In the videos below, Pauline Roukens, the Facility Manager at the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Washington, DC, talks about what the embassy is doing to green its operations. From composting to reducing water pressure in faucets, watch these short clips to learn more about simple steps to green your own home!
For more about what the embassy is doing to give back to the local community of Washington, DC, and the DC Greening Embassy Forum event they are hosting tonight, click here!
In February, 2010 the U.S. Embassy in Sweden and the Swedish Government launched the Swedish American Green Alliance (SAGA) to encourage further collaboration between Sweden and the United States in the fields of energy, environment and clean tech. One of the key components of SAGA is to promote the sharing of best practices between Swedish and US cities in the realm of urban sustainability. The Stockholm Vice Mayor for Environment, Per Ankersjö recently visited Seattle and Portland – this is his report for that trip.
Stockholmer taking a swim in the city center with the City Hall in the background. (Courtesy Photo)
Last week, I had the great pleasure to visit the great green U.S. cities of Seattle and Portland. During this study visit I made few remarks that I want to share with you.
First of all, it is always a true pleasure to be representing Stockholm and Sweden abroad. Besides from being famous for ABBA, IKEA and Volvo, more and more often I realize that Stockholm has received world recognition for our Eco District Hammarby Seafront. This city development project emphasizes Stockholm’s general approach to cut emissions and combine it with cutting edge solutions that provide quality of life for our citizens. Environmental concern is not an obstacle for economic growth. We consider it a prerequisite.
Stockholm has a long reputation for environmental achievements and one of the strongest recognitions of our work came last year when Stockholm was appointed first European Green Capital by the European Commission. Apart from the great honor, the prize gave us a mission; to tell our story and exchange ideas with other cities. We are thrilled to highlight our efforts but also open to present the lessons we learned from mistakes and failures. These parameters are key elements in speeding up the process for the greening of cities.
While in Seattle and Portland, my delegation and I were offered a wide range of study tours and meetings where we got the opportunity to get inspired by all the efforts these cities are doing for sustainability. It struck me that although we act in very different contexts, the major challenges we face are similar. I particularly found it interesting to learn more about these cities’ high ambitions for collecting food waste, their efforts to stimulate biking and how far they have reached in the introduction of electric cars. Our cities have also in common that we are very determined to leave the fossil fuel era behind in the coming decades. Stockholm has decided to become fossil fuel free by 2050.
Mr Richard Conlin, Council President, City of Seattle handling over the Distinguished Citizen medal to Mr Per Ankersjö, Vice mayor for Urban Enviroment. (Courtesy Photo)
I would like to take this opportunity to thank our hosts for their great hospitality and all the inspiration they so generously shared with us. I would also like to explain my gratitude to the City of Seattle for the appointment “Distinguished Citizen.”
My final remark is that the transformation of cities into sustainability does not necessarily imply rocket science, it is about enabling attractive smart solutions for a modern urban lifestyle. I truly believe that is in reach for every city that clearly put their minds to it and is open for inspiration from other cities. There can never be too many best practices. In our strive in Stockholm to accomplish our vision to become a World Class City by 2030, we are definitely better off with a little help from our friends.
Mr Per Ankersjö
Vice Mayor for Urban Environment
City of Stockholm
Ugan Manandhar Working on WWF Nepal Biogas Project (Courtest Photo)
Mr. Ugan Manandhar has been working with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Nepal for more than five years. He has a degree in electrical engineering and a post graduate in business administration. He joined WWF Nepal as an alternative energy officer and since then has developed expertise in the field of climate change and energy. He currently is the Program Manager of the Climate Change, Energy and Fresh Water Program at WWF Nepal and is involved in the program management from planning, fund raising to implementation followed by policy and advocacy work. He has been involved in the international climate debates there by implementing work in WWF Nepal on policy and advocacy at the national and international fronts, climate research, climate adaptation, carbon financing, REDD+ and low carbon development. He was also nominated for the IVLP Program (International Visitor’s Leadership Program) by the Government of the United States to enhance his capacity and learning so as to help lead his country in the field of his work on climate change and energy. Read Ugan’s blog post about carbon financing below!
WWF Nepal focuses on a variety of Climate Change and Energy Programs like Policy and Advocacy, Research, Adaptation, Carbon Financing and Low Carbon Development. Having worked in WWF Nepal for more than five years, I have found all programs equally interesting and enjoyable; but if I had to prioritize, I would opt for the carbon financing. The work has opened new avenues of learning and development. Climate Change poses the greatest threat to all mankind as our lives are dependent on the climate system, but at the same time through the global negotiation process, carbon financing has brought in some opportunities.
WWF Nepal is working on two perspectives of carbon financing. The first is renewable energy and the second is Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+). In terms of energy and energy efficiency things have developed, but REDD+ is still in the process of negotiations. Despite the fact that many developing countries have explored carbon markets successfully, many Least Developed Countries (LDC) are still behind and Nepal is one of them.
