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Dear Reader

indsendt for 3 minutter siden15/03/2011 21.31 af Karen Blincoe
ICIS has launched a new website as a reflection of its changing focus.

We started in 2001 as an educational centre running a multitude of courses, master classes and seminars.

From 2004-2008 we developed educational programmes for professional designers. Simultaneously we started research projects, all to do with education and sustainability.
We lectured, taught, discussed and worked with a variety of organisations and colleagues around the world.
The director, Karen Blincoe, disappeared to Devon, UK for a few years to be the Director of Schumacher College (see inspirations below) and ICIS went quiet for some time.

Now we are back in business and are this time focusing on advisory, project development, consultation and communication activities.

However, the work done till now is available for those interested and this new website contains elements of all of the life of ICIS so far both past, present and future.

SEED

indsendt for 38 minutter siden15/03/2011 20.56 af Karen Blincoe   [ opdateret for 2 minutter siden15/03/2011 21.33 ] SEED is a collaborative project between ICIS and Ducks-in-a-Row, a social entrepreneur company lead by Annelise Ryberg in Copenhagen.

Annelise invited Karen Blincoe to join in a collaborative project to develop a concept for a folkhighschool with sustainability as its core educational content.

The project has been going on for 3/4 of a year. The two dedicated women have made inroads, met with many influential people, got collaborators i.e. Schumacher/Dartington, UK and the EEA, The European Environmental Agency in Copenhagen, and are currently looking for the appropriate physical frames to implement the curriculum as well as funding for the implementation activities.





Rio+20: A disappointing consensus?

indsendt 28/06/2012 09.16 af Karen Blincoe

Disappointment, with a hint of “come on you can do better than that”, seems to be the general sentiment towards the Rio+20 outcomes of pro-sustainability groups. The final document entitled The Future We Want, a commitment to the sustainable development agenda signed by over 100 Heads of State and Government, has been described as weak and lacking action-orientated goals. 

Environmental organisations were hoping for significant, ambitious actions such as removing serious hurdles to achieving sustainable development e.g. reducing fossil fuel subsidies, stronger support for protecting and managing natural resources, and immediate commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

"With too few countries prepared to press for action, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff chose to drive a process with no serious content – to the planet’s detriment… The result is a squandered opportunity - an agreement that does not set the world on a path toward sustainable development." said WWF Director General Jim Leape.

Others criticised that even though the second key theme to the Conference was greening the economy, tangible ways of “greening” the economy were absent. Running up to the conference there was disagreement about the definition of the concept and principles of a “green economy” with EU and rich countries in favour and G77 countries suspicious that such an approach would leave them with a competitive disadvantage and hold back their development. It is clear in the final endorsement that the “green” aspect of what defines a sound economy has been compromised.

The outcome of the Conference was, however, a significant commitment to the social pillar of sustainable development. Commitment to eradicating poverty was absolutely apparent. Recognising that over 1 billion people still live in extreme poverty, endorsing countries restated their absolute commitment to eradicating poverty – an “indispensable requirement for sustainable development”. Recognition was repeatedly given to the importance of equality and women’s empowerment. The Future We Want is essentially a commitment to a people-centred sustainable development. Better protection and management of natural resources, and the need to improve the quality of our environment are recognised in relation to the enhanced well-being of the poorest. 

Additionally, much focus was given to the second theme of the conference; namely, developing the institutional framework of sustainable development. There was commitment to mainstreaming the three pillars of sustainable development throughout the UN system. In particular, it was recommended that a high-level standing forum on sustainable development be created to replace the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, and that United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) should be strengthened. The aim is to convene the first such forum at the beginning of the 68th session of the General Assembly. Developing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – time-bound targets for eradicating poverty while protecting the environment – were also placed on the Assembly’s future agenda. 

So far the financial commitments resulting from the Conference have exceeded $500 billion, while there have now been over 700 voluntary agreements from political parties, corporations, environmental groups, educational institutions and more. Some initiatives and pledges include:
 
Brazil, Denmark, France and South Africa commenced an initiative to advance and widen corporate sustainability reporting.
The Maldives announced the world's biggest marine reserve committing to make all 1,192 of its islands a marine reserve by 2017.

    
The UK government announced that it will be the first country in the world to force major companies to measure their carbon footprint. The scheme will make more than 1,000 companies measure their greenhouse gas emissions in full.

