Global Finland – How Can a Global Climate Catastrophe Be Avoided?

Global Finland, communication unit for development of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, arranged a summer school day in Pori on July 16th, 2014. 

Pori Theatre

 

Agenda of the day: 

10-10:15 a.m. Opening

Minister for International Development Pekka Haavisto and rap artist Signmark

10:15-11:15 a.m. Can Climate Catastrophe Be Avoided?

Rachel Kyte, The World Bank

Jukka Uosukainen, UNEP

Kaisa Kosunen, Greenpeace

11:20-12:00 Workshops

1) Why is democracy needed? Demo

2) Human rights and taxes in developing countries – The ABC of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility). SASK and FinnWatch. 

3) The World Post 2015. UNA of Finland and UN Youth of Finland. 

12:00-13:00 Lunch

13:00-13:25 A World of Conflicts – Is Peace a Utopian Dream?

Minister for International Development Pekka Haavisto

13:30-14:45 Workshops

1) Somalia/Finn Church Aid actalliance

2) Syria and exile/Red Cross Finland

3) Middle East/CMI (Crisis Management Initiative/Martti Ahtisaari Centre)

15:00-16:30 New Challenges of Finland´s Foreign Policy

Minister for Foreign Affairs Erkki Tuomioja,

Minister for International Development Pekka Haavisto, 

Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade Leena Toivakka, and 

Researcher Hiski Haukkala. The discussion was lead by Press Counsellor Leena Brandt. 

Can Climate Catastrophe Be Avoided?

Notes taken based upon the discussion: 

– In terms of Climate Technology, a positive signal is that technologies are available, although we are running out of time.

– The public sectors and governments must take the initiative, but of course also the private sector and corporations need to take action.

– A New Green Economy (renewable energy sources) is emerging, and the time of negotiations is hectic at the UNEP which is also serving developing countries, and (thanks to which) whole new bodies have been found in order to accelerate development.

– Implementation must be taken care of quickly, all over the world, since we are running out of time. 

– Climate change has to be fought against in order to assure prosperity for everyone.

– In the past 20 years, remarkable improvements have been made in terms of pollution control (see e.g. OzonAction Programme). 

– Incentives must be taken in the economy, both on macro and micro levels. Currently not even the G20 discuss the topic enough. The IMF and finance ministers of the world do discuss to some extent, although not enough. 

– NGO ́s need to create change and pressure. 

– The coal boom of China is coming to an end faster than thought since people understand their need of clean air.

– The trends of alternative energy sources are amazing, and costs are coming down fast. The amount of wind energy worldwide has tripled in a short period of time, and solar energy is now used tenfold. 

– Paris 2015 deal? => End of fossil fuel era? The breakthrough of renewables is now unstoppable. 

– Consumers can create pressure by expressing their opinions, and providing politicians with constructive feedback. Networks can be helpful when communicating needs. There are many ways of influencing.

– There are many new faces in the climate scene throughout societies. 

– Change can be made visible through education. Long-term decisions need to be made NOW. Children can also teach their parents e.g. in terms of recycling. Students change their own schools and universities through demanding renewables.

– Correct choices must be made in politics, although e.g. in Finland there are not so many environmentalists in the parliament. However, more and more climate groups exist on a national level and people are more busy acting than debating. 

– EU 2030: More radical actions needed. 

– Business coalitions (e.g. Richard Branson ́s coalition of companies). 

Pori, Finland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Makes Some Worth Millions?

How far are you willing to go in pursuing the career of your dreams? Or in being successful? 

If you have seen Clint Eastwood´s movie “Million Dollar Baby”, you know what I mean. In the film, Maggie (Hillary Swank) is determined to succeed as a female boxer, and ends up breaking her neck in a million dollar match against the WBA women´s welterweight champion.

She dedicates her entire young life into becoming something extraordinary, and ends up with losing it all, including the most important: her health.

Abandoned and exploited even by her own family, the only one standing by her side until the end is her coach and trainer Frankie, who never leaves her side.

In the film, Maggie claims having reached everything she ever wanted. Perhaps that´s true for her, but would you be willing to risk it all, including your life, for the thought of fast money, fame, and suddenly being a falling star? 

