Asia Pacific Forum for Environment and Development

Many Least Developed and Developing countries at Rio+20 voiced strong hesitation about the concept of green economy principles being introduced to their nations…and who could blame them?   While it is in nobody’s interest for these countries go through the environmental destruction that occurred in Europe and North America during industrialization, for a green economy approach to work it must offer a pace equal to the current growth rate. Basically, it mustn’t threaten to stall out development for the sake of the environment.  The green economy models available today are vague and are still in process. We have yet to find a market mechanism or combination of mechanisms that simultaneously attract businesses and investment while placing tight environmental regulations on them.  States are bound to act short-sightedly. If developing States adopt the green economy principles currently available, they may hinder income levels, and thus hinder economic development in the short term.   Short term economic success, despite eventually having  long-term environmental consequences, will generally be favored by the developing world.

However, I’m an optimist.  We can find a way to make adherence to green policies profitable and worthwhile for businesses without subscribing to green crony capitalism.  Just take a look at the Green Scissors Campaign, in which environmental and free-market NGOs work together to cut wasteful government spending on useless and harmful environmental policies. If green economy principles are going to be a viable choice during development, the principles must lead to the adoption of  clear, concise and effective environmental laws that are also affordable and easy for private industry to abide by.  These laws could be largely supported by taking a look at how property rights and more effective tort laws (which don’t favor the rich or powerful companies) could be applied as positive environmental protection mechanisms.  Environmental economists are also doing some groundbreaking work in this field, helping to more correctly shape understanding of the actual worth of particular natural resources to countries over time.  If Asia Pacific countries can price them accordingly on the market, then they won’t be incentivizing businesses to use unrenewable resources as if they have no end and thus, will retain and grow the wealth that lies within those resources.  I look to Myanmar, and the opening up of it’s borders to FDI, as an excellent example of a country who will very soon begin to face this issue.

Green Economy APFEDon EarthSummitTV – live streaming video powered by Livestream.

The event was entitled “Driving Innovation towards a Green Economy: Lessons Learned and Recommendations from the Field in Asia Pacific.

The programme works with research institutes, local non-governmental organizations and participating communities to pilot small-scale, innovative, sustainable development projects.  As the programme continues for it’s final year, the lessons learned about what worked (to strengthen local communities ability to retain or reverse the environmental degradation that damaged their livelihoods) and what failed to produce results, continues to be analyzed over time to see longer-term effects.

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The last few weeks of school were stressed-out and hurried as I rushed to complete my thesis.  With my mother flying in that final week and thoughts of the future spinning in my head, I could hardly keep my own name straight.  So, when, at 11pm on the night of my mother’s arrival I happened to double check our flight to Milan, I realized that I had miscalculated the date of our departure by a full day.  Ooops!

“Ummm, mom, ya know how I said we’d go to Amsterdam tomorrow?  Well, our flight actually leaves at 8am tomorrow.  Guess I’ll be staying up all night to pack and clean!”

PHOTOS:  Seized Turtles

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I decided to cover this event, as my interest in wildlife trafficking Southeast Asia was sparked after attending meetings with TRAFFIC and WWF in Bangkok earlier this year.

Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok, Thailand has long been a major Southeast Asian hub for wildlife trafficking. However, a number of news releases on recent busts since the start of the new year may suggest that Thailand is stepping up their game and cracking down on smugglers. Just this week, Thai airport authorities stopped a UAE citizen and seized nearly 500 animals, all endangered and protected under the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species, Flora and Fauna (CITIES). It is the second seizure of the year involving a large numbers of endangered turtle species of Bangladeshi origin. Which, begs the question; how many smugglers are successfully traversing the trafficking route from Dhaka to Thailand?
The crackdown in airport security may be the result of a meeting in Singapore back in March, where the unsustainable trade of tortoises and turtles was named as the species’ number one threat. Bangkok may also have experienced higher trafficking levels after the arrest of Anson Wong (aka Lizard King) last year in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It appears that new trade routes are being established to circumvent what was once one of the most prolific wildlife smuggling hotspots.

In-Between Geneva and London, I spent a full week in Spain.  For four full days I trekked around Barcelona.  My hostel (Kabul) was located right off La Rambla in a public courtyard.  The first two days, I spent on my own, getting lost in the Gothic district.  I walked for miles down the cobblestone streets, ate tapas and made buddies with my bunkmates.  In the evenings I played pool at the hostel and hung outside in the courtyard with my new friends until the wee hours of the morning.  I did meet up with my schoolmates from Geneva, eventually.  From that point on, it was paella and tapas every meal; Gaudi and more Gaudi (the houses, the park, the museum); and the giant and beautiful outdoor market right on La Rambla each morning for fresh fruit.  And of course, there was the quintessential FC Barcelona game!

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On day five, my friends and I headed to Valencia.  It was a clean, pretty and sunny city.  More laid back than Barcelona and we were all in agreement that we could definitely live there.  The highlight of Valencia is the Art and Science museum, and of course, the architecture.

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London Short To-Do List for Nerds and Non-drinkers…

Take a stroll along the Thames, from London Bridge to the Queen’s Bridge (there is great architecture in-between) .

The Churchill War Museum is worth the fee to get in.  Its one of the few museums in London that charge.

See a play at the Royal Court Theatre.  Seating is as intimate as the topics addressed.

The Natural History Museum is free, the dinosaur exhibit is worth a look as long as you don’t mind noisy kids.

Go see the Rosetta Stone, one of many good exhibits at the British Museum

Climb up the London Monument for a great view of the city


Disclaimer: All content is  probably inappropriate and possibly insulting to those inexperienced to the world of European futbol.  Ear muffs, kids.  Ear muffs.

London’s futbol obsession can best be experienced by attending a QPR match on their home turf. Here, you will learn the importance of adopting a heckler’s vernacular…it is an essential ingredient of any leading team and corresponding firm. The tossing of personal insults in song form to refs and rival fans is a true skill, not easily acquired by the polite. For example, one may overhear a seasoned QPR fan saying, “excuse me, sir,” to a random man on the subway whom he bumps. Then in the same hour, be heard yelling viciously, “Go f*ck your mother!” to the ref who called foul on the QPR defense. Click here for an example of: THE QPR EXPERIENCE


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