Heroes of Environmental Diplomacy: Profiles in Courage 

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January 2018

Addressing the Nexus Workshop organized by UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs Division on Sustainable Development.  My presentation can be found here. 

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December 2017


Photo by IISD/ENB Mike Mururakis

I had the honor of moderating the Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue “People and Pollution”.  at United Nations Environment Assembly 3. There were two sessions the first looking at the impact on pollution and the second on how we might address the problems. Opening the Dialogue was Ambassador Marie Chatar-dová the President of EcoSoc. She was followed by three presentations:

Sascha Gabizon, is Executive Director of Women in Europe for a Common Future and co-facilitates the Women’s Major Group at the UN ensuring participation of over 1000 Women’s organisations in the Sustainable Development Goals policy processes

Olga Speranskaya,  the CoChair of IPEN (International POPs Elimination Network), a global network of non-governmental organisations working towards a toxic-free future where she has focused on the design and implementation of IPEN global strategy to address pollution sources, domestic and international chemical safety policies and processes

Halima Hussein, a Kenyan lawyer working with Natural Justice: Lawyers for Communities and the Environment. She supports marginalized communities obtain fairer environmental decisions by empowering them to use the law and thereby mitigate the impacts of extractive and infrastructure projects affecting their culture, land, and environment.

Responding were:

  • Ms Molewa,  South African Minister Water and Environment
  • Dr Lin LI Director, of Global Policy & Advocacy WWF International 
  • Jane Patton, Plastic Pollution Coalition 
  • Mr Kiisler Estonia, Minister of the Environment,

 The second session had the following two presentations:

Photo by IISD/ENB Mike Mururakis 

Eritai Kateibwi, a  Young Champions of the Earth for Asia Pacific In January 2017, he organized a major beach clean-up on Betio Red Beach historical site

Kaya Dorey, the founder of NOVEL SUPPLY CO. a sustainable apparel line made in She is also a Young Champion of the Earth, and is striving to create a zero waste, closed-loop model that takes responsibility for the products she creates. 

Responding were:

  • Minister Tiilikainen, Finland’s Minister for the Environment, Energy, and Housing,
  • Minister Alexander Teabo, Kiribati's Minister for Environment, lands, and AgricultuDevelopmentent
  • Minister Helgesen, Norway's Minister of Climate and the Environment
  • Minister Schauvliege,  Flemish Minister for Environment Nature and Agriculture and nrg4SD Co-Chair for the North

 The meeting opened to further comments on what was said and what was missing from:

  • Minister Ms Skog, Sweden'ss Minister for the Environment
  • Ms. Vijoleta Gordeljevic Health and Climate Change Coordinator Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) 
  • Marc D’Iorio, Ph.D. Canada Director General Industrial Sectors, Chemicals, and Waste at Environment and Climate 
  • Nick Palombo  International Chamber of Commerce 
  • Jane Nishida, Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for EPA's Office of International and Tribal Affairs (OITA) 
  • Sarah Nelson Birdlife International and Head of International Policy at RSPB
  • Leida Rijnhout Friends of The Earth Europe and the co-coordinator of the NGO Major Group

 The dialogue focused on root causes for different aspects of pollution, including making the connections to poverty, rule of law, women’s rights and human rights. Respondents included Ministers and different stakeholders.

Photo by IISD/ENB Mike Mururakis 

Pollution is in everything we do: it is in what we eat, it is in the air we breathe, the water we drink. Pollution is not just an environmental problem but a social, economic and health challenge. Implications of pollution affect people all around the world.  But specifically, the poorest and most vulnerable people suffer the most – the poor, women and children.

Therefore, tackling pollution contributes to all dimensions of sustainable development by fighting poverty, improving health, creating decent jobs and protecting our natural resources and biodiversity.

Messages from the dialogue for you to consider:

  • The implementation of global agreements is critical.
  • There is a need for multi-stakeholder and multi-level collaboration
  • Member states need to further develop mechanisms to enhance coherence and efficiency.
  • Too often laws are ignored in countries – increased capacity support is needed in many developing countries to support the implementation of national laws.
  • Governments can do a lot more to incentivize sustainability as for example the carbon tax.
  • They can put out recycling targets and have innovation schemes. 
  • Green public procurements need to be expanded at all levels of government 
  • Circular economy is important approach we need to take out the chemicals 
  • Data and monitoring underpins all approaches to addressing pollution and should be at the core of multi-level partnerships. 
  • Building public awareness of the problem will mobilize political will
  • Voluntary commitments are a good first stage. But it is not enough. More regulation is needed at the international and national level.
  • Extended producer responsibility should be built in to all products
  • We need to make sustainable products more affordable with government incentives
  • Clean industry and other stakeholders should work together in Multi Stakeholder partnerships to promote innovative solutions and help build local capacity to address pollution.
  • Addressing corruption in public and private sectors will underpin all approaches to addressing pollution.
  • UNEA more clearly needs to input to the HLPF – this should include UNEA 4 addressing the environmental contribution to the Heads of State HLPF in 2019



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November Late 2017

2017 was the 25th anniversary of the death of Mike Harskin his friends got together to celebrate his life and to tell stories about him. Vincent Hanna's  former Newsnight BBC correspondent elique from 1992 perhaps says it best/ Hanna - himself now unfortunately not with us was supposed to be at a G7 meeting in Birmingham helping the government with the media for the event instead he spoke of his moments with Mike: 

“I asked why the YLs and not the Young Socialists – ‘they always have a true faith, an orthodoxy, against which some group are constantly in schism. And everyone knows that half-believers are far worse than complete heretics’[he said]. I met Mike at by-elections. He was one of the celebrated notorious crew, whom David Steel said didn’t exist, who inhabited the neither regions of the Party office.

