Social entrepreneurship spin?

Today, thousands of people around the world base their work, their aspirations or their studies around Social Entrepreneurship. It is a term that has strengthened and has gained popularity, to describe positively a person or business (the entrepreneur) who aspires to address a social issue, in a way that is financially sustainable.

© masoninnovation.org

Certainly it is an attractive term that from the hand of an original idea may generate a great success in the market. Proof of this, is the use given to the term in the digital community, while not representing the majority of the world’s population, is a good indicator of the business world and of young idealists that day by day try to do something “out of the box”.

For example, a search on Google, one of the most popular search engines, yields 89.9 million results that contain the term social entrepreneurship. In the news section, the same search engine throws as a result 29,200 notes and articles published in media around the world. Of course, Wikipedia, the largest collaborative platform also has an entry that defines and elaborates a bit on its history and practices.

As for social networks, on Twitter more than a hundred people and organizations are defined as @SocialEnrepreneurs and online conversations around the topic are constant. Facebook is also a major source of business groups defined under this term.

Social Media

The network is then flooded with the topic of Social Entrepreneurship. In a first moment, it is possible to think of this as a positive sign, because it means more people are willing to create business models that include innovation and society in its center. Likewise, the conversation generated between people enriches the discourse in this area and contributes to the achievement of best practices.

However, as happened in other areas of sustainable development, there is a fine line between true social action by an entrepreneur, and people or businesses that use the term to exalt and promote themselves within the market. Something like the “greenwashing”.

A real and true social entrepreneur is someone who has the ultimate goal to generate systemic change in society, and does so through the creation of an innovative idea that leads to a business model, which is characterized by being replicable and scalable. It is this change in focus and project characteristics that separate truly #SocialEntrpreneurs from the rest.

It is therefore misleading and dishonest to some extent, to use the term simply for trend or with the intention to obtain a competitive advantage because in some way or another it damages the terminology and contrary to the first impression, impoverish the discourse and action.

Moreover, and as with the greenwashing, based on the cover with green or ecological actions or bluewashing, which refers to dressing up with actions related to the United Nations, conversion of social entrepreneurship to a term that masks actions, is a barrier to the achievement of sustainable development.

Therefore, it is necessary not to abuse the term by understanding it, being honest and using it to categorize people that according to Bill Drayton, CEO and founder of Ashoka, are defined as “[persons that] are not content just to give a fish, or teach how to fish. They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry.”

 


Urban mobility in Mexico City’s district “La Condesa”

La Condesa

The Colonia Condesa is located in the central area of Mexico City. What people commonly known as Condesa is not one settlement itself, but the area really comprises three: Condesa, Hipódromo Condesa and Hipódromo. It is a well-known area because of the amount of coffee shops, bookstores, restaurants, art galleries and boutiques it has, and also by the culture and nightlife of the district.

Its history dates back to the years of the colony, when it stood in this space the Hacienda of Santa Maria del Arenal, which years later was acquired by the family of the Countess of Miravalle, hence the name. During the past three decades, thanks to the initially low prices, the settlement began to fill with residences and offices, turning over the years into one of the most valuable and trendy places in the city. Today more than 70,000 people live in the region (counting the districts Condesa – Roma) and around 170,000 non-residents flock to the area daily.

The increase in population, the opening of new offices and the fame of the area, attracting hundreds of visitors daily, made ​​mobility became a serious problem.

In general, this is the picture that is perceived in the rest of the city, however because of the inherent characteristics of this area, it was one of the priorities to be addressed by local governments. These features being the cultural and gastronomic offer, the urban landscape in which there are at least two large parks and a great number of planters, and streets with historic buildings from the 30s and 40s.

Highly congested streets, exaggerated time to cross a traffic light, over 30 minutes to find parking to get to work, pedestrian spaces invaded by cars, public places conquered by the franeleros (people who take care of cars in exchange for a fee), non walking sidewalks for their physical condition or because they have been occupied by restaurants or other businesses … well, a number of elements that gradually degrade the quality of life of the fixed inhabitants and passengers in the area.

