Category: Environment & Climate

All sectors of modern society can have impacts from environment and climate changes. There are two “groups” of waste and pollution, those with general impacts on the environment and quality of life, and the other group with specific impacts on climate and weather through the so-called global warming. However, there can be some overlapping between these two groups and induced effects therein. Achieving sustainable socio-economic developments depends on keeping good records and information on how our environment and climate are changing in terms of space and time. Air, water and ecological qualities are very much related to the consumption pattern of our common natural resources on the earth, also how we deal with our waste from household, agriculture and industries. Furthermore, waste and pollution can exist in different forms (gas, liquid and solid), originate from various sources and follow different paths of dispersion, and ultimately have different fates. Upon dispersion in the atmosphere, hydrosphere, ecosphere and in aquatic systems, pollution continues to interact with the biotic and abiotic components of the environment. Such interactions introduce degradation in climate, weather and the environment. Greenhouse gases, primarily from fossil fuel burning, cause global warming. Other types of pollution, e.g. heavy metals, toxic chemicals, acidic gases, agricultural and industrial waste, cause degradation of life quality and other damaging effects on the environment, water and ecological systems. Because of the existing and emerging competition on natural resources, and the diverse consumption pattern by stakeholders and industries, there are constant needs for developing treaties, conventions, regulations and agreements on all levels and sectors to protect the climate and environment and to promote sustainable socio-economic developments.

3R-Culture for Saving Planet Earth from Waste and Pollution. 

The 3R-culture “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” is establishing itself with key concepts in the ever expanding ideology and awareness of the fight against the accelerating pile-up of waste and pollution. Waste and pollution is not only a threat for endangering the whole life on planet Earth but it is also one of the main core reasons for global contrains and malfunctioning in industry and technology. Furthermore, it has also huge impacts on micro socio-economic developments and stability of rural and coastal environments in particular the livelihood of the poor and local communities that are dependent on the natural resources of their land-water systems.

These multi-layered and multi-scale threats taking place in the Anthropocene and are caused by an ever expanding cycles of “production-consumption-waste” with increasing rates that we have not seen its peak yet, the “Peak Waste” (https://www.slideshare.net/mobile/ReciclajeInclusivo/esquemas-inclusivos-de-responsabilidad-extendida-del-productor-aprendizajes-desafos-y-oportunidades-por-derek-stephenson, http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/when-will-we-hit-peak-garbage-7074398/, http://environment-review.yale.edu/tags/industrial-ecology-urban-planning).

In low income countries with increaing transformation towards industrialisation and urbanization but yet with poor public infrastructures and almost non-existing policies for environmental protection and preservation, waste and pollution threats are enormous. However, a new 3R-culture is emerging from grassroot rural communities to save their livelihood which, unlike big national/international industries and production/urban facilities, is very much dependent on their living land-water resources where they live, work and develop roots that can last for decades or even generations.

In the photo is the WORLD’S FIRST: THE PLASTIC-ONLY BOAT TO FIGHT POLLUTION that was created by the people of Kenya of the East Coast of Africa. This dohow in over 30 tonnes of recycled plastic waste, a waste which is indeed Kenya has lots of it. Such waste became the raw materials making a 60-foot dhow that is set to sail from the Kenyan coast to South Africa, in an initiative meant to raise awareness on the growing menace of plastics to marine ecosystem and spur a plastic revolution.

See more at https://www.fairplanet.org/story/worlds-first-the-plastic-only-boat-to-fight-pollution/?utm_campaign=Echobox&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook#link_time=1501838864

UN-SDG – Emerging possibilities for collaboration.

Currently, we are exploring the possibilities of mutual collaboration with major players within global applied sustainability issues. This is an interesting example, where coupling of science and technology with society, population and market needs, of pressing and urget nature in particular what regards transboundary socio-economic developments in the framework of UN-SDG.

<a href=”https://m.youtube.com/watch?list=PLXHgKvdFTooyUZcIdNEi9wvVWjNSllBpV&v=ziLJ-FBGwK8&index=24″>https://m.youtube.com/watch?list=PLXHgKvdFTooyUZcIdNEi9wvVWjNSllBpV&v=ziLJ-FBGwK8&index=24</a>

Are We Devided – The  Dissatisfaction, Despair, Unknowns and Hopes?