“[Mike was an integral part of the] tiny crew who slept under photo-copiers and produced propaganda. It was dramatic stuff, scurrilous, offensive, acerbic, funny, unfair, occasionally half true or untrue, and it terrified the other parties to death. 

“I thought it was wonderful. Here were two great Party machines with offset printers clacking away, with glossy posters by the mile, highly paid staff, flashy cars, being driven rat-arsed by three Liberals with a letraset, a photocopier, a typewriter and a pot of paste.

“And Harskin was the worst. Peter Chegwyn said to me: “He’s talented Mike, you know but he goes a bit over the top.

In short, Mike Harskin was the most honorable of British political things, a pamphleteer……

“We live - relatively speaking – in a decent and humane society. People are not often imprisoned without a trial or arbitrarily executed. The opposition we see comes neatly packaged from government ministers and state torture is usually accompanied by redundancy payments.

“But in many other countries of the world you will find Mike Harskin. He’ll be living in some safe house, or keeping one jump ahead of the security police, or sharing a prison cell with a trade union leader or an outspoken priest.

“Without the Mike Harskins of this world or the next, opposition would be just a little bit more deep-rooted, and injustice more widespread.

“Mike Harskin took and gave no more – in the struggle. But nowadays that is edge is all you can have – the difference between night and day, or life or death.” 



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October 2017


The Nigerian Mission hosted a Seminar with Aviva Investors on the theme of Promoting Responsible Investments to finance the Sustainable Development Goals. Speakers included  Gavin Power, Steve Waygood, Simson Zadek and Shari Spiegal. 

October was also the Humphrey Bogart Film Festival. which I attended. This year is the 75th anniversary of Casablanca. It is one of the great films that has survived the sands of time. It is an extraordinary film not just because of the story that is told on screen but also the back story to who is in the film and why.

The backstory

The film came out in November 1942 in the middle of the Second World War. Rushed out to take advantage of the publicity from the Allied invasion of North Africa a few weeks earlier. The original play was called Everyone Comes to Ricks. What most people do not realize is that the film has only three of its main actors who were born in the US. These are Humphrey Bogart playing Rick Blaine, Dooley Wilson as Sam the pianist, and Joy Page the young Bulgarian refugee Annina Brandel.

Most of the rest of the cast were refugee actors from Europe who had fled the Nazi occupation and persecution. This included Paul Henreid who had equal billing with Bogart and Bergman. He was a banned Austrian actor who was also banned in Germany. He was strongly anti-Nazi, so much so that he was designated an "official enemy of the Third Reich". In the film he plays Bergman’s husband Victor Laszlo, a renowned fugitive Czech Resistance leader. The wonderful Peter Lorre (born László Löwenstein;) born in Hungary – Jewish – so when the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, Lorre took refuge first in Paris and then London and then the US. I could go on. The film was in many ways an opportunity to give refugee actors from Europe work and support. Many were also being put up in the homes of fellow actors while they worked to establish themselves in the US.


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September 2017

September i was attending the UN General Assembly High-Level Segment. One of the best events was and in the margins, AVIVA, UN Foundation, and others launched the World BEnchmarkign Alliance at the New York Library. The WBA will rank companies based on their sustainability performance and contributions towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). WBA will make the information on companies also publicly available and free of charge.

Benchmarks provide a powerful incentive for companies to improve their sustainability performance and help to track progress, improve understanding and promote dialogue. Benchmarks will be designed through a multi-stakeholder process to ensure they reflect societal expectations. This will be a powerful and potentially transformative way to achieve this is to produce international league tables that measure and compare the performance of companies on the SDGs.

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August 2017

August was a great month I spent a long weekend in Asheville North Carolina working on my latest book 'Stakeholder Democracy.

Of course, i also explored the cafes and the art district and on my last night saw an excellent local production of the classic Mel Brooks play The Producers.

It was a little ironic that the play which is a Nazi-obsessed musical spoof was at end of the week of the tragic neo-Nazi charade in nearby Charlottesville, Virginia. 

If you haven't seen the play or the film then you might think to make fun of Nazis is not an easy task sound. Who, save for a Jew who served in World War II named Mel Brooks ("Blazing Saddles," "Young Frankenstein"), could pull off such a stunt and with such humor and pizzazz? "The only weapon I've got is comedy," says Brooks, "You've got to bring (this) down with ridicule... It's been one of my lifelong jobs — to make the world laugh at Adolf Hitler." He does this within the context of a backstage Broadway concoction where two theater producers create a would-be flop called "Springtime for Hitler," and the rest is ... ...well you have to see it. We live in very difficult times and fighting fascism needs to be on all fronts. 

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July 2017

We launched the Negotiating the Sustainable Development Goals book at the UN Bookshop on the 14th of July to an over 100 people in attendance and over 400 online.

The bookshop has a video of the event which you can watch here.  There were some very good questions and information on how the SDGs were negotiated. I have to say it was a pleasure to work on the book with my fellow authors and the feedback has been very good from those who have read  it.

The summer is here so time to work on book fifteen which will be on Stakeholder Democracy. I also plan a self-published book on the Rogue CNN stories from my blog and other new material around Christmas. 


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