According to the European Union’s document Cities of Tomorrow, “The modernization of physical space is a necessary but insufficient condition for guaranteeing quality of life and neighborhoods and cities with long-term sustainability. […] Accessibility to public transport and services and the availability and quality of public spaces and shopping areas, are other very important factors for inclusion and quality of life”.

What has been done in the area to guarantee these characteristics?

Urban mobility: a sum of alternatives

The reduction of congestion is important from a health point of view, but it is not only about reducing CO2 emissions, pollution and noise – it is also about giving the citizens the possibility of re-conquering the city. (Cities of Tomorrow)

At the present time the three major government programs coexist in Mexico City, two of which have been successfully implemented (Metrobus transit system and bike rental initiative Ecobici) and one that began a couple of months (the installation of parking meters) and which is to be proven effective.

In terms of public transport, the Metrobus currently covers 90km with four lines and 141 stations, which give service to around 800,000 people per day. La Condesa features 9 stations of two different lines that provide entry and exit routes to the area by, at least, two of the most important avenues of the city.

Metrobus © EFE

In terms of the bike rental initiative, Ecobici, operates 275 cycle stations concentrated in 22 km2 on Cuauhtémoc and Miguel Hidalgo areas and currently has more than 87,000 active users. Within Condesa, there are more than 100 stations operating, connecting with the main means of transportation such as the Metrobus, Metro and other public transport routes.

Ecobici

The parking meter program began on January 2013, with a public consultation, which showed an attitude in favor of the measurement in four of the nine zones. In most of the precincts of Condesa, the vote went against. However the devices have been installed in recent months. In accordance with the provisions of the program, 30 percent of total revenue for the operation of EcoParq (parking meter service) will go to improving public space and neighborhood committees will decide on the use of resources.

EcoParq

Governance and public participation

Given that mobility projects, not only in Condesa but throughout Mexico City have been one of the priorities from the last two governments, nowadays they are a necessity and a primarily requirement on the part of citizens towards the new local governments.

Proof of this is that in the middle of last year, during electoral campaigns, Miguel Angel Mancera, current head of government, stated as one of his main campaign promises “I will work in mobility comfort. Better public transport.”

As of today, during the first months of his administration, subway line 12 was opened, there are plans to build 10 Metrobus lines and expansion of Ecobici service to at least two other major areas of the city.

In Condesa, a major challenge will be the effective participation of citizens committees to designate budget to the most urgent projects of energy, water and security in the area, to name a few, as a result of the profits obtained by the parking meters.

What’s ahead?

According to the European Union’s document Cities of Tomorrow, “Sustainable mobility includes several dimensions and components: sustainable, energy-efficient and affordable public transport systems; a friendly environment for soft transport modes such as cycling and walking; easy access to all neighbourhoods, by foot, by bike, by public transport; local transport networks that need to be well connected to regional networks; peri-urban networks that need to be planned within the context of overall land-use and spatial development; and transport nodes that need to be well integrated with social, cultural and economic activities, including leisure.”

The success of the mobility model that has been applied in la Condesa during the last 10 years is the use a mix of various means of transport which complement each other and generate connectivity in all areas within the same district and the rest of the city. In addition it promotes lower car use and subsequent benefits in reducing emissions, less traffic, better urban view, the ability to fully exploit the cultural and leisure qualities of the area and of course a better quality of life for residents and nonresidents, giving solution to a major part of the problems detected before.

This is a model that is certainly possible and necessary, to extrapolate, first to other areas of the city that have similar characteristics; to other cities in Mexico where, although they will not have the same means of transport, it is possible to generate mixes with existing systems.