Or do you prefer leading a stable and enjoyable life, with all pieces of your life in perfect balance, and no need to fight? 

Lessons from “Million Dollar Baby”: 

1) Working hard will help you reach your goals

2) Risk-taking can be very rewarding

3) You can achieve anything you set your mind (and body) into

4) Focusing too much on your career can lead to suffering in other parts of your life

5) Don´t risk your health when pursuing your goals! It is the most important you have, after all.

 

Do One Scary Thing…

…every day. Doors may open, or shut. 

Originally quoted by Eleanor Roosevelt, former human rights activist, diplomat, and First Lady of the United States, who relentlessly continued her societal work and represented the United Nations as the chairwoman of the human rights council, even after becoming a widow. She was a woman of purpose, who definitely believed in the beauty of her dreams. 

We cannot all be First Ladies of the United States or alike, but we can all decide to be the First Ladies (or Gentlemen) of our own, personal lives. Endurance is individual, but it can be trained. It is possible to improve, and to push your personal limits, little by little, every day. 

It is a question of will, and energy. Your body is capable of anything, just as long as you let your mind grow strong and allow your spirit to take charge of your life. 

Write a list of your 10 biggest fears. You don´t have to show it to anyone, unless you want to. What is on the list? Is there a chance of you facing at least one of these fears? With facing a fear I definitely do not mean to take any vagabond risks, or being stupid. I am just stating that by facing some of our biggest fears we can actually remove boundaries and start enjoying life a little more. 

This is at least how it has worked for me personally. 

As a child I was afraid of the dark (as many of us are). I had to fall asleep with a night lamp, and I always checked beneath my bed, and only after realizing there were no ghosts or anything alike, was I able to fall asleep. 

Thereafter, I have faced my irrational fear of the dark in many ways, one of which has been to dive in the night, in tropical waters. It was a very exciting experience, but of course I would never have done it without guidance from, and being accompanied by, my dive master. Diving is a technical sport, requiring more than will and energy. 

Another time, snorkeling with a friend at the islands of Phi-Phi in Thailand, I swam a bit further from the shore. I was photographing the most amazing fishes with my cheap underwater camera, and enjoyed the crystal clear water, as I suddenly saw a shark a few meters ahead of me. My heart beat rate suddenly probably at least tripled; it was such an exciting moment. I was not capable of doing anything but looking at the shark gliding through the water, and then disappearing. 

In only a few seconds of time, which at the moment felt longer, many kinds of thoughts ran through my mind. My first thought was to swim after the shark to find out if I could see more of them. I knew I had been lucky to see the shark, since a dive master at the local PADI center later on told me that sharks usually avoid people for several reasons. My second thought was to swim back to my friend and tell him so that we could swim back together. I decided to swim back, but when I told my friend he was not at all enthusiastic about going on a shark-exploration-journey, and at that point I felt a bit awkward deciding not to swim out again on my own. 

Still not 100 % certain of the type of the shark, but I guess it was a black tip reef shark. It was about two meters long, although everything looks bigger in water. I am not going to start explaining every single detail about sharks, because the truth is that I do not know everything about sharks. I just know that sharks actually usually avoid people. I think I would too if I were a shark. In fact, sharks can get infected by people touching them. According to the Shark Project 

(http://www.sharkproject.org/haiothek/index_e.php?site=gefahr_10), at least 73 million sharks get killed by human beings every year, only because of their fins. And how many sharks kill people annually? Not many. 

I have had other natural encounters with exotic animals on my trips and in my home country as well. Never have the animals harmed me. 

Once in Siem Reap, Cambodia, after hours of walking around temples, I sat down on a stone beneath some trees to rest for a while, and to protect myself from the blazing sun. Suddenly, I heard a rustle from the tree above me, and a large green snake fell down on the ground. Taken by surprise, as it happened so fast, I just looked at the snake slithering in the opposite direction. You might guess that I did not sit there for much longer. In fact, I stood up and walked into the temple as soon as the snake had disappeared. A local man, selling souvenirs, tried to assure me about the snake´s innocence as soon as I had explained to him what it looked like. “It is not poisonous”, he said to me, and told me the snake´s name in the local language Khmer. Unfortunately I did not note the name and have forgotten it. But I will definitely remember the appearance of this particular snake, for the rest of my life. 