If the outcome and results of the 2016- Presidential-Elections is being explained as the USA is divided, then it is not only the USA which is devided but it rather the whole world, it is we. If so, it is not the division in itself but rather the uncertainties and risks of such division which can raise, and did raise,  dissatisfaction, despair, unknowns and yet hopes to come. In scientific experiments, in business and in any undertaking there is an important fact about the outcome of any experiment or in trials, they can lead to negative results. Such negative results, as outcome, are equally important and interesting and can not to be rejected. In practical terms they mean “negative is positive”. We always learn something new from the unknowns that we either fear, may be forced to face, or are going to live with. Fears that we can not afford to have in our daily life and to hand them over to coming generations. It also gives us an indication that we have huge and urgent problems that are hidden somewhere, known or even unknown to all of us. Indeed problems that can not and should not be ignored and have to be solved or at least debated and mitigated “problems indeed are solutions that are not yet found”.

It is the outcome of the voting in terms of statistical uncertainties which is of major interest as well, not only the absolute result per se. Any measurement or assessment is associated with several uncertainties, including biases, which are equality important as the result in itself can give many indications of the nature of the uncertainties involved, i.e, in the way how the measurements or assessments are being performed, how the experiment “the system” is being constructed and if the components of the systems are being clear, homogenous and understood. In this case the nature of the uncertainties are totally unknown and can not be assessed. This said, yet there are many consequences for the outcome, and the associated uncertainties due to various factors and parameters, of the 2016-Presidential-Elections. As it looks today there can be major impacts on strategic policies and agreements that are being formulated by, e.g. the UN and the world community in particular the Paris Agreement and UN-SDGs. Also, other regional sub-agreements exist in risk zones which can cause polarization, pile-up and excalation. Who would be in charge of dealing with such consequences and impacts? If the first phase of the Paris Agreement and the ratification of UN-SDGs required huge efforts, still the promotion and implementation will cost enormous INVESTMENTS. Such investments have to done in a way or another and there are always solutions and different approaches for placing such investments. The whole process can not be expected to be completed overnight. This is an example on the essence of the dissatisfaction, dispair, unknowns and hopes as developed in the whole process of all the strategic issues that caused the negative outcome/results and the associated uncertainties; who will pay what, how and why?

As explained by Paul Ekman in his Blog (www.paulekman.com) the election was very close. Hillary Clinton had slightly more of the popular vote, but Donald Trump had the edge in the electoral vote, thereby winning the election for the Presidency. As he says “both candidates’ supporters have something to celebrate”. When the voting is so close, i.e. within statistical uncertainties, then we have indications on how the country is divided. The task of any President, in this case Donald Trump, is to unify by his words and deeds, not to act in a way as Paul Ekman says “will enthuse his supporters and cause despair among those who voted against him”. More about Dr. Paul Ekman and outcome of the voting, visit (http://www.paulekman.com/blog/despair-exaltation-country-divided/). We need to analyse and understand the results and the associated uncertainties in terms of micro psychological expressions among huge heterogeneous populations as is the case in the USA, it is this natural heterogeneity that cause serious uncertainties and unknowns. Dr. Paul Ekman is a well-known psychologist and co-discoverer of micro expressions. He is one of the 100 most influential people in the world according to the TIME magazine in 2009. He has worked with many government agencies, domestic and abroad. Dr. Ekman has compiled over 40 years of his research to create comprehensive training tools to read the hidden emotions of those around you.

