Rio+20, United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development

  • - By Kurdish American Education Society
  • 23/02/2012 00:00:00

This year, on June 20-22, United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), will be held in Rio-De Janeiro, Brazil. Referred to also, as Earth Summit II, it is a follow-up meeting to 2002 Johannesburg Summit in South Africa, called World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD).

The background to these High Level UN Conferences are the 1992 United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development (UNCED), aka, the “Erath Summit”, and prior to that was the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm in 1972.

The term Rio+20, simply implies twenty years after the “Earth Summit” that was held in 1992, also, in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

This Conference will draw High Level participants from the United Nations Leadership to Heads of State from 193 Member States, Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), Scientists and Business Leaders from around the world to work toward fulfillment in part, the goals, purposes and principles for which the United Nations was created with a Charter, on October 24, 1945.

Foremost, in its mission and objectives expressed in the Preamble of the United Nations Charter are:

a) to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and

b) to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and

c) to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and

d) to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Undoubtedly, until the recent political events in the Middle East, people of Kurdistan could have still claimed the inapplicability and the remoteness of these sublime and universally benevolent ideas to the political life and survival of Kurds and Kurdistan as a nation. For the people of Kurdistan, life experiences and their history have been too tragic and often forgotten by the outside world to instill in them faith and trust in the mission of the United Nations as proclaimed in its Charter. After decades and centuries of brave and proud resistance and sacrifices defending their homeland and demanding their full rights as a nation, the modern people of Kurdistan can begin to feel more secure in their relations with the outside world and with the United Nations. However, thrown in the burgeoning current of economic development, the threats to their survival may come less and less from their traditionally hostile neighbors, and more and more come from neglecting the very Environment that has sustained Kurdish life for thousands of years in the Greater Kurdistan.

The Rio+20 Summit on Sustainable Development, is about the Sustenance of the Environment for the sustenance of life, and is about sustainable economic progress through Development. A goal of UN that is within the broader purpose stated in the last sentence of the Preamble to the UN Charter, to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.

By getting involved, Kurdistan can benefit from the United Nations Rio+20 Summit and its outcome as it offers valuable information for the collective Kurdish Leadership, policy makers, MPs, mayors individual business persons and educators in the following ways to create a stronger Kurdistan that is sustainable in to the future.

1) Conceptual ideas about Sustainable Development and the Rio+20 Summit.

2) Practical tools and steps to implement toward Sustainable Development in Kurdistan.

First, from the conceptual framework within which the principles of sustainability are derived, it can be said that all participants at the Rio+20 summit agree that Air, Water, Land (source of food and materials to build), and Energy, are the four primary elements on which all forms of commonly known life, and human social and economic activities depend. This modern way of thinking held today by the world leaders, can be compared to the concept held three thousands five hundred years ago by the followers of Mithraism, with known archeological sites in Northern Kurdistan, who believed in the four elements as the source of creation and life, the Air, Water, Fire (Energy), and Earth (Land).

What the United Nations and the Rio+20 summit attendees wish to achieve globally for the present and for the future generations, is ways to promote creation of an environment of living in which the Air is clean to breath, the Water is safe to drink, hunger is preventable by growing adequate healthy food using traditional and efficient modern mechanisms at community level, and for people to have access to cleanly produced energy and materials to build and promote a better and a sustainable standard of life.

In essence, the objective of the Rio+20 Summit is to help world leaders to create in their countries and at every level of their governmental agencies and private industries a global culture of sustainability and sustainable development, which is defined by the UN as "Development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Second, practical tools and steps toward creating a sustainable environment vary from region to region and from country to country. However, the following ideas and actions can provide a broad guideline for the Kurdish leadership and policymakers to begin taking steps to implement recommended goals and targets of Sustainable Development along the objectives of Rio+20 Summit agenda.

2.1) New Thinking, political willingness and commitment on parts of the Kurdish leadership and policymakers is required to promote education on Sustainability and Sustainable Development. The United Nations publications and the internet can provide general information on the subject. Holding conferences and educational programs for party leaders, MPs, City Mayors/Planners, Architects, Contractors, Teachers, Farmers, Growers, business leaders and general public are useful steps.

2.2) Promote Green Living, the promising bridge to transfer a society from living un-sustainably, to living in a sustainable environment, is the development and promotion of a green political ideology. This trend is manifested in environmentally friendly growing green economy led by green technologies and other green bound industries. This growing industry is altering doing “business as usual” in many sectors of the economy that are the objectives of Sustainable Development including:

- Air Pollution Control,The word pollution means air that contains harmful level of bacteria, germs, viruses, green house gases and other unhealthy particulates that cause sickness in the plants, animals and people.

