Tuesday, December 15, 2009

George Soros Proposes an Interesting Green Fund

Famous Capitalist, George Soros has put forward an intriguing and practical idea for finding money that would support Green Financing and stimulate Carbon Markets. I think that his proposal is a good one. When I was the Advisor to the Prime Minister of Grenada, I had hoped Grenada could develop a Carbon Off-set programme.

The difficulty I encountered in it was a lot of negative feedback; from people more specialized in the area than I was. They told me it was near impossible to obtain green financing using this mechanism and when I looked for examples of successful project I found their observations about scale to bear truth.

The problem, they cited, was that the financing criteria was on such a large scale, a small island like Grenada could never develop a project large enough to become a viable carbon-offset programme. Either way, despite my enthusiasm to set up something like this, my workload was so heavy and resources so lean, I put the idea behind the pursuit of funding for other projects that had a more immediate promise of returns.

So if the UN take the advice of George Soros (He presented the statement below to the UN), I hope that the delegates are working equally hard to ensure that whatever money is raised for green financing is placed within a bureaucratic mechanism that ensures that: a) All nations will have equal access, and b) that buraucratic demands are not so extreme that technocrats find themselves unable to develop viable projects with their line Ministries.

This is a copy of the idea put forward by George Soros:

SDRs and Climate Change

It is now generally agreed that the developed countries will have to make a substantial contribution to enable the developing world to deal with climate change. There is no similar agreement on where the money will come from.

The developed countries are reluctant to make additional financial commitments. They have just experienced a significant jump in their national debts and they still need to stimulate their domestic economies. This colors their attitudes. It looks like they will be able to cobble together a "fast-start" fund of $10 billion a year for the next few years but more does not fit into their national budgets.

This is unlikely to satisfy the developing countries.

I believe this amount could be at least doubled and assured for over a longer time span.

Developed countries' governments are laboring under the misapprehension that funding has to come from their national budgets but that is not the case. They have it already. It is lying idle in their reserves accounts and in the vaults of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), available without adding to the national deficits of any one country. All they need to do is to tap into it.

In September 2009, the IMF distributed to its members $283 billion worth of SDRs, or Special Drawing Rights. SDRs are an arcane financial instrument but essentially they constitute additional foreign exchange. They can be used only by converting them into one of four currencies, at which point they begin to carry interest at the combined treasury bill rate of those currencies. At present the interest rate is less than one half of one percent. Of the $283 billion, more than $150 billion went to the 15 largest developed economies. These SDRs will sit largely untouched in the reserve accounts of these countries, which don't really need any additional reserves.

I propose that the developed countries--in addition to establishing a fast start fund of $10 billion a year--should band together and lend $100 billion dollars worth of these SDRs for 25 years to a special green fund serving the developing world. The fund would jump-start forestry, land-use, and agricultural projects. These are the areas that offer the greatest scope for reducing carbon emissions and could produce substantial returns from carbon markets. The returns such projects can generate go beyond reducing carbon; there will be non-carbon related returns from land use projects, the potential to create more sustainable rural livelihoods, enable higher and more resilient agriculture yields and create rural employment.

This is a simple and practical idea. There is a precedent for it. The United Kingdom and France each recently lent $2 billion worth of SDRs to a special fund at the IMF to support concessionary lending to the poorest countries. At that point the IMF assumed responsibility for the principal and interest on the SDRs. The same could be done in this case.

I further propose that member countries agree to use the IMF's gold reserves to guarantee the payment of the interest and the repayment of the principal. The IMF owns a lot of gold, more than a hundred million ounces, and it is on the books at historical cost. At current market prices it is worth more than $100 billion over its book value. It has already been designated to be used for the benefit of the least developed countries. The proposed green fund would meet this requirement.

This means that the developed countries that lend the SDRs would incur no interest expense and no responsibility for repayment. There are some serious technical problems involved in offsetting the interest income against the interest expense, particularly in the United States, but the net effect would be a wash. These technical difficulties stood in the way of previous attempts to put the SDRs to practical use but they do not apply to the the proposed green fund.

There are three powerful arguments in favor of this proposal:

First: the green fund could be self financing or even profitable. Potentially none or very little of the IMF gold would be actually used. Second: the projects will earn a return only if developed countries cooperate in setting up the right type of carbon markets. Setting up a green fund would be an implicit pledge to do so by putting the gold reserves of the IMF at risk. Third, this money would be available now, jump-starting carbon saving projects. For all these reasons, the developing countries ought to embrace my proposal.

