Introducing … the UN’s jolly green sustainable hockey stick
March 10, 2012 11 Comments
The blogger Autonomous Mind had an interesting – but disturbing – essay a few days ago, “Forget climate change, we must focus on the real issue”, in which he concludes:
No matter what the ‘science’ reveals and how much it is debunked, there will always be another line of attack from the sustainability playbook to further the political – and dare I say economic corporatist – agenda. This is where the battle needs to be fought, not in the theatre of carbon dioxide emissions, raw and adjusted data or fractions of a degree of temperature change. [emphasis added - hro]
I’m not entirely sure about the “corporatist” agenda. No question that there has been no shortage of Johnny-come-lately opportunists and shady operators on the corporate side. But surely not all corporations are bad – and without them there would be far fewer jobs, and more people without jobs means far less disposable income to keep the economy going
That aside, I definitely agree that we need to brace ourselves for another line of attack from the “sustainability playbook”. There are already a number of indications that the jargon is shifting (being reframed for the umpteenth time?!)
It was all laid out so warmly and fuzzily in the UN’s Agenda 21 – more than 20 years ago.
In 1987 Gro Harlem Bruntland, Maurice Strong et al coined the “official term” of “sustainable development” – and its “three pillars”. This gave rise to the not necessarily alarming at the time:
Agenda 21 is a comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the United Nations System, Governments, and Major Groups in every area in which human impacts on the environment. [Source]
Agenda 21, so we’re told, was adopted by all the nations of the world 20 years ago in Rio at the first “Earth Summit”. Reading through the bromides and bureaucratese in this document is enough to make one fall asleep – which may well have been the intent when it was written :-)
But here we are, en route to Rio+20, and – as I had noted about a month ago – there’s now a “High Level Panel” UN document on the table that unashamedly declares:
The peoples of the world will simply not tolerate continued environmental devastation or the persistent inequality which offends deeply held universal principles of social justice.
Achieving sustainability requires us to transform the global economy.
I’ve never been a believer in the conspiracy theory of history. But …I have to admit that there have been days when I’ve wondered if the whole climate change “controversy” (for want of a better word) has been fostered (if not allowed to fester) in order to distract our attention – just in case anyone with any common sense and influence should wake up and see what we’re being lulled (or bullied!) into accepting!
Consider the circus that has evolved thanks to the big players in the “climate change game” – particularly in the past few years. Certainly the recent antics of Peter Gleick and Michael Mann, along with the highly risible nonsense that passes for “journalism” in the MSM can only be described as a three-ring circus!
Meanwhile the United Nations continues adding branches and shrubbery to its merry maze, spawning acronymic panels, working groups, committees and cultivating and enabling the influence of Non-governmental organizations (NGO)s – whom they call “civil society”. I’m not sure where that leaves the rest of us whose organizational affiliations might not lead to membership in one of the “chosen” (?!) groups. Indeed, one might well ask: “What am I, chopped liver?”
Within the maze (and there’s no other way to describe it because the multiplicity of UN websites makes it almost impossible to determine the “chain of command”), there’s a Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) which has an “Office for Economic and Social Council Support and Coordination” (ECOSOC) – or maybe it’s the other way around. But in any event, there is an “NGO Branch” – here’s a link to an org chart, if you’re curious!
The NGO Branch does have a very pretty banner:
I hope you noticed the very friendly slogan at the top of this banner. Just in case you missed it, the message to the NGOs is … drum-roll please … “Welcome to the United Nations. It’s your world.” (emphasis added -hro)
They have a lovely glossy 49 page brochure, written in a close approximation of “plain English”. Quite a refreshing change from the plethora of other UN docs I’ve slogged through during the past few years! Lots of pretty pictures, too. No walls of words for this elite group!
A little background and context from this glossy brochure (all emphases are mine -hro):
NGOs contribute to a number of activities including information dissemination, awareness raising, development education, policy advocacy, joint operational projects, participation in intergovernmental processes and in the contribution of services and technical expertise.
Article 71 of the UN Charter opened the door to provide suitable arrangements for consultation with non-governmental organizations.
And in case you’re curious, here’s the rather wide doorway – which, considering the bios of some of the UN’s top honchos, might well be the frame of a “revolving door”, come to think of it – provided by Article 71:
The Economic and Social Council [ECOSOC] may make suitable arrangements for consultation with non-governmental organizations which are concerned with matters within its competence. Such arrangements may be made with international organizations and, where appropriate, with national organizations after consultation with the Member of the United Nations concerned.
It also appears as though in 1996, for some reason, it was determined that the door might not have been quite as open as it could be. The following suggests that in response to this concern, ECOSOC acted as follows:
This accreditation framework benefits both the United Nations and the NGOs. As stated by resolution 1996/31 on the “Consultative relationship between the United Nations and non-governmental organizations,”
“… Consultative arrangements are to be made, on the one hand, for the purpose of enabling the Council or one of its bodies to secure expert information or advice from organizations having special competence in the subjects for which consultative arrangements are made, and, on the other hand, to enable international, regional, sub-regional and national organizations that represent important elements of public opinion to express their views.”
