It wasn't the taste of sushi or the kindness of strangers that hooked American magazine editor John Einarsen on Japan on his first visit in November 1974.Click here to view the article online. the article online.
Appropriately enough for a visual kind of guy, it was a single scene: "I had arrived at the Yokosuka naval base in a rainstorm so strong that we could see nothing but mist from our ship. The next day the storm lifted. I walked out the gate of the base in late afternoon as the sun was casting a golden autumn light across the landscape. To my left was a narrow road climbing a hill, so I walked up to the top. From there I could see a flat area down below, where a group of Japanese were doing ballroom dance. The scene presented an image of such incredible gentleness in their movement, and in the light . . . I thought, 'What is this place?' That made quite an impression on me."
The memory testifies both to Einarsen's singular vision and his affectionate take on Japan, both of which have sustained him as the founder and continuing editor of Kyoto Journal, an all-volunteer triannual magazine focused on Japan and Asia that is now in its 23rd year. While other, more commercial publications are folding like origami, Kyoto Journal has managed to thrive, pulling in high-profile contributors like Pico Iyer and Gary Snyder and garnering awards like the Utne Reader Independent Press award for magazine design.
Einarsen was born in Denver in 1952, the oldest of three siblings. His father, a high school science teacher, took the family on trips around the country every summer, and Einarsen grew up with a love for the outdoors, drawing and books.
Life turned eventful in his first year of university when, along with many of his male cohorts, he faced a choice: being drafted and likely army combat duty in Vietnam or enlisting in the military and hoping for a kinder fate. He signed on as a navy seaman two days before he was to be drafted — in 1972.
At that time the U.S. and Vietnam were engaged in peace talks in Paris. "The U.S. had mined Haiphong Harbor in North Vietnam, and in the talks we agreed to demine them in exchange for the release of U.S. prisoners of war. I was assigned to a 40-man minesweeper that spent three months combing Haiphong Harbor."
Einarsen, an incurable optimist who could probably find redeeming qualities in Attila the Hun, saw his two years in the navy as a positive experience. "It was fantastic to be at sea. We went scuba diving off Midway Island, sailed up the Panama Canal and along the East Coast. I read widely — Allen Ginsberg, Alan Watts, and others — and I encountered Asia."
After his return to the U.S. in 1974, Einarsen attended an experimental college, Prescott College, in Arizona, where, along with rafting and climbing volcanoes, he studied photography with Jay Dusard, a student of Frederic Summers. "The school went bankrupt six months later, but I learned a willingness to try new things there that is still with me today," he said.
Einarsen transferred to the University of Colorado, where he studied art and Buddhist aesthetics under artist Ludwik Turzanski. "I didn't feel comfortable in America," he said. So after graduation in 1978 he returned to Japan, studying Japanese and Japanese art at Kansai University of Foreign Studies in Osaka for six months.
For several years Einarsen taught at various English-language schools and universities around the Kansai region and in Hokkaido. By 1984 he was living in Kyoto, teaching English at the YMCA and forging an expansive network of artistic and literary friends, both expatriate and Japanese. He and a friend began holding weekly poetry meetings at his house, which became a salon of sorts for many in the Kyoto expat community.
In 1985 he began working as editor of a tourist-oriented "town magazine," but when the magazine went bankrupt two years later he decided to start his own magazine and sought funding. "I dressed up in a suit and tie and went to meet with Shokei Harada, the head of Heian Bunka Center, a Kyoto-based calligraphy educational institute. He had long hair and cowboy boots and a T-shirt, and he liked my ideas."
The school has financed the magazine ever since. Today, circulation is 2,800, with many copies sent to libraries and book stores, mainly overseas.
With the other starting staff, Einarsen recruited work from poets and artists, friends and acquaintances, editing and pasted them up with spray nori starch, then faxing the pages to a typesetter in Osaka for layout and production.
The editorial approach was heavily influenced by publications like the CoEvolution Quarterly, a journal by Whole Earth Catalog founder Stewart Brand that blended the arts, spirituality and Asian cultures.
"In our first issue, which came out in 1987, the same year that my son, Sage, was born, we had an article by Daniel Kane on the tea ceremony, comparing it to the steps of Joseph Campbell's 'Journey of the Hero,' and illustrations from 'Gegege no Kitaro' cartoonist Shigeru Mizuki," Einarsen said. "Since then we've featured people like Donald Richie, Barry Lopez, Arne Naess, Kobo Abe, Arundhati Roy, Noam Chomsky and photographer Linda Connor."
Why would famous writers and artists agree to contribute to a nonpaying Kyoto-based magazine? "Famous writers have been very generous because they know that their work will be presented well. And less-experienced writers get valuable lessons in writing from our three editors, Ken Rodgers, Susan Pavlovska and Stewart Wachs. The magazine is a space to create an opportunity for growth and creative work, and people can send us something they can't place elsewhere. For young artists, Kyoto Journal is a stepping stone."
Although Einarsen seems relaxed in person, sprawled in a chair wearing an antiwar T-shirt, with eyeglasses perched atop graying hair, his unstinting editorial standards over the years have cost him his health.
"I suffered from panic attacks for 12 years," he confided. Trying to oversee Kyoto Speaks in 1991, a sprawling special issue with 58 contributors, actually sparked a nervous breakdown. "Too much coffee, pipe-smoking and late nights just overworked my nervous system, I think. It got so I couldn't even speak in front of a class," he said.
Although he still suffers in public appearances, he credits the experience for expanding his editorial reach.
Despite — or because of — their devilish complexity, Einarsen takes special pride in Kyoto Journal's theme issues, which have covered topics as varied as gender, the Silk Road and Asian street scenes. Before working on a theme issue, he said, he reads stacks of books on the theme and lets the visual and editorial ideas germinate, as he sketches thumbnails of ideas in his notepad. "We see what comes in editorially. Usually there are resonances and things play off other things to give us new ideas," he said.
Rodgers says of Einarsen, "John's ability to meld images with text and his sense of the sequential flow of the design is what really sets Kyoto Journal apart."
Kyoto Journal has published a special issue specifically for the COP10 conference on biodiversity in Nagoya. "The idea was for us in Kyoto to let people at the conference know that people care about what they're doing, and to communicate the wonder of life itself. Most of the publications there are fairly dry, so we wanted to inject a bit of magic and poetry."
Kyoto Journal asked potential contributors what they wanted to tell the COP10 delegates. Einarsen explained: "Our contributors include poets, Shinto priests and scientists. We got responses from famous people, like Bill McKibben, Vandana Shiva and Barry Lopez, but we also published a great piece from a high school student. This issue brought together more people than have ever been involved before, and it was an issue we were really passionate about."
The magazine, with the theme "Biodiversity: Japan's Satoyama and Our Shared Future," was passed out to 800 delegates and other participants at COP10, including actor Harrison Ford and COP10 Executive Secretary Ahmed Djoghlaf, with nearly everyone seeming to have one tucked under their arm at some point. "If one of the delegates is looking through this and gets a positive idea, then we've succeeded," Einarsen said.
In the coming months, Kyoto Journal has plans for a special food issue, among other things. Said Einarsen: "We've lasted this long because we feel excited about every issue, we feel like 'I want to share this with people.' That's the key."
More information on Kyoto Journal is available on its website, www.kyotojournal.org
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Small Farmers’ Solutions to the biodiversity crisis
(Nagoya, 26 October 2010) Small farmer delegates from different parts of the world who are members of the international peasant movement La Via Campesina are attending the Convention of Biodiversity conference in Nagoya, Japan. They represent hundreds of millions of small farmers and family farmers in the world.
