Tag Archives: bas de leeuw

Steiner announces increased UNEP – WRF cooperation

achim steinerNairobi, June 21 2013 In a letter to the WRF Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, has expressed his wish to explore ways for increasing the cooperation between UNEP, in particular its International Resource Panel (IRP), and the WRF.

There are in particular opportunities for disseminating the work of the IRP to a wide arrange of stakeholders, so he writes, reflecting on the outcomes of the recent meeting of the IRP, held in Berlin.

In the plenary sessions of the upcoming WRF 2013, to be held in Davos, 7-9 October, UNEP will be represented by the highest official of the Paris office, Sylvie Lemmet, who oversees the IRP as well as the SCP Marrakech process and other global issues regarding technology, trade, industry and economics.

The IRP will organise workshops respectively on metals and on city level decoupling, at WRF 2013.  The chair and many IRP members will have active speaking roles in the various sessions in Davos, and will be available for bilateral talks with participants. UNEP IRP logo

“I strongly believe”, writes Achim Steiner, “that the question of governance of natural resources constitutes a critical factor in addressing the 21st century challenge of moving towards sustainable resource management. In this framework, the role played by the World Resources Forum and its partnership with the UNEP-hosted International Resource Panel (IRP) is indeed key.” He announces new publications, including on City-level Decoupling, Metals Impact, Metals Recycling Opportunities, Sustainable Land Management and Decoupling.

In a response WRF Managing Director Bas de Leeuw, a former Paris based UNEP diplomat, then responsible for IRP and Marrakech process, says to be humbled and honored by UNEPs proposed increased cooperation. “UNEP is the authorative body on the global level in the issues of resource management, and well respected for inspiring new ways and concepts, such as the Green Economy, and for mobilising the best expertise available, to tackle the enormous challenges we face. Having such partner in our family and with such commitment is the best one could wish for.”

Find here all about UNEP and its International Resource Panel.

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Allemaal meer loon …. gesproken column voor D66 congres (video)

Rotterdam, 21 april 2012 Allemaal meer loon … en het milieu ook nog schoon! Dat was de uitdagende titel van de speech van Bas de Leeuw op het D66 voorjaarscongres, gehouden in het Rotterdamse Luxortheater.

De integrale tekst staat hier (onder de video).

