expanding new field, comprehensively exploring the essential concepts from every branch of knowldege – including engineering and the applied arts, natural and social sciences, and the humanities. As sustainability is a multi-disciplinary area of study, the text is the product of multiple authors drawn from the diverse faculty of the University of Illinois: each chapter is written by a recognized expert in the field. Designed for the new generation of e-readers, the book can also be viewed in a browser, saved as a pdf, or printed.
Excerpt: "The Earth Charter Initiative again came together in a participatory effort to produce a set of recommendations for the Rio+20 Compilation Document. This document will be the framework document that will be debated by states' parties at next year's Earth Summit in Rio, also known as Rio+20. The EC Initiative was joined by several hundred other NGOs, tens of intergovernmental bodies and UN agencies, as well as around 40 national governments, which also submitted recommendations to the Compilation Document.." Source:
Excerpt: "The most important indicator of global warming, by far, is the land and sea surface temperature record. This has been criticized in several ways, including the choice of stations and the methods for correcting systematic errors. The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature study sets out to to do a new analysis of the surface temperature record in a rigorous manner that addresses this criticism. We are using over 39,000 unique stations, which is more than five times the 7,280 stations found in the Global Historical Climatology Network Monthly data set (GHCN-M) that has served as the focus of many climate studies. Our aim is to resolve current criticism of the former temperature analyses, and to prepare an open record that will allow rapid response to further criticism or suggestions. Our results include not only our best estimate for the global temperature change, but estimates of the uncertainties in the record." Source: BERKELEY EARTH
World Development Report 2010: Gender Equality and Development
World Bank - 10 October 2011
WDR Co-Director Ana Revenga on "Why does Gender Equality Matter?"
"The lives of women around the world have improved dramatically, at a pace and scope difficult to imagine even 25 years ago. Women have made unprecedented gains in rights, education, health, and access to jobs and livelihoods.
"Despite the progress, gaps remain in many areas. The worst disparity is the rate at which girls and women die relative to men in developing countries. Excess female deaths account for an estimated 3.9 million women each year in low- and middle-income countries. About two-fifths are never born due to a preference for sons, a sixth die in early childhood, and over a third die in their reproductive years.
"The World Development Report 2012: Gender Equality and Development argues that closing these gaps is a core development objective in its own right. It is also smart economics. Greater gender equality can enhance productivity, improve development outcomes for the next generation, and make institutions more representative.
"The analytical core of the Report constitutes a conceptual framework that examines the factors that have fostered change and the constraints that have slowed progress. The analysis focuses on the roles of economic growth, households, markets, and institutions in determining gender differences in education and health, agency, and access to economic opportunities.
"The analysis leads to the identification of four priority areas for domestic policy action:
Reducing excess female mortality and closing education gaps where they remain
Improving access to economic opportunities for women
Increasing women's voice and agency in the household and in society
Limiting the reproduction of gender inequality across generations
"While domestic policy action is crucial, the Report calls on the international community to complement efforts in the four priority areas and also support evidence-based public action through better data, impact evaluation and learning."
Source: WDR 2012
Excerpt from the press release: "The Policy Brief offers a concise, cutting-edge assessment of the state of knowledge on the institutional framework for sustainable development and on possible reform options. It brings together various strands of research and schools of thought and will serve as key input of the scientific community in this field to the current preparations for the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20)."
"This Report explores the integral links between environmental sustainability and equity and shows that these
are critical to expanding human freedoms for people today and in generations to come. The point of departure
is that the remarkable progress in human development over recent decades that the Human Development
Report has documented cannot continue without bold global steps to reduce environmental risks and
inequality. We identify pathways for people, communities, countries and the international community to
promote environmental sustainability and equity in mutually reinforcing ways.
"The cover diagram symbolizes how different policies can have different implications for sustainability and
equity. Whenever available, we should prefer solutions that are good for the environment while also promoting
equity and human development. Pursuing sustainability and equity jointly does not require that they be
mutually reinforcing. In many instances they will not be. Sometimes the most feasible alternative involves
trade-offs between sustainability and equity and requires explicit and careful consideration. No trade-off is
isolated from a society’s structural and institutional conditions, and so we must address the underlying
constraints and identify positive synergies between sustainability and equity. This Report is aimed not only at
finding positive synergies but also at identifying ways to build them."
