Strengthening the child protection system in Ghana

Last week, the World Future Council was on a scoping mission to Ghana to introduce the model of one-stop-centers to stakeholders in Ghana. The aim is to build on the existing structures to strengthen the child protection system in Ghana. Together with the Department of Children we had good discussions with the National Child Protection Committee in Accra and the Northern Regional Child Protection Committee in Tamale. We met dedicated and engaged partners and look forward to work with them on a pilot in November this year.

one-stop-centers

The one-stop-centers provide essential services for survivors of abuse under one roof. During our international conference on child protection we hosted in Zanzibar last year, we introduced the model of one-stop-centers, which inspired Ghanaian policy makers attending the conference. The Zanzibar’s Children’s Act 2011, which won our Gold Future Policy Award in 2015, layed the foundation for the child protection system in Zanzibar.

Kehkashan Basu speaking on the UN High-Level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament in New York

Our Youth Ambassador Kehkashan Basu is speaking at the UN High-Level meeting on Nuclear Disarmament in New York today. You can read her presentation here.

September Updates

How can we build Peace?

We asked our expert policy staff on the occasion of World Peace Day 2018

Building peace is a very complex endeavour: Social injustice, economic inequalities, climate change, lack of opportunities, resource scarcity, depletion of natural habitat, hunger and poverty, and violation of human rights can cause social unrest or even violent conflict. All these factors are interdependent and intertwined. Is building peace a futile mission? No, because proven solutions and successful approaches already exist. On this year’s UN World Peace Day, we asked our dedicated policy staff what can be done to achieve and sustain peace:

 

 

Interview on the Energy Transition in Germany

„We need a citizen-oriented energy supply“

The energy transition can only succeed if energy supply is democratised. We talked to Uli Ahlke, head of the district office for climate protection and sustainability in Steinfurt (North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany), about success factors of community energy.

Citizens contribute significantly to the energy transition. Including farmers, individuals own about 42% of all renewable energy installations in Germany[2]. Unfortunately though, the German federal government does not support community energy sufficiently. At this point, local governments can make a decisive contribution to promoting community energy. The German District of Steinfurt, near the Dutch border, is setting an exemplary path. Its 24 municipalities with about 445,000 inhabitants aim to be energy self-sufficient through renewable energies by 2050 – with the greatest possible participation of the local population. Already today more than 60% of the electricity stems from renewables. We talked to Uli Ahlke, head of the district office for climate protection and sustainability, about strategies and possibilities for local authorities to support community energy, about dealing with national obstacles, and about the future of the energy transition.

Community Energy

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Coalition for Action describes community energy as “the economic and operational participation and/or ownership by citizens or members of a defined community in a renewable energy project” – regardless of size and scope of the project.[1] Community energy is any combination of at least two of the following elements: Local stakeholders own more than half or all shares of a renewable energy project; voting control rests with a community-based organisation; and the majority of social and economic benefits are decentralised locally.

Engagement for community energy: Uli Ahlke is head of the district office for climate protection and sustainability in Steinfurt (North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany)

World Future Council: The district of Steinfurt aims to be energy self-sufficient through renewable energies by 2050. Supporting community energy is an integral part of your work. Why did you choose to support community energy to promote the expansion of renewables rather than focusing on large-scale investments?

Uli Ahlke: We have conducted several surveys in our region, and we know that the balance sheet energy self-sufficiency can only be accomplished once we operate in a regionally decentralised manner – and that it won’t work without the citizens. About 18 years ago, we experienced a very intensive expansion of wind energy with a lot of foreign investors in our region. At that time, we quickly reached acceptance limits.

We are convinced that we cannot achieve our ambitious goals without wind energy. That is why we asked ourselves what we need to do to maintain acceptance for a new expansion momentum. We needed to involve people in the planning process and to give the local community the opportunity to participate in local value creation. After all, the district of Steinfurt spends 1.5 billion euros a year on energy – for electricity, heat and mobility energy. Money we want to keep in the region.

How exactly can community energy be integrated into local climate action planning, and which participation mechanisms were particularly effective in Steinfurt?

What we do here is only possible because we have this team. We are 22 employees who take charge of the region’s sustainable development, of rural development, climate protection and education for sustainable development. Structurally, we consolidated the whole procedure last year and founded an association – the “energieland2050”. We communicate through traditional media, but are increasingly active in social media; we organise broad-scale participation proceedings; we place a strong focus on the regional advantages; and we have many amplifiers, especially on the part of the wind farmers.

