Raju is a ‘bhangarwalla’ (one who goes house to house and collects all kinds of solid waste by paying to waste/scrap-provider and makes money by selling it to recyclers). He is one of the thousands of Indians engaged in such activities mainly in cities and towns. (more…)
Colorless Water : It is Needed for Ecosystems.
A familiar dismaying phrase that we come across while describing the global water scarcity reads, “Even after global efforts to meet the targets under the Millennium Development Goals, more than 600 million people will still lack access to safe drinking water in 2015”. Another one that comes with more positive and resounding effect is: “Improved water supply in adequate quantity and quality is probably the single most cost-effective means of reducing water-related death and disease globally.” (more…)
It was love affair that continued for more than 4000 years. Surprised? That’s what happened between mankind and the metal called Mercury. More you go back in the history more this affair turns into fatal obsession. But that is history. Year 2013 turned out to be beginning of the end of that love affair. (more…)
Doha-round on climate change
22 Nov 2012, Middle East, Four years back almost at the same time of the year; I was in Doha, capital city of Qatar for the 20th Meeting of the Parties (MOP) to the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the Ozone Layer. I was leading the UNEP OzonAction Programme that enabled the developing countries to comply with the phase out of the Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS). Though the meeting centered around the protection of the stratospheric ozone shield that protects the life on the earth, there were serious scientific and technology discussion on the links between the climate change and the recovery of the ozone layer and vice a versa.
Confused and dejected, I walked out in the evening of 22 June 2012 from the expansive ‘Riocentre’, a conference venue on the western end of Rio De Janeiro, once a capital and famous beach-city of Brazil. That was the last day of the event, mathematically titled as “Rio+20”, denoting 20th Anniversary of the famous landmark in the history of the civilization-called ‘Earth Summit’. It was drizzling outside and air was humid and cold. (more…)
Can we see the Forest for the Trees?
I am on the way to Rio to participate in an event nick named ‘Rio+20’ and seize ‘one in life time opportunity’ as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has described.
On such Journey, as a former Director in United Nations, I should be forward looking. But I just cannot wipe out the scenes on the banks of Rhine in Bonn where the preparatory meeting on Climate Change hosted by UNFCCC concluded on 25 May 2012. The Amazon forest lies ahead of me , but I just cannot shrug of the feeling that would we be able to distinguish Brazilian forest behind Rio for European trees on the banks of Rhine? (more…)
The frantic and some times even querulous French Presidential campaign ended on 6th May. The simple majority made the choice for the next President, though the debate that preceded was not that simple. At the end I kept wondering if the description ‘argumentative’ should be applied only to Indians. (more…)
“If not us, who? If not now, when?” These words reverberated at the round table in The White House, Washington DC. Temptation to hazard a guess on who said it is overwhelming. Some may probably speculate that these words emanated from the secret meeting of the supreme military command of USA before Iraq was attacked.Wrong.
Other day I had lunch in Fukushima.
Nothing like having nice authentic Japanese food sitting with some energy experts and debating on the future of nuclear energy.
Well, some pun and drama is intended here. Though I was in Fukushima, there was no probability of earthquake, not even a tremor . Yes, I was on the banks of water –but there was zero chance of any tsunami. Yes, there was authentic Japanese food but there was no fear that it would be contaminated by nuclear radiation. (more…)
A Virtual Outcome: Durban Climate Change Meeting
The world of today can best be described as a “virtual-world”! We engage in almost every thing virtual. Virtual-conferences, virtual-exhibitions and even virtual-universities! The huge amount of real data is stored in virtual cloud, now called as ‘iCloud’. Steve Jobs provided us with this virtual platform before his departure from this world. (more…)
Methyl Bromide factory in their own country was literally bombed and destroyed by North Korea. “Our Dear leader Comrade Kim Jong Il took the decision of destroying the Methyl Bromide production facility of our Sinhung Chemical Complex. The Dear Leader said that the facility should be destroyed immediately by exploding it. His decision was based on the fact that Methyl Bromide is dangerous to the Ozone Layer and is extremely harmful for our health, ” Director General of the Shinhung Chemical complex near city of Wonson on the East coast of North Korea was explaining to me. We were standing in front of the destroyed facility of Methyl Bromide that I was visiting in late 1990s. The facility was small part of the huge chemical complex. (more…)
Well received by the blogging community , this blog from me that appeared on 6th Dec 2011, when Durban negotiations were getting heated.
