Erenlai - Development as Fairness 創造公平的資源分配
Development as Fairness 創造公平的資源分配

Development as Fairness 創造公平的資源分配

The world needs strategies for creating more wealth and distributing it where it is needed in a fair way. In 2000, national leaders officially committed the United Nations to Millennium Developments Goals regarding water, poverty, education and international migrations. Here you will find materials that throw light on these issues and challenge us to work harder where we are falling behind.

聯合國在兩千年訂定的千禧發展目標是一樁美意。可是當年討論的貧窮、教育、水資源跟國際移工等的窘境,改善了多少呢?有什麼策略可以創造財富並公平分配給需要的人呢?資源過度集中造成的貧富差距越來越大,這真是我們想要的世界嗎?

 

週三, 31 十二月 2008

地球的盐

石油涨价以前,似乎让人觉得它取用不尽,感觉不到它不存在的一天。那么,我们天天习以为常的盐呢?

盐、空气和水是地球上三个最丰富的自然资源。每一样对生命都非常重要。这三样自由让人们取用,但取用上并不一定免费。
瀑布的水免费地从天上来,在地上化为泉水自由地流,溪流和河流四处广布,自然地集成湖泊和池塘。对于那些住在河流旁,并能够随手汲水的人来说,储水相对容易。但是,如果必要开挖水道灌溉、建造沟渠或是埋设水管,水的费用却开始上升,更不用说今日在污水控制与净化上的额外开销。海水淡化更是昂贵。
在人类爬向高海拔与下降到深海以前,呼吸不需要任何花费。如今,净化污染空气的费用却是节节上升。
盐在历史上出现一个重要的转折,对于大多数觉得它无关紧要的人变成非常昂贵的商品。盐对于治疗、血液平衡以及消化等等非常重要。不管哪一种脊椎动物,一公升血液中存在九公克盐。若要不冰冻地保存的食物,盐不可或缺。盐的最大问题,就是它尚未人人可及;对于需要盐的人,拥有盐的人或是制造盐的人能够独占。在历史早期,政府垄断盐的来源;为了卖盐,甚至必须增加税收。盐甚至被当成货币,英文salary(薪水)这个字词从拉丁文而来,盐被当成士兵收入的一部份,而且需要配给。大家为了保有盐或是获取盐开战,甚至为了推翻强收食盐税的政府爆发革命。
食盐税被取消,政府不再垄断,多元使得价格下降。2002年,处理一吨盐的热加工是120美元,卤水蒸发处理是6美元。在制造塑料与工业工程的制造过程中,盐的使用带来莫大利润。举个例子来说,在加州生产盐是数十亿美元的商机。
盐真是取用不尽,这本是谈石油与媒炭所说的用词。现在这个时刻真盼望这是真的。

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週一, 29 十二月 2008

地球的鹽

石油漲價以前,似乎讓人覺得它取用不盡,感覺不到它不存在的一天。那麼,我們天天習以為常的鹽呢?

隆納德 撰文

鹽、空氣和水是地球上三個最豐富的自然資源。每一樣對生命都非常重要。這三樣自由讓人們取用,但取用上並不一定免費。
瀑布的水免費地從天上來,在地上化為泉水自由地流,溪流和河流四處廣佈,自然地集成湖泊和池塘。對於那些住在河流旁,並能夠隨手汲水的人來說,儲水相對容易。但是,如果必要開挖水道灌溉、建造溝渠或是埋設水管,水的費用卻開始上升,更不用說今日在污水控制與淨化上的額外開銷。海水淡化更是昂貴。
在人類爬向高海拔與下降到深海以前,呼吸不需要任何花費。如今,淨化污染空氣的費用卻是節節上升。
鹽在歷史上出現一個重要的轉折,對於大多數覺得它無關緊要的人變成非常昂貴的商品。鹽對於治療、血液平衡以及消化等等非常重要。不管哪一種脊椎動物,一公升血液中存在九公克鹽。若要不冰凍地保存的食物,鹽不可或缺。鹽的最大問題,就是它尚未人人可及;對於需要鹽的人,擁有鹽的人或是製造鹽的人能夠獨佔。在歷史早期,政府壟斷鹽的來源;為了賣鹽,甚至必須增加稅收。鹽甚至被當成貨幣,英文salary(薪水)這個字詞從拉丁文而來,鹽被當成士兵收入的一部份,而且需要配給。大家為了保有鹽或是獲取鹽開戰,甚至為了推翻強收食鹽稅的政府爆發革命。
食鹽稅被取消,政府不再壟斷,多元使得價格下降。2002年,處理一噸鹽的熱加工是120美元,鹵水蒸發處理是6美元。在製造塑料與工業工程的製造過程中,鹽的使用帶來莫大利潤。舉個例子來說,在加州生產鹽是數十億美元的商機。
鹽真是取用不盡,這本是談石油與媒炭所說的用詞。現在這個時刻真盼望這是真的。

附加的多媒體:
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週四, 06 十一月 2008

Do not let the crisis take all the gains away

During the last month the economic crisis has deepened its roots: the economy in the US fell 0.3% in the third quarter, the general indexes of stock markets have fallen all around the world from the developed countries to the emerging markets, consumer confidence is hitting record lows and articles about the financial crisis and the end of this period of capitalism are abundant. Critics on how the incentives system has deteriorated the world wealth distribution in favor of bankers and managers are leading the political debates in several countries.

The crisis exists and it is imperative to have a close look on how governments react locally and in concert with multilateral institutions. But this is also the right moment to check our definitions of social justice before launching ourselves into the criticism wave. Economic growth has been widespread during the last decade and, although there can be some improvements in the way the wealth is distributed, few periods of history have distributed it as successfully as the economic growth in the first decade of this century. Since 2002, East Asia – not including Japan - has grown at an outstanding 8% yearly; Central Asia has an average of 9.33%; Latam has an average of 4.22%; and even Africa has kept a growing trend with 5.1% yearly in average (Source: Swivel Preview. GDP Growth rates by country and region 2007).

If we combine the economic growth with the trends in employment growth on emerging markets we can tell how the reallocation of resources has reached the most remote people. In most of the emerging economies, unemployment has fallen or has remained steady during the last 5 years to climb recently as the credit crunch let these economies feel its effects.

Despite the absence of any proper estimate, we can say that we are now living the period of history when people have left poverty at the fastest rate. This rate might be even faster than in England during the Industrial Revolution. Some estimates mention that in China 50-70million people escape poverty yearly, and their estimations are not taking into account economic growth in other places.

Those facts are hard to admit when media is bombing with gloomy news, and the feeling of slowdown is overspread. In fact, we do not pretend to deny the crisis, but we would like to be advocates for a system that has allowed improved living standards in a vast population despite its many imperfections.

