2nd Members Roundtable at UNGA77

2nd Members Roundtable at UNGA77 (September 2022) — Local2030 Islands Network
 In advance of the Pacific Island Country Summit, the Local2030 Islands Network convened the second in-person high-level meeting on September 21, 2022, co-chaired by Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne, Palau Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Gustav N. Aitaro, and Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry during the 77th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 77). The co-hosts opened the meeting by outlining a shared vision for the Network to be a forum for candid dialogue and concrete action by its members to advance progress and island leadership on shared 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
Prime Minister Browne, Minister Aitaro, and Secretary Kerry were joined at the in-person gathering by Leaders, Ministers and other senior officials from Local2030 member islands, including the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Ireland, Aruba and Hawai‘i, as well as observers to the meeting, including Australia, Bahamas, Belize, and Sint Maarten. Local2030 Islands Network partners, including the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), Secretary of the Navy, UN Foundation and University of Guam were also in attendance. The meeting was moderated by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, Monica Medina.

Vanuatu makes bold call for global treaty to phase out fossil fuels

Vanuatu makes bold call for global treaty to phase out fossil fuels | Vanuatu | The Guardian

 The Pacific island of Vanuatu has called for a first-of-its-kind global treaty to phase out the use of fossil fuels in a bold public call at the UN general assembly.
Speaking in New York on Saturday, Nikenike Vurobaravu, the Vanuatuan president, urged countries to join his country’s call for a fossil fuel nonproliferation treaty.
Pope calls for courage in halting use of fossil fuels to protect planet
“We call for the development of a fossil fuel nonproliferation treaty to phase down coal, oil and gas production in line with 1.5C and enable a global just transition for every worker, community and nation with fossil fuel dependence,” he said.

Living in Peace & Hope for the Future

Homo sapiens need a safe, secure, quality of life in which to prosper. People, humans, who have all the basics needs met, as in secure sources of food and drinking water, and a suitable dwelling , a territory in which  they feel secure, an area where life is relaxed, they will prosper and not be aggressive.
Conversely, those who live under stress with a poor quality of life, under conditions of insecurity, will more often than not be inclined to engage in conflict with their neighbors. Conflict driven by the need to accumulate sufficient resources for their survival.
Stress inducing factors in today’s world range from anthropomorphic climate change causing conditions of drought or massive flooding destroying homes, crops and livestock, to rising sea levels and reduced sea food catch leading to food insecurity.
When one compares what our quality of life has  become in the last thousand years, to what it was previously, when all the planet’s land was global commons, when we were free to hunt and gather and follow the great herds and the yearly crops produced by the multi-generational food forests.  When our ancestors had unimaginably good food security, with a high quality lifestyle,  their culture flourished relatively peacefully.
I am a Peace Scholar, I hold a Masters degree in Peace and Conflict from the University of Bradford,a one of seven universities offering degree programs in Peace and Conflict Resolution chosen by Rotary International. 
I also studied with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, as well at the International Human Right Academy at the University of Utrecht.
 All of the above keep the need for discussions around Peace Making in the forefront of my mind, given that conflict can be triggered by so many issues.
The Global Peace Dialogue is an initiative to ramp up the dialogue globally, using video Padcasts to host discussions with Academics, Heads of State, Diplomats, Scientists and Policy Makers from around the world. 
These discussions will take place online on our YouTube Channel  and Dialogue’s will start in approximately two weeks.

Sole emphasis on GDP growth is misguided policy

Sole emphasis on GDP growth is misguided policy 
The Tribune India
 Pritam Singh – Professor Emeritus, Oxford Brookes Business School, Oxford

The ‘Competitiveness Road Map for India@100’, recently released by the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, charts out the plan for India to become an upper-middle-income country by 2047. It looks impressive at first glance. However, a closer reading of the theory underpinning this policy goal would show this to be seriously flawed.
When GDP was introduced as an economic concept, it was rightly assumed to be an annual measure of exchangeable goods and services in a country and not as a direct measure of the welfare of the people in the country. Even GDP per capita, which is a better measure than the gross GDP because it takes into account the population in the country, is a flawed measure of welfare. The major weakness of GDP per capita is that it ignores the distributional dimension of GDP