As part of the wind energy expansion, we have set guidelines for all upcoming civic wind farms – in cooperation with the property owners, i.e. the farmers, with the farmers’ association, the municipal utilities and our 24 mayors. These guidelines not only guarantee the involvement of citizens, but also ensure that the first focal point for loans are local banks, and for energy marketing the municipal utilities. For the recruitment of financial resources through public participation we organised three events for one wind farm alone, attended by around 900 people. Two weeks later, we had 30 million euros, although we only needed 15.

In 2011, we set up a “Wind Energy Service Station”. There, we have a colleague, who deals with conflict management. She talks to the people and seeks solutions with them whenever there is a problem. We also launched a “Wind Energy Round Table”, where we regularly invite all stakeholders involved in wind energy to address conflicts openly and transparently.

Round table discussions for solving conflicts

But wind energy is just one piece of the puzzle. Our goal is to initiate climate action in the region, involving more and more people. Many people trust us; that we practice what we preach, that we do things well, and that we act in accordance with the Agenda 21[3]. But that did not come out of the blue – it emerged over the years, during which people got to know each other, and learned to trust each other. I also believe that sustainability and regionalism are closely interlinked because we give up anonymity and work with people we know.

I agree with you. How do you deal with national legal and regulatory obstacles to citizen-owned renewable energy installations at the local level, such as the 2017 Renewable Energies Act (EEG) Amendment[4]?

I believe that the energy transition can only succeed if there is – in Hermann Scheer’s words – the “democratisation of energy supply”. The 2017 EEG Amendment, however, weakened the community energy movement. The reason for this weakening is presumably an energy policy that is geared towards corporations. But we need a policy that is citizen-oriented. The corporation-oriented policy actually prevents a successful energy transition. I am following Berlin’s energy policy with concern. If we do not change course very quickly, we will certainly miss the 2-degree target.

The approach we chose in Steinfurt is characterised by our energetic imperative “regional – decentralised – CO2-neutral”. This is supported and accompanied by the “energieland2050 network of entrepreneurs”. Only responsible companies from the region are involved in this network.

A study by the Leuphana University of Lüneburg has shown that the main obstacle to initiate community energy projects are the availability of equity capital and access to vacant space for renewable energy installations like wind turbines. How can local authorities help in these areas?

At the beginning, we conducted a study to identify our potentials for the wind energy expansion. We must not forget that our region is not particularly suitable for wind energy; we are not a coastal region and are partially suburbanised. On the basis of the potential study, we developed the guidelines for civic wind energy together with the farmers’ association, the mayors and many other stakeholders. This accelerated the expansion of wind energy. We implemented the wind energy expansion with regional stakeholders and did not rely on any external project planner or consultant. The expansion was also largely financed from the region – from its citizens, and its local banks. This is a relatively unique approach in Germany.

Construction of the bioenergy park Saerbeck

When we started to address wind energy with some actors in 2010 and even approached it strategically, people were very sceptical. And today I look back very relaxed and say: It worked!

I am glad to hear that. Let us now come to the last question. You have been working with passion for many years in this area. Which advice can you give to people in local governments not to lose patience and confidence in their work for renewables and citizen participation?

What you need is perseverance, patience and the faculty of abstraction. Human beings are often too impatient and cannot imagine the world changing but it is changing faster than ever. I think that in order to win people it is not enough to have good arguments, but it is important to draw a picture, a future scenario, of where you want to go and how positive the future can look like. At the end of my speeches, I often show a picture of the district of Steinfurt, which says: “District of Steinfurt – 24 health resorts”. If the energy transition succeeds, we will breathe clean air and it will be quieter. So if it succeeds, and I suppose that it does succeed at least partially, then life becomes more enjoyable and we get out of the air pollution dilemma which we are in now.

Interview conducted by Nele Kress.

References

[1] IRENA Coalition for Action (2018). Community Energy. Broadening the Ownership of Renewables. https://bit.ly/2MCevv9 (28.08.2018).

[2] Agentur für Erneuerbare Energien (2018). Bürgerenergie bleibt Schlüssel für erfolgreiche Energiewende. https://bit.ly/2nztV4q (28.08.2018).

[3] Agenda 21 is a comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organisations of the United Nations system, governments, and major groups in every area in which human beings impact on the environment. It was adopted by 172 governments at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

[4] The Renewable Energies Act (EEG), which came into force for the first time in 2000, is the central control instrument for the expansion of renewable energies in the field of electricity in Germany. The fundamental changes of the last major amendment to the EEG in 2017 relate to compulsory direct marketing and a fundamental system change from the feed-in tariff model to the tendering procedure. This model has been criticized for failing to meet the climate protection goals of the Paris Agreement and for discriminating against community energy projects.