The harshest critics come from sectors that are heavily exposed to the changes globalization is causing in their societies. The noisiest examples are in the unions of the developed world, which face strong competitions from labor forces in other countries. They talk about a depletion of jobs in their countries as “sweat-shops” have mushroomed. Such a depletion of jobs proves false as the unemployment rates of the first world have kept low during most of the last 5Y period and only have started to climb along with the downturn trumpets. In the US, unemployment was 6% in 2003, and it was 6.1% in August, 2008. Germany reached 9% in 2003 and stands at 7.5% currently. I still ask myself: where did all the unemployed go?

I would like to close this article with asking ourselves to establish longer links than those the media suggests. Regulation is needed, but we should be jealous of the extent of the governmental intervention regardless of the country, and especially if the country has a corrupt record. Globalization might cause unemployment but it is not fully proved in the short term, and no link exists in the longer term; on the other hand, opportunities have been opened for millions of people that had never even dreamt about them. To keep them opened might be our responsibility.

週四, 25 九月 2008

Human Capital Contracts For Asia

During the last summer I conducted a research on the viability of the implementation of Human Capital Contracts in a developing country. As I am Colombian, and I was familiar with the information available, the obvious start was to focus on my country. However, as I have been living in Asia and have been in contact with developing countries in this part of the world, I would like to develop a similar analysis here. In this article, I try to explain to Asian readers what Human Capital Contracts are; maybe, some will want to follow or join the research presented here.

Governments in developing countries have to deal with tight budget restrictions, which lead to underinvestment in education. Great efforts and advances have been made in the coverage of basic education, but this is not necessarily the case in Higher Education. In developing countries, individuals with a great potential might be left out of the higher education system because they do not have the financial means to access it and the Government does not have the means to assist the increasing demand either. Then, individuals with no access to education lose the opportunity to develop their full potential and the society loses the gains in productivity and welfare which are derived from education. Under this reality, any attempt to improve the access to education can improve the current situation.

In Asia, demand for higher education has exploded. According to John Hawkins and Victor Ordoñez (2007) , enrolment in Asia has increased from 13 million people in the 60’s, to more than 80 million in 1995, and up to 300 million by 2006. This jump comes mainly from East and South Asia, where individuals with higher education degrees have multiplied by 4 to 10 times depending on the country. Not all countries have been able to catch up and some are relatively lagging behind. Furthermore, such a quick increase has implications over the governments’ ability to react. Sometimes they are not able to catch up with the demand, let alone under adverse financial circumstances (i.e. the Asian Financial crisis in the late 90’s). Governments have opened doors for private resources to pour in, some institutions have been privatized, others are receiving private resources, but these measures do not seem enough.

For example, the Philippines is one of the slowest countries to increase the proportion of higher educated people. There, 80% of the enrolled people in higher education institutions are enrolled in private institutions. A majority of students who cannot afford private institutions are left out.

Recently, developments in finance have allowed the creation of different ways of long term financing and investment, mainly through securitization and the deepening of world financial markets. These improvements have brought back the original idea of Friedman (1955): to invest in the equity-like potential of individuals to generate income in the future. Human Capital Contracts (HCC) develop that idea. In HCC, an individual counts with its future earnings as a warranty and source of resources, which will cover an original investment.

Assume a student X just finished high school and he does not have the means to keep studying. X has access to credit but it might be too expensive to take a loan from the bank, X is afraid that he will not be able to cover it or that it will become burdensome in the future. In that case, the idea of HCC is to allow X to finance his education in exchange of a percentage of his future income during an agreed period of time.
X might be afraid that the final outcome does not cover the payments in a normal loan. In HCC the risk is carried by the investor. If, after graduation, X earns only USD200 per year, he will only have to pay back USD20 with a commitment of 10% of his income. On the other hand, if X earns USD20,000 in one year, he will be requested to pay USD2,000. The latter might make X scared of paying too much. Still, HCC can be structured to avoid such circumstances through caps and Human Capital Options. Investors can also ensure themselves with options or insurance to avoid too low payments, as long as they are available with a third party willing to take over that risk in exchange of a fee.
Then, one question arises: why would anyone risk so much if he/she cannot know the future income of students after graduation? In fact, by using information from college graduates with similar characteristics, we can make an educated guess of the average income the potential applicants to HCC will have in the future. The characteristics are the study field and other socio-demographic criteria. Thus, the percentage of income to commit in HCC can be derived from the estimation of the future income. Future payments will compensate investors for the risk taken in financing the applicants’ education.

Some might still think that HCC are too risky, but it is an average and very low income students are offset by high income ones or by other measures such as insurance or options.
This kind of contracts already exists. MyRichUncle™ (www.myrichuncle.com) started operations in 2001. It was the first institution to invest in this kind of contracts. It has been followed by institutions in Germany, Chile (www.lumni.cl) and Colombia (www.lumnicolombia.com. In order to avoid creating a contract too burdensome for the applicants, these institutions have set the maximum amount a student can commit up to 15% of his/her income, during 10 to 15 years after graduation.

HCC will only be implemented after addressing the question of their viability. It means that we want to know if the current income generated by graduate students is enough to cover and to attract investors without becoming exaggeratedly burdensome for students. We need data in order to deal with this question. This is the reason why I wrote this short article. This research needs databases which illustrate graduates characteristics: i.e. income, household structure, working time per week, field of study or career, among other information.

If you are interested in HCC or if you know where this data is available for your country, please let me know. You can address your questions and suggestions to my personal email: Email住址會使用灌水程式保護機制。你需要啟動Javascript才能觀看它.
Read this article in PDF format

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週五, 29 八月 2008

Asia and Environmental Diplomacy

The exhaustion of natural resources and the damage to the ecological environment, competition for resources and environmental damage have become issues of concern in the international community. Environmental issues are redefining the notion of security. Consequently, initiatives have been flourishing: Japan launched its Cool Earth 50 initiative in May 2007. End of November 2007, the new Australian government put to immediate execution its decision to sign the Kyoto Protocol. In December 2007, the United Nations Climate Change conference held in Bali draw much international attention, as the question of which mechanism will succeed to the Kyoto Protocol after 2012 is becoming one of the main global concerns and fields of diplomatic initiative. The Bali forum has seen developed countries set more ambitious goals to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and developing countries such as Brazil and South Africa voluntarily proposing to set goals to reduce emissions. Also, innovative mechanisms for stopping the greenhouse effects of deforestation were agreed upon. The conference culminated in the adoption of the Bali roadmap, which charts the course for a new negotiating process to be concluded by 2009 that will ultimately lead to a post-2012 international agreement on climate change. In July 2008, the enlarged G8 summit in Japan was another stepping stone, closely followed by the largely successful Accra conference at the end of August 2008.

During the last 25 years or so, several significant documents and conferences testify to the development of environmental diplomacy as a choice area for multilateral, global cooperation: most often mentioned are the 1985 Vienna Convention on Protecting the Ozone Layer; the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer; the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development, and its offshoots, Agenda 21 and the Commission on Sustainable Development; the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change; the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity; the 1994 UN Conference on Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States; the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development; the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change; the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg, South Africa… Of decisive importance was the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro.