As the Environment Ministers and the world leaders gather in Durban for the second and final week of the 17th global meet on climate change, I recall the stories of Mahatma Gandhi going back more than 100 years back in Durban. Mohanda Gandhi was just in his mid 20s when he arrived in South Africa around 1893 to work as a legal representative. He took up the issue of discrimination and inequity for the local Indians there. I recalled how in the court in Durban the magistrate asked him to take off his turban and how he was thrown out of the train. That was the beginning of the Gandhian march towards satyagraha and non-violence.
Success can create dangerous traps for near term failure – an overly pessimistic or even slightly sadistic view? Well, I would venture that the success to date of the Montreal Protocol may be leading into such a trap. (more…)
Altitude: 4,000m – slightly less than half the height of Mount Everest also called as Sagarmatha in Nepal side and Chomolungma on Chinese side.
Location: Nepal - somewhere between Sanboche Airport at 3,800 m and Khumjung which is best known for its secondary school established by Sir Edmund Hillary. I was talking to young vice-principal of Khumjung Secondary School, Sambhu Bastola.
Christopher Langan had an IQ of over 195, whereas Albert Einstein’s was 150. Mr. Langan ended up working on a horse farm in rural Missouri, USA, whereas Einstein – well we all know of his achievements after leaving the patent office in Bern. The scoop behind the” success stories” around the world is as follows: however smart, ambitious and hard-working an individual may be, he or she cannot succeed without an enabling environment and without supportive network of humans.
There are many reasons why UN workshops do not start on time. In Seoul, Republic of Korea, the workshop organized for accelerated phase-out of HCFC started late, because that day was “Children’s day” and it was raining. But then quickly the house was full with participants. (more…)
When the plane prepares to leave the arena of the blue sky and approaches the tiny lagoons and atolls of the Maldives emerge from nowhere in the blue waters of the Indian Ocean, the stark vulnerable beauty of the Earth becomes nakedly evident. The island city Male from the height looks quite similar to the barricaded and fortified village of ancient Gaul, made famous in the comic book-series called Asterix. (more…)
17 May 2010
“It is a city of blue, red and green. Above you have deep blue sky, around you there are omnipresent red burnt brick houses and at distance on the horizon you see green forest”, explained the Minister of Environment of Colombia while describing Bogota. I was there in April 2010 for the regional workshop which was opened the Minister. Mr Carlos Costa Posada is an unusual Minister of Environment in more sense than one . Firstly, he came 45 minutes before the scheduled time. This is because he was keenly interested in discussing with me on the ‘Climate benefit of Ozone Layer protection activities’. Secondly, he gave an extempore address although he had prepared a speech. Thirdly, he was the Minister with engineering background topped by education in UK. (more…)
On the evening of 14th April 2010, I felt as if coming out of clouds and finally getting clear vision. The meeting of the Executive Committee of the Multilateral Fund for the protection of the Ozone Layer that I was attending in Montreal, had just approved the guidelines for financing the projects for HCFC phase out in the developing countries. I considered that as major step forward to open the door to pluck low hanging fruits for the climate benefit. Clearly that presented the unparallel possibility of mitigating nearly 40 Giga T of CO2 equivalent globally. Compare that with the mitigation of just 1.5 Giga t of CO2 equivalent due to all the CDM projects approved till now. Great work indeed. (more…)
26 March 2010
‘Diplomats & Businessmen’ That is the signboard at Jeddah Airport in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia directing the arriving Diplomats and Businessmen through a special and privileged lane for passport control and immigration clearance. I had seen such special lanes only for the diplomats in number of countries. However I had never seen a single special lane for both diplomats and businessmen. Jeddah must be the only airport in the world that equals diplomats with businessmen, when it comes to passport control. After all, why not? Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of United Nations in 1999 at the World Economic Forum said: “….. I told you about hopes for creative partnership between the United Nations and the private sector. …..that the everyday work of the United Nations — whether in peacekeeping, setting technical standards, protecting intellectual property or providing much-needed assistance to developing countries — helps to expand opportunities for business around the world”. That speech was the starting point for the launch of Global Compact Initiative of United Nation’s diplomacy. (more…)
14 February 2010
‘Somewhere in the South Pacific Sea’- that’s the phrase used when one gets lost. I was recently lost somewhere in South Pacific sea. I was part of the thin line of green land that divides the blue sky above and Pacific sea below.