Regenerative Rainmaking – How land management affects the soil and sky

Rainmaking Microbes

Microbes are everywhere, including in the clouds. Scientific studies are now showing that they play an important role in creating precipitation (reference links to multiple related articles are provided at the end of this article). Microbes from the soil and plants can go airborne and facilitate a process called bio-precipitation. These microbes include bacteria, fungi and tiny algae.
For a cloud to produce precipitation that falls to earth as rain or snow, ice particle formation in the clouds is required. Just a decade ago it was thought that only small mineral particles, or other inert particles, could serve as nuclei for condensation to occur. However, we now know that aerosols in the form of microbes can catalyze ice particle formation that trigger precipitation.
The evidence is building that vegetation and soils are a crucial source of atmospheric biological ice nucleators in precipitation. They may, in fact, be the most efficient ice-forming catalysts in precipitation, not airborne mineral particles. These “rainmaking” microbes are significant influencers of the water cycle. They can also travel long distances in the atmosphere for dispersal on a global scale.

Read More

Right-Wing Judges Say It’s “Harmless” to Label Climate Activist a Terrorist

 A PANEL OF three Trump-appointed judges this week upheld an excessive eight-year prison sentence handed down to climate activist Jessica Reznicek, ruling that a terrorism enhancement attached to her sentence was “harmless.”
The terror enhancement, which dramatically increased Reznicek’s sentence from its original recommended range, set a troubling precedent. Decided by a lower court in 2021, it contends that Reznicek’s acts against private property were “calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government.” The appellate justices’ decision to uphold her sentence, callously dismissing the challenge to her terrorism enhancement, doubles down on a chilling message: 
Those who take direct action against rapacious energy corporations can be treated as enemies of the state. 

Read More

Are Hawaii and the Cayman Islands being sold to the global elite?

Are Hawaii and the Cayman Islands being sold to the global elite?

For over a century, the destiny of this island paradise has been in the hands of outsiders. Now native Hawaiians are reclaiming their culture, language and land. 

“Hawaii is being sold to the global elite. It’s not give and take. It’s just take, take, take, take.”  Filmmaker Chris Kahunahana 
“They took it away in three generations. We’re going to get it back in one. Whatever it takes.” Waterman Pomai Hoapili. 
It’s a slice of paradise for some but behind the postcard façade, native Hawaiians have a different story to tell.  
Theirs is a stuggle for land, language and culture, forcibly taken from them by the United States of America. 
Housing prices in Hawaii were already sky high, but in the midst of the pandemic they exploded as mainland Americans bought up island boltholes. The housing crisis is hitting native Hawaiians hardest, forcing many out of their own homes. The state of Hawaii now has the third highest homeless rate in the USA. 
This is one of many problems facing native locals who are fighting to ʻKeep Hawaii Hawaiian’. 
Reporter Matt Davis visits the Hawaiian Islands to hear from the people fighting to keep their culture alive. In a visually stunning journey, Davis explores the lives of people on the frontline of this modern-day native Hawaiian rennaisance. 
“Resistance is not only how we get our land back,” says school principal Kalehua Krug. “But it is also medicine – that resistance is how we heal.” 
At his school on the island of Oahu, the curriculum focuses on redsicovering the modern story of Hawaii after the kingdom was overthrown in 1893. The students study the Hawaiian language, hula dancing and other cultural practices alongside the mainstream curriculum.
 Davis takes a tour around the back streets of Waikiki with celebrated filmmaker Chris Kahunahana, the first native Hawaiian to direct a feature film.  
“Hawaii was seen as Hollywood’s back drop. It served as a beautiful location for a Caucasian centred hero,” he tells Davis.  His movie Waikiki shows the darker side of these tropical islands – the reality for many native Hawaiians. 
Davis visits the powerhouse community leader Twinkle Borge who has set up a permanent camp to provide shelter for Hawaiians who are sleeping rough. She reveals an extraordinary plan to reclaim land and build a village for her community. 
And he goes out on the jet ski with waterman Pomai Hoapili in the middle of the worldʻs most famous surfing competition – the Pipeline Pro. 
Between surfing on the North Shore and rescuing people caught in the giant waves, Pomai has enrolled in Hawaiian language classes. He practices speaking with his 10-year-old daughter, who’s also learning.  He says it’s urgent for native Hawaiians to practice their culture. 
“Be Hawaiian, speak Hawaiian live Hawaiian…If we stop down the line, people stop talking about us, we disappear…we’ve got to keep practicing.” 
In Hawaii to compete in the Pipeline surfing competition, the world’s most famous  surfer Kelly Slater asks the world to pay respect. 
“Everyone who comes Hawaiian should, should take care of this place and really respect the culture and the locals,” says Slater. “It’s their home and it’s your place to visit, but, you know, take care of it and look after it and ever one can enjoy it.” 