From what precedes it clearly appears that the prominent role now given to environmental diplomacy at the global level makes it impossible for any responsible nation-state not to actively participate in it. First, this derives from a sense of global responsibility. Second, the change in methods and focus that environmental diplomacy encompasses opens up new venues for a culture and a nation, allowing it to intensify and diversify its presence in the international arena. Finally, it allows a nation to encourage its citizens, its scientists, its entrepreneurs and its social agents to become a defining force of this global endeavor, such “democratizing” international relations..

At the same time, it should be recognized from the start that engaging into proactive environmental diplomacy comes with a requisite, i.e. making international and national policies fully congruent. If a nation engages further into the path of sustainable development, with all adjustments needed in terms of legal regulation, economic policies and social implications, then its sincerity will be recognized by the international opinion, and its moral status will be consequently enhanced. Conversely, if a nation’s international diplomacy does not go along concrete policies and far-reaching domestic initiatives, then it risks to be accused of making environmental diplomacy a ploy, weakening its moral status at a time when the effectiveness of national policies on the issues at stake is becoming the focus of attention.

The contribution of entrepreneurs and scientists is of primary importance. Developed nations have to take advantage of their energy-saving technologies and experience in solar power, organic agriculture, nature conservation, ecological tourism… in order to create more opportunities for environmental diplomacy. This should start from the example provided by their entrepreneurs. Responsible environmental behavior must not be limited to one’s territory but extend to all countries where industries have delocalized. The development of a culture of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) among a nation’s entrepreneurs will go a long way in helping her to achieve a decisive advantage through environmental diplomacy.

Summing up, environmental diplomacy should be based on citizens’ and entrepreneurs’ participation, technical cooperation with interested countries, spreading of knowledge and experience, and sense of global responsibility. Such strategy aims at creating model experiences in national policies, international pilot projects and institutional innovations. As illustrated above, there cannot be efficient and convincing environmental policy without a national policy of sustainable development that involves governmental agencies in charge of economic affairs, agriculture, the environment and, eventually, all public policies.

Nations, especially in Asia, must deploy an even greater inventiveness. This starts by paying an acute attention to the changing nature of global challenges. The ongoing debate on sustainability - with more specific questions on global warming, developmental model, use of energy resources, preservation of biodiversity as well as cultural diversity - is the most striking example of the questions that they must confront. It is not enough for Asian “dragons” to have been pioneers of accelerated growth and of democratization, they have now to be at the forefront of a new global battle: the one engaged for making sure that future generations will benefit from environmental, cultural and energy resources sufficient for ensuring the satisfaction of their needs. This is the ultimate rationale behind the rise of environmental diplomacy.


週四, 08 五 2008

Insights on the Shanghai April 25 conference

Here are ten theses drawn out after the interventions heard during the conference:
1 - China will be able to correct its developmental challenges insofar as it relies on its regional, spiritual, linguistic and intellectual diversity, while interpreting anew these resources and contributing their riches to the global community; this requires from China to understand one’s culture and mission within a truly international outlook (intervention of Li Tiangang.)
2 - Sustainable development can be fostered only through the nurturing of a humanistic culture and education; “Humanism” takes different shapes in time and space but it always induces individuals and societies to develop ethical and productive relationships, among peoples, among nations, cultures and regions, and also between humankind and nature. Sustainability is just a new name given to a truly integral, humanistic developmental process, a process to which China is called to contribute (intervention of Michel Albert.)
3 - Regional development is always based on characteristics that make it impossible to simply repeat a developmental model from one area to another. A severe hindrance in China’s developmental strategy has been to repeat the process that extended Chinese civilization from North to South by “going West” on the same premises (intervention of Yao Dali.)
4 - Conversely, in desolate Western areas (the Xinjiang frontier between two deserts), retrieving traditional lifestyle and cultures, restoring biodiversity and inventing a new “pastoral” developmental model could become an integral and systemic endeavor (intervention of Tian Changyan.)
5 - Nurturing networks of solidarity is not equivalent to creating sustainability and sustainability per se. However, the development of such networks is a prerequisite to further reflection and action towards sustainability insofar as it makes all sectors of society (including the marginal ones) contribute in the endeavor; it also progressively fosters a new social consciousness about issues larger than the ones defined by one’s immediate environment, and, through the power of internet, allows new resources to be mobilized where they are lacking most (rural education and hygiene, ecotourism in regions struck by deforestation…) (interventions of Wang Li and Norani Abu Bakar.)
6 - In the same vein, anti-pollution efforts, the development of bio-agriculture and ecotourism, and (maybe even more important) the mitigation of the consequence of the rural exodus can succeed only if they are rooted into “community sustainability’, i.e. the shared consciousness and sense of mission of local communities able to discern, debate and act together, thanks to a knowledge of their past and a vision of their future (intervention of the “Anlong sustainable village” team.)
7 - “Education” is a prerequisite but educational efforts have proven to fail when local communities lack confidence in their own capacity to build up their future, and when their culture is challenged or denied in a way that destructs their capacity to come together as stakeholders of a given territory. Deforestation and erosion, exodus towards cities and the death of traditional cultural resources and knowledge are symptoms of the same phenomenon. Sustainability can be achieved only from the grassroots level, provided that existing local resources are nurtured and enhanced (intervention of Zhang Xuemei.)
8 - Conversely, local communities that have achieved a reasonable level of economic success and self-organization shift naturally their concerns towards environmental protection and collective decision-making process (intervention of Fan Lizhu on Wenzhou.)
9 - “Safety” is intrinsically linked to sustainability and it is often through safety concerns that companies enter into a global vision of what their social responsibility is about. “Work safety”: and “food safety”, to cite two examples, are not only about the shaping of technical regulations, they are eventually ensured thanks to (a) the education of workers and consumers, (b) the way companies envision and enrich their own mission, and (c) the progressive mobilization of resources, images, symbols and values through some form of story-telling (interventions of Jeremie Rombaut and Jean-Luc Chereau.)
10 - “Spiritual empowerment” at the personal and collective levels (the way individuals and groups are able to discern and decide in a reflexive and prejudice-free way) as well as “knowledge network” (the mutual enrichment of one’s experience through sharing, feedbacks, debate and support) are eventually what allows all of us to make “ripples”: with proper follow-up, networking and capacity for collective assessment, small-scale experiences and events have an impressive multiplying effect (conclusions by Nick Chen and Benoit Vermander.)

Read Benoit Vermander’s post-conference letter

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週四, 01 五 2008

A New Perspective on the Opening and Development of West China

 
Speech pronounced during the "Cultural Resources for Sustainable Development" Conference, Shanghai, China, April 25, 2008.Email住址會使用灌水程式保護機制。你需要啟動Javascript才能觀看它">

Mr. Chairman and Distinguished Guests:

I feel honored to be able to attend today's Forum which made us all feel the importance of dialogue between culture and development and the role of culture as a tool for self-reflection. This spirit of self-reflection has generated and continues to generate a more and more mature reflection on the historical task that constitutes for the Chinese the development of West China.