The key point I want to make is that it is possible to substantially increase the amount available to fight global warming in the developing world by using the existing allocations of SDR--and the gold reserves of the IMF are more than sufficient to pay the interest on them. All that is lacking is the political will. The mere fact that it requires Congressional approval in the United States ensures that nothing will happen unless there is public pressure and pressure from the developing countries to make it happen. Yet it could make the difference between success and failure in Copenhagen.
George Soros

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Biodiversity Clearing House Mechanism Grenada - Grenada CHM Home

Biodiversity Clearing House Mechanism Grenada - Grenada CHM Home

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CLICK TO SEE MY PUBLICATION: NATIONAL CAPACITY SELF ASSESSMENT, CROSS CUTTING ANALYSIS on Disaster Management, Socioeconomic issues, Ecological Issues and Technology.

Once you get past the manditory boring beginning, I tried not to let it be as boring as most of these kinds of publications are....

Anyway, the site is Grenada's official website hosted by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity - it's going to be the information clearing house for biodiversity news, actions, networking etc. when it's finished. I'm a self-promoting fan, because one of my publications is on it - published under Jen Deveney. We had a lot of 'issues' getting this publication to completion and I had to rework a final draft in less than a week, so pleeease, if you're mad enough to take the time to read it - try not to notice my writing errors! :o)

In the meantime, I'm off to finish my last four illustrations of Grenada's Constitutional Rights for the Arts Council. For some reason, the last four are the hardest ones to complete!

I've also recently been informed that my painting of the Grenada Dove will be on the cover of the next National Communication on Biodiversity. I'm really happy for that additional exposure, because it wasn't easy to donate my art in these hard economic times.

Just in case you wondered; "National Communications" are reports governments file to the Administering Officers of UN Conventions: Such as the Biodiveristy Convention, Climate Change (well...depending on Summit in November!) and so forth letting the UN know how they're gettting on with the promises they made when then signed all these agreements. Mostly it's a lot of paper shuffling, which the UN is really good at, but I have seen some changes in recent years where they seem to be trying (maybe, kinda, sorta) to put more money towards things that actually....you know, have tangible impact! Cuz time is running out n' all....

The Micronesia Challenge | Conservation International Blog

The Micronesia Challenge | Conservation International Blog

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Illustrating Grenada's Constitutional Rights

Well, I'm on another artistic adventure - creating illustrations of Grenada's constitutional rights. The publication is funded by UNESCO and will be used by the Ministry of Education in elementary schools.

I've been asked to develop drawings that depict in a Grendian context what our rights are (I'm a citizen too!).

Let me tell you it's a lot easier than it sounds!

First of all, the project is collaborative, which means that my creative vision isn't the only opinon on the table. Artistic opinion is a delicate thing, and when you have to combine them...well let's just say it leads to 'animated' discussion :o)

Ultimately, my illustrations have be approved by Suelin, who has the overall responsibility of the Project, and then eventually the Ministry of Education will have their say too. I'm doing the base-drawings, then Suelin touches them up on the computer and then they go to the Ministry of approvals. In addition to that, a lot of the things that are our rights aren't that easy to draw (in 2 dimensions, without colour) without creating images that are not age appropriate.

For example:

How does ones depict the right to protection from inhumane treatment for a child?? Or the right to not to be murdered? Or Slavery? It wasn't easy to come up with good images, but I think we got through the hurdles. Suggestions are always welcome for any of the below, of course.


a) Right to life, liberty security, and protection of the law;
b) freedom of conscience, of expression, and of assembly and association;
c) protection for the privacy of his (& her - we need some gender updates here!)home and other property and from deprivation of property without compensation; and
d) the right to work

2. No person shall be deprived of his life intentionally
3. No person shall be deprived of his personal liberty
4. No person shall be held in slavery or servitude
5. No person shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman treatment or degrading punishment or other treament
6. No property of any description shall be compulsorily taken posession of, and no interest or right over proptery of any descirption shall be compulsorily aquired (except by law)
7. Except with his own consent, no person shall be subjected to the search of his person or his property or the entry of others on his premises.
8. If any person is charged with a criminal offence, then, unless teh charge is withdrawn, the case shall be afforded a fair hearing within a reasonable time and by an independant an impartial court established by law.
9. No person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of conscience (religion)
10. No person shall be hindered his freedom of expression.
11. No person shall be hindered in his freedom of assembly.
12. No person shall be deprived of his freedom of movement.
13. Freedom from discrimination.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Grenada Donates My Painting to the Smithsonian Museum

Nearly three years ago, the Prime Minister of Grenada asked me to solve a growing conflict over a proposed Four Seasons Resort Development and Grenada's National Bird, a critically endangered species that was further threatened by the proposed development. I got all the parties together: The World Bank, Global Environment Facility, the Ministry of Agriculture, National Geographic and a local NGO, People in Action and the Four Seasons Developers (Cinnamon88) - to identify a way to enable the resort development to go forward in a 'win-win' manner - where the environment and the economy would be given equal consideration until a solution was found.

