Thursday, February 22, 2018

Primer on Environmental Governance

Ecological action requires widespread agreement which is closely tied to global environmental governance.  Environmental governance is critical in the management of the global chalenges we face. This includes climate change, biodiversity loss, ocean degradation and increased  marginalization of marginal groups. Here is a condensed summary of all that you need to know to be well versed on the basics of environmental governance. It includes definitions, lists, and summaries of many of the key features and issues associated with environmental governance. If you want to add something please do so in the contents section at the end.

Basic terms

Pollution (definition): Any chemical, physical, or biological agent that modifies the natural characteristics of the physical environment.

Greenhouse gases: A greenhouse gas is a gas in an atmosphere that absorbs and emits radiation within the thermal infrared range. This process is the fundamental cause of the greenhouse effect. Water vapor (H. 2O), Carbon dioxide, Methane, Nitrous oxide (N. 2O), Ozone, Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), Hydrofluorocarbons (incl. HCFCs and HFCs)

Mitigation vs. adaptation: Because we are already committed to some level of climate change, responding to climate change involves a two-pronged approach: Reducing emissions of and stabilizing the levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (“mitigation”); Adapting to the climate change already in the pipeline (“adaptation”).

Developed vs. developing country groups: Classification of countries around the world based on their level of economic and industrial development.

Business-as-usual: An unchanging state of affairs despite difficulties or disturbances. "apart from being under new management, it's business as usual in the department"

Precautionary Principle: A strategy to cope with possible risks where scientific understanding is yet incomplete, such as the risks of nano technology, genetically modified organisms and systemic insecticides.  The principle that the introduction of a new product or process whose ultimate effects are disputed or unknown should be resisted. It has mainly been used to prohibit the importation of genetically modified organisms and food.

Afforestation/deforestation/reforestation: Reforestation refers to establishment of forest on land that had recent tree cover, whereas afforestation refers to land that has been without forest for much longer. Deforestation is the removal of forests.

Governance gaps: A perceived governance gap between levels of corporate influence and impact, and related levels of accountability, is one factor driving wider current trends on responsible business conduct and its governance 

Intergenerational equity: A concept that says that humans 'hold the natural and cultural environment of the Earth in common both with other members of the present generation and with other generations, past and future' (Weiss, 1990, p. 8).

Global environmental justice—definition: the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.

Global tourism: Tourism can only be sustainable if it is carefully managed so that potential negative effects on the host community and the environment are not permitted to ... Interchanges between hosts and guests create a better cultural understanding and can also help raise global awareness of issues such as poverty and human rights

Bioapartheid: Peter Stoett, Toronto Star. It is a scenario with variations reproduced in countless science fiction novels and films: A world bifurcated according to immunization. Those with the proper vaccines or genetic codes live, insecurely, in protected areas; those without are doomed

Ecology and ecosystems

Biotic / Abiotic: The living things in an ecosystem are called biotic factors. Living things include plants, animals, bacteria, fungi and more. The non living parts of an ecosystem are called abiotic factors. In an ecosystem some abiotic factors are sunlight, temperature atmospheric gases water and soil. 

Ecology: 1. the branch of biology that deals with the relations of organisms to one another and to their physical surroundings. 2. the political movement that seeks to protect the environment, especially from pollution.

Levels of Ecology: Levels of organization in ecology include the population, community, ecosystem, and biosphere. An ecosystem is all the living things in an area interacting with all of the abiotic parts of the environment.

Ecosystems biomes: An ecosystem is the interaction of living and nonliving things in an environment. A biome is a specific geographic area notable for the species living there. A biome can be made up of many ecosystems. For example, an aquatic biome can contain ecosystems such as coral reefs and kelp forests.

Ecosystem services: Grouped into four broad categories: provisioning, such as the production of food and water; regulating, such as the control of climate and disease; supporting, such as nutrient cycles and crop pollination; and cultural, such as spiritual and recreational benefits.

Examples of Ecosystem services Direct: nutrient cycles and crop pollination. Provisioning services such as food, fresh water, wood, fiber, genetic resources and medicines, Habitat services Examples of Ecosystem services Indirect: Regulating services are defined as the benefits obtained from the regulation of ecosystem processes such as climate regulation, natural hazard regulation, water purification and waste management, pollination or pest control Examples of Ecosystem services Aesthetic/Ethical: cultural, spiritual enrichment, intellectual development, recreation and aesthetic values

Energy Flow Through Ecosystems. Ecosystems maintain themselves by cycling energy and nutrients obtained from external sources. At the first trophic level, primary producers (plants, algae, and some bacteria) use solar energy to produce organic plant material through photosynthesis.

Introduced Species: An introduced species is a species living outside its native distributional range, which has arrived there by human activity,

Native Species: Native species are either endemic or indigenous and are often considered native in multiple locations throughout the year due to migration.

Invasive Species: An invasive species is a plant, fungus, or animal species that is not native to a specific location (an introduced species), and that has a tendency to spread to a degree believed to cause damage to the environment, human economy or human health.

IAS: invasive alien species. No international convention on invasive alien species: The globalisation of trade and the power of the Internet are challenging impediments to the control the spread of IAS


Biodiversity-definition: the variety of life in the world or in a particular habitat or ecosystem. Extinction rates (trends): Scientists estimate we're now losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the background rate, with literally dozens going extinct every day [1]. It could ... In its latest four-year endangered species assessment, the IUCN reports that the world won't meet a goal of reversing the extinction trend toward species depletion by 2010. We examined trends in COSEWIC assessments to identify whether at-risk species that have been assessed more than once tended to improve, remain ... Unsustainable exploitation, climate change, ocean acidification and other anthropogenic impacts have resulted in growing global extinction rates.

Ecosystem biodiversity: Ecological diversity is a type of biodiversity. It is the variation in the ecosystems found in a region or the variation in ecosystems over the whole planet. Ecological diversity includes the variation in both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

Species richness: the number of different species represented in an ecological community, landscape or region. Species richness is simply a count of species, and it does not take into account the abundances of the species or their relative abundance distributions

Climate and Environment

Anthropocene: relating to or denoting the current geological age, viewed as the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment.