Colleen Ross from the National Farmers Union of Canada following the process said “We are disappointed in many of the initiatives discussed in the working groups of the conference, such as “sustainable biofuels”. What we call “agrofuels” are actually not sustainable and do not constitute a renewable source of energy. It is really no solution to climate change, or of any benefit to farmers, indigenous people or local communities, but just a way for agribusiness to make more money”.
Many small farmers in the Global South are facing exclusion and bankruptcy due to the expansion of agrofuel plantations. They lose their biodiversity due to monoculture plantations and they lose their land and territories. Hunger and poverty is everywhere in the rural areas. Worse, agroethanol and agrodiesel do not even solve the climate crisis, they actually increase it.
History has shown that it is small farmers and indigenous people that have defended their territories and protected biodiversity through ecological farming. Therefore the Convention of Parties (COP) of the CBD should not just recognize the importance of sustainable family farming agriculture but actively support it. Such a support would be a major achievement of the CBD for the protection of biodiversity.
In this COP10 - CBD La Via Campesina farmers demand :
• An end to the expansion of agroefuel plantations, and the reduction of consumption of agrofuel. There is no “sustainable biofuel”.
• Mandatory information on the origin of biological resources used for each commercialization of all products.
• A moratorium on Genetically Used Restriction Technologies such as “terminator” and transgenic seeds.
No patents or breeding rights on living organisms, their parts and derivatives and the cancellation of all existing property rights on these.
• Access and use of biological resources and knowledge should be conditioned on the prior consent of indigenous and local communities.
• No market mechanisms on biodiversity and climate change solutions.
Delegates from 193 countries (not including the U.S., which is not a signatory to the UN Convention on Biodiversity) committed to key goals such as curbing pollution, protecting forests and coral reefs, setting aside areas of land and water for conservation, and managing fisheries sustainably...(Greenpeace urges Japanese officials to save the dugong, vulnerable marine life & their ocean habitats. A fish and dugong greet Japanese delegates as they cross a bridge on the route to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya, Japan. The summit venue is in the background. Photo and background story: Greenpeace)
Hosts Japan hailed the agreement, Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara saying: "From now on, our country will contribute to the protection of biodiversity and positively support developing countries' efforts to implement the Nagoya protocol, with technologies and knowledge our country has."
Delegates and green groups also said the accord offered hope that the United Nations could help to solve the planet's many environmental problems, particularly after the failure of climate change talks in Copenhagen last year.
One of the most significant elements of the accord was a commitment to protect 17 percent of land and 10 percent of oceans so that biodiversity there could thrive.
Currently only 13 percent of land and one percent of oceans are protected...
Greenpeace International stood out among the major environment groups with a critical stance.
Greenpeace had been pushing for 20 percent of oceans to be conserved, as a step towards an eventual target of 40-percent preservation.
For more information on the agreement, please read Winifred Bird's excellent summation, "World Governments Reach Biodiversity Agreement," at Earth Island Journal:
To follow the the ups and downs of the conference we recommend articles by Japan Time journalists Eric Johnston and Setsuko Kamiya:
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/cop10.htmlFor over a period of two weeks, twelve Kyoto Journal volunteers, at their own expense and time, traveled to Nagoya and handed out some 800 issues of our KJ issue 75 on biodiversity to delegates, media participants and NGOs at the conference site.
Issues were hand-delivered to Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity; Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, Matsumoto Ryu, Minister of the Environment of Japan; and even film actor Harrison Ford, long-serving Vice Chairman of Conservation International.
KJ contributor David Kubiak described the issue as "largely a prayer to and for COP10, the UN's 10th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)" See his excellent website, In Defense of Biodiversity for comprehensive, sensitive coverage of a wide range of biodiversity issues.
Mizubeni Asobu Kai's community-based conservation program at Nakatsu Tidal Flats wins World Wetland Network "Blue Globe" in Nagoya
Mizubeni Asobu Kai (headed by Yukiko Ashikaga), a community-based conservation program to restore and protect Nakatsu Tidal Flats won a World Wetland Network "Blue Globe" for best practices and wetland restoration in Nagoya.
The Oita-based group is a dynamic facet of Kyushu's vibrant civil society and interconnects with communities throughout Japan, the A-P, and the rest of the world. This past event "Water - connecting the human life and wildlife of Oita, Japan and the Asia-Pacific region" flyer reflects Mizubeni Asobu Kai's holistic framework and outreach. The NPO proposed and helped to organize the first Asia-Pacific Water Forum, held in 2007.
(Nakatsu Tidal Flats. Photo: Biodiversity Center of Japan)
They completed the Nakatsu Tidal Flats conservation project in 2005:
Natural morphologies, such as sand dunes, river mouth bars and wetlands around a river mouth, are formed by dynamic processes of waves, river currents and wind, and are dynamically stable unless a large-scale anthropogenic effect is induced.Congratulations to Yoshiko Ashikawa and her colleagues at Mizubeni Asobu Kai and the other winners of the World Wetland Network awards in Nagoya!
Their coastal protection and ecosystem functions for maintaining habitats of many organisms were re-evaluated. The sand dune and wetland in front of an earth dike were maintained as they were, and the overall morphology was regarded as a shore protection facility against storm surges. The setting back of the protection line for maintaining a sand bar and a salt marsh was planned for the first time in Japan with the participation of local citizens and stakeholders, and the construction was completed in 2005.
These conservation activities are effective not only for enhancing the safety of the area but also for keeping the sustainability of fishery.
For more info on Nakatsu Tidal Flats, see this page at the Biodiversity Center of Japan's website. For info on more wetlands in Japan, see this page at the same site.
Friday, October 29, 2010
Performances include shakuhachi/calimba player Robbin Lloyd , +RAW- elements featuring Max and yun-han and Shohei Kuratsu on sax (click here to listen to one of their collaborations), and accordion/trumpet duo Garage.
This is one of several annual events to raise money for the Laliguras Children's Home in Kathmandu, including a concert and a charity walk (organized by Kevin Ramsden).
According to event organizer and +RAW- elements member Max Dodds:
'Get On The Mat!' is part of a series Kevin started years ago and has included Get On the Desk/Bus/etc., which refers to the goal of the charity event at the time. The children consist of five boys and five girls, most of whom are orphans and had nowhere to go. We provide all of their expenses: food, clothing, health, education and shelter. Part of the proceeds will also go into a fund we are starting to build a school in Kathmandu. This is a long term goal; however, we are committed to meeting the needs of ten kids at a time until we can expand. We also have ten sponsor families in Kyoto who pay for roughly half the costs. Occasionally when they need something else, we arrange to buy it with any funds we have left over from the charity events. These have included a generator, a mini library, medical expenses, and soon a laptop. The goal [of the event] hasn't changed this time, so we are going to get on the tatami mats at Honen-in.When asked about what prompted him to start organizing these events for the Nepali orphanage, Max responded:
Initially I was doing gigs and donating proceeds to charity when Kevin approached me about organizing music for his events. It has led to our collaboration in the laliguras project. ('Laliguras' refers to a Nepalese flower.)
I have visited the orphanage once so far (Kevin has twice). I met the director in Kyoto some years back and made a connection with him. I started sending books and school supplies at first and later generated a little money from small charity events. Kevin expanded everything by asking friends to sponsor a child and the orphanage grew from there.Other than live music, baskets from Zimbabwe will be sold to help fund the Zienzele AIDS children organization. Items will also be sold to support a Guatemalan women's empowerment NPO.