We succeeded, and that success is now called, 'The Mt. Hartman Consensus'.

Following that, Grenada's Cabinet Appointed me the Chair of the National Trust Development Committee after I made a presentation to Cabinet requesting it's formation. The committee was intended to convene local and international 'experts' to create the most equitable, democratic and durable arrangement possible for the long term maintenance of Grenada's Protected Areas. It had been a proposed activity developed by the Nature Conservancy.

Having a sustainable development expert in the Prime Minister's Office really helped get the agenda moving forward. I think every Prime Minister's office in every country should have one.

The impetus behind the Trust was the Nature Conservancy, ready to donate $20 million USD to establish capital funds that would operate as a sustainable financing mechanism for protected areas in the Caribbean. This generous offer came as part of the "Caribbean Challenge" - a challenge for Caribbean Islands to protect 20% of their natural habitats by 2020. The challenge was first announced by Dr. Spencer Thomas on behalf of Grenada at a Biodiversity Summit a few years earlier.

Knowing of my involvement in protected the Grenada Dove, my work advancing sustainable development and my artistic flair - Dr. Thomas told me he wanted me to paint a Grenada Dove that could be donated to the Smithsonian Museum by the Government of Grenada.

The painting, attached to this article, was officially handed over to Dr. Thomas on September 16th, 2009; where he and the Minister of Finance, Nazim Burke, would present it to the Smithsonian, while in the United States attending the UN Climate Change talks.

Dr. Thomas has assured me he will give me photo's of the official handing over, and provide info on where the painting is located at the Museum, so I will post that when it arrives.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Mural: Lowther's Lane, St. George's, Grenada

These photographs are of a mural I painted along with Suelin Low Chew Tung, in St. George's Grenada. Suelin was the mastermind behind the project, working for over a year to get permission from the Government of Grenada to paint the wall, preparing the tile work around the border, procuring donations for our art supplies, and then in composing the mural layout.

Suelin asked me to assist her by painting the people in various spots on the wall - according to her desires (what poses, location, etc). After that, I continued to assist her by painting animals, figures, waterfall and foliage.

The experience of painting the mural was great!

In the beginning we met in the early morning hours and painted until the sun got too hot to continue (usually 7 am to 10:30 am). Then we would break for a few hours and return around 4 pm. Our painting began as a weekend committment, which quickly changed to weekday evenings after work.

The challenge in painting on weekday evenings was the heavy traffic! Lowther's lane is a very smoothly paved road, that serves as an effective by-pass to the town of St. George's. As a result there are a lot of trucks and commuters that use the route during rush hour.

Sure, we had our little orange cones out there, but we only had four, and the wall was long so we often found vehicles weaving in and out of them! The other challenge for our evening painting was that the wall took a direct hit by the afternoon sun, which meant that as we got closer to the summer months, the wall was so hot the paint literally baked onto the wall as we applied it! Not good!

Then, when the sun was setting, we got eaten by mosquitos.

By the time night fall came, the traffic died down, we'd be well into our creations...so we found ourselves painting in the dark quite often. You probably don't have to be an artist to appreciate how difficult it is to paint in the dark! It's impossible to see your colours right!

I found a headlamp I'd purchased at Moutain Equipment Co-op in Canada years earlier...so I scraped off the battery heads, put in new batteries and found myself much more comfortable painting in the modest beam of light the headlamp provided. Suelin continued to rough it in the dark.

My mother and husband came out on more than one occaison to assist us with painting and that was a lot of fun. It's really nice to share a project like this with your loved ones.

Suelin and I hope to paint more murals around Grenada when the dry season returns - so we can depict more of Grenada's history, while beautifying the city. We hope that next time, we'll be able to raise enough money in sponsorship that we don't have to make it another volunteer effort like it was this time.

Quite honestly though - even if we didn't earn a cent of money for all the long hours and hard work we put into it - the joy of creation was worth it.

Enjoy :o)