Climate Change Affecta (18)

Rising seas and increased coastal flooding
Longer and more damaging wildfire seasons
More destructive hurricanes
More frequent and intense heat waves
Military bases at risk
National Landmarks at Risk
Widespread forest death
Costly and growing health impacts
An increase in extreme weather events
Heavier precipitation and flooding
Increase drought risk in certain regions
Increased pressure on groundwater supplies
Our aging electricity infrastructure is increasingly vulnerable
Changing Seasons
Melting ice/melting glacier
Disruptions to food supplies
Destruction of coral reefs
Plant and animal range shifts

Planetary resilience (boundaries): Planetary boundaries is a concept of nine Earth system processes which have boundaries proposed in 2009 by a group of Earth system and environmental scientists led by Johan Rockström from the Stockholm Resilience Centre and Will Steffen from the Australian National University.

Planetary Boundaries (9)
  • Stratospheric ozone depletion
  • Loss of biosphere integrity (biodiversity loss and extinctions)
  • Chemical pollution and the release of novel entities
  • Climate Change
  • Ocean acidification
  • Freshwater consumption and the global hydrological cycle
  • Land system change
  • Nitrogen and phosphorus flows to the biosphere and oceans
  • Atmospheric aerosol loading
  • The 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) to transform our world: GOAL 1: No Poverty
  • GOAL 2: Zero Hunger
  • GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-being
  • GOAL 4: Quality Education
  • GOAL 5: Gender Equality
  • GOAL 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
  • GOAL 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
  • GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • GOAL 10: Reduced Inequality
  • GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • GOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
  • GOAL 13: Climate Action
  • GOAL 14: Life Below Water
  • GOAL 15: Life on Land
  • GOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
  • GOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal
Economic and social

Benefits: In social science there is a school of thought that argues the economy benefits from moves towards environmentalism

Kuznets Curve: In economics, a Kuznets curve graphs the hypothesis that as an economy develops, market forces first increase and then decrease economic inequality. Facets Exerting Pressure: Energy, transport, urbanization and globalization

Social-ecological systems (SES): science offers a compelling approach for improved environmental management through the application of transdisciplinary and resilience concepts

Public Goods: A commodity or service that is provided without profit to all members of a society, either by the government or a private individual or organization. "a conviction that library informational services are a public good, not a commercial commodity" the benefit or well-being of the public. "the public good clearly demands independent action" A public good is a product that one individual can consume without reducing its availability to another individual, and from which no one is excluded. Economists refer to public goods as "nonrivalrous" and "nonexcludable."

Common Pool Goods: A resource that benefits a group of people, but which provides diminished benefits to everyone if each individual pursues his or her own self interest.

The tragedy of the commons: An economic problem in which every individual tries to reap the greatest benefit from a given resource. As the demand for the resource overwhelms the supply, every individual who consumes an additional unit directly harms others who can no longer enjoy the benefits.

Utilitarianism: The dominant approach to the environment has been utilitarian: the natural world exists for humankind's consumption; it is to be used to further the end of human needs. The fruits of nature are commodities.

Market Failure: Many economists have described climate change as an example of a market failure – though in fact a number of distinct market failures have been ... market failure argue for policy intervention to increase the price of activities that emit greenhouse gases, thereby providing a clear signal to guide economic activity.

Costs of inaction vs. action: The benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions outweigh the costs by trillions of dollars. Combining the results of the report by the German Institute of Economic Research and Watkiss et al. (2005) studies, we find that the total cost of climate action (cost plus damages) by 2100 is approximately $12 trillion, while the cost of inaction (just damages) is approximately $20 trillion.

Stern Review: 700-page report released for the Government of the United Kingdom on 30 October 2006 by economist Nicholas Stern, chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics (LSE) and also chair of the Centre. Concludes there is still time to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, if we take strong action now. The scientific evidence is now overwhelming: climate change is a serious global threat, and it demands an urgent global response

Economic globalization: One of the three main dimensions of globalization commonly found in academic literature, with the two other being political globalization and cultural globalization, as well as the general term of globalization.

Freeganism: Freeganism is a practice and ideology of limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources, particularly through recovering wasted goods like food. The word "freegan" is a portmanteau of "free" and "vegan".


Climate Change (UNFCCC): In 1992, countries joined an international treaty, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, as a framework for international cooperation to combat climate change by limiting average global temperature increases and the resulting climate change, and coping with impacts

The UNFCCC (general history): An intergovernmental treaty developed to address the problem of climate change. The Convention, which sets out an agreed framework for dealing with the issue, was negotiated from February 1991 to May 1992 and opened for signature at the June 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) — also known as the Rio Earth Summit. The UNFCCC entered into force on 21 March 1994, ninety days after the 50th country’s ratification had been received. By December 2007, it had been ratified by 192 countries.

International Committee on the Red Cross (ICRC): Established in 1863, the ICRC operates worldwide, helping people affected by conflict and armed violence and promoting the laws that protect victims of war. An independent and neutral organization, its mandate stems essentially from the Geneva Conventions of 1949. We are based in Geneva, Switzerland, and employ

Youth climate movement: International Youth Climate Movement refers to an international network of youth organisations that collectively aims to inspire, empower and mobilise a generational movement.

International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources: an international organization working in the field of nature conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.

Treaties and conventions 

Global Environmental Facility: Established on the eve of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit to help tackle our planet’s most pressing environmental problems

Rio Conventions: The Rio conventions – the convention on Biological Diversity (cBD), the United nations convention to combat Desertification (UnccD), and the United nations Framework convention on climate change (UnFccc) – address the need for adaptation to climate change through their activities.

