UNA-Westchester: UN Day 2012 – Sustainable Energy for All

Read the following report and view the photos to learn about UNA-Westchester’s 2012 United Nations Day event, “Sustainable Energy for All: Solutions for a Prosperous World.”   Photos     UN Day 2012 Report

Audience members

Naresh Kakar, Elizabeth Silleck, Nikhil Seth

Marcia Brewster, President


Energy Project Team: Visit to ‘The Science Barge’ in Yonkers on 9/15/12

By Brandon Huck, Energy Project Working Group – story and photos

On Saturday, September 15th, members of the Energy Project working group (of the UNA-USA’s Southern NY State Division) visited ‘The Science Barge’ in Yonkers, New York. The Science Barge is a prototype sustainable urban farm floating on the Hudson River and moored at the revitalized Yonkers Waterfront. Developed by New York Sun Works and acquired by Groundwork Hudson Valley in October 2008, the barge is maintained by a small full-time staff and several rotating volunteers (often student interns).  More information at: http://www.groundworkhv.org/programs/science-barge/   To join the UNA-SNY Energy Project, email:  unaenergy@googlegroups.com

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Raising Funds for Energy-Related Projects in Haiti

As part of its overall program the Division’s Energy Project is seeking to help raise funds for Energy-Related projects in Haiti.  You can help by taking a minute or two every day from September 19-October 31 to vote online!

What does this mean:  The Public-Private Alliance Foundation, Konbit Pou Ayiti (Konpay),  SocialTap and CDi, all non-profit organizations working in Haiti  are in the run to win $50,000 for their clean fuels & cook stoves projects.  This video describes the issues http://www.unasouthernny.org/advocacy-and-action.html .  
How does it work: Between Sep-19 and Oct-31, we ask you to please vote for this project each and every day and to mobilize as many additional votes as possible. The winner of the most votes at the end of the period will receive the $50,000. Runners up will receive $10,000. Based on previous rounds of voting, we estimate to need 20,000 votes to be competitive. That’s about 460 unique votes per day.   Last year CDi won $10,000 for its project for latrines in Haiti.
Where to Vote: The website and donor is a socially-minded wine cultivator and retailer:  Cultivate Wines. They call this program “The Give”. The exact web-address is not yet known but it will be found on their website www.cultivatewines.com as of 09/19.    Continue reading

Impact Reporting and Investment Standards (IRIS)

by Laura Winninger, UNA-SNY Intern

IRIS and GIIN are two new acronyms to add to our development vocabulary.

In recent years, a growing number of impact investors, who seek to create social good or improve the health of the environment, as well as achieve financial returns, were facing major difficulties  regarding the evaluation of their investments. Because a large number of organizations created their own “metrics”, criteria that indicate their social as well as environmental performance, the comparison between companies was limited.

In order to eliminate these evaluation differences The Rockefeller Foundation, Acumen Fund and B Lab initiated “Impact Reporting and Investment Standards” (IRIS) , which became an initiative of GIIN, the Global Impact Investing Network in 2009. These standards aim at creating a common language for organizations to assess and report on their social, financial and environmental performance as well as to enable comparison to other companies.

The framework of IRIS is based on six points – organization description, product description, financial performance, operational impact, product impact and glossary – which may be reported for the whole company or for a single product. Additionally, a set of sector- based metrics are provided for organizations that impact a particular sector.

Agriculture, environment, energy and water are among these metrics, the increasing importance of sustainability and green energy in businesses is once again approved – good news in the International Year of Sustainable Energy and for all those supporting the UNA-USA’s Energy Project.


Scout – a Search Engine for Government Bills and Regulations

Tara Calishain, at ResearchBuzz.com, has written about a new search engine that can be used to identify government and related actions on your selected search topic.  (Thank you, Tara!)  The url is http://scout.sunlightfoundation.com.  The site states that one can use Scout to: 

  • Set up alerts and subscribe to receive updates from Congress, state legislatures and more via email or SMS text.
  • Search through every bill and regulation in the federal government.
  • Be notified when Congress plans to vote on a bill.
  • Follow and search bills in all 50 states; powered by the Open States project.
  • Import an RSS feed to complement issue alerts.

