By Pía Figueroa*
BONN (IDN) - Twenty years ago, as a Junior Minister in the first democratically elected government after the Pinochet era, I had the opportunity to contribute to the Earth Summit that took place in Rio de Janeiro outlining the Chilean government’s preoccupation regarding the urgent need to create an environmental consciousness that could lead us to sustainable development.
By Shastri Ramachandaran*
NEW DELHI (IDN) - Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is generous. Without batting an eyelid, he can give away to the wealthier West what belongs rightfully to India's poor. His pledge of $10 billion to the IMF to bail out debt-trapped Europe is another bit of evidence that the status of Rudyard Kipling's 'coolie' – who, under the British Raj, was but mere meat for the hungry tiger – remains unchanged.
By Richard Johnson
GENEVA (IDN) - A new study has emphasized the growing concern about the adverse impact of the extractive industries exploring for minerals, oil and gas on natural World Heritage Sites. Threats to such sites from mining activities are growing, especially in Africa, where one out of four iconic natural areas is negatively affected.
The study has been conducted by the global environmental organisation IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) together with the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), which brings together many of the world's major mining companies, JP Morgan Bank, Shell International and UNESCO.
By Kalinga Seneviratne
SINGAPORE (IDN) - At the Rio+20 Conference from June 20 to 22 in Brazil, Bolivian President Eva Morales described the 'green economy' as new colonialism that rich countries sought to impose on developing countries. "They want to create intervention mechanisms to monitor and assess our national policies using environmental concerns as an excuse," he said.
Such feelings are shared in Asia as was indicated by a forum on social justice and Asian Century, which was organized early June in Singapore by the German foundation Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), where the Secretary General of ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations), Dr Surin Pitsuwan, delivered the keynote address.
By Prasanta Kumar Pradhan*
The Gulf Cooperation Council countries have their own reasons to believe that a regime change in Damascus is necessary. They do not enjoy a warm relationship with Syria; instead, they see it as a strategic ally of Iran which latter has the potential to undermine their dominance in the region.
By Sérgio de Mello
BRASILIA (IDN) - Among few good tidings from the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit (Rio+20) is that the heads of the secretariats of three Rio Conventions have pledged to generate synergies in support of sustainable development. The three Conventions emerged from the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the Earth Summit 20, years ago.
By Jason Netek*
CHICAGO (IDN) - On the eve of a presidential election in Iceland on June 30, many of the same economic problems that plagued the country for the past three years remain. In January 2009, the government of Iceland became the first political casualty of the global economic crisis.
For nearly 20 years, the conservative Independence Party had dominated the political scene and steadily reoriented the tiny nation's economy toward the increasingly deregulated financial sector. Before the crash of 2008, Iceland was one of the richest nations in the world thanks to its bloated banking sector, which held debts that amounted to as much as 10 times the country’s gross domestic product.
By Sérgio de Mello
RIO DE JANEIRO (IDN) – Critics of massive corporate influence on the United Nations feel vindicated as they cast a close look at the deal on the table at the Rio+20 conference. The Rio+20 draft declaration does not address the environmental and social crises that the world is facing, says Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) and avers that "it simply allows multinational corporations to continue exploiting people and the planet without restraint."
By R. Nastranis
STOCKHOLM (IDN) - Short of passionately pleading for a profound change in the military-oriented mind-sets of decision-makers, SIPRI Director Dr Bates Gill has called for a "far greater focus on less militarized solutions" to the global security challenges ahead, and stressed the need for resorting to "an innovative integration of preventive diplomacy, pre-emptive and early-warning technologies, and cooperative transnational partnerships."
By James Petras*
HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA (IDN) - Greece faces the unenviable choice between accepting the terms of “the Troika” and facing the continuation and deepening of a socio-economic crises, which includes five years of negative growth, over 23% unemployment, an astronomical rise in poverty (from less than 15% to over 40%) and mounting suicides, or a rejection of the “memorandum”, and a likely cut-off of Eurozone funding and capital markets with virtually few reserves to cover salaries, pensions or public services.
By Luc Gnacadja*
RIO DE JANEIRO (IDN) - "Essentially, all life depends upon the soil. There can be no life without soil and no soil without life; they have evolved together," American naturalist Charles Kellogg wrote in 1938. Fertile soil is indeed among the world’s most significant non-renewable and finite resources. It is a key element, which sustains life on the Earth and provides us with water, food, fodder and fuels.