Common but differentiated responsibilities: (CBDR) was enshrined as Principle 7 of the Rio Declaration at the first Rio Earth Summit in 1992. The declaration states: “In view of the different contributions to global environmental degradation, States have common but differentiated responsibilities 

Kyoto Protocol: An international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which commits its Parties by setting internationally binding emission reduction targets

Clean Development Mechanism:(CDM) is one of the Flexible Mechanisms defined in the Kyoto Protocol (IPCC, 2007) that provides for emissions reduction projects which generate Certified Emission Reduction units (CERs) which may be traded in emissions trading schemes. 

The Paris agreement: The Paris Agreement, Paris climate accord or Paris climate agreement is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change dealing with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020

Green Climate Fund: The Green Climate Fund is a fund established within the framework of the UNFCCC to assist developing countries in adaptation and mitigation practices to counter climate change. The GCF is based in the new Songdo district of Incheon, South Korea

NDCs: According to Article 4 paragraph 2 of the Paris Agreement, each Party shall prepare, communicate and maintain successive nationally determined contributions (NDCs) that it intends to achieve. Parties shall pursue domestic mitigation measures, with the aim of achieving the objectives of such contributions.

REDD—Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation: the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries (REDD+) was first negotiated under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) since 2005.

CITES: The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

Atmospheric test ban treaty (three prohibitions): Treaty of 1963 prohibits nuclear weapons tests "or any other nuclear explosion" in the atmosphere, in outer space, and under water.


Desertification—definition: a type of land degradation in which a relatively dry area of land becomes increasingly arid, typically losing its bodies of water as well as vegetation and wildlife. It is caused by a variety of factors, such as through climate change and through the overexploitation of soil through human activity.

Desertication features: the permanent degradation of previously fertile land. Human causes of desertification include overgrazing, the buildup of salt in irrigated soils, and topsoil erosion. Permanent changes in climate, particularly rainfall, are responsible for natural desertification.

UN Convention to Combat Desertification: Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa (UNCCD) is a Convention to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought through national action programs that incorporate long-term strategies.

Rio Conventions: the convention on Biological Diversity (cBD), the United nations convention to combat Desertification (UnccD), and the United nations Framework convention on climate change (UnFccc) – address the need for adaptation to climate change through their activities.

Oceans and rivers

Threats to oceans (12):
  • NOx and SOx
  • Ocean Acidification 3. Ozone Depleting Substances
  • Dredging
  • Sea Water Level Rising
  • Ocean Dumping
  • Pollution from Cruise Ships
  •  Marine Debris
  • Noise Pollution from Ships
  • Oil Spills
  • Plastic
  • Warming
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS): lays down a comprehensive regime of law and order in the world's oceans and seas establishing rules governing all uses of the oceans and their resources. The international agreement that resulted from the third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III), which took place between 1973 and 1982.

UNCLOS beyond any one nation’s jurisdiction that are shared by all of us (1970s—needs to be updated); no separate secretariat.

Limitations/weaknesses of UNCLOS
  • Large and complex Convention
  • non-compliance with its norms and principlea
  • United States is not a party to it
  • East Asia conflicts of interest between regional countries on law of the sea issues
  • ambiguity of UNCLOS in several of its key regimes
  • Geographical complexity of the region
  • territorial sea baselines
  • navigational regimes
  • exclusive economic zones (EEZs)
  • piracy, hot pursuit and the responsibilities of flag states
  • domestic politics and regional tensions
  • Need for regional consensus on aspects of the Convention
Ecologically or biologically significant areas: enhanced protection to areas of the oceans and coasts that are ecologically or biologically significant. They are not based on regulation, and are not managed in the way Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are managed.

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)
  • Clearly defined geographical space
  • Recognized
  • Dedicated
  • Managed
  • By legal and other effective means
  • To achieve long-term conservation of nature
* Stand apart from other measures because they protect all

MPAs need
  • Definitions
  • Objectives
  • Criteria
  • Decision Making process
  • MPA Management Measures
  • Management Authority
  • Implementation and Monitoring
International Whaling Commission; contemporary threats to whales: Thirty years after the International Whaling Commission (IWC) implemented the moratorium on commercial whaling – an agreement that ultimately saved many great whale populations from certain extinction – cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) worldwide are facing grave and growing threats from a range of human

Transboundary threats to rivers; transboundary cooperation: Species extinction risks. The ecosystem services provided by the world's transboundary river basins support the socioeconomic development and wellbeing of the world's population. These basins, which cover most of the earth's land surface, continue to be impacted and degraded by multiple and complex human-induced and natural stressors. This is nowhere more destabilizing than in river basins that cross political boundaries. But experience shows that in many situations, rather than causing open conflict, the need for water sharing can generate unexpected cooperation. Despite the complexity of the problems, records show that water disputes can be handled.

Transboundary cooperation (examples) for rivers:
  • Central Asia (Syr Darya River)
  • Eastern, Central and Northern Europe (Rivers Tisza, Drin, Dnister, Vuoksi)
  • Dutch river basins on the North Sea side
World Commission on Dams: The World Commission on Dams existed between April 1997 and 2001, to research the environmental, social and economic impacts of the development of large dams globally.

Hazardous substances

Basel Convention on Trade in Hazardous Substances: usually known as the Basel Convention, is an international treaty that was designed to:

1. reduce the movements of hazardous waste between nations
2. specifically to prevent transfer of hazardous waste from developed to less developed countries (LDCs). It does not, however, address the movement of radioactive waste
3. Minimize the amount and toxicity of wastes generated
4. ensure their environmentally sound management as closely as possible to the source of generation
5. assist LDCs in environmentally sound management of the hazardous and other wastes they generate

Basel Convention Role of the United States: the United States have signed the Convention but not ratified it. US is one of ten that are not party to it. The United States is a notable non-Party to the Convention and has a number of such agreements for allowing the shipping of hazardous wastes to Basel Party countries. OECD countries to continue trading in wastes with countries like the United States that have not ratified the Basel Convention

Basel convention Prior informed consent: The original Convention did not prohibit waste exports to any location except Antarctica but merely required a notification and consent system known as "prior informed consent" or PIC. least developed countries and environmental organizations argued that it did not go far enough. Many nations and NGOs argued for a total ban on shipment of all hazardous waste to LDCs.

