Monday, March 31, 2008

Ecosystem Services: A Guide for Decision Makers

Presents various methods that use ecosystem services—the benefits of nature such as food, fuel, natural hazard protection, pollination, and spiritual sustenance—to enable decision makers to link ecosystems and economic development.
Janet Ranganathan, Karen Bennett, Ciara Raudsepp-Hearne, Nicolas Lucas, Frances Irwin, Monika Zurek, Neville Ash and Paul West
Publication Downloads:
Karen Bennett
1 202-729-7704


Public sector decision makers, such as mayors, planning commission members, and international development officials, often overlook the connection between healthy ecosystems and the well-being of people. As a result, long term goals may be jeopardized for short term gain. In order to enhance some ecosystem services, other important ecosystem services may be degraded, which can have unintended consequences for the people who depend on the degraded services. For example, building a dam may increase power supply to cities and irrigation to croplands, but reduce the river’s capacity to support fisheries or provide shoreline protection. Costs and benefits of these tradeoffs are often inequitably dispersed. The beneficiaries of the increased power supply may live 50 km away while those living on the river will have to bear the cost of decreased fisheries and increased flooding.

WRI and its partners have produced a guide for the public sector on how to take ecosystem services into account in economic and social strategies. The guide provides examples of how the success of projects, plans and policies can benefit from incorporating ecosystem services. It introduces various methods to link ecosystems and development, including an ecosystem services framework, ecosystem service prioritization, trends analyses, ecosystem service mapping, economic valuation, scenario planning, and a portfolio of policy options targeted at sustaining ecosystem services.

The guide can help answer the following questions:

  • How can an ecosystem services framework be used to organize a decision-making process?
  • What ecosystem services are supplied by nature?
  • Which ecosystem services are most important for a particular development goal?
  • What is known about the condition and trends of these services?
  • How can their value be communicated?
  • What risks and opportunities emerge as a result of changes to ecosystem services?
  • Which services should a city, county, province, or country invest in restoring or sustaining?
  • What policies can help sustain ecosystem services?

Number of Pages:

All About: Developing cities and pollution

Story Highlights

  • Fate of world's climate depends on how developing nations' cities expand
  • By 2030 another 2 billion people from developing world will be living in cities
  • Rapid urban expansion brings huge problems of pollution
  • Local rather than macro-solutions hold key to how cities cope with expansion

Rachel Oliver for CNN

(CNN) -- If you fix the cities, do you fix the problem? With 50 percent of the entire human race currently living in cities and responsible for emitting up to 80 percent of all global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions every year, they certainly don't seem a bad place to start.


Multi-storeyed residential buildings stand behind an expanse of slums in Mumbai.

The Tyndall Centrer for Climate Change Research says "the fate of the Earth's climate" basically hinges on what we do with our cities from now on. But the fate of the world's cities largely hinge on what the developing world decides to do with their own growing metropolises in the next 20 years.

According to the World Resources Institute (WRI), urban populations in the developing world are growing at 3.5 percent per year, compared to less than 1 percent growth rates in developed world cities.

UN-Habitat says that a staggering 95 percent of the expected global population growth we will see over the next 2 decades will be absorbed by cities in the developing world.

What that means is by 2030 another 2 billion people from the developing world will be living in cities (only 100 million from the developed world meanwhile will be doing the same). Currently 75 percent of world's poorest people -- 1 billion -- live in cities.

Higher density, lower standards

Whether the new wave of migrants will find a better life in cities remains to be seen. More than 70 percent of city dwellers in the developing world (that's around 900 million people) live in slum-like conditions, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

And that number is predicted to more than double to reach 2 billion slum-dwellers by 2020.

The health risks for people living in slum-like conditions will come from every corner and will include increased mortality rates from heat waves; higher risk of exposure to flash floods, mudslides and landfalls; and more frequent exposure to waterborne and infectious diseases (notably dengue fever).

When it comes to poor cities, bigger is by no means always better. According to UN Habitat, the mega-cities of the future, (those with more than 10 million residents) will be "giant potential flood and disaster traps" if insufficient action is taken on behalf of their residents.

Already, 75 percent of the world's 21 mega-cities are based in the developing world, and by some estimates, 27 of the 33 mega-cities expected to exist by 2015 will be in developing countries.

Cities have always traditionally been the centers of the world's wealth, and the World Bank says that as much as 80 percent of the future economic growth of the developing world will come from its cities.

But the United Nations Environmental Program me (UNEP) has also recently said that population growth in the cities of the developing world "has outpaced the ability to provide vital infrastructure and services".