There are lessons to be learned from the 2016-presidential-elections and voting in the USA. Many came out and expressed that the results were unexpected and were very surprising. If so, there must be serious shortages in the way how we explain and reflect on the realities and on the ongoing changes and shifts in our societies. Is it the failure of the social-media? Is it shortage, lack of engagement  and one-sided flow of information or is it the fear for facing the very reality of the different world we are living in. Indeed, following the evolution of polls there were clear indications that Trump had  reasonable possibilities and probabilities to win, so the results in itself was quite expected and not at all surprising. In any case within the existing statistical uncertainties in the outcome/results of the election/voting, there is clear dissatisfaction, disagreement among the USA population which can not and should not be ignored. Propably there are new trends or corrections that are not yet completely formulated and need to be fully debated and discussed. Half of the population can not be totally wrong, also half of the population can not be totally correct in such major, clear and significant disagreement. There are alarming signals of political instabilities and imbalances that developed and piled-up in combination with the 2016-election process where many people on all levels, both vertically and horizontally in the socio-economic system of the USA, were actively engaged. The outcome and results reflect further needs for minimizing the gaps in existing division and disagreement, so as to find solutions and new approaches to deal with them on several levels. These needs and solutions can not and will not be resolved overnight as they did not develop and evolve overnight either.

To understand the world around us we need sometimes to be reminded with basic knowledge and how instabilities and imbalances develop. Our modern societies are not any longer running on primitive grounds with simple and linear rules. Yet, when the majority go voting it is the simple and linear rules that dominate. Not all of us have the same reality, interests, level of comprehension of the daily life and everything around us. Also, with all the existing mobility and mix of cultures because of globalization and immigration trends. The increasing and fast flow of all types of contradictory interests and diverse information, through the Internet and the ever expanding landscape of social-media, add more and more uncertainties in the political reality. The reality, as we have it today, keeps piling-up in more and more complexity. Our decisions, at least for some of us and during at least some periods, are yet likely to be biased in a way or another. At the same time our interests and living conditions dictate upon us new pressures and additional uncertainties. In this context, we can only understand things as we perceive and experience them in reference to our hopes and fears. The overall environments, circles of relations and interactions have also much impacts on our judgement in political election and voting on candidates who will take vital decisions on our behalf, even to run our families, societies and businesses, also influence the fate of the whole planet. This said, it is very interesting that the voting came out almost 50-50, so we have all the reasons to seek all ways and solutions to achieve agreements otherwise the consequences will be disastrous. we can not run away from what we achieved and we can not go on with such enormous desagreement. Someone has to do the job and it is not and will not be easy.

We would all agree that no system (including political ones) whatsoever can stay stable, or reach stability, unless there is some sort of equilibrium between the overall individuals, partners or components making up these systems. This is true in physics whenever there is a set of forces acting on a body, particle or on each other. Once the number of forces increase the complexity of the system become more and more apparent and delicate to any small changes of one and each of the forces. Also, in chemistry where reactants in a chemical reaction are brought together to give products. For equilibrium between reactants and products, forward and reverse reactions must be of equal rates. The same here with increasing number of reactants, it becomes more and more difficult to have control on the forward and reverse directions without using sensitive and comprehensive precise monitoring and control systems. The same is true in natural eco-systems which are often incredibly sensitive to change. For a healthy ecosystem for example to be in equilibrium, i.e. relatively stable state that keeps population sizes within a sustainable range. Consider the case of bears (who only eat fish) and salmon (who are only hunted by bears). If the bear population grows particularly large one year, the total population will require more fish to feed it. This will make the salmon population shrink. Over time, if there are fewer salmon, there will not be enough food for all of the bears to eat. Some bears will starve and fewer cubs will be able to prosper, leading to a smaller overall population the next year. As more time passes and the bear population gets smaller, the salmon population will start to increase again due to having fewer natural predators. In a perfectly stable ecosystem, this cycle can continue indefinitely. Of course, natural ecosystems are far more complex than this simple example, but the relationship between species applies to complex ecosystems as well. When eco-systems grow in complexity the system becomes much more sensitive not only for the internal dynamics between species and the associated competition within the food-web but also the external drivers.

The political landscape is not an exception what regards equilibrium, stability as reflected in uncertainties and biases that cause division. In any political system with complex social mosaic, cultural evolution and religious diversity the situation becomes very critical even if the system is democratic, opened, dynamic and yet dependent on external forces. In such systems there are always shifts, or even twists, in the political balance which is not strange but rather natural as dissatisfaction among individuals and/or groups is a natural outcome of changes in internal policies and structures as well as the associated external interactions. Large-scale and long-term equilibrium under such conditions is rather impossible even with most sofisticated corrections and mitigation measures.