Finally, it’s certainly possible to share the experience of mixed transport models to other parts of the world. Specially in Latin American countries, since “the urban transport infrastructure in LAC faces a level of excessive demand, which in most cases exceeds their capabilities” and therefore “the rapid increase in the private fleet is a direct cause of the problems of congestion, pollution and traffic accidents which are evident in LAC cities.” (BID, Sostenibilidad Urbana en América Latina y el Caribe)

 


Who do you love? Integrating sustainability into brands

Some years ago I read a book by Kevin Roberts that explained the path of a product or company, through a brand and into a Lovemark.

Lovemarks: the Future Beyond Brands establishes that currently millions of products and services from all types of companies, in any region of the world grant already a great performance as expected from them. It also describes what are the features that a product or service should have to go beyond that and become an inspirational brand.

So, what is a Lovemark? They are those brands that transcend themselves to create a promise, fulfill it and go further consumer’s expectations. Are those that create intimate and emotional ties beyond reason and it is even possible to perceive them as relationships rather than transactions.

Which are their characteristics? The central element of a Lovemark is respect, because it is critical to generate rapprochement. Then comes the love element that is essential for building relationships. Integrated into this concept, there are three intangible assets.

In this sense, and according to the experience of each person, thousands of brands could now be called Lovemarks. However, the current context of a globalized world full of dysfunctionalities and externalities with tremendous impacts on the environment and the development of societies, leads me to think that it is not possible to “love” a brand based solely on these items.

Is not only necessary, but ethically imperative to begin to include sustainability in its economic, social and environmental dimensions as one of the intangible assets that build a Lovemark out of a brand.

Why? Because it is only when this element is part of the essence of the brands, that companies will have made ​​that necessary and requested leap into a way of making really responsible and sustainable business, leaving aside the business as usual.

Thinking about this from a positive perspective, never before ethics, values​​, transparency and respect for human rights, workforce development, efficiency, innovation, environmental care, inclusion and development of communities among other fundamentals, had represented such a huge opportunity to ensure sustainability in essence but also to generate these intimate and emotional ties and relationships.

Relationships that expand beyond consumers achieving to reach a large variety of stakeholders such as employees, investors, media, civil society organizations, community and others.

Thus, today, companies face a huge challenge but also a huge opportunity to become Lovemarks.

Which companies are already on this path? What has been their strategy? How have they managed to differentiate from others?

 


The air battle: aviation in the EU ETS

It is a fact. According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), current CO2 emissions from aviation account for around 2 and 3% of total emissions worldwide, being the sector with fastest growing emissions, increasing by 67% between 1990 and 2005 for Annex I countries*. Furthermore, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) estimates there could be an increase of between 300 and 700% by 2050 relative to 2005 levels.

Given this scenario and facing the achievement of the goal set by the Directive of the European Parliament and of The Council “of limiting the global average temperature increase to not more than 2 °C above pre-industrial levels” by achieving a reduction of its greenhouse gas emissions to at least 20% below 1990 levels by 2020, it was essential to incorporate the aviation sector to the EU ETS.

It was in 2008, when by an amendment to Directive 2003/87/EC, the European Union included aviation activities in the scheme for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading system within the Community and finally began operating on January 1st, 2012.

However, because of the nature of this activity, in which hundreds of international actors are involved, is necessary to create an inclusive strategy that can accurately quantify “in and out” emissions beyond the nationality of carriers.

For this reason, airlines with flights to and from the European Union were required to report their emissions in 2011.

cc universalweather.com

The storm begins

In 2011, claiming the violation of sovereignty and the high costs for airlines, the Air Transport Association of America along with other organizations took the European Union to the European Court of Justice with the aim of not having to report emissions of airlines from that country. But the court failed in favor of the EU. The battle then moved to the US Congress, were they lobbied to ban US airlines to comply with the European.

Along with them, China and India missed to file in the data about their emissions, and around other 20 countries including Russia and Saudi Arabia met and agreed to coordinate vengeful actions against European Airlines.