Watch the Video

NATO accession – Nordic perspective

NATO accession – Nordic perspective 

The war in Ukraine seems to have put an end to European indecision. Countries such as Switzerland, Austria, Sweden and Finland imposed sanctions on Russia. But Switzerland and Austria are hundreds of kilometers from the Russian border. Sweden and Finland, on the other hand, are on the brink. Consequently, these Nordic countries view with great concern the events in Ukraine and fear that the crisis may spread beyond Ukraine.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine looks set to make what has hitherto been almost unimaginable the rapid accession of two Nordic countries – Sweden and Finland – to NATO. According to forecast analysis , the debate is no longer about “whether or not Sweden and Finland will join”, but “when and how soon they will join”.
It is a historic moment and time of great decisions in the geopolitics of these two Nordic states, decisions which will determine the security configuration in this region of Europe and beyond for many decades to come. The decision is by no means easy.
In Kosovo, for example, membership in the Alliance may enjoy unreserved support, but for the Nordic countries, joining NATO is not accompanied by much enthusiasm. First of all, it is a cold calculation that shows for the awareness that membership will not only bring security, but is likely to be followed by tensions in the Nordic-Russian region as well.
Below is a brief summary of the Swedish-Finnish view on NATO membership and the evolution of their foreign policy as a result of the Russian occupation of Ukraine.
From neutrality to non-alignment, then to membership
To understand the reasons why Sweden and Finland are not members of NATO one must first make a brief recollection of their history. Sweden has not been involved in the war for more than two hundred years. During the Cold War, it took a neutral position on the rivalry between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, an alliance of communist states rallying around the former Soviet Union that disintegrated with the end of the Cold War.
However, from the early 1990s onwards, Sweden’s position has evolved from a genuine neutrality to the status of a non-aligned country in terms of security. In other words, while Sweden continues to be a non-NATO member, its armed forces work closely with those of the Alliance, as well as contributing to joint peacekeeping forces ( including Kosovo ). The standard operating procedures of the Swedish army are in full compliance with those of NATO; Democratic control over the armed forces is complete and in accordance with the basic principles of consolidated democratic states.
However, the voice of those who in the past have called for NATO membership, both by the government and the public, has always been low. In fact, Swedish politics – almost its entire spectrum – has always been clear about Russian politics. She has not cultivated illusions about Moscow, a sentiment that has been encountered not infrequently in German politics, for example. Basically, the reason for staying out of NATO for Sweden is explained through its own history. Why change the security architecture if the current one has contributed to the country not going to war for more than two centuries? So there was no reason to modify the security configuration. At least not so far.
Finland, on the other hand, emerged from the bloody World War II, with lost territory but proud and proud of its citizens’s heroic battles against the Soviet Union. It shares the 1300 km border with Russia and, perhaps more than any other nation, understands very well the psyche of the Russian citizen, his ambitions, prejudices and fears.
Like Sweden, Finland during the Cold War adopted a position of neutrality towards East and West, but with ever-increasing tendencies of rapprochement with NATO, participating in its peacekeeping forces, as in Kosovo . Even in this country, the standard operating procedures are in full compliance with those of NATO, while the state has full democratic control over the armed forces. Unlike Sweden, Finland has been at war with Russia and precisely for the sake of cultivating stable relations has had to rule out the option of NATO membership. So far.
Finland has had to work hard to cultivate a relatively close relationship with Moscow, a relationship based on mutual respect and trust. This is a close relationship not like the one that can be encountered between two friends, but one that can be seen between enemies who, for the sake of coexistence, must find common bridges of cooperation. Thus Finland had to learn how to work and even cooperate with Russia. They are neighbors, after all.
