Category Archives: Sustainable living

Sustainable Development Goals

I’m not sure how many people know of SDGs, but for many years I’ve held that sustainable and development were opposites. Invariably development meant damaging or destroying a habitat and impacting any species that lived there. The root cause was usually money; which we cannot eat!

So what changed? In September (2015) 193 countries signed up to the United Nations Agenda 2030. This consists of 17 Goals (and numerous associated objectives). It’s an all-or-nothing approach. You cannot pick and choose ~ signing up means everything. You’ll see on the photo that these SDGs cover many of the problems that the Biodiversity Alliance is concerned about. Of utmost importance is Goal 14, as it’s the first time that life in the oceans has been considered. You’ll see too that climate action is included as Goal 13. The carbon intensive economies, especially USA & Australia, wanted this left out (see next paragraphs).

Looking at the long drawn-out process of doing anything about global climate change shows the challenges that we face. The greedy, and most polluting, nations do not want to change their behaviour, because they lose competitive advantage … but care nothing about impacts. These international treaties have two components: the one that everybody signs with such loud fanfares; and another implementing agreement. For climate change after the Rio Summit the Kyoto Protocol was the thing that mattered, yet it went nowhere; in fact George Bush jnr withdrew USA from the Protocol altogether.

In December 2015 the UN Climate Change treaty was signed in Paris; 197 countries agreed that climate change is actually a problem!!! What made Paris remarkable was that the delegates had a set of goals that their countries would offer to achieve. Cook Islands for instance pledged to cut greehouse gas emissions 81% by 2030. Some others were less helpful and said we’ll think about doing something by 2050! In April 2016 the Paris Agreement was ratified by 14 Pacific Island nations; Cook Islands didn’t. For the treaty to come into force it must be ratified by a number of countries, and the threshold should also exceed 55% of polluting emissions. In other words we need the big polluters ~USA & China~ onboard. [Although China recently overtook USA as the biggest overall polluter, we should not forget that China has 1.5 billion people and USA only 320 million. USA emits twice as much CO2 per capita than China does, and is also responsible for the bulk of historical carbon-based pollution].

Since April 2015 every month has set a new global temperature record. Climate change is real, serious and has already happened. Some media will say that the 12-month El Nino we’ve just experienced (12th May 2015 to around 20th May 2016) was the cause, but actually this only contributed about 20% ~ the bulk was the increased background temperatures. The only place left on the planet with atmospheric CO2 concentrations less that 400 ppm (parts per million) is the Arctic Region: northern hemisphere exceeded it in 2014; Antarctica & Mauna Loa in Hawai’i have just crossed the threshold. The Arctic will breach 400 ppm in about two years time; that’s the new normal.

The situation has become so serious that Ban Ki Moon (UN Secretary General) will call a special meeting in September 2016 asking that all Signatories to the Paris Accord attend and ratify it then and there: bringing it into force this year. We have no more time left. We MUST change!

So coming full circle to the SDGs. You’ll remember that these are to be completed by 2030. Imagine that! Poverty, hunger, inequality, climate change, sustainable resource use, universal secondary education etc all eradicated in 14 years! Curiously, the Country Leaders have to make an annual report at the UN explaining their progress or lack of it. The Country Leaders not their minions. I wonder if they’ll do it?

Cash free

I agree strongly with this. I live in a mainly subsistence-based society, where money is peripheral rather than central to our way of life (basically paying power & phone bills; and ordering a small amount of foreign cargo). You quickly understand that nature takes time to grow and reproduce, and we must look after our world if we desire to survive. Plant something every day, and clear away the weeds or parasites that are impacting what is already growing. Use everything sustainably. Waste nothing. Give more than you take.

Pope Francis

As expected Pope Francis is about to release his encyclical concerning the environment and climate change. The Guardian article below explains much of what is likely to be included in the Bull. The Pope concurs with many of our ideas here at The BA. One important aspect is the cultural & aesthetic appreciation of Nature in its own right. Remember too that the Vatican has a voice at the UN and is a country in its own right; as well as speaking for over a billion Catholics worldwide.

Also as expected the Yankee Republicans said “the pope should stick to his job!”

Tongareva Atoll: we are going solar!

Kia Orana everyone, very exciting news from this extremely remote atoll in the South Pacific. Last Friday a ship arrived with everything required to build a solar-power station on our island (in fact there will be two as the other village is far away across the other side of the atoll ~ so it will get a smaller set-up too).

It will take about a week to offload all the cargo by barge, but we may start laying out the site tomorrow and begin excavations. I’ll document the project as it unfolds, but we expect it will make a huge difference & ~ most importantly ~ think how much fuel it will save? To bring 1 litre of diesel here requires a voyage from Auckland to Rarotonga, then another from Rarotonga to the Northern Cooks; plus road haulage in NZ and electricity any place the fuel is pumped. Crazy, especially when the sun shines most days.

The build is by PowerSmart in NZ, and the project funded through NZAID [Aotearoa ~ New Zealand ~ has provided NZ$ 20 million to set up solar arrays on all the Northern Cook Islands. The scheme is called “Uira Natura ke Tokerau”. EU & NZ have formed an Energy Access Partnership].

Thank you, and very much appreciated. 🙂

Sustaining Nature for Sustainable Living-The Legal Aspects

Nature, biodiversity and human health: how strong is the evidence?

In recent years there has been a growing recognition of the vital links between the natural environment and human health and wellbeing ? one of the BES?s policy priorities. The UK Government?s Natural Environment White Paper explicitly acknowledges that ?human wellbeing is intimately connected with our natural environment?, whilst the RSPB and The Wildlife Trusts are leading calls for a ?Nature and Wellbeing Act?, based on the view that there is ?considerable evidence to show that contact with nature can help to prevent and reverse poor health and wellbeing?. This link is also finding greater resonance with public health professionals, as demonstrated by the Faculty of Public Health?s call to make better use of our ?natural health service?.

See more at: nature-biodiversity-and-human-health-how-strong-is-the-evidence

And at:


? 2014 fair-fish international

Featured image: ? 2014 fair-fish international

Yesterday late evening I spotted an few seconds advertisement at the main railway station in Zurich and today I followed up on the url.

The main message of the spot was to eat fish only once a month (here in Switzerland). I have to say this was the most unexpected and by far the best ad, as far as it’s message concerned, I have ever seen in this country during my last four years.

A very simple idea delivered in simple terms. We can learn from them I think. I haven’t read their statutes but I encourage you to have a look.