It was then that actions started moving to more severe instances. Chinese airlines began to delay some orders from European aircraft producers and even a ban on European airlines to fly over certain territories was considered.

Turbulence continues

Given this situation, the meeting of the ICAO in November of 2012 marked a turning point for the negotiations and it was then the European Commission decided to“stop the clock, by temporarily deferring compliance obligations of aircraft operators in respect to incoming and outgoing flights under the ETS. Action should therefore not be taken against aircraft operators in respect of requirements resulting from Directive 2003/87/EC […] arising before 1 January 2014 for reporting verified emissions and for the corresponding surrender of allowances”.

Accurately, the European Union took this decision looking forward to achieve a comprehensive global legislation for aviation emissions under ICAO in which not only European, but all international actors are involved.

“Stopping the clock creates space for the political negotiations and demonstrates confidence on the side of the EU that together with international partners we will succeed in ICAO to agree on meaningful international action” said EU Connie Hedegaard, Commissioner for Climate Action.

Emergency landing

On the way to achieving a comprehensive agreement, the picture looks hazy. The EU expects a successful outcome of the 2013 ICAO Assembly. A global market-based measure should be decided and from it the creation and adoption of a framework that facilitates the application of this measure.

In the meantime, the Directive will continue to apply to flights between aerodromes in the EU (domestic flights). Therefore, all aircraft operators under these conditions are required to comply with the targets and of course with monitoring, reporting and verification requirements.

However, the plan to achieve this goal now has a major threat. At the beginning of 2012, US law that prohibits the compliance with the European scheme was passed and signed by President Obama.

Conclusion

In view of the United States decision, it is likely that other countries such as China and India will join the measure of not reporting emissions. It is certainly a situation of vulnerability to European legislation because aviation, like no other sector, requires the involvement of international actors. Considering a scenario in which only European airlines participate, would serve the purpose of reducing emissions but it definitely would not be as significant.
On the other hand in case of failure to reach an international negotiation, European companies competitiveness could be affected.

It is therefore necessary that the European Union consider the international arena it faces:

• United States and with very high probability China and India, would be outside the scheme being three of the greatest worldwide sector players, greatly affecting the result of emissions scheme.
• The ICAO will surely seek a solution to tackle the problem, however in words of ICAO´s secretary general, Raymond Benjamin “producing a global scheme by the next assembly is not realistic. What we have to do is answer whether is feasible or not. We are 191 countries, not 27. It is not easy to get an agreement”
• With the certainty of having to look for a market-based mechanism that tackles GHG emissions, it is possible that there are other options beyond the ETS that would better suit the necessity of a global agreement.

It will be in the coming months when the European Union deals with one of the biggest challenges at political and legal level in international negotiations, being today an open question whether if it’s the other actors who will fit this mechanism or if the EU will have to adapt to other schemes.

 

“Annex I Parties include the industrialized countries that were members of the OECD in 1992, plus countries with economies in transition (the EIT Parties), including the Russian Federation, the Baltic States, and several Central and Eastern European States.” (UNFCCC)


The physics of rural development: linking climate change to the agricultural sector

According to Newton´s third law of motion “every action on one object is accompanied by a reaction on another, of equal magnitude but opposite direction”.

But I will not speak of physics …

Drawing a parallelism to the environment, ecosystems, production systems and sustainable development of populations it is possible to find the following:

The action

Throughout the centuries, and especially since the era of industrialization, humans have atrociously increased their productive activities rising emission of greenhouse gases, accompanied by a demographic bonus never seen before and incremental pattern of consumerism. This, without neglecting other important factors, has produced today the undeniable existence of climate change.

However from latitude 60th N to latitude 0, from northern border to southern border, from urban to rural populations, from professions to professions, from families with more purchasing power to low-income families, from women to men … climate change is resented differently.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), agriculture was one of the first sectors widely recognized to be heavily affected by climate change.