I made an instant connection when I met the children. Even though we cannot communicate linguistically, we played in a park for a few hours one day, running races, arm wrestling, playing badminton with ancient racquets, singing and laughing, and I look forward to seeing them again, hopefully next year.
The entrance fee is only 2000yen- a small price to pay to bring smiles to the faces of the children of Nepal. Hope to see everyone there!
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Greenpeace: "Saving Sumatra" shows the destruction of Indonesian rainforests to create palm oil plantations and wood & paper products
(Greenpeace: "Saving Sumatra" Bearing witness to rainforest destruction in Indonesia. Rainforests and carbon-rich peatlands in Indonesia are being destroyed at such a rate that Indonesia is now the world's third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, after the US and China. The habitats of endangered species like the orang-utan and Sumatran tiger are disappearing. The homes and livelihoods of indigenous communities are being destroyed.")
Greenpeace's Rainbow Warrior was not allowed into Indonesia two days ago:
... just a few months ago, Indonesia's President Yudhoyono said he welcomed working in partnership with non-governmental organisations, including Greenpeace, to end deforestation. And he recently announced a two year moratorium on forest destruction in Indonesia as part of a US $1 billion deal with Norway, which could create the single largest climate mitigation and adaptation project in the world – if successful.Read the entire blog post here.
We are campaigning to make sure the deal succeeds, that it includes the millions of hectares of rainforests and carbon-rich peatlands that have already been parcelled out for logging, and not just new logging concessions. In short, we're campaigning alongside Indonesian NGOs and civil society for a new green development pathway and zero deforestation in Indonesia by 2015.
So why wasn't the Rainbow Warrior let in? The honest answer is that we don't know, for sure. The government has given us no official reason.
But we do know that we've been working – with significant success - to expose the rapid expansion of the palm oil and pulp and paper sectors into Indonesia's rainforests and carbon-rich peatlands. And we do know that the notorious forest-destroyer, Sinar Mas, is expanding its plantations while claiming that it does not destroy forests.
So it seems very possible that there are some things that short-sighted political and economic interests did not want us – or you – to see, and that Indonesia's government capitulated to these vested interests.
We did see it though. Last weekend, a Greenpeace team flew over Sumatra to bear witness to the forest destruction first hand. As you'll see, the destruction of Indonesia's rainforests and carbon-rich peatlands is real and very much ongoing.
To help transform the interconnections fueling Indonesian rainforest destruction into interconnections fostering preservation and sustainability, see Rainforest Action Network's effective work on palm oil: "to encourage companies to make commitments to source or supply only socially and environmentally responsible palm oil."
Palm oil is a globally traded agricultural commodity that is used in 50 percent of all consumer goods, from soaps and detergents to breakfast cereals and biofuels. Grown on massive plantations in tropical nations, mainly Malaysia and Indonesia, palm oil has been associated with rainforest destruction; threatened extinctions of animals, including orangutans; huge increases in greenhouse gas emissions; and gross human rights and labor violations.See also "Borneo's majestic rainforest is being killed by the timber mafia
Focusing on reducing market demand for environmentally and socially irresponsible palm oil products and transforming global supply chains, our Rainforest Agribusiness Campaign creates the market leverage necessary to improve corporate behavior and make change happen on the ground.
Felling trees to meet British demand for garden furniture is devastating villages, livelihoods and food supplies, and threatening endangered species" published on Oct. 24 at the Guardian:
Indonesia has one of the world's largest areas of remaining forest but also one of the highest deforestation rates, ranking only behind Brazil. The vast green rainforest carpet has become a patchwork with more than half of Borneo's tree cover and peat swamps – which absorb much of the planet's carbon excesses – already gone after a decade's "goldrush" of uncontrolled timber logging that was at last partially curtailed in 2006.As Winifred Bird points out, with more attention to the consequences of our interconnected impacts to our world, we can support the broadening of awareness that precipitates positive change.
But now the rest is being pillaged by palm oil and pulpwood plantations and networks of illegal loggers – the "timber mafias" – in an onslaught that is endangering not only the wildlife and the people but also contributing to global climate change on a scale far out of proportion to the island's size on the map. Indonesia's carbon emissions as a result of its deforestation and land use changes put it in third place of the world's worst offenders, behind only the US and China...
Kalimantan is the largest chunk of Borneo. Brunei and Malaysia occupy the top third. Divided into three provinces – east, west and central – Kalimantan has almost 10% of the world's tropical forest and an extraordinary biodiversity that constantly multiplies with three new species being discovered there on average every month. It is the only home of some of the world's most endangered mammals: the pygmy elephant, the clouded leopard, the sun bear and the orangutan. All of them face extinction if the ancient forest is destroyed.
Already along many of West Kalimantan's rivers the black totem poles of dead and dying trees stand stark where rainforest once flourished. Indiscriminate chopping down of the big trees kills off the surrounding flora, too, a degradation that allows the free flow of flood waters to drown more trees, insects and plants and erode the habitat of apes and the resources of locals.
Australian environmentalist Tim Flannery echoes this view, noting that the survival of not only endangered species but for humanity comes down to our understanding of the nature of our existence:
This planet of our's just doesn't exist out of nothing. It's the life on the planet that makes it what it is. As we degrade the life force on earth, we will face severe consequences.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Biodiversity 100: Preserve the biodiversity on Okinawa Island, including Yanbaru Forest's spiny rat, Noguchi's Woodpecker, & Namiye's Frog
The Guardian's "Biodiversity 100: A campaign to compile a list of 100 tasks for world governments to undertake to tackle the biodiversity crisis" includes Okinawa:
Action: Preserve the biodiversity on Okinawa IslandOkinawa Island is the largest island in the subtropical Ryukyu chain off the south-western coast of mainland Japan – and has been described as "Japan's equivalent of Hawaii."
A quarter of the Yanbaru forest on the northern tip of the island is occupied by a US military base. There are already 22 US military helipads in the training area in Yanbaru, but a further seven helipads are planned within two of the best-preserved areas in the forest, near Takae Village.
Appropriate legislation for conserving this region should be established, and Tokyo should stop construction completely, if it wants to honor local democratic process as well as preserve biodiversity in Okinawa.
(Okinawa Woodpecker. Image: Center for Biological Diversity)
Evidence: Yanbaru's forests are the final stand for a number of threatened endemic species such as the critically endangered Okinawa spiny rat (Tokudaia muenninki), Noguchi's woodpecker (Dendrocopos noguchii) and Namiye's frog (Limnonectes namiyei).
Yanbaru's natural forests are critical habitat for many of Okinawa's native mammal and bird populations, but clearcutting and removal of undergrowth. A paper on the conservation value of the region warned of the "imminent extinction crisis among the endemic species of the Yanbaru forests."
(Namiye's frog is an indigenous species of frog to Okinawa. It lives only in headwaters surrounded by mountains. Image: Japan Hotspot)
See more photos of Yanbaru's animal and plant inhabitants at Japan Hotspot.