 
A group of national and international banks, investors and insurers made a collective call for natural capital valuation and accounting at Rio+20 with the Natural Capital Declaration.
Mauritius has committed to planting one million trees.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon impressed the significance of the event and outcome, heralding it as a major step towards global co-operation and a united front on the issue of sustainable development.
 
“Rio+20 has affirmed fundamental principles – renewed essential commitments – and given us new direction,” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, adding. “Our job now is to create a critical mass, an irresistible momentum. Because the road ahead is long and hard. Rio+20 has given us a solid platform to build on. And it has given us the tools to build with – the work starts now.” (UN News Centre) 

Negotiating a common vision between over 100 countries, whose political, economic and social needs and expectations are vastly different, is a colossal challenge. Consensus is really the only way forward to address global challenges, and compromise is therefore inevitable, which Conference Secretary General Mr.Sha Zukang emphasised. 

“The spirit of compromise is the mark of a good consensus, and crucial if all countries are to be on board, take ownership, and share a collective commitment,” said Mr. Sha Zukang. “This is the only way forward if we want to harness the necessary action for advancing together on a path of sustainable development.” (UN News Centre)

Rio+20 was an extraordinary event. Over 100 Heads of State and Government, delegations from 188 countries and close to a total participation of 46,000 including civil society participants and media representatives. Regardless of its failings, it has resulted in a common vision, revitalised political commitment to sustainable development and stimulated a global debate about the future of our planet. 

Rio+20: Consensus without serious content

indsendt 25/06/2012 03.08 af Karen Blincoe

General disappointment with the final endorsed Rio+20 document, The Future We Want, has been expressed by major NGO groups. The commitment, signed by over 100 countries, has been described as weak and lacking action-orientated goals. Environmental organisations were hoping for significant, ambitious actions such as removing serious hurdles to achieving sustainable development such as fossil fuel subsidies, while many criticised that tangible ways of “greening” the economy were absent.

"With too few countries prepared to press for action, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff chose to drive a process with no serious content – to the planet’s detriment. The result is a squandered opportunity - an agreement that does not set the world on a path toward sustainable development." said WWF Director General Jim Leape.

UN representatives impressed the significance of the event and outcome, heralding it as a major step towards global co-operation and a united front on the issue of sustainable development.

“Rio+20 has affirmed fundamental principles – renewed essential commitments – and given us new direction,” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, adding. “Our job now is to create a critical mass, an irresistible momentum. Because the road ahead is long and hard. Rio+20 has given us a solid platform to build on. And it has given us the tools to build with – the work starts now.” (UN News Centre)
Synopsis of "The Future We Want" is to come with more detail on the commitments reached at the Conference.

Rio+20 underway

indsendt 20/06/2012 05.50 af Karen Blincoe

After much debate and negotiations preliminary discussions leading up to Rio+20 have resulted in an agreed text – The Future We Want. Over the next three days in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, over 100 heads of state and government will hopefully adopt the document resulting in “concrete decisions to advance sustainability” that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon says must be achieved. Rio+20 will be the largest conference in UN history with an estimated 50,000 people participating at the conference site, nearby exhibitions pavilion and other related venues in the city.

Untitled Post

indsendt 20/06/2012 05.47 af Karen Blincoe

After much debate and negotiations preliminary discussions leading up to Rio+20 have resulted in an agreed text – The Future We Want. Over the next three days in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, over 100 heads of state and government will hopefully adopt the document resulting in “concrete decisions to advance sustainability” that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon says must be achieved. Rio+20 will be the largest conference in UN history with an estimated 50,000 people participating at the conference site, nearby exhibitions pavilion and other related venues in the city.

Rio+20: Business as usual...?

indsendt 19/06/2012 05.21 af Karen Blincoe

The UN's preparatory negotiations leading up to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (known as Rio+20) have been trying to bring countries together to set a new path for sustainable development. The level of discord and disagreement that remains will cast a shadow over the final decisions to be made at Rio+20 which begins tomorrow. Although not being asked by the UN to legally commit themselves to specific environmental and sustainability targets, an anticipated 120 heads of state are expected to sign up to a “roadmap” contained in the document title “the future we want”. Signing up will symbolise a commitment to a so-called “green economy”; the definition and concept of which has been a controversial issue amongst participating countries. If all goes well a set of ambitious sustainable development goals (SDGs) will be agreed upon to be introduced by 2015. Such SDGs will be similar in ambition to UN Millennium Development Goals covering areas such as energy consumption and production, water management and food security. 