Having seen the action (anthropogenic emssions). What is / will be the expected reaction?

In the environment itself

There are many changes that can be expected. Just to mention a few that are directly related to the agricultural sector:

Overall, they mean the degradation of ecosystems, the increased vulnerability of agricultural land and loss of resilience of the environment.

Higher and more pronounced vulnerability

In relation to the vulnerability of countries compared to the foreseen economic losses in terms of GDP is possible to observe (figure 1) that are precisely the developing countries, many of which depend heavily on agriculture as the main economic engine and means of survival, the most vulnerable and susceptible to economic crises and food security constraints.

 

Figure 1: Vulnerability measure

 

 

The map shows the forecast for 2030, which is even more delicate because not only is predicted that developing countries continue in a similar situation, but it is foreseen that their vulnerability is increased. Also, according to the Climate Vulnerability Monitor on Agriculture from DARA “Climate change is a major risk for food Insecurity, since a number of the world’s food-insecure regions are expected to experience the MOST severe climate shocks” (Lobell et al., 2008).

Welfare disturbance

Estimates of global climate impact

The figures speak for themselves. The irrational increase in capital losses due to the effects felt in the agricultural sector will be a major problem. Yet not monetary terms the more worrisome, but the social effects of it.

To name a few:

It is then that is possible to make the following statements about the agricultural sector:

  1. is one of the most important sectors for human life in terms of providing food security and thus life
  2. is the most affected both intrinsically and extrinsically by climate change and its effects
  3. is the one that will be largely affected in the most vulnerable countries, while increasing simultaneously that same vulnerability
  4. is one of the sectors most dependent on the resilience of ecosystems

Reality is that the effects already being felt. Human behavior and climate change (action) on the environment and specifically the agricultural sector (object) is accompanied by environmental, economic and social nature reactions which will impact in the development of societies.

Equal magnitude but opposite direction?

I think not. The magnitude will be even greater for the losses involved and the direction is also the same, the environment and humans.

It is impossible to change the laws of physics, but in the field of climate change, agriculture and human development not everything is said.

What is needed to break the vicious circle?

 


Environmental and natural resource management slogans

As an interesting exercise that aims to summarize and transmit the knowledge acquired about the main threats of human activity on the environment and its biodiversity, several memorable phrases will be provided in the next weeks.

We are part of a whole which is superior to us

cc Stéphanie Barrial

About the feeling of  superiority, André Kuipers, Astronaut form the European Space Agency states in the latest report of WWF  Living Planet Report 2012 that ” Seeing Earth from space provides a unique perspective. Our planet is a beautiful and fragile place, protected only by a very thin layer of atmosphere essential for life on our planet. And seemingly large forests turned out to be small and passed by very quickly”.

2  Biodiversity: fragile link between the resilience of the environment and the assurance of provision of services

The chain is susceptible to break at any time

 

Biodiversity certainly plays a key role for both the environment and humans. As stated by WWF report ” All human activities make use of ecosystem services – but can also put pressure on the biodiversity that supports these systems.” This activities include provision for food, timber, fibre, medicines, and cultural services among others.

However biodiversity serves also for regulating services of the environment such as climate, removal of pollutants and waste decomposition, water filtration etc. So if the balance of biodiversity its altered,  the resilience of the environment will be affected and with it the ability to obtain supplies for human consumption threatened.

Furthermore The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), a global initiative focused on drawing attention to the economic benefits of biodiversity, present in their Ecological and Economic Foundation Report an outline of the relationship between the environment, biodiversity and human well being, describing each of the elements as functions, services, benefits and value (economic). It is worth-nothing the introduction of institutions and human judgment as key elements for making decisions about the use and management of resources and thus the maintenance or restoration of the environment and biodiversity.