Conflict and war

Environmental scarcity (Homer-Dixon) in human conflict: global security in the 21st century, including economic instability, climate change, and energy scarcity. Deep causes of social conflict, especially economic inequality, antagonistic group identities, polarized ideologies, and scarcities of natural resources. How people, organizations, and societies can better resolve their conflicts and innovate in response to complex problems. Highly interdisciplinary, drawing on political science, economics, environmental studies, geography, cognitive science, social psychology, and complex systems theory.

Resource curse in human conflict: it is resource abundance, rather than scarcity, that is the bigger threat to create conflict. Some countries with abundant natural resources have experienced what has been coined the “resource curse”—corruption, economic stagnation, and violent conflict over access to revenues.

Structural violence of forced displacement (human rights): Structural violence was noted through four themes: internal displacement and development, food and politics, water and sanitation, and social services.

Environmental impacts of war: There are both environment and health impacts associated with war. The application of weapons, the destruction of structures and oil fields, fires, military transport movements and chemical spraying are all examples of the destroying impact war may have on the environment.

Other war related environmental impacts
  • Unexploded ordnance
  • Agent Orange
  • Testing of nuclear armaments
  • Strontium 90
  • Depleted uranium munitions
  • Fossil fuel use
  • Intentional flooding
Environmental impacts of war are evident in all conflicts including Vietnam, Rwanda, and the Gulf War

Ecocide: destruction of the natural environment, especially when willfully done

Definition of eco-violence: Violence against nature

Types of eco-violence: deliberate or neglectful harm of animals, eco-sabotage, ecocide (Maximalist vs. minimalist definitions of ecocide)

War, environmental degradation, climate change and conflict: Increased risk of conflict and war associated with climate change and environmental degradation especially in Africa (80% of African countries experienced civil conflict)

Water scarcity drives importation of food, making vulnerable more vulnerable Scarce water resources contrtibute to importation of food, desertification, urbanization and competition over resources

Middle East: water, and Syria crisis—water shortages, desertification, sped up urbanization. Competition over scarce resources in Jordan: As the refugee problem has swollen, competition with locals for scarce resources has increased, posing a security risk

Sudan: Four categories of resources linked to conflict as contributing causes (oil and gas reserves, nile waters, hardwood timber, rangeland and rain-fed agricultural land). 

Human security--definition: an emerging paradigm for understanding global vulnerabilities whose proponents challenge the traditional notion of national security by arguing that the proper referent for security should be the individual rather than the state.

Food security

Food security: Almost two decades ago, the Food and Agriculture Organization declared food security exists “when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”, and commented that poverty is a major

Global food waste scandal: Food waste uses up to '1.4 billion hectares of land – 28 per cent of the world's agricultural area'. Moreover, “globally, the blue water footprint for the agricultural production of total food waste in 2007 is about 250km3, which is more than 38 times the blue water footprint of USA households. FAO 2013, Food Wastage Footprint

Feeding the 5,000: Feeding the 5000 is feedback global flagship campaigning event to shine a light on the global food waste scandal, champion the delicious solutions and catalyse the global movement. At each event, we serve up a delicious communal feast for 5000 people made entirely out of food that would otherwise have been wasted.


Recommendations for key elements of international frameworks (emissions trading, etc.): Renewable energy, Energy efficiency, Transport, Carbon capture use and storage, Non-CO2 greenhouse gases, Land use climate action, Adaptation co-benefits.

Multi-scaled adaptive governance—key features: connecting actors and institutions at multiple organisational levels to enable ecosystem stewardship. A central characteristic of such adaptive governance is collaborative, flexible and learning-based issue management across different scales.

Multi-level interactions (i.e., local, national, international/global) among, but not limited to, three main actors, i.e., state, market, and civil society, which interact with one another, whether in formal and informal ways.

Making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate resilient development: Climate finance for developing countries applies to all financial flows relating to climate change mitigation and adaptation. The financials flows can flow from developed to developing countries (North-South), from developing to developing countries (South-South), from developed to developed countries (North-North) and domestic climate finance flows in developed and developing countries.

Cap and trade: Emissions trading, or cap and trade, is a government-mandated, market-based approach to controlling pollution by providing economic incentives for achieving reductions in the emissions of pollutants.

Environmental impact assessments (EIA): The process of examining the anticipated environmental effects of a proposed project - from consideration of environmental aspects at design stage, through consultation and preparation of an Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR), evaluation of the EIAR by a competent.

Environmental security paradigm (3 key dimensions): Environmental security is environmental viability for life support, with three sub-elements:
  • preventing or repairing military damage to the environment
  • preventing or responding to environmentally caused conflicts, and
  • protecting the environment due to its inherent moral value.
Food Justice and Sustainability project· Alternatives: 'Feeding Citizenship' urban agriculture program · sustainable development (Aunio)

Hope through global commons (Elinor Ostrom)

Ostrom's work on the global commons (shared responsibility, conditional access, effective enforcement) demonstrated in meticulous detail that people can and do work together to manage shared resources sustainably, and have been doing so for hundreds of years. With the focus of Rio+20 on the "green economy", it is time to recognise the often uncounted values the commons

Resources were developed largely by examining local commons involving natural resources.  Key characteristic distinguish such commons from more complex commons involving global resources and the risks

Shared responsibility: When individuals have to answer for their actions to others depending on the same resources, their approach to shared responsibility changes.

Conditional Access: Evolutionary approaches to understand the development of norms. One of those is the indirect evolutionary approach, which posits that there are two types in a population: conditional cooperators (norm users) and rational egoists.