Allemaal meer loon … en het milieu ook nog schoon

  1. Milieu is uit. Zeggen ze. Het gaat tegenwoordig alleen nog maar om de economie. Zeggen ze. Ik geloof daar geen zak van!
  2. Wat wel uit is, is de manier waarop we over het milieu praten. De preken over de toekomstige generaties. Duurzame ontwikkeling. Dat soort taal is zooooooo vorige eeuw. Toen zijn die generaties verzonnen. Maar wat niemand in de gaten heeft gehad is dat die volgende generaties er inmiddels al lang zijn. En die toekomst, die is ook al lang begonnen.
  3. Milieu gaat niet over later. En het is niet alleen klimaatverandering. We hebben het over gif in ons eten, om plastic in de oceanen, om luchtvervuiling. En het gaat over moeders in India die met hun baby op schoot aan onze afgedankte mobieltjes zitten te frummelen. Ze likken er aan om te proeven wat voor metaal erin zit!
  4. Dit zijn allemaal dingen die nu gebeuren. En echt niemand vindt dat ok. Wat je moet doen is het laten zien. Concreet. En maak vooral duidelijk dat je het zelf, als overheid, serieus neemt. Met de bankencrisis zag je Obama en Sarkozy zenuwachtig rondrennen. Met de Eurocrisis hetzelfde: ministers met bleke gezichtjes nachtenlang vergaderen in Brussel. Met het milieu zie je dat nooit. Tuurlijk, er zijn Klimaatverdragen en er is elke tien jaar een Milieutop, maar de urgentie spat er niet van af.
  5. Heel belangrijk is dat je als overheid nou eindelijk eens gaat doen wat alleen de overheid kan doen: wetten maken en belastingen heffen. Zorg dat produkten waarvan je niet wil dat mensen ze kopen ook niet in de winkels liggen. Miljoenen consumenten met campagnes oproepen vooral andere produkten te kopen is echt heel omslachtig.
  6. Je kunt ook zorgen dat ze duurder zijn dan de milieuvriendelijke. Duurder. Niet goedkoper. Dat is wel zo logisch. En het kan. Met belastingen.
  7. Maar hoe krijg je vandaag de dag mensen warm voor belastingen? Door duidelijk te zeggen wat het betekent. Praat dus niet over het streven naar een ecologisering van ons belastingstelsel. Maar kondig je plan aan met een titel die getwitterd kan worden, bijvoorbeeld het plan van „Allemaal meer loon“. Nou, die wordt rondgestuurd! En het klopt nog ook. Dat is het mooie. Allemaal meer loon, en het milieu ook nog schoon. Echt.
  8. Een verschuiving van de lastendruk van arbeid naar grondstoffen betekent dat iedereen minder belasting gaat betalen, en dat vervuilende produkten meer gaan kosten. Iedereen krijgt dus meer loon. Je kunt dan dezelfde produkten blijven kopen. Of je gaat milieuvriendelijke produkten kopen. En dan ben je dus beter af. Het mooie is dat jij helemaal zelf bepaalt wat je aan het milieu doet, en waarom.
  9. Als je als overheid eindelijk hebt gedaan wat je al jaren geleden had moeten doen dan kun je echt vertrouwen op de eigen kracht van mensen. De een doet het vanwege het milieu, de ander om het geld, wat maakt het uit …. En die paar die het niet doen, daar moet je je niet druk om maken. Net zoals vrede op aarde ook niet betekent dat echt helemaal niemand meer een ander in elkaar zal tremmen. That’s life. Je moet niet iedereen willen bekeren. Dat is voor mij de milieuboodschap anno nu. Een boodschap die aanslaat. Let maar eens op.

Presenting the shortcut to sustainability (video)

Mumbai, January 2012. Opening the Sustainability Series, an employee training program of the Indian YES Bank, Bas de Leeuw, Managing Director of the World Resources Forum, made the business case for sustainability, and commented about consumer attitude and expectations.

In an interactive one hour session for over hundred senior managers of the bank Bas discussed global challenges, such as population growth, resource scarcity and tackling these through government, business and individual measures, aiming at decoupling environmental impact from economic growth. Referring to the increasing opportunities that internet and social media offer he stressed that “there is a shortcut to sustainability, if you don’t, your customers will do it themselves”.

View an 15 minute excerpt here (video, low resolution):

Inauguration World Resources Forum Association in St. Gallen

St. Gallen, 16 March 2012. Against the backdrop of the multiple crises of the past years – financial, food and energy – the World Resources Forum announced today an expansion of its activities. On top of the successful bi-annual events in Davos, Switzerland, the Forum will start organizing conferences and smaller sized meetings in all regions of the world. An independent association has been set up to this end, supported by governments, industry and NGO’s.

The new World Resources Forum (WRF) Association was inaugurated today at the town hall in St. Gallen, Switzerland, in the presence of representatives of its founding members BAFU/FOEN (the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment), Empa (Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology), HP (Hewlett-Packard) and the city of St. Gallen.

The first WRF outside Switzerland will be held in Beijing, China, October 21-23, 2012, and will address the Green Economy. This conference is organized with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institute for Process Engineering. An India Resource Forum is tentatively planned for the beginning of 2013, and the WRF plans to support meetings in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (African Development Forum, 23-25 October this year) and Berlin (European Resources Forum, 13-14 November).

The new Association will be led by former UNEP diplomat Bas de Leeuw, who says that “more and more organizations are working in this field, for specific resources or for specific audiences. We welcome these initiatives and would like to provide a global platform, giving our members and our conference audiences the possibility of practical implementation-oriented snapshot experiences, where they can inform themselves about the latest trends and new cutting edge initiatives and partners”.