 

“The pathway from ecosystem structure and processes to human well being”    cc http://www.teebweb.org

 

3  Pollutants and Waste: Its severity and irreversible impact on our ecosystem


4 Natural Resource Management is about social choices!


5 Ensure environmental and social progress through certified products… Make a choice!


6  A certification system is a step to assure sustainability



DP: Giving voice to vulnerable communities

I recently read in the paper by Mary Myers Is There a Link Between Media and Good Governance? a phrase by Amartya Sen: “A free press has an important protective function in giving voice to the neglected and the disadvantaged, which can greatly contribute to human security”. This created an special interest to me since in my country, Mexico, there are dozens of vulnerable populations in which capital income is extremely low, the living conditions are not safe neither stable, and where the dialogue with the authorities and the rest of civil society is only possible through media.

However, as I stated in previous texts, as well as there are certain conditions that ensure access to information for the population there are also conditions on which a media outlet is able to inform and give voice to its people.

The role of community radio

In the context of vulnerable populations, at least in Mexico, it seems to me there is no better answer among the existing media, than community radio. According to the World Association of Community Radio in Mexico (AMARC-MX), community radio “are those stations that emerge from the community to serve the community and have community engagement in the ownership of the media, as well as in programming, management, operation, financing and evaluation. There are nonprofit independent media […] and have as core work to support local social development processes and human rights. ”

Community radio is a vital tool for the sustainable development of indigenous and other vulnerable populations given its capabilities and technical facilities, because it is relatively easy to get a signal within the radio frequency. Also, due to its ability to reach large segments of the population on a low cost both for transmission and reception and because of the nature of the medium that allows a large volume and depth of information, tailored to the needs of certain human groups such as their language, educational level and intrinsic requirements for development.

Due to its communal nature and low budget as well as an unfortunate legislation that exists in Mexico, which has favored for many years high concentration of media ownership, community radio stations are in a high vulnerable situation because of their “non regulated” status. Also, for the past several years, there have been acts of violence against them not only by government agencies but by other stakeholders and even organized crime.

Why? Because it is these people who are the most susceptible to the interests of political and social groups that constantly offer capital and material resources in the name of development, seeking other real interests such as acceptance for support in a given movement or even a vote in the election.

In this case, and being aware of the implications of an assumption like this, it seems that misinformation is an advantage for some of these groups, thereby achieving greater manipulation of populations.

Proof of this is the report of the AMARC-MX, Status of Community Radio in Mexico, stating that “Since June 2008 to December 2011, we have documented a toughening in government persecution against radios operating without permission. The Mexican government, through the Federal Telecommunications Commission (Cofetel), the Ministry of Interior (SEGOB) and the Attorney General’s Office (PGR), have sent Federal Police squads with over 100 elements to close radios, some less than 5 watts where there were only five people, including women and children. These facts constitute excessive use of police force. In addition to these human rights violations criminal proceedings against members of the community radio have initiated … ”

“End of attacks, community radio demand” cc http://www.jornada.unam.mx/ “Community Radio, under siege of the government and narco” cc http://www.proceso.com.mx

 

It is definitely a situation of concern, not only because of the violence and violation of human rights itself, but because these events have limited the capacity and the existence of community radio, along with other independent media, to serve populations in most critical situations within the country.

 

The formula to underdevelopment

Poor legislation on telecommunications + non guarantee on safety + government agencies attacks

=

lack of independent media + absence of other truthful and available media

=

lack of value information to vulnerable populations + poor livelihoods

=

lack of good governance

 

While it is difficult to contemplate the existence of an underdevelopment condition, it is possible to perceive a clear lack of good governance and therefore a major limitation for civil society to participate actively in the activities of the State, in terms of transparency, accountability, freedom and equity. Under this circumstances, its virtually impossible to create conditions in a community for any sustainable development scenario such as poverty eradication, increase in literacy rate, environment conservation, gender equality, decrease in economic inequality, increase in the state of peace, guarantee of basic goods and sustainable livelihoods.