Opinions differ as to whether the resulting agreements from Rio+20 will represent a significant, genuine commitment to the sustainable development path or nothing more than weak, ineffectual statements of intent. Needless to say negotiating a common vision between over 100 countries, whose differences in political, economic and social needs and expectations are vast, must pose quite a challenge.

See UNCSD homepage for more info: http://www.uncsd2012.org/rio20/index.php?menu=17

Biodiversity still seriously in decline

indsendt 22/05/2012 04.37 af Karen Blincoe

In it’s latest Living Plant Report out this month, WWF reminds us once again that we need to use our natural resources more wisely to prevent irreversible damage to that which we are fundamentally dependent – healthy and biologically diverse ecosystems. It is pertinent to highlight the report’s core message today as it is also the UN International Day for Biological Diversity. Institutions across the globe are discussing and campaigning for the preservation of biological diversity as its decline continues.    
Surely it is common sense that our ecosystems provide essential services which are the fulcrum of our economy and well-being. Clean air, clean water, healthy soils, medicines, daily products and our food come from the Earth’s ecosystems; the health and resilience of which lies within its biological diversity. And yet we can’t seem to manage them carefully. WWF’s report highlights that biological diversity is under pressure from loss of habitat, exploitation of wild animal species, pollution, climate change and invasive species.   

According to WWF’s report there has been an overall 28% reduction in the Living Planet Index (a measure of biodiversity) between 1970 and 2008. During this period the tropical Living Planet Index has declined by more than 60 per cent while global terrestrial, freshwater and marine biodiversity have all declined with the freshwater Index declining the most by 37 per cent. Alarmingly tropical marine biodiversity seems to be in serious decline with a drop of 70 per cent. One of the few positive stories is that biological diversity seems to be on the increase in temperate zones, rising 31% during 1970-2008, bouncing back from significant pre-1070s historical losses.

Can we turn around the decline in biodiversity? WWF’s “one planet perspective” call’s for better management, wiser governance and more efficient use of our resources to reverse the trend. The organisation’s opinion remains that only by viewing the Earth as finite and living within its ecological boundaries will the decline be reversed. 

“WWF’s One Planet perspective explicitly proposes to manage, govern and share natural capital within the Earth’s ecological boundaries. In addition to safeguarding and restoring this natural capital, WWF seeks better choices along the entire system of production and consumption, supported by redirected financial flows and more equitable resource governance. All of this, and more, is required to decouple human development from unsustainable consumption (moving away from material and energy-intensive commodities), to avoid greenhouse gas emissions, to maintain ecosystem integrity, and to promote pro-poor growth and development.”

SEED seminar on how to teach sustainability

indsendt 23/04/2012 04.57 af Karen Blincoe

SEED, The School for Education in Environment and Diversity, held its first seminar last month to explore the processes, methods and tools with which to teach sustainability. The seminar is the first in a series of exploratory discussions aimed to shape the concept of the school. Karen Blincoe, ICIS, and Annelise Ryberg, Ducks in a Row, are the founders while the VELUX Foundation is funding the school's developmental phase. 
Participants of the seminar were all experienced practitioners in sustainable education and creative learning: 

Mel Risebrow, Deputy Director of the Schumacher College, talked about how to facilitate a broader engagement with ecological literacy.

Chris Seeley, Artist and Educator in creating learning situations, looked at Artful Knowing in Higher Education and Organisational Development.

Julie Richardson, Co-Director of the MA in Economics for Transition at Schumacher College and Patricia Shaw a teacher at the Schumacher College shared the thinking and practice behind the development of a Holistic Science MSc at Schumacher College in Devon.

Jeppe Læssøe, Professor of Environmental Education and co-director of the Research Programme for Environment and Health Education, Aarhus University, Copenhagen DK, talked about the education of change agents for sustainable development.

James Aldridge, artist and creative-learning consultant and director of Creative Ecology (UK), explored how the methods by which we learn about ourselves and our relationship with the world have as much importance as what we learn because of their effect on our perceptions, our values and our behaviour.

Ditlev Nissen talked about the development of, and dissemination of learning, from the Danish Eco-village movement. 

A summary of discussions will be posted on the ICIS website in the next few weeks. 

Related websites:

Denmark Leads the Way with Ambitious Green Energy Policy

indsendt 28/03/2012 04.34 af Karen Blincoe

Denmark's Parliament made a landmark decision on 22nd March passing an ambitious green energy policy that puts Denmark ahead in the green energy arena. The policy put forward by Helle Thorning Smidt's coalition government, supported by a broad majority in Parliament, will put in place initiatives that will reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 34% of 1990 levels by 2020. 