About the FACE (For All Children Everywhere) paradigm: "To shift the current paradigm from domination by force to one that abhors violence, FACE's underlying esprit de corps must spring from the female side of our biology because that is the side that most strongly favors nonviolence. It is also the side most consistently concerned with community, family, and children's wellbeing. Ideally the movement would be officially constructed to ensure that through the years, the majority of the top leadership remains slightly female. Failing that, the historical record indicates, and our biology dictates, that the movement will ultimately slip back under the sway of urges for domination and control coming from the male side of our biology, and concern for family, community, and children will eventually take second place. Over time, ignoring this fact of our nature will erode any progress we make now." For more, click here.
The Conceptual Problems of the Green Economy and Sustainable Development
Input for Rio+20 Compilation Document
Medani P. Bhandari, Syracuse University, 19 November 2011
On behalf of the Association for Protection of Environment and Culture (APEC-Nepal) and the Atlantic States Legal Foundation (ASLF), Inc. (NGO), USA
The Theoretical Route of Green Economy Initiatives, Applicability and the Future
"There is no clear documentation regarding the theoretical route of green economy initiatives. Only, from 2008, global conservation movements have taken on a new dimension, with a special focus on Green Economic Initiatives. The United Nations and its agencies, for example, are major stakeholders in global environmental governance, and have been advocating in international forums to integrate conservation and development themes and establish collaborative platforms where all concerned stakeholders could contribute to the health of the planet. The green economy initiative initiated by United Nation Environment Program (UNEP) captures the notion of the vulnerability of human welfare, which can be understood as the result of the widespread application of an unsustainable model of economic development. Green economy initiatives capture the notion and concerns raised repeatedly over the course of the past 40 years, from the Stockholm conference of the first United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held in 1972, to Earth Summit 1992 in Rio; to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Rio’ Earth Summit +10), Johannesburg, South Africa 2002. These concerns likewise have been raised in publications over the course of that period, such as World Conservation Strategy-Living Resources conservation for Sustainable Development (1980), Our Common Future (1987), and Caring for the Earth- A Strategy for Sustainable Living (1991). These conferences and publications have explored global environmental phenomena in transnational political context to minimize environmental impact and maximize public wellbeing. UNEP defines a green economy (GE) as one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. The UNEP assumes that greening is a new engine for growth, emphasizing sectoral opportunities, addressing hurdles and enabling conditions, demonstrating the value of ecosystems and biodiversity, capturing these values, and reversing the vicious cycle of environmental losses and persistent poverty by reversing the vicious cycle of environmental losses and persistent poverty. The major players fostering the GE include UNDP, UNEP, UNIDO, ILO, CBD, multilateral and bilateral Institutions, member countries, regional forums, business and civil society groups, universities and regional commissions and international and national NGOs, among others.
"Theoretically, it is possible to interpret environmental problems and recommend environmental reforms with the application of technology-intensive policies to manage the environment problems both in the developed and the developing world (e.g., through analysis of the existing situation, formulation of policy options, and encouragement to apply environment friendly advance technology for sustainable world). The GE initiative is embedded within the frame of sustainable development, including the globalization processes and global transformations, and providing the know-how to perceive global economic growth in a positive way. It also incorporates the ecological economic factors of social dynamism and responses to basic environmental changes i.e. the Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC), CO2 emissions per unit of GDP, proportion of natural resource consumption in GNI, an economy's energy and resource density, and global heat have been raised in alarming rate. Likewise human population density, energy production, pollution and per capita industrial wastewater biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) have been rising and the per capita forest resources and biodiversity have declined from the 18th to 20th century. At the same time awareness about such changes is also raised from the local to the global level; several international and national treaties, memorandums and acts have been introduced, incorporated and implemented. However, these notions do not apply to the developing world because it encompasses a different set of environmental problems, basically linked with the poverty and inequality. Yet the developing world, in particular, needs to consider GE principles to overcome its socio-economic (population growth, poverty, epidemics etc.) and environmental crises. It needs a different set of institutional architectures. However, till now there has been no institutional model that encompasses the responsibility to fulfill these assumptions and objectives of the GE. This research will briefly outline the practical problems to realize GE initiatives in developing world. The research argues for the reform of existing structures and to create a new institutional framework which can coordinate and manage activities by which all related stakeholders may obtain the goals of GE, by creating and implanting environmental policy instruments such as standards; bans; permits and quotas; zoning; liability; legal redress as well as the flexible regulations.
"This research proposes the historical overview of GE theoretical route and overseas the linkages between GE (theory) and social theories such as ecological economics and environmental/resource economics, and industrial ecology. Further, this research takes the GE initiative as a platform that still needs to be grounded to be accepted as an application tool or theory in addressing severe global environment problems.