“Free and independent media in turn enable people to participate in the governance process by providing them access to adequate and credible information about government activities, and by giving them a vehicle through which they can make their input into decision-making” says Edetaen Ojo, in the paper Should media mirror society or shape it? *

So even though the formula to achieve good governance and thus the community development (along with many other factors) is not complete and in an ideal state, the government should at least guarantee the existence of independent uncensored media and specifically community radio. This implies the cease of attacks and beyond, the protection of the media form other external offenders such as organized crime, political groups and other media groups.

This way a flow of information to the community is ensured, but moreover an open space is provides in order to fight “the exclusion of the less favored voices of society and the speeches of the historically marginalized sectors” as said by the AMARC-MX.

 

*For more information look at: Media and Good Governance, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 2005.

 


EE: F1N4NC1NG CL1M47E CH4NGE

http://www.abc.net.au/ Credit: iStockphoto

 

Even though we live in a world ruled by the economy and the market, it is difficult to set a numerical value to natural resources and the impact of human activities on our planet, mainly because they are unprecedented resources to humanity that have a socio-cultural value and are often life-essential.

How ever, environmental degradation and excessive consumption of recourses are a reality that must be addressed in one way or another and therefore “there is a need to advance the understanding of the options used to raise new sources of international climate finance and to engage policymakers and stakeholders to make the case for scaling up predictable finance. There is also need to increase national debates on how to operationalize innovative sources of climate finance.”

This idea provided by the Report on the workshops of the work programme on long-term finance on the 18th COP session of UNFCCC, definitely leads me to reflect about, how is the issue of financing climate change currently faced worldwide?

It is known that many sources of funding both private and public are now being applied, among which are: policy incentives and agreements, risk management, carbon taxes, cap and trade systems, loans and other voluntary systems. Even though billionaire quantities have been raised up, neither money nor programs have been sufficiently effective to face the increasing green house gases (GHG) emissions, excessive consumption of resources, the destruction of natural environments and the social consequences.

According to the Emission Gap Report 2012, the total amount of GHG emissions have risen from 40 Gt in the year 2000 to 50.1 Gt in 2010 and could go up to 58 Gt by 2020. “The report estimates that there are potentially large emissions reductions possible—in a mid-range of 17 Gt of CO2 equivalents—from sectors such as buildings, power generation and transport that can more than bridge the gap by 2020.”

It is possible to foresee then that the shift to a future more respectful with the environment that ensures the viability of not only economic activities but of natural and human life, is possible.

 

Next steps?

After concluding its 18th sessions the Conference of the Parties decided “to extend  the work program on long-term finance for one year to the end of 2013, with the aim of informing developed country Parties in their efforts to identify pathways for mobilizing the scaling up of climate finance to USD $100 billion per year by 2020 from public, private and altemative sources in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation, and informing Parties in enhancing their enabling environments and policy frameworks to facilitate the mobilization and effective deployment of climate finance in developing countries”

In theory the approach is positive as it increases the monetary targets in fundraising, as well as extending the program for another year at least, and for the involvement of private-public sector and alternative sources in order to reach “meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation”.

However when analyzing the global context in which hundreds of laws and rules are being adopted, implementation appears a real challenge in the way to achieve mitigation and significant changes that are not yet a reality. We are facing legal systems that vary from country to country and often involve major barrier to the implementation of programs.

It seems to me that governments worldwide should include or reinforce the in their agendas the issue of the environment and in particular climate change, in order to make it a priority. However, as it is a problem extensive to business and society it’s necessary to adopt measures to enable the monetary contribution of all actors.

The debate, beyond the conclusions on meetings like DOHA 2012, must be grounded in each country in order to find the most innovative solutions adapted to their legislation and culture.

 


DP: Access to information as key to good governance

From Governance to GOOD Governance

Although the term may be defined in different ways according to the use that is given I will focus on the definition used by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Governance is “the exercise of economic, political and administrative authority to manage a country’s affairs at all levels. It comprises the mechanisms, processes and institutions through which citizens and groups articulate their interests, exercise their legal rights, meet their obligations and mediate their differences.”