And for more information about citizens' efforts to save Takae village and Yanbaru Forest at these previous posts:
• Jon Mitchell reports on protests against proposed U.S. military Osprey heliport construction in Takae, an ecologically sensitive area of Okinawa"
• "Peaceful New Earth Celebration in Tokyo spotlights Okinawa, indigenous cultures, sustainability, & global networking"
• "Peace Not War Japan's Film/Live Music Festival Highlights Citizen Movements: Mt. Takao, Okinawa's Yanbaru Forest, Iraqi Refugees in Jordan"
• "Takae Village Sit-In Protest against US Helipads in Pristine Yanbaru Forest, Okinawa"
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Lee Myung-bak's Four Rivers Construction (& Casino) Project will destroys much of what is left of S. Korea's natural environment
Costing US$19 billion, Lee's plan benefits South Korean construction companies (Lee is a former Hyundai Construction CEO nicknamed "the Bulldozer") at the expense of South Korean biodiversity. The scale is enormous: 16 dams on four of the country's largest rivers, creating five tributary dams, the raising of 87 irrigation dams that are already in place; reinforcing hundreds of kilometres of riverbank and 570 million cubic metres worth of dredging.
Overseas and Korean environmentalists and scientists call Lee's project an ecological disaster. The Professors' Organization for Movement Against Grand Korean Canal, a group of 2800 academics say, instead of preventing flooding, the dam construction would increase the risk and scale of flood damage. Damming and dredging would turn living into dead rivers.
Korea Wetlands Campaign has a disturbing short video, "The Excavator Age," that shows what now is happening to rivers in South Korea "in the name of the 'Four Rivers Restoration Project.'"
James Card, an American journalist living in South Korea, provides background in http://e360.yale.edu/content/feature.msp?id=2188'>"Korea’s Four Rivers Project: Economic Boost or Boondoggle?" posted last year at Yale E360:
The Korean peninsula was once called geum-su-gang-san, “a land of embroidered rivers and mountains.” Before South Korea industrialized in the postwar years, the rivers were wild-running freestone streams barreling down the mountains and turning into sandy shallow rivers edged by wetlands as they reached the sea. In her 1898 book Korea and Her Neighbors, 19th-century travel writer Isabella Bird described the upper Namhan River as “where pure emerald water laps gently upon crags festooned with roses and honeysuckle, or in fairy bays on pebbly beaches and white sand.”Read the rest of James Card's article here.
That world is long gone now, as the Namhan and nearly every other South Korean river has been dammed, forced into concrete channels, or otherwise re-engineered by successive governments that have funneled billions of dollars to the powerful construction industry to fund countless public works projects designed to tame the country’s rivers. Today, besides a handful of creeks deep in the mountains or protected in national parks, only one major river, the Dong, exists in a natural meandering and un-dammed state.
Now, in part to boost the fortunes of the construction cartel in a global recession, there is a new public works offensive: the Four Rivers Restoration Project. The $18 billion plan will further develop Korea’s four major river systems — the Han, Nakdong, Geum, and Youngsan — with the stated goals of preventing water shortages, improving water quality, bolstering flood control, and creating “eco-friendly culture spaces” for tourism. The work would require building 16 new dams on those rivers, rebuilding 87 old dams, reinforcing 209 miles of riverbanks, and dredging 570 million cubic meters of sediment from 428 river miles. On 14 tributaries there will be five new dams and nine more will be rebuilt, and 151 miles of riverbank will be buttressed with concrete...
The four rivers targeted in the project no longer exist in a natural state as many stretches have been straightened and channelized. But for the large numbers of migratory birds that still pass through South Korea, the ceaseless work will further erode dwindling habitat. The Geum River, for example, still has a massive flock of Baikal teal, but many of those birds will have to find new roosting territories as the river’s remaining shallow, reed-filled areas are excavated and deepened. One researcher at the state-funded Korea Institute of Construction Technology called the Four Rivers Project a “grand disaster that any expert can clearly foresee with common sense.”
* Update: "'Green' New Deal Projects Threaten Korea's Rivers and Tidal Flats" posted at Internationalrivers.org.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Nagoya is the host city of the Conference of Parties 9th Meeting on the Convention on Biological Diversity. For a full summary of Greenpeace's activities at COP10, click here.
In the opening ceremony of the CBD here in Nagoya, Japan, Japanese Environment Minister Matsumoto (also chair of the conference) reminded delegates that biodiversity is the legacy we will leave our children. Greenpeace is here at CBD COP10 to make sure that the legacy we leave our children is one that is sustainable and healthy.
One of the main focuses of Greenpeace’s work here is sustainable fisheries and oceans. The oceans are a source of food for so many people on Earth. Here in Nagoya, governments gathered here can help us to leave these future generations with food and life.
As the second day of negotiations here came to a close, the team from Greenpeace Japan, where I work, projected messages urging delegates to save life on Earth and rescue our oceans in front of Nagoya Castle. It was a unique cloud projection- photos and text displayed on an artificial cloud. The Nagoya Castle is a major tourist attraction here in Nagoya. The Greenpeace Japan team had spent much of the day passing out flyers about the projection and when they arrived, we invited them to sign our petition to create more marine reserves, areas of ocean off-limits to industrial activity: things like fishing and drilling for oil. There were many Japanese journalists at the projection also, which was good. Today, many people in Japan woke up to newspapers with the photo of the projection and the demand for marine reserves: something we hope the Japanese delegation also saw.
Nagoya is a city near the sea, a sea that must be protected. Greenpeace is campaigning for a network of marine reserves covering 40% of the world’s oceans. That goal can begin to become a reality here in Nagoya.
- Photo taken by Jen Teeter on October 20, 2010
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Or is it more?
With the intricate gardens of Eiun-in Temple painting a rich landscape behind her, Winifred Bird, a writer for Kyoto Journal, shares her awakening to the deep interconnections between the biodiversity of the natural world and the seemingly disconnected experience of human beings in today's societies at the Kyoto Journal Biodiversity Special Launch Party.
I’ve been thinking a lot about biodiversity lately. Actually, since last summer, biodiversity has pretty much taken over my life. Partly that’s because I’ve been lucky enough to be working on this great special issue of Kyoto Journal, and partly for a couple of other projects. I guess you could say I’ve hopped on the COP10 media bandwagon, but the funny thing is, I sometimes still don’t feel like I have a firm grasp on what biodiversity actually is and why it matters. This could have something to do with the fact that I haven’t formally studied biology since tenth grade, but I think a lot of the general public is also pretty hazy on the term, if they’ve heard it at all. It’s not one of those easy-access words like “nature” or “open space” or even “extinction,” that you hear and just immediately visualize. It’s not even really about individual species – a panda here, a tiger there - it’s about the whole picture, how everything works together and is connected, and for me, that’s been a hard thing to get my head around because it’s just so huge. But I had a bit of a biodiversity breakthrough earlier this summer that I’d like to share with you.-Posted by Jen Teeter. (Thank you Winifred for sharing your speech with us!)
Around July I had a lull in my writing work, so I went up to Gifu to help my husband out with a project he was doing there. He’s a carpenter, and he was building a cabin up in this vacation development way out in the mountains near Gujo Hachiman, and to cut costs we were camping at the worksite. It’s a vacation area, so during the week the place is a real ghost town, and it became our own little world. One morning, we’d set up our breakfast table, which was actually a plank balanced on top of some boxes, and we were sitting across from each other drinking our tea, and suddenly it was just like I had fallen inside a cheesy love song. It just struck me that we were made for each other. Not just on a personal level, but on a biological one, the level of elemental man and woman. We fit together perfectly and we literally can’t live without each other, in the sense that we need each other in order to procreate our species. And the amazing thing is that this not only works on a utilitarian level, but this interdependence is also incredibly beautiful. It’s not only procreation, but also love. And then it hit me really strong that the same thing is true for the whole world – that the fox and the rabbit, the flower and the bee, everything, is made for each other, everything fits together in the most immense and beautiful pattern.