We tried it with the word “energy,” which resulted in current and timely information on bills in congress, speeches in congress, state bills and federal regulations.   Definitely worth a look!

National Regulations on Fracking a Step Closer

Federal regulation aimed at controlling hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, have come a step closer, following an announcement by President Obama that the first national regulations are to be set. The announcement comes after the release of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (ERA) draft regulations aimed at controlling pollution. The announcement by the Obama administration follows a series of actions aimed at regulating fracking, which has come under severe criticism from environmental campaigners and the EPA. However, energy producers and the Republican Party, accuse those opposed to fracking of stifling energy production, especially in a climate of rocketing energy prices. Continue reading

The Foreign Policy Association Conference on the Future of Energy

by Aaron Gardner, Energy Project volunteer

On May 24, 2012 the Foreign Policy Association hosted a conference on the Future of Energy.  His Eminence Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, the President of the 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly, gave the keynote address.  His remarks concerned sustainable energy’s importance, particularly in the context of energy poverty.  He highlighted three current United Nations initiatives.  One that UNA-SNY members know well is the Year of Sustainable Energy for All.  Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon also launched a program called “Access to Energy for All” with the goal of eliminating energy poverty by 2030, among others.  Lastly, Mr. Al-Nasser has made “sustainable development and global prosperity” one of the four main themes of his presidency.
The keynote was followed by remarks from and a discussion featuring four highly distinguished panelists.  Mr. Richard A. Navarre, President of Peabody Energy, moderated.  The other panelists were:  Mr. Jason Grumet, President of the Bipartisan Policy Center; Ms. Mary R. (Nina) Henderson, Managing Partner of Henderson Advisory; and former Senator Byron Dorgan. 

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Rio+20 – Review and Outlook: a Panel Discussion – May 15, 2012

by Aaron Gardner, UNA-SNY Energy Project volunteer

On May 15, the UNA-SNY Energy Project hosted a panel discussion reviewing the current state of Rio+20 information preparation meetings to an audience of about 40, a number of whom plan to attend Rio+20.

Mr. Andreas Paffernoschke of the Permanent Mission of Germany to the UN provided an insider’s look at the intense work going on behind the scenes to prepare for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development to be held in Rio de Janeiro June 20 – 22.  Beginning with a detailed history of international environmental cooperation going back to the original United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992, he took the audience all the way up to the current moment, as member states wrangle a draft text to be presented to ministerial-level officials for final negotiations in Rio.  Among a host of important issues under consideration, he noted that a world environmental organization to coordinate international efforts at environmental cooperation is high on the wish list of European Union negotiators. Continue reading

Rio+Social – You Can Join in the Fun!

A team of Southern NYS Division members and volunteers is planning to cover Rio+Social, with five on-the-ground in Brazil — Team leader Julia Ewing and co-leader Joshua Cooper, UNA member from Hawaii, will be joined by UNA former interns Carolina Magalhaes and Ana Beatriz Nano, both Brazilians, and Pedro Vicente, Portuguese, former students at EF International School in Tarrytown.   If you would like to join in the blogging and tweeting, email: unasouthernny@gmail.com to learn how.

Rio+Social is a groundbreaking, global conversation about the nexus of social media, technology, and sustainability.  The forum will take place on June 19th, alongside the Rio+20 Summit, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. 

This one-day event will enable a global dialogue between a live audience in Rio de Janeiro and thousands around the world participating in real time via Livestream.  Hundreds of bloggers and journalists, including our team, will interact in the Digital Media Lounge (DML), a fully wired work space on-site for media from which they can report and network.

Women and energy

by Pedro Vicente, Intern

Changing from an economy based on use of fossil fuels to one using clean and efficient energy is a major concern for this century. The United Nations General Assembly declared 2012 the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All, recognizing that “…access to modern affordable energy services in developing countries is essential for the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals, and sustainable development, which would help to reduce poverty and to improve the conditions and standard of living for the majority of the world’s population.” Continue reading