This is worth noting, thus unlike the definition of The World Bank which considers governance as “the way power is exercised through a country’s economic, political, and social institutions”, UNDP´s addresses citizens, representing a major shift in the paradigm.

As a general assumption, governance strengthens the capacity of the citizens to decide on the services they want to receive from the government, thus becoming subject of action. This ideology, therefore implies greater citizen participation that will result in a better quality of government with an elevated level of trust and legitimacy.

However, being conscious of the great inequalities in terms of gender, age, race, nationality, income among others, how can it be assured an equal, free and transparent participation?

It is then when the concept of good governance emerges adding on universal principles to be considered, always together with democracy. Basically they refer to participation, accountability, transparency, rule of law, separation of powers, equality and freedom to access information according to the UNDP.

So it is only through good governance, when assuring its principles that a social group has the possibility to define their priorities and act to realize them. To envisage scenarios of poverty eradication, increase the literacy rate within a population, gender equality, decrease in economic inequality, increase the state of peace, guarantee of basic goods and ideally sustainable livelihoods.

 

Assuring Good Governance through information

An entire book could be written when trying to explain the factors to consider in order to secure the principles of good governance and the effects of the active participation of citizenship.

As a personal interest, based on my communications background, I would like to talk about the access to information. It is a human right that provides the possibility to give content, quality and substance to other fundamental rights, such as freedom of expression or the right to vote.  On the other hand, it is also the value of the information itself as a legal right, which serves as the basis for such freedom of research to develop professional, academic or journalistic activities. This right is then a precondition for democracy and citizen participation.

What are some of the key features to ensure access to information?

First and foremost is the tool of a free and independent media. Media should not be controlled by the government and where applicable, should be clearly exposed and open to the public to know the origins of the information. It is also necessary to secure the plurality of media through the non-monopolization in order to have truthful and objective information that can be contrasted. Press freedom that guarantees the ability to publish on any topic and carry out criticisms without fear of reprisal.

In addition, access to information and communication technologies (ICTs) or E-governance should help implement information for the public viewer. As stated by the UNDP “use of ICTs can provide new and innovative communication channels that empower people and give voice to those who previously had none, while allowing them to interact via networks and networking.” Newspapers, radios, televisions and computers must be available on the market and / or in the service of citizens for public use so that they are accessible to the majority according to the literacy rate of the community.

Ideally media also will be open to the participation of the population to allow space for their voices. In this sense, the Internet has been a perfect response to secure the possibility of being part of public discourse. Furthermore it has allowed blurring the boundaries of information, giving a global sense to good governance.

Thus, it is clear that access to information, as a human right is just one out of dozens of key elements that may assure the universal principles. Its great importance lies in that information as well as education, intimately relates to a lot of requirements and activities associated to good governance.

Media in its free state should provide information to open people’s eyes, allowing them to know the reality as objectively as possible and should be space for public opinion to be reflected.

What real-life cases have encouraged or limited good governance? What role each of the actors played? What were the gains and losses?

 


This is me

Hello!

Just wanted to introduce myself to the world, and hopefully to many readers. My name is Mónica, I´m from Mexico City but I currently live in Madrid while studying the International Master in Sustainable Development and Corporate Responsibility at the EOI.

Before, I studied Communication at Universidad Iberoamericana focusing in the last year on corporate and strategic communication. I´ve worked for the last 2 and a half years on a PR and strategic communication agency where I had the opportunity to introduce myself in the corporate world, and especially in some CSR projects.

In 2010 I went to the 16th Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC and figured out the direction I wanted for the rest of my life: sustainable development…I´m on the way!

I´m really passionate about sports (specially soccer) and  traveling. I love meeting new and different people.

So this is me… I hope you enjoy future posts and please don´t forget to give back you views, opinions and suggestions.



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