Effective enforcement: Property rights to forest resources must be enforced. Enforcement is a major undertaking that involves collective action.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Trump's Failure to Invest in Climate Resilient Infrastructure has Serious Consequences

By failing to invest in adaptation Trump has condemned future generations to unnecessary destruction. The longer we wait to invest in climate resilient infrastructure the more people will suffer and the more it will cost.  We can either pay for the losses as they occur or we can invest in the future and preempt calamity.

The Trump presidency is accurately described as a nightmare.  When his executive actions are viewed alongside his budget a clear picture emerges of an administration that is hell-bent on eroding environmental protections and killing climate action. Trump's actions are compounded by his energy insanity which favors fossil fuels and undermines renewables. While the rest of the world is investing in the green economy Trump is cutting taxes. Trump is on the wrong side of history and at odds with other leading heads-of-state.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Presentation - High Efficiency TRI-ENERGY™ Home Heating Breakthrough that Slashes Costs and Reduces Emissions

On February 27th there will be a free information session about a cost-saving technological breakthrough in home heating systems. It will take place at the Holiday Inn in Point-Claire, Quebec. The presentation will focus on TRI-ENERGY™, a new low carbon heating technology that slashes both your heating bill and your emissions footprint. The TRI-ENERGY™ system takes radical efficiency to a whole new level. This system not only offers impressive savings it also provides increased comfort.


When the cold weather hits exorbitant heating bills are sure to follow.The TRI-ENERGY™ system is a cost-effective heating solution particularly when compared to traditional heating systems.  TRI-ENERGY™ technology costs a fraction of the price of a conventional furnace to install. It has no maintenance costs and it significantly reduces energy consumption and monthly heating bills.


The TRI-ENERGY™ system maintains a constant temperature avoiding temperature swings and dry indoor air. By keeping your home at a stable temperature TRI-ENERGY™ saves you even more  money by reducing wear and tear on your heat pump and your furnace thereby extending the service life. It also eliminates bone-chilling cold air during defrost cycles.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Trump's Budget Seeks to Erode Environmental Protections and Kill Climate Action

On Monday, February 12th, Trump unleashed a budget that contains a barrage of environmental and climate insults.  Like his first budget, the most recent funding allocation contains another volley of assaults against environmental protection and climate action. Trump has prioritized deregulation and reducing social welfare programs that support the nation's most vulnerable citizens. He wants to end climate action by eliminating more than a dozen programs. Trump wants to slash the budgets of the State Department and the Department of the Interior which oversees national parks, wilderness areas and other public waters and lands.

Despite massive cuts, Trump's record setting $4.4 trillion budget would add $7.1 trillion to the national debt in the coming decade. This has prompted expressions of concern from the conservative Heritage Foundation and federal intelligence services.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Love Letter to Earth and its Inhabitants on Valentines Day

The following post is an updated and reedited version of a 2014 post made all the more prescient by the Trump administration and other troubling events in the world today.

Valentines day is an opportunity to express love to people we care about, the day should also be about finding ways of communicating our love for the planet and gratitude for those who work to make a better world. While we need to come to terms with the obstacles we face we must also muster hope that we can do better. 

Monday, February 12, 2018

10 Reasons Why Patagonia Is the World's Most Responsible Company

Patagonia demonstrates that businesses can be both radically responsible and highly profitable. At Patagonia, there is no contradiction between saving the world and the bottom line. The company is world-renowned for its environmentally friendly way of doing business. They submit to rigid environmental and charitable standards, and they publish annual progress reports. They also earned 800 million in annual revenues in 2017 and they have a global presence including 16 US states.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Event - MENA Clean Energy Business Council Summit

The 6th Annual MENA Clean Energy Business Council (CEBC) Summit will take place on March 5, 2018 at the Shangri La Hotel, Dubai, United Arab Emerites (UAE). CEBC is the pre-eminent organization representing the private sector involved in the clean energy sector across the MENA region.  If you visit one event this year focusing on renewables in the MENA region in 2018, this should be the one.

At this event you will gain knowledge from a diverse array of skilled and knowledgeable industry experts. Their wide range of experience, impressive career credentials and enthusiasm for the sector will provide an engaging opportunity for our guests to learn and develop their own knowledge and skills.

Event - Sustainable Brands 2018 Tokyo

Sustainable Brands Tokyo will take place on March 1-2, 2018 at the Hilton Tokyo Odaiba in Tokyo, Japan. This event is geared to drive better business results. Sustainable Brands is home to the premier global community of brand leaders who are tapping environmental and social purpose to drive innovation and deliver new business and brand value.Sustainable Brands events are subtitled, "REDEFINING THE GOOD Life".Discover how shifting consumer demands around the world are changing the 21st century economy. Benefit from new, fresh-from-the-field including research and case studies to help you deliver positive social impact while strengthening your brand's performance.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Green Economy is an Undervalued Opportunity

Independent of the climate and environmental benefits, the economic potential of the green economy is staggering. The sheer scale of  the opportunity warrants more attention from heads of government, investors and the general public.

As quoted by the Guardian, Nick Austin, director of agricultural development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said, "We recognize that adaptation has been a vastly under-invested opportunity, [there is] an upside in economic opportunities for resilience to climate change."

More than a dozen years ago the Stern review anticipated this opportunity. The report noted that climate action will, "create significant business opportunities, as new markets are created in low-carbon energy technologies and other low-carbon goods and services. These markets could grow to be worth hundreds of billions of dollars each year, and employment in these sectors will expand accordingly.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Why Corporate Sustainability Leaders Must Resist Trump

Those who support sustainability cannot ignore the elephant in the room. The elephant in question, is one Donald J. Trump. His racist vitriol, irrational penchant for environmental deregulation, and unbridled love for dirty energy are overarching impediments to the three pillars of sustainability.