Even if the have an answer (https://sv.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Trump) on which one is the winner of the 2016-Presidential-Election of the USA, we are still faced by different sets of fears, dissatisfaction, despair, unknowns and hopes (https://www.google.se/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/10/will-trump-destroy-america?client=safari). This can very well happen if the results were on the opposite direction, i.e. the silent half that voted for the coming President Trump. All what we have to do is not to run away from the existing reality. Citizens and their representatives need to continue with their responsibilities, engagement and contributions in the ongoing process of shaping and reshaping their own future (https://www.google.se/amp/www.vox.com/platform/amp/policy-and-politics/2016/11/9/13575042/donald-trump-minorities-afraid-president?client=safari). We can not seek new future elsewhere and the only place to have space for anyone of us is still Planet Earth. We can not run way from finding out how to get back and be in agreement.

Korean’s Sustainability Concept for Water Resourse Management – Smart Water Grids 

The increasing pressures and competition on water resources on different spatio-temporal scales require developing more friendly and sustainable approaches to meet the increasing constrains from population growth, uncertain energy production and accelerating threats from global warming. 

Among newly emerging solutions is Grid-concept “water production-distribution-consumption” which is described in the attached Link that describes “Sustainable Water Distribution Strategy with Smart Water Grid” (http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/7/4/4240/htm).

Does the Nobel Prize Support Sustainable Developments on Planet Earth? If, Yes How & If No Why?

With the ongoing efforts to promote and implement the UN-SDGs including the EU vote to ratify the Paris Agreement (http://bit.ly/2dpyVoa) there are emerging key strategic issues. Countries around the world are called upon to act quickly to fulfill all the promises for the protection and preservation of the Earth’s natural resources. All society sectors (private and public), knowledge disciplines and human activities on planet Earth, both vertically and horizontally, have direct responsibilities in the ongoing process of transformation. There should be tools and instruments to assess the role and involvements on several levels, i.e. through coordinated webs of Key Performance Indicators. Among such instruments is the Nobel Prize which indeed played, and still playing, important role in promoting essential knowledge disciplines. However, knowledge in itself has to be promptly and effectively utilized by all sectors and on all levels to promote and implement the Paris agreement through effective coupling of diverse and wide spectra of knowledge to society, population and the market needs. It is interesting to see how far the Nobel Prize contributed in the past in developing the UN-SDGs, and also how much it will contribute in promoting and implementing these goals in future.

By founding the Nobel Prize in 1901 Alfred Nobel made the name Nobel famous worldwide. But Alfred’s prize was not the first Nobel Prize. As early as 1889 the Ludvig Nobel Award was founded. Ludvig was Alfred Nobel’s older brother and worked as a scientist, inventor and businessman in Russia during the second half of the 19th century. Alfred was most likely inspired by his brother Ludvig when founding his Nobel Prize, one of the most prestigious scientific awards of all times. Ludvig and his other bother, Robert Nobel, had an oil company in Baku, a manufacturing site for diesel engines in St. Petersburg and many other industrial sites throughout Russia during the late 19th century. Ludvig, however, strived to improve the conditions for the workers at the industrial sites by the introduction of shorter working hours, schools, healthcare, recreational facilities and also cooperative banking system for the employees. This was the 1st global initiative towards the implementation of Applied Sustainability but still lacked the environmental issues. In this context Sustainability and Social commitment was the trademark of the Nobel industries as visioned by Ludvig and Robert Nobel. The Russian revolution in 1917 changed the scene dramatically. Ludvig Nobel’s prize in science and research never became much more than a dream due to the revolution. 

Thanks to the global trends of human thinking and the recognition of R&D as an integrated part in socio-economic developments, i.e. in the framework of the UN-SDGs, today the efforts of Ludvig Nobel and his brother have not been forgotten specially in Russia and Azerbaijan.