Pollution problems

Rapid economic growth brings substantial problems of its own -- notably increased pollution. Already, 16 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world are in China, which is arguably undergoing the most rapid industrial and economic transformation the world has ever seen.

Today urban air pollution prematurely kills 1 million people a year, the majority disproportionately located in the developing world.

The pollution is not, as some might expect, always transport-related. Some of the most potent and deadly forms of pollution affecting city residents in the developing world are entirely industrial in their nature.

In 2007 the Blacksmith Institute came up with an unranked list of the top 10 most polluted cities in the world. Without exception the sources of that pollution were industrial -- factories pumping out chemicals into the atmosphere and into water supplies.

The pollutants in question amongst the cities in this top 10 were predominantly made up of toxic chemicals, lead, radioactive materials (one of the cities is Chernobyl) and airborne particulates.

Toxic pollution is a particular disease of the developing world's urbanites, affecting more than 1 billion of its citizens. The World Bank says that as much as 20 percent of all the health problems in the developing world can be attributed to environmental factors, particularly pollution.

Mercury levels in the groundwater in Vapi, India, one of Blacksmith's top 10 polluted cities, is a breathtaking 96 times higher than WHO standards. And if you live in Sumgayit in Azerbaijan, also on the list, where "genetic mutations and birth defects are commonplace", you have between a 22 percent to 51 percent higher chance of getting cancer than if you lived anywhere else in the country.

Clean transport takes a backseat to growth

Transportation-related pollution just rubs salt into the wound in these parts of the world. And unless dramatic changes take place in world's cities' transport systems, things will go from bad to worse.

Globally, according to Pew Center on Global Climate Change, emissions from transportation are "rising faster... than any other sector."

In the next 30 years, China alone will have around 752 million urbanites, all needing to get around town. Currently, less than 1 percent of Chinese own a car.

According to World Watch, the Chinese adopting the American "car-centered model in these places would have disastrous consequences".

It gives an example: If each of those 752 million city dwellers copied the transportation habits of your average resident of San Francisco in 1990, the actions of that one country would result in 1 billion additional tons of carbon emissions a year -- the same amount that was released worldwide by all road transport in 1998.

Clean public transport systems then are being increasingly seen as a necessity all over the world, but particularly in the developing world. Pew says that challenges that motorization presents the developing is "unprecedented" and warns that "there is little time or money to build public transportation systems or to expand roads to handle the new traffic."

How well these cities will cope with their particular problems could largely be down to the local officials in charge, if the experiences of London, New York and Bangkok are anything to go by.

City officials in Bangkok were ultimately responsible for reducing the city's air pollution levels by 20 percent to 50 percent, even with a 40 percent increase in vehicles, according to The Economist and they managed this by imposing stricter rules on motor-related pollution and introducing unpopular but effective taxes.

Sources: UN IPCC; UNEP; UN Habitat; Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research; Economist; World Resources Institute; Climate Change and Developing-Country Cities: Implications For Environmental Health and Equity; E Magazine; World Watch; Pew Center on Global Climate Change

Environmental stories to watch 2008


Remarks by Jonathan Lash on December 18, 2007 at the National Press Club Briefing for Journalists

Thursday, March 20, 2008

E-Conference Series

EcoRes Forum E-Conference Series

The purpose of the EcoRes Forum E-Conference Series is to provide an easily accessible platform for moderated discussions among global stakeholders about the socio-cultural aspects of climate change. Conducted online, e-conferences encourage wide participation by circumventing the logistical hurdles of traditional conference formats.

For EcoRes, a vital aspect is the "green" nature of this medium, allowing interaction without requiring printed materials, international air travel, or other extensive resource use.

To facilitate the proceedings, discussions are led through a progressive framework of questions and focus points by the moderating team. Subject timelines are provided, and discussion archives are maintained for participant reference.

Guidelines & Suggestions for Participation
Intercultural Communication 101
Forum Code of Conduct

Environmental (In)Justice: Sources, Symptoms, and Solutions
EcoRes E-Conference, 11-24 April 2008

From Anthropocentrism to Ecocentrism: Making the Shift
EcoRes E-Conference, 14-30 April 2007

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Mottainai is the thoughtful Japanese word with love and compassion to think of the gift from the nature or someone who made the product. The word closest to Mottainai in English is
"What a waste!", "Do not waste!" or the situation a thing is being wasted or being used without good care and consideration.