There was a time that corporate leaderships shied away from politics. However, in the precarious post-truth era of  Orange-Potus, that is simply not possible. Leaders are stepping up to confront hubs of injustice even if they reside at the pinnacles of power.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Trump Cutting Taxes While the Rest of the World Invests in the Green Economy

While governments around the world are investing in the green economy Donald Trump is providing massive corporate tax breaks.  Trump's inept economic policies now appear to be wreaking havoc as evidenced by unprecedented stock market declines and the subsequent ripple effect around the world.  The Dow's 1,175 point plunge on Monday February 5th was the biggest decline ever and on February 6th markets around the globe are being pummeled. Trump's tax scam, his only legislative accomplishment, may be the cause of this market volatility.

As explained by CNN's Matt Egan, Trump's tax cuts, "may be playing a role in the recent market trouble". Months before the precipitous stock declines, Morgan Stanley warned that tax cuts could "overheat" the economy and backfire by causing stocks to, "boom then bust". This is precisely what we are seeing and it is only the beginning. An overheated economy will buoy inflation and interest rate hikes.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Trump Hates Renewables and Loves Fossil Fuels

Donald Trump is taking another swipe at renewables by proposing the virtual elimination of research funding for clean energy. It is no secret that Trump loves fossil fuels a point he reiterated during his first State of the Union address. It is now becoming increasingly clear that he has contempt for renewable energy. He has emphasized this point recently by imposing tariffs on imported solar panels. Now Trump has followed this up with yet another salvo that seeks to cut funding for clean energy.

A draft budget document obtained by the  Washington Post indicates that the Trump administration wants Congress to reduce funding for clean energy research at the Energy Department by 72 percent. As explained in the title of the Post story this underscores the administration's marked preference for fossil fuels.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Event - Companies Vs Climate Change (CvCC)

Companies Vs Climate Change (CvCC) will take place on October 9 - 10, 2018 at the Compagnietheater in Amsterdam. CvCC is a B2B climate solutions event dedicated to providing an open and straight-forward arena for companies to unite and work with governments to act on climate change. Companies from around the world will come together to collaborate and share best practices. Business-driven solutions are essential to combat the unprecendented threats we face. CvCC is premised on the assumption that the business world possesses the scale, resources, capacity, and genuine interest to address the climate crisis. This event is not for regulators and academics and it is not about assigning blame or being self-congratulatory.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The State of Disunion

On January 30, 2018, Donald Trump delivered his first State of the Union address. He tried to sound optimistic and upbeat ignoring the dark cloud of the Russia investigation. However, all is not well in Washington, far from it. Trump has denigrated the presidency and many American institutions. In addition to being a climate denier, Trump is widely seen as racist, divisive, and erratic. More legislators boycotted his speech than any State of the Union address since Nixon.

While some suggested that Democrats should not stoop to the same level as Republicans, others have pointed out that we cannot afford to normalize Trump's behavior saying we must protest at every turn.

Monday, January 29, 2018

The Wave of Corporate Goodness

A wave of corporate activity is changing the traditional role of business. The often true cliche that businesses are singlemindedly preoccupied with profits is being challenged by a new more sustainable approach to business.  While the notion of responsible corporate conduct has been around for a while there is a new wave that goes far beyond the basic maxim "do no harm." This is about serving people, protecting the planet and turning a profit.

Most corporations know that there are multiple layers of value associated with corporate responsibility and a growing number are taking this one step further. They believe that philanthropy is the future of business. Consumers are increasingly making informed buying decisions and corporations are already leveraging their vast supply chains to demand change. It logically follows that those who do more will be able to bank goodwill and gain a competitive advantage.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Event - Goodness Matters Benevity Conference

The Goodness Matters annual Benevity conference will take place on February 6 - 8, 2018 in Palm Springs, California.  The occassion also marks Benevity's tenth anniversary.  At GM2018 corporate giving professionals will gather in sunny Palm Springs to learn and participate in discussions that will augur the next era of corporate goodness. From insightful talks to client showcases, product previews to fun networking opportunities.

Event - Global Pro Bono Summit

The sixth Global Pro Bono Summit will take place in Mumbai, on February 6 – 9, 2018 at the Auditorium Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vaastu Sangrahalya (formerly, Prince of Wales Museum), Fort, Mumbai.  This is an annual invitation-only gathering of leaders from across sectors and around the world who believe the talents and skills of the entire business community should be accessible to organizations serving our collective good. Their mission is to connect, mobilize and equip leaders in the pro bono movement from across the world. The Global Pro Bono Network exists to promote knowledge sharing, mutual support, and collaboration among pro bono provider. The pro bono network of professionals voluntarily provide a public service without payment or at a reduced fee.

Event - GreenBiz 18

GreenbBiz 18 will take place on Februry 6 - 8, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge. This is the premier annual event for sustainable business leaders. GreenBiz 18 will look at pressing challenges, emerging trends and big opportunities in sustainable business today.  GreenBiz offers forward-looking big picture ideas mixed with practical things you can take back to the office. Join the world’s brightest thinkers and most influential sustainability leaders . More than 1,000 sustainability leaders from the business world, academia and NGOs will be in attendence to learn about the latest trends, make new connections with suppliers and peers and bring back innovative, actionable ideas. Check out the list of more than 160  speakers.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Event - North American Community Foundations Summit

The inaugural North American Community Foundations Summit will take place on February 5 -6, 2018 in Mexico City, Mexico. This summit  will explore why and how the Sustainable Development Goals relate to the work of community foundations across North America.

This two day conference brings together community foundation leaders from the US, Mexico, and Canada to discuss shared challenges and opportunities for building more resilient and sustainable communities across North America. Discussions center around innovative approaches to challenges like poverty, inequality, immigration, economic development, climate change and more.

Friday, January 26, 2018

A Summary of Trump's Malfeasance and his Disastrous Presidency

Donald J. Trump is a climate change denier and the most destructive man ever to disgrace the office of the Presidency of the United States. His incessant lies, moral turpitude and rampant corruption are already legendary. Trump has been challenged by corporate America, scientists and the press, however, in a stunning display of dysfunctional partisanship, Republicans continue to support his presidency and as a consequence they have tied their fate to his. The midterm election in November is our best hope to stop this man and end this nightmare.