Recently, the Nobel family has taken the initiative to honor the memory of Ludvig. The Nobel Sustainability Trust was founded with the purpose of encouraging research and/or practice of sustainable and renewable energy, through an award. Not to be confused with the Nobel prize of Alfred Nobel and will be given to worthy individuals or organizations that during the year have carried out significant accomplishments in the field of renewable/sustainable energy (http://nobelsustainability.org/history/). 

However, there are other wider initiatives to realize the importance of UN-SDG as they involve coupling many other sectors and disciplines in particular those related to Water – Energy – Natural Resources Nexuses. Still water, sanitation and hygiene in developing countries are taken much smaller proportion in relation to the R&D done within energy-related sectors and disciplines. In this context, additional steps are being taken by the United Planet Faith and Science Initiative by launching a website that attempts to win a Nobel Peace Prize for Sustainable Development (NP4SD.org) with a shared nomination of an organization and two individuals. As explained by “NP4SD.org” it is not a new Nobel Prize, it is a Peace Prize to be shared by nominees whose work is foundational and seminal in the field of sustainable development (http://www.upfsi.org/). Among cases in the past where sustainability issues were taken in consideration is 2004-Peace Prize (http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/2004/press.html).

Among other strategic efforts to support UN-SDGs, is to give Ecological Economics greater worldwide exposure and to create more widespread understanding of other strategic fields of importance for our well-being, survival and life-quality on planet earth and its growing population (http://www.isecoeco.org/nobel-peace-prize-for-sustainable-development/). Yet, much more is still needed to be done to promote and implement better policies for education, R&D and Transfer-of-Knowledge in the developing countries. If the Nobel Prize is used as indicator for these strategic activities it is very easy to conclude that the major parts of planet earth suffer from huge knowledge poverty. Then we can simply ask how the UN-SDGs be effectively implemented to achieve global sustainable socio-economic developments? Would the UN-SDGs be only a day-night dream for generations to come?

This said, the traditional Nobel Prize has on large-scale and long-term perspective an long-standing importance, directly or indirectly, on improving our overall understanding of planet Earth and to some extent the fundamentals of improving life quality on the Earth’s surface. Building on science pyramid on large-scale and long-term perspective is strategic in pushing forward the wheels of technology and development. However, developments in science and technology in the past century along with the weak coupling with global sociey sectors through ineffective policy-making and lack of global coordination have caused the ongoing degradation in life quality on Earth. These negative trends could have be avoided or even limited if the UN-SDGs were realized and founded much earlier.

More information on the traditional Nobel Prize awards for 2016, please see (https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/2016/press-sv.html).

Sustainability & Circular Economy – Free Award-winning E-Book

“Sustain-Earth.Com” is inviting you to visit the given link for free PDF downloading of an award-winning e-book (The Sustainable Business) about sustainability and the circular economy.

Free copies of the book are distributed for the purpose of explaining the fundamentals of waste elimination and resource-life extension (two core components of sustainability) and to facilitate sustainable business development and job creation.
Currently, the book is used as an introductory course text (in business schools), as a basic training manual in businesses, and as a beginner’s guide for educating the general public. You are welcome to use it to do the same.  
‘The Sustainable Business’ is updated approximately every two years and is available in five languages. All translations of the e-book (English, Arabic, Mandarin, Polish and Simplified Chinese) can be downloaded from EFMD here: https://www.efmd.org/research/the-sustainable-business   

EFMD is Europe’s premier academic-quality assessment organization; it accredits the world’s leading business schools. Just click on the book cover photo of the language you want.  
Again, you are welcome to share all the EFMD/CIPS sustainability portfolio materials (including the short videos) with your colleagues and networks – that’s what they are for!   

2050-2100: The Struggle of Humanity against Future Peaks

Any group preparing for a difficult mission such as climbing towards high tops against strong winds and steep heights, e.g. the Himalaya tops, knows that such mission is not free from an enormous number of excepted and unexpected risks. Accounting for such risks and taking all necessary measures and precautions is imperative not only for surviving, a long journey of such dimension, but also for fulfilling the goals of the mission. No one, whatsoever, can take such risks without careful planning and practise as well as having the necessary qualities and resources to withstand the all possible “known” and impossible “unknown” situations that can lead to failure. It is a matter of life or death and a journey where the very survival from the start to the end is a life mission, even after the mission itself is completed. The mission can, also be, understood and experienced as an instrument to learn and gain more merits  “added-value” to cope with other future difficulties beyond the mission itself. It is from the “knowns” we can uncover, solve and cope with many other “unknowns”.

