Blog Archives

Human Kindness in the Wake of Horror

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An improvised Paris memorial

In the wake of this past week’s global tragedies, we at UNAGB would like to express our deepest sympathies and best wishes to the victims, families and friends of the attacks in Paris, Beirut, Baghdad and the earthquakes in Mexico and Japan.

In a single day, November 13 2015, more than 115,000 lives were lost because of turmoil in the world, both socially and environmentally; leaving the global community in shock and heartbroken.

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The family of Adel Tormous, who tacked a suicide bomber in Beruit

In the wake to such tragedy, we are frequently assailed by the horror and it becomes easy to forget the good. In Paris, with debris still flying, people opened their homes to strangers who needed a safe place to sleep. Taxi cabs took people home free of charge. In Beirut, Adel Tormous tackled the second suicide bomber, ending his own life but saving hundreds. These are the experiences that we should internalize from these horrors. In the darkest of times, human kindness will still triumph.

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Global Response to a Global Problem

Climate change is a problem that affects all countries- rich and poor.  The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) held its 16th annual Conference of the Parties (COP16) in Cancún, Mexico from November 29 – December 10, 2010.  The ultimate goal of the Conference is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.  The Conference has nearly-universal membership with 20,000 delegates, NGO’s (green groups), business and media in attendance from 194 countries.

One of the goals of the Conference was to make a realistic step in taking action on climate change and build upon the Copenhagan Accord by taking steps to better implement it.  The Cancún Agreements made four major steps in achieving that objective:

1. Mitigation targets & actions: The Agreements provide emission mitigation targets and actions for approximately eighty countries (which importantly include all of the major economies) to reduce their emissions by 2020.

2. Green Climate Fund: A fund was proposed last year to help developing countries deal with implementing green policies to prevent climate change, and has a target of $100 billion annually by 2020.  The World Bank is the interim trustee of the Fund, and its oversight board consists of  representatives of the donor nations.

3. Tropical forest protection: One of the challenges facing the developing world is industrializing under environmental restrictions that developed nations did not.  Through the tropical forest protection program, wealthier countries help prevent deforestation in poorer countries by working through market mechanisms.

4. Clean Development Mechanism (CDM): The CDM stimulates sustainable development while also reducing emissions in developing countries.  It also provides industrialized countries flexibility in how they meet their reduction targets.  The CDM allows emission-reduction projects in developing countries to earn emission reduction credits, which can be traded, sold, and used by industrialized countries to meet part of their reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol.

The Conference made an extensive effort to reduce the carbon footprint of the event by doing everything from using renewable resources to planting over 10,000 trees and bushes in Cancún.  Although there is always more that needs to be done to address climate change, the Conference was a successful in creating new initiatives.

As 2011 approaches, we encourage you to think about your carbon footprint and what you can do to make a difference!

-Alex.