‘Governance for a Resilient Food System’

Author:  Alex Evans, Center on International Cooperation, New York University

Today, the world produces enough to feed all seven billion of its inhabitants – but nearly a billion people still go without. This paper is about why this global scandal continues, and what can be done to solve it. Its central argument is that access to food is as important as how much food is produced – and that in a world of food price volatility, climate change and other kinds of shocks and stresses, the challenge of building resilience in the food system takes on overwhelming importance.

Section One of the paper looks at what needs to happen within developing countries, focusing, in particular, on a massive scale-up in provision of social protection systems that target the poorest and most vulnerable people. This section of the paper also discusses the wider challenge of reducing vulnerability to hunger in developing countries and increasing resilience.

Section Two of the paper turns to action that needs to be taken internationally – above all to tackle the sharp increase in food price volatility of recent years. The section sets out a range of actions that are needed to reduce volatility and protect poor people as well as a discussion of the role of financial speculation in increasing volatility, and whether action is needed to tackle this.

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‘Climate change tops agenda on World Environment Day’

Engineering News, 17 June 2011

World Environment Day was celebrated on June 5, and Water and Environ-mental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa urged all South Africans to “save tomorrow today”, elaborating that every citizen had a responsibility to conserve the environment through actions as simple as saving electricity, saving water and planting a tree.

“Our celebration this year comes as we prepare to host and participate at the seventeenth Conference of Parties (COP 17) on climate change that seeks to address the challenge of climate change we face today, for us to leave a legacy our children will be proud of,” Molewa said.

She emphasised that climate change was a reality and its impacts were “the number one threat to South Africa’s long-term sustainable development, economic growth and quality of life”.

The Department of Environmental Affairs said that the commitment with which government viewed climate change was illustrated by the Climate Change Response Policy process, which was nearing completion.

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‘Neoliberalism, the production of vulnerability and the hobbled state: Systemic barriers to climate adaptation’

Abstract: The neoliberal transformation of the global political-economic system since the mid-1970s has led to profound and increasing inequality and has limited state capacities to tax, regulate and carry out socially supportive public policies. Neoliberalism, or the global institutionalization of laissez-faire economics, has helped to generalize individual and community vulnerability to climate-induced changes and decrease resilience by increasing poverty and thereby limiting options; the global majority face increasingly contingent employment and downward pressure on wages while global economic competition deprives smallholders of their assets. States compete to attract mobile capital by deregulating private activity such as logging and real estate development, increasing climate-related risks to individuals and communities. At the same time, neoliberal limits on the state have inhibited states’ ability to fund and coordinate a range of necessary climate adaptations. Finally, neoliberalism undermines social cohesion and thereby limits the potential of civil society to substitute for the diminished state. Reforms to the global neoliberal system are therefore necessary if climate-vulnerable populations are to be protected.

Full Citation: Fieldman, G. (2011). ‘Neoliberalism, the production of vulnerability and the hobbled state: Systemic barriers to climate adaptation’, Climate and Development, 3 (2): 159-174 (Available with subscription from http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all~content=a938526773).

‘Environmental and Societal Innovation: Introduction and Overview’

Extract from Article: This new journal responds to an increasing awareness that solving resource scarcity and environmental problems, notably related to fossil energy use and climate change, represents a very tough problem,2 the solution to which requires a combination of technical, organizational, economic, institutional, social–cultural and political changes. Jointly, these are increasingly referred to as a socio-technical transition to an environmentally sustainable economy. The emerging field of transition studies examines both economy-wide and sector transitions, such as in energy, transport, chemicals, manufacturing, agriculture and tourism sectors. This journal is intended to report the results of fundamental and applied research on solutions to environmental problems that take the form of innovation in a broad sense. The ultimate aim is to contribute insights about the formulation and implementation of strategies and public policies aimed at resolving fundamental barriers to environmental innovations and sustainability transitions, whether of an economic, social, political or behavioral–psychological nature.

Full Citation: van den Bergh, J.C.J.M, Truffer, B., Kallis, G. (2011). Environmental and Societal Innovation: Introduction and Overview, Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, 1: 1-23 (Available with subscription from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/22104224).

Centre of Criminology Workshop Invitation: New Environmental Governance

The Centre of Criminology at the University of Cape Town, in collaboration with the Regulatory Institutions Network (RegNet) at the Australian National University, are delighted to invite you to a one-day workshop to explore the emerging ‘New Environmental Governance (NEG)’ framework, and how the theory might relate and / or be applied to your personal work or research projects.

Speakers Include :
Prof Neil Gunningham
Director of the National Research Centre for Occupational Health and Safety Regulation
(RegNet), Australian National University

Dr Cameron Holley
Climate & Environmental Governance Network, Australian National University

Prof Clifford Shearing
Director of Criminology, University of Cape Town

The workshop will raise and discuss new emerging developments in environmental governance, and include discussions of a forthcoming book entitled : ‘New Environmental Governance’ by Neil, Cameron and Clifford, due to be published later this year by Earthscan.

For More Information: NEG Workshop Invitation

‘Renewables to supply 80% of the world’s energy needs by 2050’

Engineering News, 10 June 2011 

Renewable-energy sources are expected to contribute up to 80% of global energy supply by 2050, according to a new report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) after a review of 164 scenarios.

“The report clearly demonstrates that renewable-energy technologies could supply the world with more energy than it would ever need and at highly competitive costs,” says Global Wind Energy Council secretary-general Steve Sawyer. “The IPCC report will be a key reference for policymakers and industry alike, as it represents the most comprehensive high-level review of renewable-energy to date.”

The 1 000-page report, which was adopted by 194 governments after marathon negotiations on May 9, deals with the potential contribution from biomass, geothermal, hydro, ocean, solar and wind energy, as well as their potential to reduce greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions, their integration into energy networks, their contribu- tion to sustainable development, and the poli- cies needed to promote renewable energy.

Many technologies are already economically competitive, and the number will increase as further cost reductions and technological improvements are made.

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‘Doing the maths on the green economy’

by: Peter Victor and Tim Jackson, Nature 

In their 21 February report Towards a Green Economy, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) claims that “a green economy grows faster than a [conventional] brown economy, while maintaining and restoring natural capital”. We contend that this claim is founded on flawed assumptions.

First, it is based on an inadequate target for reducing energy-related carbon dioxide emissions. The reduction by 2050 under UNEP’s G2 green-economy scenario is only 35% relative to 2011 emissions. This cannot achieve the 450 parts per million (p.p.m.) target arising from IPCC’s Fourth Assessment, let alone more recent calls for 350 p.p.m. Also, UNEP is assuming that the investment needed to achieve this target is additional to (rather than just a reallocation of) business-as-usual investment funds, ignoring crucial questions about financing. This additional ‘green’ investment is 10% higher than that applied to the ‘brown’ scenario, causing partiality in the analysis.

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