When prayers started at the beginning of the meeting, as per the practices in the region, I was not lost. I was listening carefully to what the priest standing next to me was praying. “We ask the heavenly Father, God, to be with us all in this important meeting. We thank God for bringing the UNEP facilitators to Vanuatu to tell all of us the importance of the Montreal Protocol. We request the help of the spirit from above to guide and provide us better understanding of the Montreal Protocol and to be in its compliance. We ask God to guide us through UNEP resource persons to implement the action plan ahead of us, related to the ODS issues. We thank God for the presence of all stakeholders who are present in the meeting today and may our contribution benefit people, Vanuatu and the entire earth” (more…)
25 January 2010
Bella Centre in Copenhagen is a generously large and copiously structured conference complex. My first visit to Denmark, a country with 482 islands, started with a visit to this centre, which is quite large and looked bit disproportionate to the size of the country. I decided to keep all what I read of Denmark including its Viking past, seafare adventures and famous cheeses outside and entered the Bella Centre. That was month of November in 1992! (more…)
By Rajendra Shende, email@example.com
9 December 2009
Nothing grows there, on the south-west beach of the Red sea, except fish and colourful corals. The place is designed to be a beach resort in the desert with its clean lonely beaches, white sands, bottle-green seawater, soft refreshing and cold wind sweeping across, riding on the waves of white surf.
My two weeks stay at Port Ghalib, Egypt, attending the international meeting to discuss the future of the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the Ozone Layer was an experience short of staying in the monastery. The place is remote, distant, arid, barren, parched dry, and does not even resemble an oasis, because it does not have a natural source of freshwater of its own. The fresh water is produced by desalination of sea water, electricity is produced by diesel generator, and partly as sequel of the desalination plant, waste water is treated and recycled to water the small shrubs and replanted palm trees. Why was this place selected at all for holding such an international meeting when it is best suited for reflections, writing memoire or just spend time doing nothing? I mused.
One would have thought of holding such a meeting of “one of the most successful MEAs” in a European or American city with rows of cozy restos and lots of entertainment. Recognizing that it is the first occasion that the Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol is being held after each and every country has now joined and ratified this global accord, it was time for a party, a time to celebrate. So why hold a party in the desert?
To me it was not just a coincidence. Of course the Government of Egypt was gracious to host this meeting. But I thought, in a true sense, it is symbolic a location.
Port Ghalib – name of this desert resort – is a symbol of human ingenuity. A complete township self sufficient in basic necessity has been raised in that land of ‘nothing’. It was replete with clean, quiet, roads and modestly built hotels, rising from ‘nowhere’. The Montreal Protocol is also a symbol of human ingenuity. Someone said that human stupidity knows no boundaries. I could say the same thing about human ingenuity. It is boundless. Indeed, due to human stupidity the world deployed man-made CFCs in the 1940s. That brought the world to the brink of disaster, but it was collective human ingenuity that has prevented this disaster by deploying alternatives of ozone-friendly technologies. What more, this human ingenuity has also crossed the boundaries further to provide unexpected and significant climate benefits.
Not far from Port Ghalib, about 200 km to the west, across the Nile, there is a small village called Kharga, another desert town, but a living example of non-in-kind technology as alternatives to CFCs. There stand the houses, the community halls, a mosque and other buildings designed by one of Egypt’s most ingenious architects, Hassan Fathyt, who used the local natural material for the buildings. He designed those mud houses in such a way that they do not require air conditioning, leave alone refrigerants. They are warm in winter and cool in summer. Most of human history does not know air conditioning produced with refrigerants. Air conditioning was practiced but without man made refrigerants.The best period in the history was in the houses built by architects like Hassan Fathyt.
Port Ghalib and the surrounding area represent not only the past but also the future direction for humanity. Nature has provided us with solutions which do not result in global problems. It is for us to use our ingenuity to search for them and deploy them.
Port Ghalib is an example of boundless human ingenuity . Let us see if Copenhagen also turns out to be the similar example. We certainly do not want to be an example of unlimited human stupidity.
The world is getting addicted to unsustainable life style. In a way it strives to sustain the un-sustainability. I am not talking about the use of fossil fuel only. Take for example CCS- Carbon Capture & Storage. CCS approach is very simple. The electricity generating plants would continue to use fossil fuels without any regrets about climate change. That’s because they would reduce or eliminate emissions by capturing carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels and storing it underground in the earth’s geological bed rocks. This appears to be a simple way to solve the climate change problem. (more…)