Having faced my (irrational) fears in many ways, sometimes by accident (like in the previously mentioned examples), but also through careful planning. 

If you are ready to face some of your fears, please remember to keep in mind at least the following things: 

1) Please do not do anything stupid. Be responsible in, and for, your actions. 

2) Only face your fears when you feel you are ready for it. 

3) Don´t let you get forced into anything (by yourself or by anyone else). 

4) Listen to your mind and to your body. How does it make you feel? Your intuition will tell you, so be careful in listening to your inner guidance. 

5) Remember that fear is energy. If you manage to turn your fear into positive energy, you may be richly rewarded. If not in monetary terms, at least in terms of growing as an individual.

“With hope you gain courage. With courage you gain confidence, and with confidence there are no limits to what you can do” (Unknown).

 

 

 

 

 

Child Labor, Corruption, and (Ethical) Consumption – How Can You Make a Difference?

Since repetition is the mother of learning, the father of action, and so the architect of accomplishment like Zig Ziglar once wisely quoted, let me repeat some of the cruel facts about the state of ethics and moral on planet Earth: 

CHILD LABOR

-The total global number of child labor has decreased in the past decade, but still, an estimation of 168 million children worldwide are forced to work, more than half of whom are involved in hazardous work. 

– The geographical regions where child labor is at its highest: 

  • APAC (Asia and the Pacific) with almost 78 million 
  • Sub-Saharan Africa with 59 million
  • Latin America and the Caribbean with 13 million
  • Middle East and North Africa with around 9 million

The major part of these children work within agriculture (almost 100 million), followed by services (54 million) and industry (12 million). (ILO-IPEC. Making progress against child labor. Global estimates and trends 2000-2012. 2013. Quoted 30.6.2014). 

Read the detailed definitions of child labor in ILO Conventions: 

http://bit.ly/1iS3bq9

Children participating in work not affecting their health, personal development, or interfering with their education is different, but being trapped in other kinds of activities, including the cruelest forms such as slavery in armed conflicts, forced labor, or commercial sexual exploitation, drug trafficking, and organized begging, are ruthless violations of children´s freedom and human rights. (UN. Child Labor. Quoted 30.6.2014).

CORRUPTION

Corruption, literally “utterly broken”, was already used by Aristotle and Cicero, adding the terms bribe and abandonment of good habits. In political terminology, corruption is the illegitimate use of public power to benefit a private interest. Corruption is also an action to secretly provide goods or services to someone in order to influence certain actions benefiting the corrupt, a third-party, or both. The moral dimension of corruption can either refer to a mentality problem, or to external circumstances such as poverty, inadequate remuneration, inappropriate work conditions, weak or very complex procedures demoralizing people thus letting them look for alternative solutions. (Wikipedia. Quoted 30.6.2014). 

Worldwide, there are a number of organizations and national institutions dealing with, and providing information about, corruption, including OECD with its slogan “Better Policies for Better Lives” (OECD. Bribery in International Business. Quoted 30.6.2014), and UNCAC (The United Nations Convention against Corruption), a multilateral convention negotiated by members of the UN. (UNODC. United Nations Convention against Corruption. Quoted 30.6.2014).

Read the complete report of the UN Convention against Corruption:

http://bit.ly/1sQpWyX

Transparency International, a global movement working to end corruption worldwide, publishes a Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) each year, ranking countries and territories based on their level of corruption in the public sector. To see the current results, and to test your knowledge, please visit Transparency International: http://cpi.transparency.org/cpi2013/. (Transparency International. Quoted 30.6.2014). 

These are only two major global problems, among many others.

The question is, how can YOU, and your organization, make a difference?

As a private household consumer, it is not always easy to know all the work included in a certain product, unless you have produced it yourself of course. This is why it is so important that organizations operate with a high level of transparency and inform their customers about their level of standards in all of the organization´s business practices. Most progressive organizations, these days, are concerned with how they produce, or at least organizations and corporations should be socially responsible, and so make it easier for consumers to know what they are buying. 