Today, being south of the Yangtze river and considering  our geographical opposite North-West China (the former state of Loulan around Lob-Nor in Xinjiang), we cannot but recall how the men living in the North two millenia ago (then in a central position in cultural and economic terms) were describing the state of things in Southern China.

At that time, Sima Qian, the father of Chinese historical science, and Ban Gu, author of the “History of the Han”, both said that “on the south of the Yangtze the land is low and humid, most men die when they are still young.” when characterizing the life condition of people situated in the south of the Yangtze and Hui rivers. They also wrote that in these regions the territory was vast and men were few, and the farmers burned the fields, in order to use the ashes of weed fertilizers, and then watered rice.

Still according to them, fruits, vegetables and fishes were abundant, the life there was easy and the people prone to laziness, not experiencing cold and hunger, and there were no rich families either. One sees clearly that social divisions had not arisen yet, no gathering of important population in one place either; people were speaking a large variety of languages, including ancestor languages of present-day Zhuang, Dong, Tibeto-burmese and Mon-khmer languages  

At the time of the Song dynasty it was already noticed that in ancient times the character “jiang’ (river) was used only when referring to the rivers of southern China. This might have been the case because of the origins of the word in Mon-khmer (kroŋ) that might have produced a loanword in ancient Chinese. Such evidences testify to the fact that in the Yangtze basin there were a number of ethnic groups using Mon-khmer languages.

During the same period, the civilization of the central plains had already developed in a number of areas. Using again the description of Sima Qian, in North China, in big and small towns people were pressing against each other to the extent that if you were attaching their sleeves together you could have made a tent for obscuring the sun. The bustling crowd was scrambling for schemes and profit.

All this points out to a situation in which the North was strong and the South weak, in political, economic and cultural terms, a situation that was to gradually change during the first millennium of the Common Era. The most important reason for the change was the gradual large-scale migration of Chinese-speaking people from the North towards the South and the consequent shift off the center of gravity of Chinese civilization.

This large-scale migration had two climaxes, one around the year 310 and the other around the year 750. The first one was the “Yongjia southward migration”[1] provoked by the invasion from the five non-Chinese people from the North, and the second followed the rebellion of An Lushan that precipitated the decline of the Tang dynasty. The northern people having migrated to the south abandoned the planting of millet, wheat, sorghum and their dry land farming methods in favor of higher rice output. For the sparsely populated South they were not only a precious labor force, they were also most important agents of economic, cultural and social change.

At the beginning of the second millennium of the Common Era, as Northern immigrants and local populations were melting into a new “southern population”, they were able to overcome the disrespect shown to them by the northern Song dynasty and to introduce themselves into the elite circles.

In the years after 1120, the entry of the (Northern) Jin dynasty into the central plains provoked the “disaster of the Jingkang era”[2] and the third large-scale wave of migration from the North to the South. If we compare the southern population of China in the final years of the Southern Song dynasty with the one recorded five hundred years before this time, we discover that the rise of population south of the Yangtze is of 643 percent, with a peak in the coastal provinces of 695 percent. In comparison, the rise in the central plains region is only of 483 percent.

During the same period of time, the rise of population in North China had been only of 54 percent. According to the present evaluation of ancient European agrarian conditions, on the same surface of land the calorific values produced by pasture, wheat and rice were respectively 1, 4.4 and 21.6. This might help us to understand how Southern China was continuously able to receive and integrate such a large influx of immigrants from the North.

The military weakness of the Southern Song dynasty has put it in a very unfavorable light in the eyes of the Chinese today, and they are quick to forget the glorious achievements of this period. It is during this time that the center of gravity of China’s economy and culture completed its shift from North to South. What Eurasia witnessed during the 12th and 13th centuries was the economic and cultural flourishing of the Southern Song dynasty.

Even the destructions that accompanied the dynastic shift from the Song to the Yuan did not stop such dynamics. With the help of new historical factors, this flourishing continued during the latter period of the Yuan dynasty. And Chinese civilization flourished again from the late Ming dynasty on, overcoming the troubles associated with the change from the Ming to the Qing dynasty, till the middle of the Qing era.

However, when evoking the shift of Chinese civilization from North to South, our geographical and historical understanding is still limited to the eastern regions. Here, let me introduce a well-known frontier that characterizes the distribution of Chinese population. On the Chinese map draw a line going from the extremity of the North East to the one of the South West, from the middle of Heilongjiang province (city of Heihe) to the middle of Yunnan province (county of Tengchong), and this line will divide the present territory of China into approximately two equal parts, one on the East and the other on the West. Still thirty to forty years ago, the proportion of the population living on the Western part (54 percent of the total territory) was around 10 percent – which means that 90 percent of the Chinese population was living on the 46 percent of the territory that forms the eastern part.


What the drawing of the Heihe-Tengchong line suggests to us goes beyond the mere repartition of the population. When you add to the map the ethnic repartition of the population it is not difficult to see that, on the East (except for some agrarian ethnic minorities such as the Zhuang, the Dong and the Tai) the immense majority of the population is Han. So, such a line can also be considered as a line of separation between the Han ethnic group and the territories of other ethnic groups. But what makes the Han population settle and distribute itself within this geographical area?

What we must notice is that such a line also roughly corresponds to a division of the territory where yearly rain fall stands between 200 and 400 millimeters. And, in ancient conditions, such a division is also the one that allows respectively for agrarian and pastoral activities.

Therefore, with the exception of the central plains where additional considerations should be brought in, this line already divides from ancient time agrarian territories from the world of West China. Migrating Han population were not staying within this lien for no reason. Success and limitations of the expansion of Chinese civilization were intrinsically linked to its agrarian characteristics.

During the course of Chinese history, central powers emanating and developing from Han civilization have determined several times the extent of the political territory of non Han-speaking populations. During the Tang, the Song and the Ming dynasties, the central power  stabilized the territory of non Han populations, making it enter into the map of the country, using three successive methods, first “subaltern prefectures’, then “indigenous chiefs’ and finally  “assimilation” (i.e. substituting indigenous chiefs with Han dignitaries).

And this policy of assimilation was meant to raise the percentage of Han population in these areas. But in the West of the Heilongjiang-Yunnan line this was very hard to achieve. The successive dynasties could not really attain durable success in controlling these areas.

During the Song and Ming dynasties, we do not find a ministry or organization effectively in charge of the administration of these territories. The integration of the West into the territory controlled by the central power originating from the central plains has been a task mainly accomplished by dynasties originating from non Han-speaking populations. This achievement itself testifies to the indispensable contribution made by ethnic minorities in the course of Chinese history. Let us now say a few words more about this question.

We just spoke about the Southward migration of Chinese economy and culture. What deserves attention is that, about the same time, the political center of China moved on a line going from Xi’an to Loyang to Kaifeng till today’s Beijing. What was the reason for this?