Mottainai is a word that meaning "let's not waste it". Mottainai is a very widely used, and can be considered as one of the core symbols of Japanese thinking. Mottainai is visible everywhere. In the way how Japanese have custom to clean their rice bowls so that not one single seed of rice is wasted, or the way how Japanese Buddhist man wraps a beetle into his napking gently and takes it outside, without hurting the living being - thus not wasting the life. In the old times mottainai could be used as "it was inconvenient" and "more than my situation". One can also say mottainai in another kind of situation, when food in restaurant for example wasn't so delicious.

Japanese Minister Yuriko Koike created the "Mottainai Furoshiki" as a symbol of Japanese culture to reduce wastes. Furoshiki is traditional Japanese wrapping clothe that is used to protect and carry things. Mottainai furoshiki is made from recycled PET bottles, and has a motifs designed by Itoh Jakuchu, a painter of the mid-Edo era

Source link from Hanami web

We are in the business of delivering world peace through environment conservation

Using MOTTAINAI as a keyword, we want to pass on the beauty of our earth to future generations. Prof. Maathai told us that we are merely borrowing the earth from future generations and that it is adults' responsibility to make sure we hand over to them a beautiful world. Personally, we believe that Japan, as the only country to have undergone a nuclear attack, and its people can use MOTTAINAI as an expression of their remorse and hopes for the future. By that, we mean that we should make an anti-war pledge to rid the world of war, the biggest example of MOTTAINAI because it is a waste of valuable resources.

In Japan, With its daily circulation of 4 million, the Mainichi has been calling on Japanese to do simple things to reduce carbon dioxide emission to prevent global warming, like such activities as:

Not leaving the water running when they brush their teeth
Not driving their car for distances they could easily walk
Turning out lights that don’t need to be on
Using energy conserving home appliances
Choosing their own reusable shopping bags over the plastic bags handed out at stores

Many people across Japan have shown their support for the concept of MOTTAINAI, with a recent poll showing that 80 percent of Japanese are aware of the campaign.

What does MOTTAINAI mean?

“Mottai” is originally a Buddhist term that refers to the essence of things. It also applies to everything in our physical universe, suggesting that objects do not exist in isolation but are intrinsically linked to one another.

“Nai” is a negation, so “MOTTAINAI” is an expression of sadness over the repudiation of the ties linking all living and nonliving entities. It is also a rallying cry to reestablish such bonds and reassert the importance of treating all animate and inanimate objects with great care.

Practicing this concept requires making the most of limited resources and using them as efficiently as possible. In more familiar terms, it is very much in line with efforts to promote the “3Rs”: to reduce waste, reuse finite resources, and recycle what we can.

Implementing the 3Rs is the shortest path to environmental conservation. Since an appreciation of the concept of “MOTTAINAI” is synonymous with respect for the essence of things, it should not only contribute to protecting the environment but also lead to enhanced respect for human rights and world peace. It is a truly timely concept for modern times.

Prof. Maathai lecturing about MOTTAINAI at the Commission on the Status of Woman in New York


Another lesson I brought from Japan was the spirit of the 3R campaign, which I know you are familiar with (reduce, re-use, repair and recycle). In Japan I learned that the Buddhist word MOTTAINAI embraces that concept of not wasting resources but using them with respect and gratitude. I have been sharing that word, MOTTAINAI wherever I go because I think it’s a beautiful word and I have been consciously practicing the 3R campaign, especially by re-using my shopping bags.

(From a speech by Prof. Maathai in Chicago)

"Mottainai", its movement, and Japanese spirituality
by Satoshi

Mottainai is a Japanese adjective that means “it is so wasteful that things are not made full use of their value,” or simply puts, “it is too valuable to waste.” This term is used in Japanese daily lives very frequently when things which are still useful and valuable are wasted. Originally it comes from old Buddhism term mottai (things). Nai in Japanese means denying. Therefore, a combination of word mottai and -nai means that things are sadly not in full use as much as it should be, with no respect and thank to both things and their producers such as farmers. Largely it is used in Japan for economical reasons to reduce unnecessary spending and waste. In this sense, it is, in some level, also connected to Japanese Zen’s spirituality which likes simplicity and stoicism of life.

However, this native Japanese word suddenly became an internationally known word thanks to the promotion by Dr. Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan environmentalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner of 2004. She discovered the value this word has in the conservation movement and knew that its profound meanings go beyond the concept of 3 Rs. She found this word when she visited Japan in 2005 for a Kyoto Protocol-related event, and learned there was no correctly equated word in any other languages with the same level of respect and love to things the term mottainai has. Since she learned this word, she has frequently used it in her public speeches including the one in the UN Commission on the Status of Women and the Live 8 concert held in England in 2005, while believing that the value and spirituality of mottainai Japanese traditionally have could transcend culture and national boarders.