Press Release: Kehkashan Basu to speak at UN High Level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament

18 year old environmental activist Kehkashan Basu selected to speak at September 26 United Nations High Level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament

She calls for disarmament for sustainable development

Hamburg/New York, 12 September 2018  18 year old environmental activist and youth leader Kehkashan Basu was selected by the President of the UN General Assembly to address the September 26 United Nations High Level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament as one of the two representatives of global civil society. She is Youth Ambassador of the World Future Council and was last week named as one of Canada’s Top 25 Women of Influence for 2018. Ms Basu says: ‘The United Nations and its member countries should focus more on disarmament for sustainable development’

Kehkashan Basu
Kehkashan, Youth Ambassador of the World Future Council, is the founder of the GREEN HOPE FOUNDATION, which seeks to provide a networking platform to children and youth, to take action for a more sustainable future.
Picture (c) Kehkashan Basu

 

 

 

The nuclear arms race, in particular, should be halted and the $100 billion global nuclear weapons budget be redirected towards ending poverty, reversing climate change, protecting the oceans, building a sustainable economy and providing basic education and health care for all of humanity,’ says Ms Basu who was also the winner of the 2016 International Children’s Peace Prize. ‘Instead, the nuclear armed States are squandering resources and keeping their nuclear weapons poised to strike. One mistake would cause a humanitarian disaster, robbing children and youth of their health and future, and maybe even ending civilization as we know it.’

The High Level Meeting on September 26 will involve Presidents, Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers and UN ambassadors presenting either their hopes and aspirations for nuclear disarmament, or their excuses for keeping the nuclear arms race going. It falls on the anniversary of the incident in 1983 when a nuclear war was almost fought by accident.
On that day, an incoming United States ballistic missile attack against Moscow was ‘detected’ by Soviet satellites relaying information to the nuclear early warning center Serpukhov-15. With only 15 minutes between detection and impact, standard procedure was to confirm the incoming attack to the President of the Soviet Union (at the time it was Yuri Andropov) who would initiate an immediate ‘retaliatory’ attack before Moscow was hit.

Stanislav Petrov, duty officer at Serpukhov-15, defied protocol and reported a ‘false alarm’. His action, which is chronicled in the award winning movie The Man Who Saved the World, prevented a potential nuclear calamity the like of which we have never experienced and hope never to see.

‘The lesson of the 1983 incident, and the 15-20 other times we have nearly had a nuclear exchange, is that nuclear deterrence could fail – and that failure would mean game over,’ says Jakob von Uexkull, Founder of the World Future Council. ‘As such, the nuclear armed States have to replace nuclear deterrence with better ways to achieve security, just as the overwhelming majority of other countries have already done.’

In 2013 the UN General Assembly decided to hold a series of annual High Level Meetings every year on September 26 at which governments could express their views and proposals, followed by a UN High Level Conference in May 2018 to take action on effective measures for nuclear disarmament. However, the High Level Conference in May was postponed and now might be cancelled altogether.

‘High Level Conferences and Summits on global issues are vital to build the public attention, media coverage and political traction to make progress,’ says Alyn Ware, Chair of the World Future Council Disarmament Commission.  ‘The United Nations must not cave in to the pressure from the nuclear armed States to drop the High Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament.’

‘Regardless of what the governments do at the UN, civil society will step up its action for nuclear disarmament,’ says Ms Basu. ‘The most powerful lobby for the nuclear arms race is the nuclear weapons industry. From Oct 24-30, in locations around New York, we will count out the $1 trillion nuclear weapons budget for the next 10 years and demonstrate how this money can be reallocated from the nuclear weapons industry into the Sustainable Development Goals and other areas of human and environmental need. This includes direct cuts to nuclear weapons budgets, and divestment from the industry, and is part of the global campaign Move the Nuclear Weapons Money.’

Jakob von Uexkull (left)
Founder of the World Future Council (2007) and the Right Livelihood Award (1980), often referred to as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’.

Alyn Ware (right)
Chair of the World Future Council Disarmament Commission, Founder and global coordinator of the network Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND)

Annual Report 2017

Excerpt

The world we live in is changing fast, and, it seems, not necessarily for the good. Every day we are confronted with negative news and shocking headlines. But this problem-orientated approach towards today’s challenges is paralysing and unproductive. Because of that, it is important to talk about solutions.

Let’s take a tour through the diverse and numerous solutions we identified and promoted during 2017! This Annual Report looks back at our impact in 2017 and shows, yet again, our supporters’ strong commitment: collectively we can be proud of what we achieved in climate protection, advancing 100% Renewable Energy, combating land degradation, protecting children from violence, fostering a sustainable economy, and promoting peace and disarmament.