GE highlights long-term impact, and searches for high-tech visions, while environmental sociology examines the world on the practicality of environmentalism based on social dynamism. However, because GE is still a relatively new concept, there is an urgent need to advance knowledge to foster more theoretical grounding for the green economy paradigm. In this paper, I argue that for GE to flourish, it should focus on beliefs about humanity’s ability to upset the balance of nature, the existence of limits to growth for human societies, and humanity’s right to rule over the rest of nature. GE philosophy should design in ways that provide an equal platform for both South and North to manage the environment by creating an effective institutional structure, strong policy, and framework for policy implementation that can work effectively, efficiently, equitably and transparently within the frame of global governance. The task that lies before us. We, as scholars and practitioners, have to help define this innovative and ambitious architecture."
BASIC CAPABILITIES INDEX (BCI) 2011
"Social Watch developed the BCI as an instrument to monitor the evolution of basic indicators and make comparisons between and within countries. This is a summary-index that compares and classifies countries according to their progress in social development by evaluating their situation in terms of minimum basic capabilities – structural dimensions that represent the indispensable starting conditions to guarantee an adequate quality of life."
"World trade and per capita income grew faster in the first decade of the XXI century than the decade before, but progress against poverty slowed down. A gap widened, due to the unequal distribution of the benefits of prosperity. Now the boom years seem to give way to a bust. The vulnerable did not benefit from the accelerated growth in the economy, but they will undoubtedly suffer the most with a new contraction.
"The Basic Capabilities Index computed by social watch looks at basic social indicators. The 2011 figures show that economic performance and well being of the people do not go hand in hand. Progress on education, health and nutrition was already too slow when gross income was growing fast. While using the latest available figures, the Index does not capture yet the whole impact of the global financial and economic crisis that started in 2008, because social indicators are gathered and published much slower than the economic numbers.
"Yet, Social Watch is receiving evidence from its members on how the crisis is burdening the most those already vulnerable and that situation can only become worse if the big industrialized countries enter into prolonged stagnation or recession."
Source: Social Watch
7. Visualizations of the Sustainable Development Process
Protecting Our Commons By Sarah van Gelder and Doug Pibel,
Yes! Magazine, 29 July 2007
Water, forests, and other natural "commons" provide the necessities of life. Shared stories, music, and knowledge enliven our cultures. Today, corporations are trying to enclose these and other commons—or externalize their costs onto them. But a movement is gaining momentum to protect our commons for generations to come.
For an animated chart where you can hover over the symbols to learn more about our commons, click
There are links in the same web page to download 8.5x11 and 11x17 posters.
Courtesy of Yes! Magazine.
Ocean Earth: How Rio+20 Can and Must Turn the Tide
An analysis of gaps in the implementation of the ocean-related outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development -
Susan Lieberman, Director of International Policy, Pew Environment Group, September 2011
Excerpt: "The world is once again on the road to Rio, 20 years after the landmark 1992 Earth Summit, in many ways
the bedrock of sustainable development in the 21st century. At the 1992 meeting, however, issues relating
to the world's oceans took a back seat. The past two decades have brought a heightened awareness of
the importance of oceans for human well-being and livelihoods, and of threats to ocean conservation,
coupled with ever-increasing industrial-scale overfishing. Two opposing forces have been at play --a
recognition that the need for sustainable global fisheries has never been more apparent, countered by
the stark reality that global fish stocks, the world's largest wild protein resource, have never been more
threatened or more overexploited."
(Durban, 28/11/2011) As the international community gathers in Durban, South Africa (28/11/11 – 09/12/11) to revive the stalling climate talks, the international alliance of Catholic development agencies CIDSE calls on negotiating governments to put the world back on track towards climate justice.
In its recommendations for the Durban summit, CIDSE’s focuses on three main issues:
First, the Kyoto protocol, the only binding international agreement on emission reductions, expires next year and must be renewed. An extension of the Protocol is needed to ensure the future of the international climate regime and is vital for a fair and binding outcome of the negotiations.
Second, all parties must urgently agree on more ambitious science-based emission cuts in order to halt advancing climate change. Currently targets are being set according to countries’ individual and voluntary pledges, rather than according to what science indicates is necessary to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. In Durban, countries need to pledge emission cuts which are consistent with the commitment made last year in Cancun to stay below a 2°C rise in global temperatures.
Third, developed countries must deliver on their Cancun promise to dedicate $100 billion by 2020 in the form of new and additional money for climate action in developing countries, to follow up agreed Fast Start Finance of $30 billion for 2010-12. This scaled-up climate finance must be used through the UN Green Climate Fund, which needs to be operational by 2013 at the latest to ensure there will be no finance gap after 2012. Innovative sources, like a tax on financial transactions which is gaining growing consensus among world leaders, could contribute to reaching this goal.