Ugan Manandhar doing forest carbon inventory in mountains (Courtesy Photo)
In this context, WWF Nepal has successfully piloted the first Gold Standard VER Biogas Project in the voluntary market. We have successfully passed two verifications to offset 12,125 tons of CO2 equivalent and 13,606 tons of CO2 eq respectively. Being the focal point for the project on behalf of WWF Nepal, the greatest satisfaction came when we were able to complete the construction of the 7500 biogas plants with carbon financing funds, with 1 ton of CO2 eq sold at 13.5 Euros. MyClimate is the organization that purchases the carbon credits of WWF Nepal’s project. Moreover, WWF has ensured that the benefits of the carbon financing have reached the local communities both in the form of subsidies through the government and as seed money for the revolving funds to construct the biogas plants. To date the local communities have about USD 400,000 and WWF does not charge any office operational cost from the funds that come from carbon financing. Thus this project has created a sustainable financing mechanism and catered to sustainable development.
As a REDD+ readiness initiative, WWF Nepal has trained 120 local resource persons in the Terai Arc Landscape to initiate forest carbon inventory work and establish a forest carbon baseline at a sub-national level. As REDD+ is still under negotiations in the UNFCCC process; WWF’s REDD+ readiness work has demonstrated an insight to both the technicalities of MRV and social perspectives of BSM (Benefit Sharing Mechanism). In addition to this has been the use of cutting edge technology- LiDAR was also piloted in partnership with the Forest Resource Assessment Project, Government of Nepal. WWF Nepal will now be working on forest carbon inventory work in the Himalayan areas to establish another sub-national baseline followed by developing a PDD (Project Design Document) in partnership with the Government of Nepal to look into the feasibility of REDD+ given its complexity both at the social and technical fronts.
Kids participate in a demonstration on Earth Day 2011 in the city of Raipur, India. (Courtesy Photo)
Have you heard of the Conference of Youth (COY)? COY is going to celebrate its 7th year in action at the 17th UN Conference of the Parties (COP17) this November and December in Durban, South Africa.
Why is a group of young people from all over the world getting together in South Africa this winter? According to the International Youth Climate Movement, COY is “about bringing together youth from all over the world who are passionate about sustainability and climate change. It’s a place to connect, share skills and build a movement…All young people are welcome – experienced youth climate activists, newcomers, local South African students – anyone who wants to build a safe climate future!”
Interested in going to South Africa to participate, or already in South Africa and think your friends or schoolmates might also be interested in attending? Then check out the registration form here. For more information on some of the young people taking action around the world to combat climate change, check out this photo gallery.
One issue that the youth delegation focuses heavily on is survival, or rather the idea that “ survival is not negotiable.” This idea began at COP 14 in Poznan, Poland, where over 90 countries signed onto the Survival Principle, which entails that a committed nation must do more, faster, to mitigate and adapt to dangerous climate change.” The Survival Principle is for all people in all countries, but is especially important to those countries most vulnerable to climate change, like those in the Alliance of Small Island States and the Least Developed Countries.
Are you considering going to COP 17 in South Africa? If you are unable to go, what are you interested in knowing about the event? What do you hope will come out of it?
Johann Kyser is an environmental design student at the University of Calgary and a member of the Canadian team participating in the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2011 Solar Decathlon. We asked Kyser to chronicle seven days this summer when the team was finalizing work; here is his journal. Last week, we caught up with two members of the team, Lee Crowchild and Alexandre Ste-Marie, and asked them about their experiences at the Solar Decathlon. Check out their videos!
Solar Decathlon: TRTL Blessed in Native Blackfoot Ceremony
June 21, 2011
Today is the summer solstice and Canada’s National Aboriginal Day. It was perfect timing for the groundbreaking ceremony for our Solar Decathlon 2011 home called TRTL (“turtle”) — short for Technological Residence, Traditional Living.
The ceremony was an important step to validate TRTL according to the traditional protocols of our Native Treaty 7 partners.
Treaty 7 was an 1877 peace agreement between the British and Canadian governments and the Native tribes of Southern Alberta. Such treaties continue to play a critical role in the relationship between Native peoples and Canada’s federal, provincial and municipal governments.
Today we also announced our title sponsor, Cenovus Energy, whose generous contribution of $600,000 was essential to our project’s success. We’re so grateful for Cenovus’ support and for the commitment the company has shown since the project’s beginning.
Our spiritual-cultural adviser and the former chief of the Piikani Nation, Reg Crowshoe, was the guest of honor. After opening the morning with a Blackfoot prayer, he led team members through the ceremony, using a branch to mark the construction site at the four cardinal directions and its center, each time acknowledging the sun.
This process is an important component of Native tradition, which draws on venue, action, language and song to bless a home — and to connect it to the greater natural order.
It was a very emotional experience for me. As the master of ceremony, I spoke about my recent research into Native housing to highlight the significance of TRTL. For six of the past eight weeks, I’ve been travelling to Native communities across Canada, attending conferences and researching sustainable housing initiatives.
My research confirmed for us the nature and scope of the Native housing crisis, including key issues of health, safety, durability and ownership. This experience also pointed to the importance of working with the community to explore holistic and sustainable solutions.