The Importance History and Status of Education as a Sustainable Development Goal

Education is a vital part of sustainable development which is why it is Goal 4 of the SDGs. This review of Goal 4 encompasses the importance, recent history and current status.

In addition to economic benefits investing in education pays lucrative dividends in a number of ways. Education empowers people to improve conditions for themselves and the communities in which they live. It enables them to meet the challenges they face and it helps them to steward their resources more efficiently.

Education has implications for political leadership and while most of this article focuses on poorer countries education is also important for some of the wealthiest nations on Earth. Education can help people to cast off the shackles of tyranny and it can help them to build representative democracies. It is also essential to the well being of existing democracies. As we have recently witnessed uneducated and uninformed electorates are easily deceived by those who preach the destructive politics of fear and division.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Trump Undermines Renewables to Help Fossil Fuels and Take Revenge on Cities and States that Oppose Him

Donald Trump is both an avid supporter of fossil fuels and an enemy of renewables. Trump is not only seeking to end climate regulations and environmental protections he is actively undermining clean energy. He appears to be targeting solar focused cities and states that oppose his presidency.

Job killer 

Trump is not just a climate denying, lover of fossil fuels, he has earned his place as a job killer. As reported in Time, Trump has decided to impose duties as high as 30 percent on all solar equipment made outside of the US. Although it will benefit domestic solar makers, it will slow the US solar industry as a whole. This will not only make imported solar panels much more expensive, it will also increase the cost of maintaining existing US solar infrastructure.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Climate Crisis Trumped by the Volatility of the US Commander-and-Chief

Climate change and environmental degradation are recognized as the most pressing issues facing humanity, however, these serious threats have been trumped by the man who now occupies the Oval Office. The first year of Trump's presidency has been a nightmare of Orwellian proportions. If the highly unorthodox commander and chief has convinced us of anything it is that he is capable of auguring events that are even more destructive than the climate crisis.

We have every reason to worry about the coming year.  As the Mueller investigation continues and the midterms loom Trump can be expected to ramp up his post-truth bombast. We have every reason to believe that he will become even more irrational as the noose of reality tightens around his neck. We are drawn to the terrifying conclusion that Trump's incompetence and his petulance are an even greater threat in 2018 than they were in 2017.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Workshop - Risk Mitigation in Renewable Energy Investments in Africa

A workshop on Risk Mitigation in Renewable Energy Investments in Africa will take place on January 29 – 30, 2018 in Nairobi, Kenya.

Although US President Donald Trump has called Africa a "shithouse", the facts dispute his characterization, particularly as it relates to another topic he dislikes, renewable energy.

Africa is an ideal location for solar, wind, and geothermal. It is the sunniest continent on Earth and has a large coastline, where wind power and wave power are abundant. Geothermal power has the potential to provide considerable amounts of energy in many eastern African nations due to a 5,900-kilometer rift.

Event - Battery Tech Expo

This free event will take place on March 15, 2018 at the International Centre in Telford, UK. At this event you can explore the battery revolution alongside more than one thousand delegates. There will also be 60 pioneering exhibitors and 15 industry speakers.

The Battery industry is on the cusp of a power revolution with big technology companies investing heavily in the next generation of battery development and energy storage.The Battery Tech Expo UK runs 15th March 2018 at the International Centre, Telford in the West Midlands a major UK hub of the high tech industrial sector and will bring together professionals from across the advanced battery technology industry.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

What Beef Producers Can Teach us About Communicating Sustainability

When it comes to communicating sustainability we need to employ simple narratives that are clear and compelling. Some of the most unlikely sectors of the economy can teach us a great deal about communicating sustainability. Beef producers have been the target of environmentally concerned people for decades. As a consequence, they have been forced to develop capable communication strategies.

The Stern Review is still Relevant 12 Years Later

The Stern Review assesses both climate impacts and associated economic costs. The review concluded that the benefits of climate action far outweigh the costs. Although this review was released in 2006 it remains true today.The Stern Review is a 700-page report on the Economics of Climate Change that has been cited more than 16,000 times. It was prepared for the Government of the United Kingdom by economist Nicholas Stern, chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics (LSE) and also chair of the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (CCCEP) at Leeds University and LSE. The report is one of the largest and most widely known studies of climate economics.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Fossil Fuels are at the Core of the Climate Crisis

At its core, the climate crisis is attributable to the burning of fossil fuels. To solve this crisis we must end our use of oil as a source of energy.  Weaning ourselves off of dirty energy and transitioning towards renewables is the only way we can move forward without inviting an apocalypse. We cannot afford to abide the subterfuge and mendacity of the fossil fuel industry. Long before Donald Trump was active on the national political stage fossil fuel companies were crafting their own alternative facts and subverting the truth.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Green Market Oracle Recognized as One of the Best Green Business Sites on the Web

Green Business BlogsOn January 16, 2018 The Green Market Oracle was ranked as one of the best green business blogs out of the thousands of similar sites located all around the world.  The Green Market Oracle along with more than a dozen other sites were singled out as part of the most comprehensive list of best green business blogs on the internet. The ranking was determined by Feedspot’s editorial team and expert review of the quality and consistency of posts. The ranking criteria focused on search and social metrics including Google reputation and Google search ranking, as well as influence and popularity on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. These sites were also assessed based on the quality and consistency of posts.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Smart Energy Event

The 14th Smart Energy Event will take place on Tuesday, April 24, to Wednesday, April 25, in Halifax, NS. Smart Energy is the #1 regional conference in the smart, clean & renewable sector. The 2018 event is about connecting today’s smart energy sector with smart solutions. The demand for smart energy is changing the face of regional markets and how businesses collaborate. At this event you will learn about how companies are responding to the opportunity. Company leaders will also share examples of clean energy technologies and solutions that are being deployed across Atlantic Canada today.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Event - BEST (Bettering Environmental Stewardship & Technology Conference)

Bettering Environmental Stewardship & Technology Conference (BEST)will take place on Wednesday, May 9, 2018 to Friday, May 11, 2018, at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler​ in Whistler, BC. The British Columbia Environment Industry Association's BEST Conference attracts environmental professionals every May for two days of technical sessions, networking opportunities, and a sponsor exhibition. Conference registration includes a welcoming reception, technical sessions, keynote presentations, an off-site networking reception, and all meals and coffee breaks.