— ECOSOC resolution 1996/31, part II, paragraph 20
Oh, well …Once an NGO is
in the door accredited, it can:
participate in a number of events, including, but not limited to, the regular sessions� of ECOSOC, its functional commissions [pls. see below -hro] and its other subsidiary bodies. [... An NGO] may:
- Attend official meetings;
- Submit written statements prior to sessions;
- Make oral statements;
- Meet official government delegations and other NGO representatives;
- Organize and attend parallel events that take place during the session;
- Participate in debates, interactive dialogues, panel discussions and informal meetings.
What fun, eh? But only for representatives of the
3,523 (make that 3,421, because there are 102 NGOs under suspension – because they haven’t filed their “quadrennial reports”. Naughty, naughty NGOs!).
Here’s a big picture for you:
My thanks to Peter Bobroff, the wizard behind AccessIPCC, who very kindly extracted the data from ECOSOC’s “official list” for me. At this point, please consider our data – and this analysis – to be preliminary and subject to further refinement.
So, in 1946, four NGOs were granted “consultative status”. Between then and 2011, there were six years during which no NGOs were accredited: 1958, 1965, 1968, 1982, 1988 and 1992. Although it is within the realm of possibility that during each of these years a number of NGOs – who acquired their accreditation by virtue of their affiliation with other “UN agencies or bodies” – were added. The total of such NGOs, as of Nov. 2011, was 412.
Needless to say, not all NGOs are accredited equally; this “consultative status” is a creation of the UN, after all:
General, Special and Roster status
There are three categories of status: General consultative status, Special consultative status and Roster status.
General consultative status is reserved for large international NGOs whose area of work coversmost of the issues on the agenda of ECOSOC and its subsidiary bodies. These tend to be fairly large,established international NGOs with a broad geographical reach.
Special consultative status is granted to NGOs which have a special competence in, and are concerned specifically with, only a few of the fields of activity covered by the ECOSOC.These NGOs tend to be smaller and more recently established.
Organizations that apply for consultative status but do not fit in any of the other categories are usually included in the Roster. These NGOs tend to have a rather narrow and/or technical focus. NGOs that have formal status with other UN bodies or specialized agencies (FAO, ILO, UNCTAD,UNESCO, UNIDO, WHO and others), can be included on the ECOSOC Roster. The roster lists NGOs that ECOSOC or the UN Secretary-General considers can make “occasional and useful contributionsto the work of the Council or its subsidiary bodies.” Source [emphasis added -hro]
In typical UN “transparency” fashion, even though 2300+ NGOs are in the “Special consultative status” category, there is no indication of the “special competence” or “fields of activity” which got them through the open door! Although, to be fair, there is an online database which may provide such details for each agency, but I have not yet succeeded in persuading the database to yield any response to my query attempts.
Nor, as far as I have been able to determine, is there any restriction placed on their participation in whatever sphere of UN endeavour their little hearts desire:
Participation in International Conferences
Non-governmental organizations in general consultative status, special consultative status and on the Roster, that express their wish to attend the relevant international conferences convened by the United Nations and the meetings of the preparatory bodies of the said conferences shall as a rule be accredited for participation. Other non-governmental organizations wishing to be accredited may apply to the secretariat of the conference for this purpose.
But I digress … back to the glossy brochure …
So what are these “functional commissions“? The first one listed is:
The Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD)
The Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) was created in December 1992 to ensure effective follow-up of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED — also known as the Earth Summit), in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where world leaders signed the Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity; endorsed the Rio Declaration and the Forest Principles; and adopted Agenda 21, a 300-page plan for achieving sustainable development in the twenty-first century.
[...]focusing on clusters of specific thematic and cross-sectoral issues. The CSD encourages broad NGO participation.
Now there’s a familiar sounding bell: the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), according to Rajendra Pachauri, the UNFCCC is the “primary client” of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Interesting, eh?
Other “functional commissions” include the Commission on the Status of Women, the Human Rights Council (and we know how well that’s been working for the last twenty years) – and the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.
And I’m sure you’ll be as thrilled as I am to learn that one of Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice’s “mandated priority areas” is:
Promoting the role of criminal law in protecting the environment
Certainly makes one wonder: did this inspire Polly Higgins’ “ecocide” campaign? Or did Higgins inspire the Commission?
While you ponder that chicken and egg question … take another look at that hockey stick above, folks! I know that correlation does not equal causation. But consider the following:
- prior to 1995, only 574 NGOs (plus an unknown number of NGOs whose year of accreditation is unknown) had made it through the open door. 1993 was the best year ever – at that point. 47 NGOs received accreditation
- between 1995 and 2011, 2,534 NGOs made it through the door. 2011 became the best year ever: 262 NGOs received accreditation, of which 258 were granted “Special consultative status”
- each accredited NGO on the “roster” is permitted to have 7 “passes” per year
Perhaps the significant, observable increase in the number of NGOs ensconced in the shrubbery of the UN’s maze is the primary “forcing” of “human-caused global warming” deemed to be a serious threat to the future of our planet. I would expect that they might be generating an awful lot of hot air (and CO2, of course).
I wonder how one might test such an hypothesis … hmmm ….Clearly, further research is required ;-)