Urging policy makers to demonstrate a sense of urgency for resource issues similar to what they do for financial crises, De Leeuw points out that addressing resources challenges require significant investments on a global scale. Sharing information about trends and options helps ensure that these investments will be efficient and effective. In developing countries, the World Bank has estimated, that the need for investments in greening infrastructure, such as buildings, the energy and transport sectors, could reach US$264-$563 billion by 2030. “This is why it is so important that the WRF works with and for developing countries as well”, he says, “decision-makers from these countries are very welcome to join our initiative, and many of them have already done so.”

Go here for full story and press release (PDF)

Bas de Leeuw calls on Rio+20 to focus on targets (video)

The Guardian, Feb 14, 2012. Bas de Leeuw, Managing Director at the World Resources Forum (WRF), calls on Rio+20 to focus on embedding sustainable economic targets and measurements. He presents the expectations of the WRF in a video, published by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) on the website of the Guardian. Watch his recommendations for Rio+20 here.

The Earth Summit is only the fourth conference of its kind in history, De Leeuw observes. The only other global conferences on Environment or Sustainable Development at Heads of State level were in 1972 – when UNEP was born – in 1992 Rio, where Agenda 21 was established, still a major guideline document, and in 2002, Johannesburg, where Sustainable Consumption and Production was introduced. “So let us hope that this year the Green Economy can be put on the map”, he says.

Major policy recommendations of the World Resources Forum, as included in its official input to the conference, are to establish a clear roadmap, since “you cannot manage what you cannot measure” and getting the prices right, a “major shift from taxation from labour to resources. ”

Hard and soft scientists need to meet

Frequently, promising scientific work and conferences end with the publication of a report and its presentations to peers. Lobbying to get the recommendations implemented is often not considered part of scientific work. Due to the inherent systemic characteristics of the policy process such as short election cycles, politicians tend to pick the low hanging fruits and shy away from implementing clear roadmaps, with solid mechanisms for reviewing progress. Sometimes – as in the climate change debate – they explicitly refer to uncertainties in the scientific world, a lack of consensus, or a lack of clarity about the impact of the policy measures under consideration. So, what is it that would prompt policy makers and their negotiators to take action?

This we wrote in an article about last year’s World Resources Forum, held in Davos, September 2011, in scientific journal Gaia, and we announced further research on the topic, as a cooperation effort with the Swiss Academies of Science.

The discussions at the WRF, we wrote, revealed that change is necessary. In order to achieve change it is not  sufficient to have all the information. As behavioural models show, individuals need to be aware of a problem, but they also need to have an intention to solve it, and need to feel to be able to do so. Only then will an individual experiment with new behaviour and – once it has proven to bring a benefit – adopt and integrate it into his or her lifestyle.

Politicians are no different. Knowing this, we find it in fact remarkable that in decades of scientific work on sustainability and resource management the two worlds of “hard” (technical) and “soft” (behavioural) scientists have rarely met and worked
together. The same is true for educational programmes, which sometimes fail to combine the two. Yet, this may prove to be the missing link in attempts to connect the dots – the dots between knowing what is at stake and doing something about it.

Full article (PDF) here.

Meeting report 2011 World Resources Forum published

St. Gallen, December 2011 Today the WRF secretariat published the meeting report of the World Resources Forum, held in Davos, from 19-21 September 2011. The 80 pages full coulour report “Shaping the Future of our Natural Resources – Towards a Green Economy” presents the chair’s statement of the conference, a report of all plenary sessions and highlights of the workshops.

Basic information, such as the program, overview of abstracts, overview of the youth program, results of the participants survey, sponsors and partners, committees and a full list of participants is included as well.

Xaver Edelmann, President of the WRF, writes in his preface that he hopes “that the report will serve as a continuing source of inspiration for our participants and also all readers who could not participate in Davos”. He hopes to see many of them at the next WRF, to be held in Beijing, October 2012.

The report has over 50 photos, illustrations and graphs, and can be downloaded for free at the link below.