During the last millennium, today’s Beijing was chosen as a capital by the Jin, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, three of them being founded by Non-Han populations. For the Han, the plains of the North and the forests of the North-East were simply a line of defense of their agrarian societies. Not so for non-Han rulers. For these rulers with a very specific cultural background, these regions were the depository of their cultural origins and identity, and also where human resources of the same ethnic origin could be found, hence the most important meaning that these regions had for them.

Because these rulers’ concern for the land of their ancestors and of the necessity for them to preserve the stability of the agrarian land of the Han population, they had to move the capital northward, in a zone still deemed acceptable by the Han population. During the time of the Ming dynasty the transfer of the capital to Beijing was somehow due to circumstances, as the military and economic bases of the Emperor Yongle were gathered in the North and he himself was strongly influenced by the Northern culture, but looked at from a broader historical perspective, this move was taking place within a long-term trend.

In the perspective of the central powers emerged and developed within the framework of Han civilization, making the non-Han areas their “frontiers” meant to make “hanization” their most important policy objective, which meant unifying measurements, written signs and behaviors, without any exception.

  What is interesting is that the shift of the Jin, Yuan and Qing dynasties from the status of “marches of the Empire” to the one of “Empire of the marches” did not result in a simplistic reversal of the relationship between the original “political center” and the “periphery.” Thanks to high political wisdom and art, the “Empire of the marches” resulted in a truly diverse territorial organization. Only thanks to such diversity could the “periphery” be on equal footing with Han territory, and even gain more importance. The languages spoken by officials of times past were not limited to spoken and written Mandarin but, by law, were including several others.

According to what precedes, we may be able to take one millennium for one given historical period, and divide the three last millennia of Chinese political, economic and cultural evolutions in an extremely rough fashion:

In the millennium preceding the Common Era, North China establishes itself as the core territory of China’s economy and culture. The rulers who gathered centralized powers into their hands in these areas started to spread the influence of Chinese civilization towards the new frontier areas under their control.

During the first millennium of the Common Era, the flourishing Chinese civilization achieved a shift from North to South and, on a more and more rapid rhythm, activated the economic and cultural progresses of East China. The efforts of the central powers for making the West of China enter into their sphere were important but the results were quite limited.

During the second millennium, the South overcame the North, the historical shift towards the South was completed. The West and then the North West were progressively integrated into the territorial structure controlled by the central power.

History is a master of wisdom. When using a historical perspective for evaluating the present drive for opening and developing the West, what useful lessons can we draw?

From the course of evolutions during the last three millennia, we can know very clearly that we need to reduce the economic, cultural and social gaps between the development of the East and the West so as to accomplish the historical task inherited from the past to make the West a more and more integral part of a China united in the diversity of its nationalities.

This sense of history is an inexhaustible source of inspiration for nurturing the sense of duty of every Chinese when it comes to prioritize and implement the task of opening and developing the West.

From another perspective, relying on the testimonies of human activities of the three or four last millennia, the differences between East and West in natural and cultural conditions teach us an all-important lesson: today’s opening and development of the West cannot and absolutely should not reproduce the model and strategies that characterized the shift from the North to the South – including the migratory flux for opening new territories, the prevalence of agrarian economy as developmental model, the overall hanization of opened territories, and so on.

During the last thirty years, the policies followed in East and West China of letting forests, pastures and wild fields take over some cultivated land show that what we have learned already has helped us to make necessary adjustments. However, since the Han account for the overwhelming majority of China’s population, and especially in the Han developed regions of the East, most people do not have any experience nor any feeling about the degrading ecological condition of the West or about the basic fact that China is a nation composed of a variety of nationalities.

From the earlier stages of modernization, the traditional model of development of the South which in history was a tremendous success of the Han civilization has brought with it a reverence for large-scale industrialization (with the smoke and the roaring engines that go with it), with a kind of romantic complex expressed in sentences such as “a man’s resolve can overcome fate” or “calling the mountain to make room for roads and ordering the river’s water to submit.” This model is still silently influencing the way we are looking at West China’s development and acting accordingly. Should we not be extremely vigilant in this respect?

The difference from the conditions that preceded the shift of the Chinese civilization towards the South is that today’s West China has produced in the course of its history a multiplicity of cultures possessing their own achievements. Such is the case of the Tibetan people having crafted the Tufan culture and its own Buddhist tradition, the encounter of the Gandhara and Han cultures in the southern part of Xinjiang on the Silk Road and the historical testimonies of Indo-European peoples living there, the specific Islamic culture of the Uighurs in the oasis of Xinjiang, the nomad culture of the highlands of West Mongolia, and so on.

From a cultural viewpoint, the duty of opening and developing the West means to accelerate the transition that each of these minorities’ culture faces when confronting modernity, and is certainly not to impose a cultural “model’, be it endogenous or exogenous, on the whole of these areas.

While the process of modernization makes this world become a “global village”, it does not mean nor does it imply that it should abolish the multiple differences and cultural specificities that exist among groups and territories. When looking at the development of the West from this perspective, I think that two points need to be stressed:

First of all, following what my teacher, professor Han Rulin used to say, the Chinese civilization has not been shaped only by Han culture. Each non Han culture of the West, including the one of the Hui who are already speaking only Chinese, is an inalienable constitutive part of Chinese civilization, each maintains the health and equilibrium of the “ecology” of Chinese culture, and each contributes to maintain the precious resources that nurture its splendid life. This point cannot be overstressed.

Second of all, the characteristics of West China’s cultures essentially reflect the variety, richness and complexity of these areas’ nationalities and religions. At the present stage, when speaking about the West’s development, attention is focused on the way to develop the economy, which is of course understandable.

However, the problem of Western China is not only one of economic development. Using a larger perspective, when confronting this problem in the 21st century – when confronting the next stage of the problem should I say - Chinese people might very well have to focus on how to deepen institutional solutions for problems linked to nationalities and religious development. China is one nation with many nationalities, and is developing in very special historical conditions, be it on the national or international level.

Loving the unity and territorial integrity of this nation composed of various nationalities as we love the pupil of our eye does not mean that we make “unity” an uncritically accepted “grand tale”. We need to enter into a larger perspective, a deeper humanist concern, a more diverse understanding and sense of empathy so as to nurture more harmony among the ethnic groups, to unite in happiness as in sorrow, and to foster a political and cultural environment based on union of hearts and virtue.

Before concluding, I would like to mention two famous prime ministers of the Tang dynasty, Fang Xuanling and Du Ruhui. The 11th century historian Song Qi speaks of the two by saying that after the period of troubles that accompanied the succession between the Sui and the Tang dynasties they were able to enforce right principles and to regulate the State and that their influence lasted for several hundreds of years.

Although they achieved such a task, they did not try to elevate themselves or leave any trace of extraordinary action. Song Qi praises the sense of public good shown by these two men, saying that they had not tried to exalt their names and become famous.

Today, the historical task of opening and developing West China requires the contribution of all people of good will. Maybe the ones who participate in this task will not be included in historical records, but this does not matter. We are not trying to exalt our own names. The most important is that, through the efforts of all of us, China’s West may have a beautiful future, filled with hope. Such is the objective that inspires us.

