Annual Board Meeting – July 18, 2019

President’s Statement – Board Meeting, July 18, 2019

The UN is winding down the last two weeks of the High Level Political Forum (HLPF), and the discussions sound very much like those of former years. There is no emotion to indicate that the Earth is burning, yet today’s paper reports that the month of June was the hottest in history. 

At the beginning of the week, I attended a Columbia University Center on Global Energy Policy Meeting for a presentation by the International Energy Agency on the Natural Gas and Liquefied Natural Gas Industry. They provided forecasts for growth to 2024. At the end of the talk, I asked, “How are we going to create a Zero Carbon World by 2050 with such investment and growth in the gas industry?” I had heard the same kind of talk about the investment and growth in the oil industry a few months back. I suggested to the speaker that perhaps he should give this talk at the UN, as we seem to be living in two different worlds. I also just heard a presentation by a representative of the UN Global Compact discussing how industry is becoming more and more sustainable, entirely omitting the fossil fuel industries. 

As for internships, this summer we have accepted the greatest number, fourteen at one time, now down to eleven. The greatest challenge is always recruiting interns during the school year. Please do not hesitate to encourage college students, graduate students, post-graduates, and retirees to join us. 

We are planning a Round Table Side Event at the United Nations for Thursday, October 3rd, 2019, 3:00pm – 5:00pm. with clients of Roth Capital who will be making presentations on the latest emerging technologies dealing with climate change. The co-sponsors will be the Mission of Slovenia, and hopefully, the UN Global Compact.

Discussion following presentation by Larry Bridwell, Professor of International Business, Pace University, “China Leads the Energy Revolution” (left to right: Larry Bridwell, Steve Biro, Eric Chan, Ariel Burt, Jesse Pichel, and Roma Stibravy)

Board Meeting October 5th, 2018

President’s Statement – Board Meeting, October 5, 2018

The start of the fall season is a busy time, refreshing our contacts, striving to take new paths in our work, and expanding contacts.

For this past week alone let me share with you some of what I am referring to:

On Monday I called on the newly appointed Costa Rican Ambassador, Rodrigo Cardozo.  The highlight of the meeting was that he has agreed to serve on our board, this following the most compatible meeting of minds with his predecessor, Juan Carlos Mendoza Garcia.  As you are aware, Costa Rica is the only country in the world to run on 100% renewables for months at a time.

Yesterday 1st Vice President Harriet and I called on the newly arrived economics minister of Germany, Karin Goebel.  Following the footsteps of her predecessor I proposed a joint sponsorship for a program in the spring on plastics.

Then we proceeded to the Secretariat building to meet with the newest Acting Chief of the UN NGO Branch of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Marc Andre Dorel.  Our discussion centered on the continuing shrinkage of movement and access of NGOs in the UN building and at meetings. The other point of discussion was the system of major groups as as carry over from the 1992 Commission on Sustainable Development to the Millenium Development Goals to the High Level Political Forum.  I hope to have a meeting with all diplomatic representatives on the board to discuss the dissolution of the system of Major Groups to a much more open and democratic means of including NGOs in the work of the UN.

As we look towards a four year review of the High Level Political Forum at the 2019 General Assembly we are now at a point where there is global agreement on the road to dealing with Climate Change, Member states have adopted national measures to deal with their implementation of the agreement, and now we should be taking stock of how we can make this agreement more of a reality.  As I see the challenge it is that of reaching the individual in terms of each of us taking responsibility for the future of our planet.

May I quote the title of a recent article in the New York Times, “What kind of Planet Do
We Want?” “‘planetary boundaries” are being exceeded leading inevitably to collapse.  Only if humanity heeds the science, reverses course and lives within earth’s natural limits can disaster be avoided.”

Annual Board Meeting- May 23rd, 2018

We have had a good year, with several events at the United Nations — on such topics as electric transportation and geospatial indicators — maintaining an outstanding Board, and attracting talented interns.

We have also received our first foundation grant, albeit a small amount, but more a recognition that we are making a contribution in awareness raising and advocacy.

As the saying goes, “Think globally, Act locally.” Well, I have become more involved locally. In addition, for the past few years NGO Sustainability been a member of the Manresa Association — a local group concerned with the future of an NRG decommissioned coal and then oil burning power plant. I am trying to persuade the group and the city, that the best future use would be as a solar energy facility. One argument is that it is the easiest remediation solution for the 55 highly polluted acres from coal ash and oil spill. The rest of the 125 acres could be for recreational and other purposes.

Most recently, a county-wide committee has been formed, Sustainable Fairfield County. I represent my town of Norwalk. Hopefully, this group will also be an important support for my efforts on the solar energy facility. The timing is ripe as the state legislature just passed a 40% renewables by 2050. As usual, such laws are passed without funding or any indication of how we are going to get there.

What are our biggest concerns: new board members, now particularly from the private sector, from environmental law firms, members and friends remembering to make their yearly financial contribution — especially as we are looking to restart our Liberia renewable energy program. As an all volunteer organization we do have expenses for maintaining an office, and for our programs. We would also like to be able to help our interns with their personal costs.

Our Newsletter is a source of pride as we try to keep all up to date on the media, particularly newspapers and periodicals, on what is happening in the world of sustainability and renewable energy.

Our project of the moment is the elimination of the use of plastic bags and straws. What a surprise, today, to look at the front cover of the NY Daily News to see a big article and 3 pages inside on just the subject of plastic straws. So I suppose we would all agree, NGO Sustainability is “au courant”!