Printed hardcopies can be requested by writing to info@worldresourcesforum.org. Kindly state how many copies you would like to receive and the reason for your interest. Reports will be sent on a first come first serve base, with priority for our participants.

Download the full meeting report here (PDF)

Find here the announcements of our report on IISD and on the official UN Rio+20 website.

Resource-efficiency: Europe can set a global example

The European Commission’s roadmap for a resource-efficient Europe proposes a decent way forward to transform the Union into a sustainable economy, writes Bas de Leeuw from the World Resources Forum.

Bas de Leeuw is Managing Director of the World Resources Forum, a science-based platform to exchange knowledge about the economic, political and environmental implications of global resource use. He sent this commentary in exclusivity for EurActiv.

“Dr. Janez Potoĉnik’s key note speech at the World Resources Forum 2011 in Davos, Switzerland a day ahead of the publication of the European Commission’s Roadmap to a Resource-Efficient Europe made me feel hopeful about Europe’s transformation into a sustainable economy. In fact, the Roadmap proposes a decent way forward including attempts to set robust and convincing targets, mechanisms and progress reviews.

The Roadmap offers a set of guidelines to transform the European economy by as early as 2050. As visionary as it is, I could not help thinking back to Europe’s original goal in the preparatory phase of the Rio +10 Summit in 2002 in Johannesburg: to come up with a concrete action plan for a similar concept; sustainable consumption and production. This plan failed. As we are moving towards the preparatory phase of Rio +20, the question arises: will this plan fail as well? Did we make any progress in the time since the last Summit, aside from moving the date a few decades into the future?

The answer is yes. Despite the lack of real global aspiration, many countries have made progress and are on their way to integrating resource efficiency into their mainstream economic policy making. What’s more, the Roadmap shows that European member states still want to be – and in my opinion are – leading the way.

Europe should indeed be able to lead by example. The Roadmap has – apart from its semi-quantitative vision and milestones – some very meaningful proposals to offer.  Regardless of the chances of being implemented in a timely fashion, the Roadmap is clear and well-written. It identifies the actors, sets the targets and describes a process that has the potential to make a difference. To me, the most interesting element of the document is the chosen point of policy intervention in the complex consumption and production system, which is: getting the data right.

The importance of measuring

“One cannot manage what one cannot measure”, is the quote (of Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency) I remember most vividly from this year’s World Resources Forum. This seems to embody the spirit of the Roadmap, and more specifically, its focus on measurement, with resource productivity at its core. I myself would have chosen for resource use per capita, which in my opinion is the best way to combine development goals and environmental protection. However, I also understand that this may be controversial in an international context and may hinder any real chances of reaching a consensus. Despite believing that resource productivity alone will not do it, I consider this a good step in the right direction, which will hopefully be followed by the shifting of political attention towards taxing resources instead of taxing labour in order to get the prices right. Indeed, high resource prices made Japan one of the most resource-efficient economies in the world in little more than a decade, as highlighted by Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, co-chair of the UNEP International Resource Panel in Davos.

The Roadmap’s global impact

At the global level, many countries face equally alarming trends in population growth and resource use, and therefore increasing pollution levels that have life-threatening impacts, particularly on the poor who are already disproportionately suffering from financial, food and climate change crises.

It is in fact the international paragraph in the Roadmap that I find disappointing. In comparison to the policies put forward related to key European sectors, the international section is short, lacking concrete actions and quantitative targets. Furthermore, it gives the impression of a lack of sense of urgency to engage with other key players such as China, the USA and the new industrialising countries Brazil and India. Let us look at China for a moment: projections indicate that a business as usual approach will lead to a 25 fold increase of environmental impact by 2050, as was laid out by the Chinese scientist Dajian Zhu at the World Resources Forum.