Thank you.

 


[1] The Yongjia era corresponds here to the reign of the Emperor Huai Di (306-311).

[2] Jingkang era: reign of the Emperor Qin Zong of the northern Song dynasty (1126-1127).

 

週四, 13 九月 2007

Water for All!

Yes, we were back at dear old Yangjuan village during the summer of 2007… That was the seventh year in a row that volunteers from Chengdu, Taiwan, France and the United States were gathering there. The months preceding the trip were somehow hectic due to the constant changes in the preparation of the projects. But finally, everything went very well…

Since the moment we have started to implement small scale hydraulic projects in Yangjuan we had been relying on volunteers from the French organization “Hydraulic without borders”. One of the volunteers managed the digging of a communal well (summer 2004) and the bringing down of water from a stream in the hills to 20 households in one part of the village (summer 2005), He was not available this summer. That is the reason why we started to look for an aborigine volunteer from Taiwan. And this proved to be the right move: Mr Yun has been indeed the very person to manage the work we did this summer 2007:capturing a spring in the mountains to bring water to 30 households in the “5th brigade” of the village.

For the hydraulic projects my concerns were many. It seemed to me that from the spring to the water tank above the village most of the pipe could not be buried in the ground. In theory, that would require better and more expensive material. We found out that the ideal material was not available in Xichang and, if available, that the installation would require electricity. Finally we had to rely only on the material available in the closest place to Yangjuan. The experience of Mr. Yun was such that he got immediately a good comprehension of the nature of the soil and after one morning of work the source was already captured. Work was not finished yet as the pipe (about 1500 m long) had to be buried in the ground or hanged along a cliff in the last stretch to the water tank. The building of the water tank took also another two to three days. The last days, when we were installing the pipes and the faucets in the village, invitation was made for all the “workers” with the killing and eating of a young pig and the coming of the water in the households was celebrated with abundance of beer! Mr. Yun could give precious advice to maintain the system, and, before we left, a “maintenance manager” was elected by the villagers.

The other project consisted in building two greenhouses for cultivation of vegetables. For the realization of the project we asked for help from the Agriculture technical University of Pingdong. The President was very helpful in introducing a professor who in turn introduced two students who were very fit for the job and very good in training the people to new ways of growing vegetables.

The so called “hydraulic project” comes from our very first stays in Yangjuan. Two nurses conducted a health survey and it appeared that the quality of the water could be greatly improved since all the water consumed comes from the river polluted by dejections from animals (pigs, sheep and horses). For sure, the people say that in their place there are no illness related to the quality of the water. Which to some extend is true compared with the situation in other places in Liangshan area. Still, hygiene had to be improved. The digging of a well in 2004 has been beneficial to the people. This summer again, I was told that people like very much to drink water from that well. This project has not been a perfect success, as during autumn and winter the well runs dry. But it was a good example anyway since afterwards at least two families dug a well in their courtyard. From this experience we know that July and August are not the ideal time for that activity: during that period the level of underground water is rather high and then keep lowering till March. A timid initiative by the people from the 3rd brigade the following year obliged us to change our minds (we were prepared to dig another well), and so we brought instead water from the mountains to their houses. Though the distribution network is very simple and made of cheap material it has been a very good surprise for me to see how well it has been maintained and somehow improved. What happened in 2005 was an encouragement, showing the willingness of the people to be more active in taking care of their living conditions.

It was not a surprise that at the end of my stay in 2005 villagers from the 5th brigade came to ask for the same thing for them. I went to see the spring that could be capture to meet their needs, but as the volunteer from “Hydraulic without borders” was already back to France I was not very sure of the feasibility of the project. Summer 2006 we had not “hydraulic project” (the French civil engineering professor was in Haiti) I went again to inspect the site of the water spring in the mountains. In March, taking occasion of a trip to Nanjing, I went again to Yangjuan mainly to test the willingness of the villagers to realize the project, knowing that it needed more manpower.

The implementation of our project this summer has been a success in the sense that the participation of the villagers was very good. The first meeting we had before starting the work was held in one of the offices of the school, the head of the village was there and my old friend the secretary of the Party was also present (he is one of the beneficiaries of the water adduction project in 2005). The fact that one of the villagers has been elected as maintenance officer is also a very good thing.

Is concern for the quality of water growing in Yangjuan? I received two requests in July, one coming for the people from the 5th brigade asking for a well, the other one from the principal of the school. During the winter period the bottom of the well that supplies water to the school is filled with a whitish muddy deposit. During this period the pipe bringing water to the tank above the school is placed in the river. I am not a specialist but I think that the well of the school just needs a serious maintenance during the dry season (i.e. in February or March).

It is difficult to give an evaluation on the other project, the construction of two greenhouses for cultivation of vegetables. It was not possible to find a common land. The owner of the plot of land where the two structures were built and where the first beds of greens were sown was getting along very well with one of the two Taiwanese students and hopefully will benefit from this improvement on his farm land. We can hope that the greenhouses will be a good example for other villagers.

Since 2000 we have been witnessing many changes in Yangjuan. A lot of people went outside to work in places like Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen and even abroad. There is no sign so far that the village will be abandoned in a few years. Making life easier for example with a better access to water may slow down the process or at least ease the burden of the “grand parents” left there to take care of the farm and the grandchildren.


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週二, 26 六月 2007

The Sustainability of Sustainability...

Michel Camdessus speaks of ethics, culture and spiritual values as "the sustainability of sustainability"...

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週一, 21 五 2007

The Taiwan Experience

From the Convention on Biological Diversity to the Convention on Cultural Diversity
On June 1992, more than a hundred countries signed the Convention on Biological Diversity during the UN conference at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The three main goals of the Convention are: the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits from the use of genetic resources. By December, 2002, 187 countries had ratified the Convention.
On 20 October 2005, the UNESCO General Conference adopted the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions whose main objectives are to protect and promote cultural diversity, to encourage dialogue and mutual exchanges between cultures, to strengthen international cooperation and solidarity so as to favor the cultural expressions of all countries.
There are thirteen years between these two Conventions but they both emphasize the importance and the value of “Diversity”: the first one by protecting the biological diversity, the second one by asserting the value of the cultural diversity. When biological diversity is the keystone for the safeguarding of all living beings, then cultural diversity is the keystone for the safeguarding of human beings.
Every culture is the product of a given space-time and environment as well as of the “inter-work” of a given society. Different cultures with different developments at different times should not be discriminated against. They must, all of them, receive the same respect and protection. To respect their diversity means to respect their differences. It is only by safeguarding the specificities and the differences of the various cultures that we can stop their standardization and the loss of their inventiveness to allow human civilizations to have the force and the spirit to pursue their progress and their development.
The adoption of the Convention on Cultural Diversity shows that the principles of cultural diversity are not only facts from a scientific point of view but are also the result of a consensus established by the international community altogether. These principles comply with the highest norms of ethics as well as with international legislations. I believe that Taiwan is very representative of cultural diversity on Earth: its own diversity of population throughout its history imparts on the island a diversity of languages and life-styles, favoring then the modeling of its different yet numerous cultural aspects.