 “This is the most comprehensive, greenest and most long-term agreement on energy ever passed in Denmark. Today we have laid the foundations for a greener future,” said the Danish Minister on Climate, Energy and Building Martin Lidegaard. 

Targets also include securing 35% of energy production from renewable sources while 50% of total electricity consumption will come solely from wind generation. To achieve these ambitious targets two off-shore wind farms are to be built: a 400 MW wind farm at Horns Rev, in the North Sea off the west coast of Jutland, and later, a 600 MW wind farm at Kriegers Flak in the Baltic Sea between Denmark and Sweden. Currently wind energy provides Denmark with a fifth of the nation's electricity demand. 

“Denmark will once again be a world leader in the production and provision of green energy. It will shield us from volatile increases in oil and coal prices. And it will create employment opportunities which we will need in the coming years,” said Lidegaard. 

Its 3.5 billion kroner price-tag will be shared by consumers and businesses; an average household will pay an additional 1,300 DKK for their energy by 2020, while it will cost businesses 200 DKK per employee. However, Lidegaard emphasised that there will be significant savings from a reduction in energy consumption and reduced dependence on price-rising fossil fuels. 

“Greening a country's energy system and reducing its dependence on fossil fuels requires investment. But the costs may be much greater if we do not act now. Additionally, the transition will benefit the environment and secure the future competitiveness of Danish businesses.” said Lidegaard. 
-------- 
Martin Lidegaard: Vi skriver energipolitisk historie
http://www.kemin.dk/en-US/Sider/frontpage.aspx 

Denmark to boost offshore wind energy
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/22/denmark-energy-idUSL6E8EMB9320120322 

Green energy deal finally in place
http://www.cphpost.dk/news/national/green-energy-deal-finally-place 

indsendt 28/03/2012 04.31 af Karen Blincoe   [ opdateret 28/03/2012 04.32 ]

UNEP: environmental governance and the green economy

indsendt 01/03/2012 06.22 af Karen Blincoe

A pre-cursor to Rio+20, the 12th Special Session of UNEP's Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GC/GMEF) in Nairobi 20-22 February, focussed heavily on environmental governance and greening the economy; two key issues to be discussed and hopefully acted on at the upcoming June UN Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20. 

Ministers around the world aired opinions on international environmental governance (EIG), more specifically the future role of UNEP, and the role of environmental governance in relation to creating an International Framework on Sustainable Development (IFSD) in order to structure and drive international efforts on sustainability. Two main options for the future of UNEP were put on the table: 1. Upgrading and strengthening UNEP's current role through inter alia introducing universal membership; 2. Transforming UNEP into a UN specialized agency e.g. a World Environment Agency (Earth Negotiations Bulletin, IISD, Vol. 16, No. 98). Ministers were divided as to which approach would result in better more effective environmental governance. Rio+20 will be the next forum at which this will be discussed or hopefully decided upon; a decision that will be influenced by the IFSD and future role of the Commission on Sustainable Development. 

Creating stronger environmental governance and institutionalising sustainable development (through the IFSD) were considered to be essential to driving the green economy initiative. Since 2008, UNEP has been championing the Green Economy initiative. Deputy Executive Director of UNEP, Amb. Amina Mohamed, on behalf of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, suggested it was time to make significant headway toward the greening of the economy – an issue that had been “incubating for 40 years” (ENB, IISD, Vol. 16, No. 98).The recent report from the High Level Panel on Sustainable Development (see earlier post) emphasised the need to establish economic "signals that value sustainability" . In concluding remarks, moderator Mark Halle, International Institute for Sustainble Development, emphasised that economy and institutions are two sides of the same coin: the green economy could act as a mechanism for integration of various public policy streams; while strengthened governance could enable the transition to a green economy (ENB, IISD, Vol.16, No.98). The strong concerns of some countries that greening the economy will require additional cost and trade conditions will make achieving consensus on the subject difficult to achieve. Again, we await with baited breath for Rio+20. 

This has been written based on the Earth Negotiations Bulletin meeting summary: 
http://www.iisd.ca/download/pdf/enb1698e.pdf 

GEO-5 Summary for Policy Makers was endorsed at the 12th Session in Nairobi.
http://www.unep.org/geo/GEO5_SPM.asp 

The GC meeting also marked UNEP's 40th Anniversary.
http://www.unep.org/40thanniversary/about/





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