Insanitary disposal of human waste, open swage, dumping of hazardous materials near residential areas and population centers, vehicles and their maintenance, particularly the older models are just few examples of air polluting sources that must be controlled and regulated by the government agencies and mayors of Kurdish cities.

Perhaps one of the blessings of being an under-developed country is that the cities in Kurdistan have to this point, escaped heavy industrialization that is the major source of air pollution. Kurdish leadership ought to be cognizant of the consequences of Industrial developments affecting the health of the environment and the population in the long run.

- Water Supply, Water, due to its critical role in life, water has its own international Day of Water, which is March 22. On the road to Rio+20, securing clean water supply for the world population will be among the top priorities of the world leaders. Kurds can consider it to be a grand blessing of nature to have the geography and the climate that have created the wellsprings of the Tigris and the Euphrates and many of their contributory rivers in Kurdistan. If managed properly, Kurdistan water will play a more critical role in Kurdistan Sustainability and survival of the population than other natural resources in the long run.

- Food Production, Trend is to build micro-farms and locally grown fresh produce to eliminate food import from outside of 50 to 75 km radius of where people live. This of course necessitates availability of clean water from sources such as snow melts, rivers, rain, wells and use of water control and water storage systems such as building dams, dykes, levees, tanks, and rain collecting bladders. By increasing production of organically grown foods, plan to reduce and finally eliminate use of harmful chemicals in agricultural products to prevent their pass-through to humans. Reduce use and consumption of foods that requires cooking at high heat with long cooking duration. This will create a unique opportunity for the Kurdish households and restaurant chefs to invent new and creative cuisines of Kurdistan!

- Population Health, Air, water and food are intakes that determine the health of a nation. Kurdish leadership and policymakers must strive to implement Rio+20 recommended measures to create a health society within a healthy environment in Kurdistan that last generation after generation.

2.3 Green Economy, Global economic activities today, that is based on Green Technologies is only a small fraction of the total world economic output that uses traditional methods of production. Promotion of Green Economy requires transition from old to new methods of production in the following areas:

- Mining of Raw Materials, for extraction and processing of raw materials to finish goods, Kurdish leadership and government agencies shall review operational plans for compliance to international standards and green mining practices prior to approval and permits to mine Kurdish minerals. Production and use of building materials, such as lumbers, bricks, cements, metalwork, hydrocarbon processing plants, and other light and heavy industries shall be done with no adverse effect on the environment and products shall be produced with least steps required in the process and by using energy efficient equipment for each step of the cycle from start to finish.

- Renewable Energy, Urban and inter-communities infrastructure and industrial developments, human mobility and economic activities, all require use of energy. The Rio summit in June 2012, will promote increase use of energy supply from renewable sources like solar, wind, hydropower, city wastes, biomass and other non-hydrocarbon base energy sources. Use of Green Technologies to reduce wasteful use of energy and to reduce greenhouse gas emission in to the environment is a top priority.

- Green Buildings, Design of residential, commercial, industrial, schools educational institutes, and multipurpose buildings, are the starting points for Kurdish Architects to implement green concepts in the building design and use of site and materials that meet sustainable building guidelines including:

- Onsite energy generation from renewable resources to power construction equipment and the building heating and cooling needs under occupancy and use.

- Least disturbance to the natural terrain by minimizing cut and fill to grade construction sites.

- Prevent air pollution during the building construction, occupancy and use. Air borne construction dusts and use of materials that emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are o be avoided.

- Water supply and its allocation for drinking and irrigation to be from sustainable sources as mentioned earlier in 2.2, water supply.

- Roof areas in all buildings to be used for passive or active solar ray collection, or be converted to a roof garden producing edible greens.

- Landscape buildings, public parks and city streets with trees and plants that are native and require least water and maintenance.

On the global progress toward transition from the traditional economy to a new green, clean, and transparent economy of the future, now is the time and Kurdistan is the place for the Kurdish Leadership, policymakers, mayors and educators to get on the road with Rio+20, United Nations Conference on Sustainable development.

For Kurdish American Education Society,

Ardishir Rashidi-Kalhur

Southern California Regional Director,

United Nations Association of the United States of America

  • - By Kurdish American Education Society
  • 23/02/2012 00:00:00