Event - RECAM (The Central America and Caribbean Clean Energy Conference and Exhibition)

The Central America and Caribbean Clean Energy Conference and Exhibition will take place on March 6-8, 2018 at the Hilton Hotel in Panama City. This is RECAM's third year highlighting, and helping to take advantage of the enormous potential of the Central American and Caribbean renewable energy markets.

Three hundred and fifty senior-level decision makers from across the entire regional value chain will meet in Panama City seeking new partnerships, wind and solar innovations, micro-grid and storage technology, investment opportunities and regulatory updates that will reignite the Central American and Caribbean renewables sector after a year of stagnation. There will also be morning plenaries focusing on finance, project pipelines and government policy, and split focus afternoons.

Climate Mobilizer Backer Events

In January there will be two inaugural Climate Mobilizer Backer Events, one on January 14th and the other on January 25th. The first event is titled, Identity and Values and it will take place on Jan 14, 2018, at 5:00 PM ET. The second is called The "Strategy and Politics Call:" Taking City by City into 2018, it will take place on Jan 25, 2018, at 8:00 PM ET.  Mobilizer-Backers support the restoration of a safe climate. You also join a special community of people committed to making mobilization a reality.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Event - MO Summit: Creating the Next Economy through Positive Impact

The MO Summit will take place on March 22 - 23, 2019 in Asheville, NC. Also known as the "Inc 500 for Positive Impact CEOs", this event is about leaders that are creating the next economy. MO is an invitation-only, two-day summit convening top CEO’s who are scaling high-growth, positive-impact companies using the power and creativity of business.

Businesses are growing rapidly, achieving scale, and generating profits by creating solutions to the world’s pressing social and environmental issues. This is our momentum. Capitalism is our engine. Customer transactions are our opportunity. Profit and the pursuit of a better tomorrow are our purpose. Meet and hear from leaders building transformational companies and leveraging the engine of capitalism for great profits and great good. The Mo Summit provides a unique opportunity to have 1-on-1 meetings with leading mission-aligned investors including funds, family offices and individual investors. Find your MO-mentum at the MO Summit.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Trump is Unfit to Lead

Questions about Trump's fitness to lead go far beyond his temper and disinterest in formal briefings. Concerns about his mental health are not reducible to his slurred speech, or difficulty forming complete sentences. A tsunami of news reports, books and professional panel discussions have characterized Trump as volatile, impulsive and unpredictable. He is also known to suffer from mood swings. As reported in the Times trump is self-absorbed, lacking in empathy and prone to conspiracy theories. They also cite his "tenuous grasp of facts".

Monday, January 8, 2018

Trump was a Nightmare in 2017 and Not Just for the Environment

The election of Donald Trump on November 8, 2016, will go down in history as a tragedy of epic proportions. Trump is the most powerful climate denier the world has ever known but his ego driven incompetence extends far beyond environmental issues. Trump is making soothsayers out of those who anticipated America's decline.

As predicted Trump immediately went to work trying to end climate action in America. He has gutted environmental safeguards and protections. In total the Trump administration is working to kill more than 60 environmental regulations. Trump has also withdrawn from the Paris Climate Accord and killed the Clean Power Plan. His budget was nothing short of an open decaration of war against the environment.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Event - Sound Science and Sound Journalism in an Era of Fake News (Webinar)

This webinar will take place on Wednesday, Jan 31, 2018 1:15 PM - 2:15 PM EST. This sixty-minute discussion will explore how journalists conduct their research and investigations, confirm facts, ferret out false information and maintain a sound basis for their reporting.

This webinar is presented by Island Press in partnership with the Security and Sustainability Forum.  It will feature Carey Gillam, a veteran journalist, and author of Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science. Carey will be joined by Dr. Dana Barr, Environmental Health Professor at Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health for a conversation on sound science and sound journalism in an era of fake news. The discussion will be moderated by journalist Paul Thacker and will be followed by a question and answer session.

Event - MiaGreen Expo and Conference

The 9th Edition MiaGreen Expo and Conference will take place on March 14 & 15, 2018 at the Miami Airport Convention Center, in Miami Florida. MiaGreen is the only event in the USA with a special focus on Latin American, Caribbean and USA markets at the same time, in a multicultural atmosphere that only Miami can provide. This year the event concentrates on key ENERGY related fields, and will explore how developments in solar, green building and cleantech have an impact on efficient and sustainable energy use.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

US Corporate Climate Efforts in 2017 Offer Hope for 2018

Corporate climate action is one of the most hopeful stories of 2017 and many say there is reason to believe that it may prove to be an even bigger story in 2018. Hundreds of US corporations are slashing their emissions and adopting increasingly robust sustainability programs. A wide range of companies and organizations have committed billions to combat climate change. All across the US companies are crafting mitigation strategies and increasingly considering their adaptation needs. We are witnessing the broadest US corporate climate consensus that we have ever seen. It goes well beyond the Climate Action Partnership that was formed in 2007.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Event - GLOBE Forum 2018: Leadership Summit for Sustainable Business

This event will take place on March 14 - 16, 2018 in Vancouver, BC. The GLOBE Series is the largest and longest running leadership summit for sustainable business in the world.   GLOBE Forum and the associated Innovation Expo, showcasing cleantech and sustainable innovation, attract nearly 10,000 delegates from more than 50 countries, sparking inspiration, collaboration, innovation and enhanced corporate responsibility. There will be over 700 Presidents and CEOs in attendence as well as 250 exhibitors; and 300+ international media.