Chinais an emerging economy with high resource intensity and recognises that the depletion, deterioration and exhaustion of resources and the worsening ecological environment have far-reaching consequences for the nation’s economic and social development. Perhaps the European Commission implicitly shows its low level of ambition with regard to the international context, since it likely anticipates the lack of cooperation with highly complicated global dossiers, notably that on Climate Change, and is preparing to move forward even when others fail.

Moving forward

As Rio+20 is approaching, we need to get the data right – and that starts here. Rather than luring top politicians into signing big and bold policy plans with uncertain impacts, let us not be afraid to be realistic and aim at simple but more feasible aspirations. We need to agree on the state of the environment and the state of our resource base at a global level, and then use these data to manage our resources well by designing and implementing proper policies whilst agreeing on how to best measure progress. The European Commission’s Roadmap can certainly lead the way on how to become the most resource-productive economy in the world, so let’s just do it.”

Read full article here.

Davos World Resources Forum calls for immediate action

Davos, 22 September 2011. Over 400 participants, from over 40 countries, international organisations such as the European Commission and UNEP bringing their news … and the intergenerational dialogue being considered by many as the highlight of this year’s WRF.

Three days of intensive debate resulted in a clear chairman’ summary: the Davos World Resources Forum calls for immediate action to double global resource efficiency by 2020, and aims at a fivefold increase by 2050. Read the full press release here.

Over 100 young resource experts joined the debate and they were fully integrated in the program, providing fresh inspiration to the “oldies”, and having life-changing close encounters with scientists they formerly only knew from the book covers of their study materials.

New this year also the inclusion of arts and colours through the daily ‘highlight of the day’ sessions, led by Bas de Leeuw. German artists Klaus Elle and graphic designer Helmut Langer showed their work, linking the complexities of sustainability with emotions. The audience could this year also vote on their preferences and priorities.

Listen to an interview with Bas de Leeuw about the Conference’s own sustainability performance: Beef or no Beef – how Green is the World Resources Forum.

Next WRF will be held in Beijing, China, from 14-17 October, 2012.

Innovation and leadership keywords for World Resources Forum

The World Resources Forum (WRF) challenges its audience to speak about the resource crisis in positive language. Business is encouraged to implement the “innovation agenda”, and governments to show firm leadership. Individuals should do their bit, without necessarily having to become “green angels”.

This was one of the messages of Bas de Leeuw, Managing Director of the WRF, in a radio interview given to KOWS radio, a California based station in the USA.

Fundamental shifts in resource use and production require “governments doing what only governments can do: design and implement solid legislation and taxes” and business to produce better products and better information, said De Leeuw. He would welcome a similar sense of urgency with government leaders as they showed during the financial crisis of some years ago.

For business and consumers going back and “doing less” seem to be words of the past which have proven not to resonate effectively with the mainstream target groups. Economic growth remains necessary to more smoothly address poverty issues. However, a fundamental different concept of growth, based upon quality, customer orientation, resource-efficiency and diversification is needed. The full integration of the environmental issue in day-to-day decision making of governments worldwide is one of the major accomplishments of the last two decades of environmental policy deliberations on the global level.

Fundamental system changes may be necessary, but, as De Leeuw observed, “who is in charge of our system? We have to be aware that we are all in charge, and that the system is changing every day, every hour, in so far that our preferences change as well as the weight we place upon issues of environmental protection and eradication of poverty”. He referred to Dana Meadows’ recent book on Thinking in Systems, calling the manuscript “unfinished work, yet to achieve its full potential”. Dana Meadows died unexpectedly in 2001, leaving behind the rough manuscript which her staff, Diana Wright, many years later edited and published. Bas de Leeuw has been the Executive Director of Dana Meadows’ Sustainability Institute until last year.

Ken Rose

The interview was recorded live on June 20, 2011. Bas de Leeuw appeared in Ken Rose’s “What Now” show, which has extended interviews with “accomplished thinkers, writers, artists, farmers and scientists addressing the global crisis.”

Full one hour radio interview can be found here (archives, scroll down to 6-20-2011), or here (bottom of the page).

First 15 minutes to be found below:

More information about the World Resources Forum can be found here.