What is the Future Policy Award 2018 and why is it so important?

Would you like to know more about the Future Policy Award 2018? Here are some fundamentals:

Every year, the World Future Council honours the best policies that create better living conditions for current and future generations with the Future Policy Award, the “Oscar on best policies”. If that sounds complicated, let us explain to you what it actually means – it’s pretty simple and important: We look at the greatest challenges of humankind and search the world for the best solutions in order to spread them.

A quick Q&A session will help you understand. We also interviewed Poppe Braam, founder of DO-IT (Dutch Organic International Trade) why they support the Future Policy Award this year.

First of all, what’s the Future Policy Award?

The Future Policy Award is the first award that celebrates policies rather than people on an international level. It raises global awareness for exemplary policies and speeds up policy action. Each year, the Councillors of the World Future Council identifies one topic on which policy progress is particularly urgent.

What is the focus this year? 

This year’s Future Policy Award is focusing on policies scaling up agroecology. Policies that contribute to the protection of life and livelihoods of small-scale food producers, ensure sustainable food production systems and implement climate-resilient agricultural practices.

Who are the main organisations you partner with this year?

In 2018, the World Future Council partners with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and IFOAM – Organics International. We received support from Green Cross International, DO-IT – Dutch Organic International Trade and Sekem Group, Egypt.

Why does, for instance, DO-IT support Future Policy Award? And why does this Dutch company think scaling up agroecology is so important?

We asked Poppe Braam, who founded DO-IT, an organic food trading company from the Netherlands and he said: “In many countries DO-IT supports farmer transition to certified organic agriculture. Many of them are smallholder farmers, who urgently need more support. This makes local and national policy by governments as well as action by NGOs and agricultural institutes a vital part of this transition. Chemical farming (i.e. today’s conventional agriculture using chemical pesticides and fertilizers) and agroecology are natural opponents. Chemical farming does not only harm nature, but it also harms our health and climate. Moreover, the business of organic farmers is threatened due to levels of pesticide and GMO contamination by wind or water. It is therefore critical to scale up agroecology and policymakers should now step up their efforts.”

What can I do to support agroecology?

Buy organic and agroecological local or regional produce and support thereby family farmers in your region! Just like every raindrop counts towards a river, so does every choice you make in what you consume.

Does the World Future Council need support?

Yes! Now that the Future Policy Award identified and highlighted policy solutions from around world, we need to make them known to policy-makers around the world. We need funding for publishing in-depth policy reports, campaigning events, etc. Every donation will help!

Presenting Smart Sustainable Pioneering Models on Smart Cities in China

Fourth China Smart City International Expo on August 21 in China’s innovation capital Shenzhen

The Banquet Dinner Reception – Best Practice Release was successfully organised during the Fourth China Smart City International Expo on August 21 in China’s innovation capital Shenzhen.

In cooperation with the China Center for Urban Development (CCUD) under the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the World Future Council organised the Banquet Dinner Reception – Best Practice Release in the evening of August 21. During the Banquet, the Smart Sustainable Pioneering Models project was co-launched by the World Future Council and CCUD, with international and national best practices of smart sustainable cities introduced as well. Prof. Herbert Girardet, the honorary councillor of the World Future Council gave the keynote speech, followed by international smart city experience sharing presented by Ms Beate Weber-Schuerholz, the former load mayor of Heidelberg, Germany; Mr Niall O’Connor, center director of Stockholm Environment Institute, Sweden; Mr Peter Sailer, project director of Sino German Urbanisation Partnership of GIZ, Germany; and Ms Aisa Tobing, Deputy Secretary General of CityNet, Indonesia.

There are over 1,000 smart city pilots ready for or under construction worldwide, and China is home to about 500 of them, covering big and small cities. Three groups of cities have been listed as national pilot projects so far, and the country aims to nurture 100 new smart cities from 2016 to 2020 to lead the country’s urban planning and development. With such high development speed, the Smart Sustainable Pioneering Models project presents best practices from around the globe for Chinese cities to improve their strategy, design, operations and maintenance in developing smart urban areas, along with technology and infrastructure, to ensure residents’ needs can be met efficiently and in a timely manner.

About 300 guests attended the Banquet Dinner Reception – Best Practice Release by invitation, and over 120,000 audiences in total attending the Fourth China Smart City International Expo. The whole event is organised by CCUD and lasts for 2 days, with main forums on August 21 and 16 parallel sub forums on August 22.

Fourth China Smart City International Expo on August 21 in China’s innovation capital Shenzhen

What’s new in August