The Cultural Diversity of Taiwan
As a small sub-tropical archipelago located in the West Pacific, Taiwan is characterized by its mountainous geographical nature as well as the complexity of its successive settlements.
Thousands of years ago, the first humans reached the island either by sea or by earth to settle: they are Taiwan’s Aboriginals. The 16th century saw the first groups of Europeans coming and the first immigration of Han people as well. During the 17th century, started the economic development of the island and the settlement of the Dutch and the Spaniards who occupied a short time part of the territory. After the 18th century, the fertile lands in the west developed the cultivation of rice and sugar. Under Zheng Cheng-gong, as well as under Qing rule, the Han people and the Pingpu tribe were to coexist. But some conflicts grew with the aborigines living in the mountainous areas, who were claiming to their independence from the new rulers. In the 19th century, Taiwan was ceded to Japan and started then the period of the Japanese colonization of the island.
In the 20th century, in the context of the Cold war, the withdrawal of the Republic of China to Taiwan also brought along a new wave of immigration. In the end of the 20th century, the flourishing economy of Taiwan attracted workers and spouses from South-East Asia. This diversity of people lead to the diversity of languages and cultures, continuously remodeling the face of Taiwan’s culture at the same time. The encounter of these different cultures had some outstanding results but it also provoked sometimes conflicts and contradictions.
According to its history, the origin of these various cultures in Taiwan comes from the different settlements on the island. Every group of people brought along its original habits and customs, installed its own economic ways and, according to the natural conditions, developed its own regional culture. As regards the different times of the Dutch, Zheng Cheng-gong, the Qing administration, the Japanese or the Republic, all the complex history of Taiwan contributed to creating the unique Taiwanese society of today which can be first defined by its plurality of languages and crossing cultures.

The protection of Taiwan’s cultural diversity
Taiwan’s cultural diversity comes from the encounter of various cultures all along its history. But it would be incorrect to affirm that these encounters never created oppositions or confrontations. It is the case of Taiwan’s aboriginals who, since the 16th century, had to bear the discriminations and the prejudices of the different settlers. In order to protect the diversity of its cultural groups, it is first imperative for Taiwan to encourage the dialogue and the interaction between the different cultures as well as their mutual recognition and understanding.
Secondly, it is also important to increase within the government the representation of the different cultural groups in order to give them the opportunity to have an active political part. On 10 December 1996, the Executive Yuan officially established the Council of Indigenous Peoples; on 14 June 2001, the Council for Hakka Affairs. At the same time, two new TV channels started to broadcast, one in hakka language and the other in aboriginal language, in the same way, Aboriginal Cultural parks were opened. The teaching of these languages has also being part of the courses at school; department of researches opened in universities.
It is a matter of safeguarding cultural diversity, of giving minorities the opportunity to fight for their freedom; it is not question of rising differences to be caught into conflicts, it is the system of a constitutional government. And this system gives to these different cultural entities a space where to develop equitably.

Cultural Diversity is a Developmental Resource for Taiwan
The meaning of cultural diversity lies in the fact that it can make the people get in touch with other cultures. But even before this, people have to value their own culture. Culture is like health and education; it requires the support of the community altogether to exist.
How can culture be a resource? Not only with the support of people but also with the preservation of its intrinsic capacity of invention and renewal. From the economic angle, culture also represents a good asset, plentiful of commercial and prospective tools. According to statistics in Canada, the cultural industry generates revenue of 22 000 000 000 US dollars, and creates 670 000 jobs. In Australia, the cultural and artistic industry represents 3% of the GDP and yields each year 36 000 000 US dollars. With regard to the cultural and innovative industry of Taiwan, according to a report published in 2004 by the Council for Economic Planning and Development, in 2000 there were 48000 enterprises in the field of cultural and innovative industry with a total business volume of 520 billion NT dollars, to which can be added a value of nearly 300 billion NT dollars. 320000 people are employed in this field.
Taiwan offers many examples of developments and achievements in the cultural and innovative industry as for instance the well-known “Liuli Workshop” (琉璃工房) and its pieces of glass art or the “Franz” porcelain(法藍瓷). These crafts manufacturers are already beyond Taiwan borders and are granted international recognition; they yield more than a hundred million NT dollars per year. Taiwan local market of art, culture, edition, sight-seeing does not lack of wonders for the consumer as for example the illustrations by Jimmy (幾米成人繪本)or the wood clogs of Baimi in the region of Ilan (宜蘭白米社區的木屐).
Such a development of the cultural and innovative industry is merely made possible by a social environment able to respect its various cultures. Creativity and inventiveness can develop and express only if people invest in the diversity of their cultures, making their production and their services enter the live market of Culture.
The Convention on Cultural Diversity stems from a reflection against the tide of economic globalization. The cultural products of the powerful nations are like assets on the “liberal market”; they can circulate and spread all over the globe, at the risk of their standardization. As the lack of mixing leads to the degeneration of species, the standardization of culture jeopardizes the human ability of invention and narrows the path of cultural development. It is within this context that was adopted the Convention of Cultural Diversity which assesses the uniqueness of cultural products for they are qualitative goods. The Convention ensures the role and legitimacy of each State’s policy in protecting and promoting cultural diversity, recognizes the importance of international cooperation and exchanges most of all in order to deal with cultural vulnerabilities.
UNESCO shouldered this important mission at the right moment. Two months after the 9/11 events, considered by the public opinion as a “clash of civilizations”, the 31st Session of the General Conference of UNESCO adopted the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity (November, 2001), which is the draft of the Convention. The overwhelming majority of Member States who adopted this Declaration clearly expressed their position: only dialogue between the different cultures can guarantee Peace.
(Abridged translation of the provisional outline)

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週一, 14 五 2007

Islands Under Threat

The world has worked hard in search of the common good of sustainability for peace and security. However, after thirty years of conferences and summits, the global environment continues to be threatened, it is evidently clear we cannot continue on the ‘business as usual’ approach to ensuring sustainability built on peace, security, development, human rights, and fundamental freedoms.

Clearly, we must scale up actions on implementation of adaptation and mitigation that are pragmatic, realistic and innovative beyond the mere conferential agreements and conventions. Three aspects are critical to scaling up actions on implementation for sustainability, namely political leadership, moral responsibility and universal cooperation.

The paper will be premised mainly on how these aspects are lacking in dealing with the challenges of climate change and sustainable development and the impact of these especially on those countries that are particularly vulnerable to climate change such as the Small Island Developing States (SIDS). For SIDS like Tuvalu, the impacts of climate change and sea level rise due to global warming are already threatening the livelihoods, security and survival of the island people. They are already forcing some families to leave the islands to resettle elsewhere.