Of course, it’s the most obvious of clichés to say that we’re all connected and that that every piece of the puzzle matters. These are things that I know on an intellectual level, as I’m sure you all do, but how often is it that we really feel that connection? How often does the pattern flash before our eyes in all its Technicolor complexity? I said a second ago that it’s completely obvious that everything is connected, but in another sense it’s not obvious at all. It’s not like the connections are visible, like a giant string net tying me to that tree to that cat to that mosquito. My basic instinct, admittedly as an American and someone who’s neither a biologist nor a Buddhist, is to think of myself as an independent unit, rather than as part of something larger, a part that doesn’t work when it’s isolated from that larger picture.
The connections become obvious, of course, when we destroy them. When we hunt all the sea otters and then the urchins that they used to feed on explode out of control and eat the kelp forests where they live down to the nub, and then the fish that breed in these kelp beds decline and we go fishing and there aren’t any fish out there, then we understand that nature is a network where every piece matters. The trick is to see it before we’ve destroyed it, to somehow raise our awareness enough to protect what we’re used to taking for granted.
I was talking to a scientist recently who gave me another example of how we often don’t become aware of the value of biodiversity until a disaster strikes. His name is Thomas Elmqvist, and he teaches natural resource management at the Stockholm Resilience Center at Stockholm University, and he’ll also be in Nagoya for COP 10 as part of the Swedish delegation. For about twenty years, Elmqvist has been studying a forest in Samoa where two different types of flying fox play a key role in dispersing seeds. Basically they eat tree fruit then drop the seeds throughout the forest. One species, the dominant one, did most of this work while the other was less abundant and played a fairly minor role in the forest.
In the early nineties, a major hurricane hit the forest and knocked down a lot of trees. What happened afterwards with the flying foxes is really fascinating. The dominant species went down to the forest floor to search for fallen fruit, and when these animals are on the ground they’re very slow, they kind of creep along, so this species was essentially wiped out by predators. Meanwhile, the subdominant species stayed up in the trees and survived by eating young leaves. When flowers and fruits started to appear in the remaining trees again, this formerly inconsequential flying fox was the one that was still around to carry on seed dispersal.
Elmqvist says he suspects that if there hadn’t been this diversity in the flying fox species – he calls it “response diversity within functional groups” – it’s quite likely many of the plant species in the forest would not have been propagated, and alien plant seeds would have blow in on the wind and been able to gain a foothold in the forest, possibly causing it to flip to a very different kind of environment. His point in telling this story was that diversity is what gives ecosystems their resilience when disaster inevitably strikes. It’s kind of like biodiversity is the ultimate life insurance policy: it ensures that in one form or another, life will go on.
But on a more basic level, what this story illustrates for me is that there is a whole lot of stuff going on in the natural world that I’m unaware of, yet completely dependent on for all sorts of goods and services. We don’t want to mess around out there too much. We don’t want to start saying, why do we need two kinds of flying fox? One is doing the job just fine. We’ve got to keep reminding ourselves of the limits to our own knowledge. At the same time we’ve got to keep trying to learn more and become more aware of how everything, including ourselves, is interrelated. Hopefully this issue of Kyoto Journal can be a part of that.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Appeal to Tokyo to comply with its "Satoyama Initiative" & stop biodiversity destruction at the Kaminoseki Nuclear Power & Henoko, Okinawa
At the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP10) on the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), held in Nagoya, Aichi, from October 18 to 29, host nation Japan announced its “Satoyama Initiative,” expressing Tokyo's intention to lead global projects related to the Convention.
At the same time — even as the COP10 is underway — Tokyo is pushing government projects that will destroy biodiversity in Japan: the construction of Kaminoseki Nuclear Power Plant in a biodiversity hotspot in Yamaguchi Prefecture and the plan to to reclaim land at Oura Bay in Henoko, Okinawa (the habitat of the critically endangered dugong and many other unique species) to build a U.S. Marine Corps air base. These are a couple of examples among many of the Japanese government’s policies that contradicts its official position and strategic objectives on preservation of the nation’s biodiversity. Tokyo's Official Development Assistance (ODA) policies also include those that contradict these biodiversity principles.
We, international NGOs, hereby issue a joint statement, to raise awareness about these realities, and to call for the Japanese government to review its policies.
Please read the appeal below and send the endorsement of your organization by 24:00 (in Japan) of 23th to email@example.com.
Joint NGO statement to Japan, host nation of CBD-COP10, to call for reviewing environmental policies of Japan
On the following site, Japanese Government, the presidency of the 10th Conference of the Parties (COP10) of Convention on Biological Diversity, has pulished "Original draft of the post-2010 target (new strategy plan)" pamphlet: http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/gaiko/kankyo/seibutsu_tayosei/pdfs/post2010.pdf
Five strategic targets are in this original daraft as of September 26, 2010.Strategic target A: Deal with the primary cause for the loss of biodiversity.Moreover, it advocates the target of 20 items such as" All people recognize the value of biodiversity, the value of biodiversity is built into the plan of the government, and harmful measures to biodiversity is abolished."
Strategic target B: Decrease direct pressure to biodiversity.
Strategic target C: Improve the situation of biodiversity.
Strategic target D: Strengthen the benefit from biodiversity.
Strategic target E: Strengthen the execution of the agreement through the capacity building.
The following two plans are proposed as "Mission (short-run target to 2020)".Plan 1: Take effective and urgent actions to stop the loss of biodiversity.In addition, "Vision (mid/long-term target to 2050)"says that the vision of this strategy plan is "The world where people live in good harmony with nature" and "The biodiversity as natural capital is evaluated, maintained, recovered, used wisely, and thereby healthy earth is maintained and an indispensable benefit to all people is given."
Plan 2: Through the effective and urgent actions, stop the loss of biodiversity by 2020.
Japan has named this approach "Satoyama Initiative", and tries to take related activities of the agreement globally from now.
However, Japanese Government is doing a lot of policies contradicting its standpoint and strategic target domestically. They are destroying biodiversity one after another. For example, they are reclaiming Oura bay in the east coast of northern Okinawa, a hot spot of biodiversity, to build the U.S. military Marine Corps airport. Moreover, various businesses in contradiction to this strategic target are done by official development assistance (ODA) in the foreign countries.
It is a problem for Japan to leave the ecocide go and not to stop the biodiversity destruction businesses only doing "Satoyama Initiative".
We enumerate the data of biodiversity destruction businesses from the next page to let COP10 attending countries and NGOs refer to them. And we request that the Japanese Government review businesses concerned at once and achieve the strategic target proposed in COP10. In addition, the signatures of the NGO groups that agrees to the request of stopping of businesses concerned are appended.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Biodiversity and COP10: Spotlight on Brazil's Amazon Rainforest and the Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers
With all eyes presently on the issue of biodiversity as the COP10 conference unfolds in Nagoya, one interesting and yet widely unknown angle to this issue is the connection between the endangered brazilwood tree in Brazil’s rainforest—and the future of classical music as we know it.
This critical problem is explored in depth in the beautifully made documentary film A Arvore da Musica (The Music Tree), which is currently screening in Japan at the 6th Festival Cinema Brasil. From the festival website:
Found only in the remnants of Brazil's devastated Atlantic Rainforest, Brazilwood (known abroad as “Pernambuco’s wood”) is vital in the manufacture of fine violin, cello and viola bows. Ever since the time Mozart was composing his masterpieces, 250 years ago, when it was first introduced, luthiers and musicians from all around the world haven’t discovered a wood of comparable quality that could replace the Brazilian one. From the search for the wood in the forests of Brazil, to their use by the world’s greatest symphony orchestras, the film explores a path to saving the trees and the music that depends on it.