It is no coincidence that Finns like former President Martti Ahtisaari have mediated in conflicts like the one between Kosovo and Serbia. This is because people like him have enjoyed the trust of the West but also of Russia. In Finland, support for NATO membership has always been higher than in Sweden, but such a step has not been taken due to maintaining the balance of peace with Russia. Either way, such a step can be taken very quickly.
Between safety and permanent voltage
The Kremlin’s ever-increasing aggression has led public opinion in both Sweden and Finland to vote in favor of NATO membership. The application for membership is likely to be made very soon, probably at the next NATO summit that is expected to be held in Madrid at the end of June . Finland will enter the membership dance with more taste and enthusiasm; Sweden will take this step with a little nausea and laziness.
The governments of both countries take this step without euphoria and with responsibility, aware that membership strengthens the security architecture but also carries with it a series of dilemmas and tensions in the field of security that can continue for decades.
With NATO membership, the Nordic region and the whole of northwestern Europe come under the Alliance’s security umbrella. Any attack on these states would be an attack on NATO, as stated by NATO Article 5 on collective defense.
But on the other hand, the whole security architecture of the Nordic-Russian region will move towards further militarization. There will be an increase in armaments, an increase in military spending, which means less money for health, education, the environment, and so on. The West-East partition along the Baltic Sea will also be concreted, which will lead to further isolation of Russia. A completely isolated enemy can be even more dangerous than the one with whom we maintain communication contacts, however rare they may be.
In this regard, especially Helsinki will have to rebuild political relations with Moscow, relations cultivated with sensitivity for decades. Furthermore, the risk of incidents and unconventional attacks, such as cyber attacks, will increase. And, finally, it is likely that we are entering an ice age, of a neo-brutal militarization of societies for decades. This crazy arms race is not a good omen for anyone, especially when dealing with criminal and completely irrational regimes like the Kremlin.
The constant militarization of states and societies leads to the escalation of new conflicts and reduces the space for peace. All this is happening in the circumstances when today’s Mordor – to borrow an analogy from the works of JRR Tolkien according to which Mordor is the epicenter of Evil in the world – that is, the Kremlin, shows no signs of softening in its savagery.
Is there any other way but to arm NATO membership? As is the case with Sweden and Finland, it is easy to call for peace, but in the face of brutal aggression coming from the Kremlin, there seems to be no alternative but to join NATO.  https://bit.ly/3K8PLDN
Armend Bekaj
Armend Bekaj is a Lecturer in the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University, Sweden. He has worked for a number of international organizations, including International IDEA in Sweden. He holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Sheffield, UK.

Arundhati Roy on Religious Nationalism, Dissent, and the Battle Between Myth and History

Arundhati Roy on Religious Nationalism, Dissent, and the Battle Between Myth and History 

 Good afternoon, and thank you for inviting me to deliver the Sissy Farenthold lecture. Before I begin, I would like to say a few words about the war in Ukraine. I unequivocally condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and applaud the Ukrainian peoples’ courageous resistance. I applaud the courage shown by Russian dissenters at enormous cost to themselves.
I say this while being acutely and painfully aware of the hypocrisy of the United States and Europe, which together have waged similar wars on other countries in the world. Together they have led the nuclear race and have stockpiled enough weapons to destroy our planet many times over. What an irony it is that the very fact that they possess these weapons, now forces them to helplessly watch as a country they consider to be an ally is decimated—a country whose people and territory, whose very existence, imperial powers have jeopardized with their war games and ceaseless quest for domination.