As a consumer it is possible to invest some time in finding out more about the product, its origins, and the kind of work included in the process. If you, as a consumer, are unsure about whether a company is bringing “ethically clean” products to the market, you can always choose to ask the company, and demand supplementary information about a specific product. If it is not available, or given to you, another possibility is to change your consumer behavior and choose products that you know are ethically produced. 

Ethical consumption, first popularized by the UK magazine the Ethical Consumer, favors ethical products, empowering consumers to make ethically informed consumption choices and providing reliable information on corporate behavior. These criteria-based ethical and environmental ratings have become commonplace both in providing consumer information and in B2B, CSR and sustainability ratings. (Wikipedia. Quoted 30.6.2014). 

It may all sound somewhat complex to start with, but don´t we all want to spend our money wisely and ethically?

The next time you go shopping, start by asking yourself, why a certain product is so cheap? The price is not always an indicator of unethical production, but it could be.

 

Paradoxes of Planet Earth

World population is growing exponentially:

1980: 4,4 billion

1990: 5,3 billion

2000: 6,1 billion

2010: 6,9 billion

Today, on the 27th of June 2014, the world population is 7,2 billion. According to estimates/calculations made by the UN, the world population will continue growing as follows:

2020: 7,6 billion

2030: 8,3 billion

2040: 8,8 billion

2050: 9,3 billion

Currently, the top 20 largest countries by population (Worldometers. Quoted 27.6.2014) are:

1. China – 1,3 billion

2. India – 1,2 billion

3. U.S.A. – 322 million

4. Indonesia – 252 million

5. Brazil – 202 million

6. Pakistan – 185 million

7. Nigeria – 178 million

8. Bangladesh – 158 million

9. Russia – 142 million

10. Japan – 127 million

11. Mexico – 123 million

12. Philippines – 100 million

13. Ethiopia – 96 million

14. Vietnam – 92 million

15. Egypt – 83 million

16. Germany – 82 million

17. Iran – 78 million

18. Turkey – 75 million

19. Democratic Republic of the Congo – 69 million

20. Thailand – 67 million

Other hard facts:

– Currently, an estimated amount of 168 million children are forced to work. A child is anyone under the age of 18. Child labor is unacceptable.

– According to estimations of the U.N., two-thirds of total world population will live in water scarcity in 2025. In only 11 years from now. 2/3 of total world population in 2025 means that around  5,3 billion people will live in water scarcity.

To check your personal water footprint, visit the following page and calculator:

http://www.waterfootprint.org/?page=files/YourWaterFootprint

According to the UN Environmental Program, by 2025, agriculture is expected to increase its water requirements by 1,3 times, industry by 1,5 times, and domestic consumption by 1,8 times. (UNEP. Freshwater use by sector at the beginning of the 2000s. Quoted 27.5.2014).

Learn how to decrease water consumption at home:

http://www.savewater.com.au/how-to-save-water/in-the-home

To borrow Dalai Lama:

THE PARADOX OF OUR TIMES

“We have taller buildings, but shorter tempers

Wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints

We spend more, but we have less.

We have bigger houses, but smaller families

More conveniences, but less time.

We have more degrees, but less sense

More knowledge, but less judgement

More experts, but more problems

More medicines, but less wellness.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values.

We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often

We have learnt how to make a living, but not a life.

We have added years to life, but not life to years.

We’ve been all the way to the moon and back

But have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbour.

We have conquered outer space, but not inner space.

We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted our soul.

We’ve split the atom, but not our prejudice.

We’ve higher incomes, but lower morals.

We’ve become long on quantity but short on quality.

These are the times of tall men, and short character;

Steep profits, and shallow relationships.

These are the times of world peace, but domestic warfare,

More leisure, but less fun; more kinds of food, but less nutrition.

These are the days of two incomes, but more divorces;

Of fancier houses, but broken homes.

It is a time when there is much in the show window, and nothing in the stockroom.

A time when technology can bring this letter to you,

And a time when you can choose,

Either to make a difference …. or just hit, delete”.