Excellent trailer for the film on You Tube
The film festival finished in Tokyo on October 15th, and is presently screening in Osaka until October 22nd. It will run in Hamamatsu from October 23rd - 29th, and Kyoto from November 13th – 19th.
The festival also includes many other interesting films in its lineup, such as an excellent documentary on the history of music and the spoken word in Brazil, and another on the cultural relevance of the national passion for football. For full festival details, visit the trilingual official website. A 2009 interview with festival director Edison Mineki regarding cinematic history in Brazil in the context of the country’s turbulent political trends of recent decades may also be read at a previous blog post here.
For more on the Brazilian Amazon rainforest and all of its living brilliance, the collection of online articles from the Kyoto Journal Biodiversity issue includes this gorgeous piece written by shaman (and Amazon resident) Clara Shinobu Iura, a Nikkei Brazilian who is a member of the International Council of Thirten Indigenous Grandmothers. A synopsis of a talk that she gave earlier this year regarding the grandmother's project and their film, For the Next Seven Generations, during a peace and music event at Yoyogi Park may be read at this previous blog post.
The grandmothers are presently in Nagoya, where they are vocalizing their moving appeal for protecting the world’s biodiversity from their unique perspective as the stewards of indigenous wisdom and traditions. The grandmothers will then travel onward to Amami Oshima from October 22-25 for a weekend of prayer and creating bonds of solidarity with the indigenous peoples of the island, which will be followed by a journey to the atomic grounds of Nagasaki to conduct ceremonies of prayer and healing. Details about the grandmothers’ Japan tour are available here.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Saturday, October 16, 2010
(Exclusive, free online features from the Kyoto Journal at this page)
With 2010 designated "The Year of Biodiversity," a crucial UN-sponsored conference on the preservation of biological diversity on our planet (COP10) will be held from October 18 through 29 in Nagoya, Japan. The award-winning, all-volunteer, non-profit English-language quarterly Kyoto Journal, has taken this conference as a call to action, an opportunity to contribute to the dialogue, which is being lopsidedly shaped by corporate interests. The result: a brilliantly designed issue with painstakingly detailed layouts sure to inspire creative solutions to the loss of biodiversity.
Issue 75 not only showcases the preservation of biodiversity in Japan through satoyama (rural areas where people have lived with the land without desecrating it), but also includes the voices of essayists, poets, photographers, and artists from all over the world working passionately to sustain biodiversity in their own lands. Issues of the journal will be distributed to delegates at COP10.
Along with insightful articles by environmental activists Vandana Shiva, Satish Kumar, 350.org's Bill McKibben, within the elaborate pages, you will find:
A 22-page section exploring the ideal of Japan's satoyama.
Ainu artist and storyteller Yuki Koji's "Diversity and the Great Retelling," a reflection on the knowledge of coexistence that indigenous communities offer us.
A glimpse at the symbiotic world of mushrooms by filmmaker Christal Whelan.
An exploration of the glorious world of seaweed- before it reaches your plate- by artist Nodo Michiyo.
To subscribe to Kyoto Journal or view many articles available from the "Biodiversity" issue, click here.
To learn more about actions you can take to make your voice heard at COP10, visit cop10.org
Friday, October 15, 2010
Just in from Satoko Norimatsu at Vancouver-based Peace Philosophy Centre: "Nago City Assembly Adopted Resolution Against Base in Henoko 名護市議会 「県内移設」反対決議":
The Nago city assembly passed a resolution opposing the US and Japanese governments' plan to build a new Marine Corps base in Henoko. It is the first time since 1996 that the Nago city assembly opposes the base plan entirely. Anti-base mayor Inamine Susumu made a statement that now that the administration and the city assembly are on a united front, they can stand up against the governmenet together more effectively.Read the rest here
Governments have to stop thinking about biodiversity protection as loss but as an investment to ensure long-term stability" & 26 Actions
"Biodiversity loss needs an internationally agreed rescue plan: Governments have to stop thinking about biodiversity protection as loss but as an investment to ensure long-term stability"And on what can done now...
By Robert Bloomfield, Co-ordinator of International Year of Biodiversity in the UK
29 September 2010
In some extraordinary scenes at the UN general assembly last week, where a special session began with the stark message that addressing biodiversity loss was not a luxury but a duty, secretary general Ban Ki-moon rang the alarm bells saying that the situation was an emergency, one requiring an internationally agreed rescue package akin to the global bank crisis. Governments had to stop thinking about environmental (biodiversity) protection as a loss, he said, but as an investment alongside the other measures needed to ensure long-term stability.
At the same time last week, the actor Ed Norton, the UN's goodwill ambassador for biodiversity, urged people to use their purchasing power to influence opinion, saying that it could have a bigger impact on industry – a primary driver of biodiversity impacts – than government policy. Norton's event ended with the ringing of a memorial bell, which was joined by bell-ringing around the world – including at Peterborough Cathedral, which tolled its bell 492 times for each species known to have become extinct in England in recent history.
Despite the star power, behind the scenes in the UN the international negotiators were not pulling in harmony. There is concern that next month's crucial meeting in Nagoya, Japan, could end up in a cacophony as efforts to reach agreement about biodiversity for the next decade falter...
The value of ecosystems' natural assets has to be in our economic accounting – and this is in the red. The movement towards a green economy places biodiversity centre stage and it is the greatest challenge of the decade ahead. The representative for Japan recognised this, calling on the UN to accept a resolution that 2011 to 2020 be called the International Decade of Biodiversity.
What is dispiriting is the lack of widespread media interest to these events. The Guardian's own reporting and initiatives Biodiversity100 and Piece by Piece are much welcome exceptions. The media could be doing so much more to engage the public and we need millions of people to understand, to ring bells, glockenspiels, mobile ring tones, maracas, bang tins and empty plastic bottles and demand that governments take heed.
I hope that Nagoya will be cause for celebration and not the knell for biodiversity actions because of short-sighted and narrow political positioning. To coin a phase, For whom the Bell Tolls, The Bell Tolls for You, and Me, and You and You and You…
Read Mr. Bloomfield's entire article here.
"Back Biodiversity 100, save our wildlife: The Convention on Biological Diversity is next week in Japan, and to press governments into action, not platitudes, about preserving wildlife, here is the list of 26 actions you helped compile. But there is still work to be done"
By George Monbiot and Guillaume Chapron
29 September 2010
...Our campaign aimed to be a catalyst for a more effective approach. The response was big and enthusiastic, but not always relevant. The first thing our campaign exposed was how difficult it is to identify the kinds of specific, practical solutions we were asking for. Many suggestions, such curbing human population, are relevant to biodiversity loss but too general for the CBD to tackle. The second was the weakness of the connection between science and policy. Those who document the decline of wildlife haven't given much thought to government action; while governments are often shockingly ignorant of what scientists are saying.
We set a high standard. We would not accept a proposal unless it was strongly supported by scientific evidence, made a powerful contribution to conservation and required real political commitment. We decided to prioritise quality over quantity, so we have so far chosen only 26 actions. We intend to complete the list over the coming months, so please keep sending in proposals.