-Political Leadership and Moral Responsibility-
After 15 years of the UNFCCC work, and 4 IPCC TARs it is fair, in my view, to say we have within our knowledge solid science and information to allow us identify and move ahead with the technological options to adapt to the impacts, and also to mitigate or reverse climate change. The technological options for reducing GHG emissions through using more renewable energy sources and ‘greening’ economic growth and sustainable development have long been identified.

Despite all the advancement in our understanding we are still stuck with the problem of denial, and finger pointing between the industrialized and developing countries. In my view, the international community has to rise and move above this level of trust, and provide better global political leadership to commit to more renewable energy and green development. We need global leadership to create incentives to drive the economic and technological options that are well-known.

On the costs of adaptation there is clearly a moral responsibility for industrialized countries and all other countries to help the countries that are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and sea level rise, such as Tuvalu and other SIDS. As of now Tuvalu and other SIDS who have contributed little to global warming, but are already suffering from its impacts, have great difficulties in accessing funding for climate change due to the conditionalities of assessment reporting, climate-proofing, and co-financing to access these funding, particularly funding under the Global Environmental Facility (GEF). The Adaptation Fund under the Kyoto Protocol must provide a special window for SIDS for easy access to fund adaptation in countries.

Funding for adaptation to climate change is an obligatory responsibility under the UNFCCC. And there is clear moral responsibility for those who caused the problem in the first place to provide funding and technical support for adaptation work in these vulnerable island countries.

There is a need for an international SIDS Climate Change Trust Fund to help them cope with impacts, both to prepare against, and recover from the destructions of climate change. Should these countries be forced to leave their islands, a complexity of sovereign, cultural and fundamental human rights will need to be considered, and it’s the full moral responsibility of the polluters (industrialized world) to fund the evacuation and resettlement and sustenance of these island countries.

The claim is not self-serving. Tuvalu and SIDS may be the first to suffer, but the consequences of the world doing nothing now against climate change will be felt by ALL countries sometime down the lane.


-Lack of Universal Cooperation-
Articles 2 and 3 of the United Nations Charter call for the necessity of universal Cooperation:

"To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace."

"To achieve international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion."

It is very clear that in our search for the common good, we in the United Nations have somewhat failed to honour the UN own Charter. First and in reference to sustainable development, the implementation of the Rio Conventions has been plagued by the lack of concrete recognition of the special vulnerabilities of SIDS like Tuvalu, and urgency to address them.

The lack of capacity for data collection and monitoring in SIDS, severely marginalized them in the negotiations process. SIDS need to build human and institutional capacity and financial insurance to cope with the impacts of climate change. By virtue of the lack of capacities, their fate is totally dictated by countries with the capacities who are also the main polluters.

There is a genuine need to establish a Pacific SIDS ‘centre of excellence’ on climate change to act as a think tank to help build the SIDS capacities to monitor and collect data on the impacts of climate, and advise on adaptation measures including the threatening issue of relocation. The world needs to diversify efforts to combat climate change, for universal cooperation.

Photo by C. Shen

週一, 14 五 2007

Islands Under Threat

The world has worked hard in search of the common good of sustainability for peace and security. However, after thirty years of conferences and summits, the global environment continues to be threatened, it is evidently clear we cannot continue on the ‘business as usual’ approach to ensuring sustainability built on peace, security, development, human rights, and fundamental freedoms.

Clearly, we must scale up actions on implementation of adaptation and mitigation that are pragmatic, realistic and innovative beyond the mere conferential agreements and conventions. Three aspects are critical to scaling up actions on implementation for sustainability, namely political leadership, moral responsibility and universal cooperation.

The paper will be premised mainly on how these aspects are lacking in dealing with the challenges of climate change and sustainable development and the impact of these especially on those countries that are particularly vulnerable to climate change such as the Small Island Developing States (SIDS). For SIDS like Tuvalu, the impacts of climate change and sea level rise due to global warming are already threatening the livelihoods, security and survival of the island people. They are already forcing some families to leave the islands to resettle elsewhere.

-Political Leadership and Moral Responsibility-
After 15 years of the UNFCCC work, and 4 IPCC TARs it is fair, in my view, to say we have within our knowledge solid science and information to allow us identify and move ahead with the technological options to adapt to the impacts, and also to mitigate or reverse climate change. The technological options for reducing GHG emissions through using more renewable energy sources and ‘greening’ economic growth and sustainable development have long been identified.

Despite all the advancement in our understanding we are still stuck with the problem of denial, and finger pointing between the industrialized and developing countries. In my view, the international community has to rise and move above this level of trust, and provide better global political leadership to commit to more renewable energy and green development. We need global leadership to create incentives to drive the economic and technological options that are well-known.

On the costs of adaptation there is clearly a moral responsibility for industrialized countries and all other countries to help the countries that are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and sea level rise, such as Tuvalu and other SIDS. As of now Tuvalu and other SIDS who have contributed little to global warming, but are already suffering from its impacts, have great difficulties in accessing funding for climate change due to the conditionalities of assessment reporting, climate-proofing, and co-financing to access these funding, particularly funding under the Global Environmental Facility (GEF). The Adaptation Fund under the Kyoto Protocol must provide a special window for SIDS for easy access to fund adaptation in countries.

Funding for adaptation to climate change is an obligatory responsibility under the UNFCCC. And there is clear moral responsibility for those who caused the problem in the first place to provide funding and technical support for adaptation work in these vulnerable island countries.

There is a need for an international SIDS Climate Change Trust Fund to help them cope with impacts, both to prepare against, and recover from the destructions of climate change. Should these countries be forced to leave their islands, a complexity of sovereign, cultural and fundamental human rights will need to be considered, and it’s the full moral responsibility of the polluters (industrialized world) to fund the evacuation and resettlement and sustenance of these island countries.

The claim is not self-serving. Tuvalu and SIDS may be the first to suffer, but the consequences of the world doing nothing now against climate change will be felt by ALL countries sometime down the lane.


-Lack of Universal Cooperation-
Articles 2 and 3 of the United Nations Charter call for the necessity of universal Cooperation:

"To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace."

"To achieve international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion."

It is very clear that in our search for the common good, we in the United Nations have somewhat failed to honour the UN own Charter. First and in reference to sustainable development, the implementation of the Rio Conventions has been plagued by the lack of concrete recognition of the special vulnerabilities of SIDS like Tuvalu, and urgency to address them.

The lack of capacity for data collection and monitoring in SIDS, severely marginalized them in the negotiations process. SIDS need to build human and institutional capacity and financial insurance to cope with the impacts of climate change. By virtue of the lack of capacities, their fate is totally dictated by countries with the capacities who are also the main polluters.

There is a genuine need to establish a Pacific SIDS ‘centre of excellence’ on climate change to act as a think tank to help build the SIDS capacities to monitor and collect data on the impacts of climate, and advise on adaptation measures including the threatening issue of relocation. The world needs to diversify efforts to combat climate change, for universal cooperation.

Photo by C. Shen
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