After Dr. Maathai started to use mottainai frequently, Japanese government under the Koizumi Administration also made an effort to expand its philosophy in and out of Japan to conserve things and manage waste efficiently in the national-level discussion. In addition, a number of corporations use this word in their PR campaigns and green marketing strategies. Akira Yamaguchi, an author of a best-seller simply titled Mottainai (Waste Not, Want Not) (1995), explains its concept in detail that mottainai contains human beings’ awes, thanks, and in-depth love to all creations in our universe, recommending the ideal life in harmony with the nature. He extends mottainai’s philosophy that, for the convenience of our life, the social paradigm of technology-led 20th century such as mass production, mass marketing, and mass consumption destroyed humanity, culture, social values, sense of communities, and loves to the nature in which human beings live, and that the philosophy and implementation of mottainai can be a savior in 21st century which people have to reduce waste and realize carbon-free society.

With the word and philosophy of mottainai, Japanese traditionally considers wasting resources and throwing them away before fully using is the shameful act that profanes and disrespects our Creator of nature. Mottainai reflects a sad feeling that things are lost and underappreciated, as well. Therefore, traditional Japanese culture prohibits people to waste things with a sense of guilty. Most Japanese children are taught by parents with the term mottainai that they must eat every peace of rice in the bowl; otherwise, the leftover means disrespect to blood, toil, tears and sweat of hardworking farmers who produce rice. In addition, children are taught in a Japanese folk tale that if they waste things, “mottainai ghost” would haunt to scare them.

Much before 3 Rs education took place in Western countries, historically Japanese have had the ecological thought, mottainai, in the religious philosophy that human beings are just one of the creations in all nature, and that people should respect awesome magnificence of nature. In this philosophy, the hierarchy between human beings and nature is horizontal. Traditionally, Japanese do not think the nature as “resources” human beings can use as much as they want in the same way the Western culture treats nature. For them, every non-human thing (even stones and flowers) has spirit and soul inside of it. Simply put, wasting things is anti-social, anti-nature, and most importantly, anti-God-in-nature activity for Japanese. No wonder Japan is awarded the gold medal in the Recycling Olympics with the half level of CO2 emissions of the United States (Planet Ark, 2004; The World Bank, 2005). This love and respect toward things can be introduced as a revolutionary idea of conservation movement in the United States where people wastefully consume high volume of resources without understanding and respecting our nature.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

"Klima 2008/Climate 2008": internet-based climate research conference launched

Welcome to Climate 2008 / Klima 2008

Europe's C02-friendly Scientific Climate Conference

3-7 November 2008 online

Call for papers:

Individual researchers and research teams (scientists, decision-makers, enterprises, NGOs, individuals and schools) are invited to submit papers for the online-conference until 30 March 2008.

Register for free to take part in this major online event from 3-7 November 2008.

The Research and Transfer Centre "Applications of Life Sciences" of the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences in Germany has launched the research conference "Klima 2008 /Climate 2008". This a unique climate conference in the sense that it will be an internet-based event. This means an event with the highest scientific quality and the highest standards, but with no unnecessary CO2 emissions and pressure on the world´s climate.

The event will be held on-line on 3.-7. November 2008 and around 1,5 million visitors worldwide are expected. The aim of the event is to offer a platform for relevant information sharing on matters related to climate change, while engaging a large number of university-based researchers, environmental experts, strategists, specialists and the general public.

In addition, "Klima 2008 /Climate 2008" will actively engage young people and the participation of thousands of schoolchildren from the five continents, to the event is expected. We hope the conference will not only be informative and that it will raise awareness about climate issues, but also that it will provide a basis for strategic and innovative solutions for managing climate change and its impacts worldwide, especially in developing countries where resources to adapt to or the technical and knowledge resources to mitigate the problems caused by climate change are
perceived as being limited.

Papers are now being reviewed for the conference. The URL of the event where further details are available is:

Make a difference!

Help us to make a difference. With every pledge you join thousands of others who are committing to small steps to help bring about change. Together we can significantly impact our affects on the environment so do your bit today!

pledges so far...

Get your friends involved
Offset your Travel
Use the “Off” switch
Control Temperature Efficiently
Drive smart and walk more
Buy energy efficient products
Plant a tree
Don’t use a Screensaver
Use Less Water
Encourage others to conserve