We hope that reading this list has the same effect on you as it has had on us: simultaneously to boil with anger over the fact that destructive behaviour so stupid and avoidable has been allowed to continue, and to feel inspired to demand that governments act. Here are a few examples of the actions we want them to take.
• We're calling on the UK government and the three devolved administrations to create a series of new marine reserves, to reverse the shocking decline in sealife caused by industrial fishing. Despite repeated warnings, our government has failed to prevent the collapse of marine ecosystems, or to introduce more than three very small marine nature reserves where fishing is prohibited.
• We're asking the governments of India and Indonesia to ban the finning of sharks at sea. Huge numbers of sharks are being caught by their fleets or in their waters solely for their fins. These are often removed while the shark is alive: the mutilated animal is then thrown overboard. Finning – which is largely sold as gourmet meat in China – is having a devastating impact on shark populations.
• We want the Russian government to change the law that it passed last year that makes it almost impossible to prosecute poachers killing tigers. They cannot be charged unless the gun is loaded – even when they are caught with a gun and a dead tiger. It could scarcely be better designed to ensure the extinction of the world's largest remaining tiger population.
• We are asking the government of Brazil to block a proposed new law that would remove the obligation to restore illegally cleared forests, and which would reduce the areas which must be set aside for conservation. Brazil has been making good progress recently on reducing forest destruction. This law would reverse it.
• We want the Australian government to stop killing dingos. At the moment, farmers there are obliged by law to kill them, even though they are threatened with extinction. This has serious impacts for the conservation of other wildlife, as dingos eat large numbers of invasive cats and foxes that destroy native fauna. Sheep and cattle can be protected from dingos without the need to kill them.
• We're asking France to take seriously its obligations to protect the brown bear population in the Pyrenees. It has allowed numbers to drop below 20 individuals – an inviable size of population – because of complaints by a small number of sheep farmers. Unless more bears are introduced to the mountains, the species will soon become extinct there. Again, there are well-tested means of protecting sheep from the bears...
Biodiversity conservation is, or should be, all about specific action. It cannot be achieved by vague commitments. As the celebrated British ecologist Prof Sir John Lawton says: "Politicians keep talking about the threat of the loss of biodiversity. But nothing happens. Those of us who care have got to put pressure on the world's governments to stop saying one thing and doing something completely different. This campaign will make a real contribution."
We hope he's right. And we see no reason why he shouldn't be, given the recent conservation successes – Macedonia's decision to postpone its dam-building programme; Russia's vast new national parks; Ecuador's determination not to allow new oil drilling in its rainforests. But to make this campaign work, you have to get behind it. That means pestering your MP, bothering your environment minister, demanding that your government stops hiding behind platitudes and starts talking about specifics. It means insisting that they treat the world's natural wonders not as a disposable asset but as a precious charge.
Read Monbiot's and Chapron's entire article here.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
(Small conchs on marine plants on the seabed off the Henoko district in Nago, Okinawa Prefecture. Image: THE NATURE CONSERVATION SOCIETY OF JAPAN)
An endangered, brightly colored conch is among diverse sea life that may be affected by the planned relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to the Henoko district of Nago, Okinawa Prefecture. A survey by the Nature Conservation Society of Japan found 362 species in the waters off Henoko, society officials said Wednesday.
The vivid yellow-green smaragdia rangiana conch, designated by the prefecture as a potentially endangered species, was found in particular concentration. In one 50-centimeter-square area, researchers found 186 conchs, which have suffered a sharp decline in population because of a loss of habitats. Plants fed on by dugongs, an endangered marine mammal, were also found in abundance.
The society plans to use the survey, carried out in late July, to emphasize the importance of protecting the rich biodiversity in the waters off Henoko at the 10th Conference of the Parties (COP 10) to the Convention on Biological Diversity, which will be held in Nagoya in October. Masato Ono, the society's Conservation Project Division director, said Japan should not destroy the abundant biodiversity in the area.
Event Schedule for COP10:
Interactive Fair for Biodiversity
[Booth Exhibition]（English /Japanese）
1.”Okinawa's Treasured Biodiversity at a Crossroads”
Okinawa Region Working Group/
Citizens’ Network for Biological Diversity in Okinawa
Oct.18.Mon-29.Fri Shiratori Area
(adjacent to the COP10 venue)
2.“Endangered Okinawa Dugong Calls for Responsible Government Action”
Save the Dugong Campaign Center (SDCC)
Oct.18.Mon-29.Fri Atsuta Jingu Park Booth 1
[Poster Session] (English/Japanese)
Oct.18.Mon -29.Fri Nagoya Gakuin University Gymnasium 2nd Floor
1. “Okinawa’s Treasured Biodiversity”
Citizens’Network for Biological Diversity in Okinawa
2. “Threats to Okinawa’s Biodiversity
US Bases and Ill-Advised Development Projects”
Okinawa Region Working Group (JCN-CBD)
3. “Endangered Okinawa Dugong Calls for Responsible Government Action”
Save the Dugong Campaign Center (SDCC, IUCN member)
1. “Okinawa's Biodiversity in Crisis: What is Really Happening in COP10 Host Country?”
Date: Oct 24 Sun 15:30-17:30
Place: Nagoya Gakuin University Gymnasium Small Hall 2
Okinawa Region Working Group/
Citizens’ Network for Biological Diversity in Okinawa
Supported by Okinawa University (IUCN member)
2. “Endangered Okinawa Dugong Calls for Responsible Government Action” (English/Japanese)
Date: Oct.23 Sat.13:00-15:00
Place: Nagoya Gakuin University Gymnasium Small Hall 2
Save the Dugong Campaign Center (SDCC, IUCN member)
3. “Threats to the Biodiversity in Ryukyu Islands”
Date: Oct 23 Sat.15:30-17:30
Place: Nagoya Gakuin University Gymnasium Small Hall 2
[Global Dialogue Forum] (JCN-CBD)
“Biodiversity and Peace”
Date: Oct 26 Tue 10:00-12:00
Place: Nagoya Gakuin University Gymnasium Large Hall
Okinawa Region Working Group /Gender Minority Working Group /Bioregion Working Group
[Side Event (outside COP10 venue)]
1. Symposium on Okinawa’s Biodiversity & Okinawan Songs and Dance( in Japanese) “Conservation of Okinawa’s Rich Biodiversity for Future Generation
: Issue of Environment, Peace and Human Rights in Okinawa“
Date: Oct 22 Fri 18:30
Place: Tenpaku Bunka Sho Gekiijoh
2. Musical: “Tears of Garcinia” (in Japanese)
Date: Oct23. Fri 15:00 / 18:30
Place: Tenpaku Bunka Shogekijo
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
From Oct. 18 to 29, the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations' Convention on Biological Diversity, known as COP10, takes place in Nagoya.Read the rest of this important article here.
Billed by some NGOs and Japanese government officials as the conference that will sign a "Kyoto Protocol for all living things," COP10 has a number of goals, including setting targets to conserve biodiversity systems over the next decade and creating a new body of experts to advise the U.N. on biodiversity.
Most controversially, it will seek to establish a new global agreement on how to more equitably share the benefits of genetic resources, often found on indigenous people's lands, that are used by pharmaceutical companies and others.
What's the Convention on Biodiversity, and what is it supposed to do?
The Convention on Biodiversity (CBD), along with the United Nations Framework on Climate Change Convention, was born at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, where it was recognized that, although the two issues were related, a separate negotiation regime was needed to deal with biodiversity loss and preservation.
The Convention has three main objectives: to conserve biological diversity; to use biological diversity, i.e. ecosystems and their related components, in a sustainable manner; and to share the benefits of biological diversity fairly and equitably. To date, there are 193 parties to the convention.
In May 2002, at the CBD's COP6 meeting, it was agreed to work to make a significant reduction of the current state of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level by 2010. There were several problems with this goal, however.
The first and most obvious is that it failed to commit states to specific numerical goals, leaving each party to determine politically rather than scientifically what was meant by a "significant reduction."
Another problem was that, unlike climate change, there was no one international body of scientific experts advising the U.N. at the time with the political clout enjoyed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Without such a body, forging an agreement on specific numbers was all the more difficult.
Given this background, it's not surprising that the U.N. recently concluded that, far from achieving significant reductions by 2010, the situation is growing much worse.
How much worse?
To give just a few examples the U.N. cites, 70 percent of the world's coral reefs, which nearly a half a billion people depend on for their lives and livelihoods, are threatened or have already been destroyed.
Of the world's 5,490 mammals, 79 are extinct, 188 are critically endangered, 449 are endangered, and 505 are vulnerable to extinction if current trends continue.
And 1,895 of the world's 6,285 known amphibians are in danger of extinction. Scientists have advised the U.N. the world is facing the greatest extinction crisis since the end of the age of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
Will COP10 also deal with preventing the extinction of these species?
In practice, what has the CBD done, and has it met its goals?
"GMOs: Historic agreement but a small step for liability"Preparatory talks started last Wednesday, Oct. 6, in Nagoya, on an international accord on compensation for damage caused by GMO (genetically modified) crops to biodiversity and human health.
After over 6 years of negotiations, the international community finally agreed last night in Japan to put in place a liability and redress regime in case of contamination caused by genetically modified organisms (GMOs). This agreement that will be known as the ‘Nagoya Kuala Lumpur Supplemental Protocol on Liability and redress to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety’ is not a strict international liability instrument with a backup fund as Greenpeace advocated.
However, this agreement will enable countries to adopt and implement their own liability provisions and redress legislation and financial security while offering them some protection against WTO legal challenges about obstacles to trade.
The agreement will apply to damages causes directly by GMOs like genetic contamination. However, by keeping open the causality chain link between the damage and the GMO in question, it also includes products of GMOs which is a good element for an effective and meaningful liability regime.
During the negotiation, Greenpeace has consistently been pushing for a supplementary fund, paid for by a levy on GE imports in case of damages not covered by standard liability and redress. Although this option had been rejected at a previous meeting, the agreement actually keeps open possible future measures to be considered by the Protocol.
The talks preceded the fifth meeting of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety in Nagoya from Oct. 11 to 15, which will seek to adopt the accord as a supplement to the protocol under the Convention on Biological Diversity.
The accord aims to enable states to order operators who bring in damage-causing genetically modified living organisms to take necessary restorative measures.
While countries have agreed on an overall framework of the accord, crucial issues remain unresolved as Darier points out: i.e., a compensation fund that would put some teeth into the agreement.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
(Magnificent Yanbaru Forest. Photo: The Asia Pacific Journal: "Okinawa's Turbulent 400 Years" by Gavan McCormack)
The rare Okinawa woodpecker lives only in the northern jungles on the island of Okinawa, Japan, where it’s an ecological and cultural icon. The few remaining pairs of woodpeckers are on the brink of extinction, primarily due to the ongoing destruction of their forest habitat. One of the most urgent threats to the species is a proposal to clear prime woodpecker habitat for a joint U.S. and Japanese military training base.
The Center is fighting to gain Endangered Species Act protections for this critically endangered bird. The species has languished on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s candidate list for more than a quarter-century, and the Center has filed two lawsuits to get the agency to take real action for the bird.
We’re also defending Okinawa’s globally unique, ecologically significant Yanbaru forest from a U.S. military proposal to cut new helicopter landing pads and roads into the forest, threatening essential habitat for the Okinawa woodpecker.
Jon Mitchell reports on protests against proposed U.S. military Osprey heliport construction in Takae, an ecologically sensitive area of Okinawa
Foreign Policy in Focus brings us Jon Mitchell's "Postcard from Takae", an updated analysis of ongoing protests and a lawsuit against the residents (including an 8-year-old child), that asks what Tokyo's attempt to repress dissent in Takae might mean for Henoko:
The residents of Takae, a small village in the hills of northern Okinawa, are no strangers to the American military. Since 1957, they’ve been living next to the world’s largest jungle warfare training center - and many of them are old enough to remember the days when the U.S. Marine Corps hired locals to dress up as Vietcong for its war games.More information about citizens' efforts to save Takae village at these previous posts:
The 1996 Special Action Committee on Okinawa was supposed to reduce the U.S. presence in the area. Convened to quell public fury over the rape of a 12-year old girl, it pledged to return large swathes of military land to Okinawan residents - including over half of the jungle training center. As the months passed, however, the promise failed to materialize. Even when a Marine helicopter crashed near Takae’s elementary school in 1999, the daily bombing runs and roof-high helicopter sorties continued unabated.
Then, in 2006, the U.S. military made an announcement. Before returning the territory, it first wanted to build six new helipads on the land it was retaining on the outskirts of the village. The residents repeatedly lodged complaints with the prefectural and national governments, but they were ignored. In 2007, construction crews from the Okinawa Defense Bureau arrived to start laying the foundations for the 250-foot helipads. Takae’s villagers were waiting for them. They linked arms to block the gates to the worksite, they surrounded the trucks and appealed to the builders to stop their work. When they refused to listen, the protesters sat in the way of their heavy machinery. But the crews continued to unload bags of cement over their heads. Only when the police arrived did construction stop out of concern for public safety.
Since that day, over 10,000 locals, mainland Japanese, and foreign nationals have participated in a non-stop sit-in outside the planned helipad sites. So far, they’ve managed to thwart any further construction attempts. At small marquee tents, the villagers greet visitors with cups of tea and talk them through their campaign, highlighting their message with hand-written leaflets and water-stained maps.
“We’re just ordinary people wanting to lead ordinary lives,” explains Takae resident, Isa Ikuko. In a quiet voice almost drowned out by the click and whir of late summer insects, she talks of the area’s 180 species of endangered wildlife and her pride in its broccoli-shaped trees, the nearby rivers that supply the island with most of its drinking water, and the recent disclosure that the U.S. military tested Agent Orange here in the 1960s. “But what particularly scares me is the Marine Corps plan to bring in the Ospreys,” says Isa, holding up a U.S. military image of the accident-prone aircraft flying over a river suspiciously similar to one near the village.
Equally frightening are the recent tactics deployed by the Tokyo government. In November 2008, it filed an injunction against 15 of the protesters, accusing them of obstructing traffic in the area. Hoping that the three-hour road trips to the capital’s courthouse would wear down the villagers’ resolve, it also included an 8-year old child on the roster of defendants to intimidate other potential participants. The ploy backfired and the ensuing public outcry forced prosecutors to drop 13 of the cases. Two still remain, though, and with the next hearing scheduled for later in the year, a dangerous precedent is at stake. If the government wins, it will open the door for suits against similar protests - including in nearby Henoko bay where for the past six-and-a-half years, sit-in protesters have successfully prevented construction of an on-sea air base.
As long as the cases meander through the courts, the Okinawa Defense Bureau crews stay away from Takae. But with verdicts due soon, Isa and her fellow protesters are steeling themselves for the showdown sure to come to this little-known corner of northern Okinawa.
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