If we have to continue our survival on planet Earth, improve whatever can be improved and sustain the quality of life in the near future of coming generations we need to think the same way. Thinking about 2050-2100 we will be struggling to solve serious problems “peaks” facing us on planet Earth. 

The future in this context requires convergence of our efforts and not divergence, i.e. to see the threats as common obstacles facing the life on earth and its quality.  “sustain-earth.com” is an instrument for transformation of all the threats to challenges and to find solutions and implementations of what, why and how. It is about sustainability (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainability).

Have UN-SDG any Impacts on R&D around the World? 

Research and Development “R&D” has direct and indirect feedbacks and impacts on the global implementation, and also the successful achievements, of UN-SDG. One can expect that the UN-SDG can be achieved, and thereby implemented, as an Added-Value components to “R&D” Programs and Projects in cases where  they are clearly specified and defined by funding organisations and institutes. This in turn will generate stronger, active and vital engagement of universities, academies, researchers and education programs in the promotion and implementation of UN-SDG.  In particular shaping higher education, R&D for appropriate and timely promotion and implementation of the UN-SDG on local and regional scales with special focus on society and population needs. Also, with consideration to three pillars of sustainability (economic, social and environment issues) and building on the available natural resources in different regions. These are of course in addition to dedicated programs and projects where “R&D” directly deals with sustainability and sustainable developments in general. 

Currently, there are no exact, detailed and coordinated global assessment policies/strategies on when, how and where the UN-SDG are to be achieved, though there are fragmented data on such issues in limited counties and regions. However, some information can be indirectly extracted from the global view of R&D, so as to examine strengths and weaknesses in following-up and assessing the perfomance by sectors, products, technologies, markets, regions and countries.

Research and development (R&D) is defined as the process of creating new products, processes and technologies that can be used and marketed for mankind’s benefit in the future. What regards sustainability, the interests and needs of future generations have to be taken in considerations. As the R&D processes and their costs vary from industry to industry, from country to country and from year to year, we can expect wide-range of variations in effectiveness, performance and time-scales of relevance for UN-SDG.

R&D investment in Asian countries (e.g. Japan, India and South Korea) including China is currently accounting for more than 40% of all global R&D investments, the North American investments now less than 30% and European R&D only slightly more than 20%. The rest of the world (Russia, Africa, South America and the Middle East countries) account for a combined 8.8% of the global R&D investments with combined average growth of only about 1.5% per year. Much of the R&D growth in any country around the world is driven by that country’s economic growth.

There are substantial changes that are being seen in industrial R&D makeup. Life science R&D, for example, has been the largest sector in the industrial technology arena. However, the automotive arena is expected to grow their R&D programs due to strong technology shifts from internal combustion to electric propulsion systems, manual to automated driving systems and increasingly integrated electronic systems. Other changes include the rapid and mostly unexpected implementation of self-driving cars; the emergence of electric cars, which could supplant a significant portion of fossil fuel-powered vehicles in a relatively short period; and the availability of large amounts of fossil fuels at low prices not experienced in more than 20 years. Fast forward to today, unlike what was known before, there’s an oil glut on the world market, gas prices are where they were 25 years ago and the U.S. has considered exporting crude oil from its shale oil reserves. Saudi Arabia and other traditional oil exporting countries will be faced with serious economic difficulties because of low gas prices.

Solar-powered technologies continue to be a relatively small sector of the overall energy industry that is populated by comparatively smaller technology companies. Most of these small energy companies, with strong future market forecasts, expect to increase their R&D spending in 2016. Solar cells, power converters and associated hardware continue to improve in overall effiencies, while dropping lightly in overall prices. In the Automotive industry, lithium-ion batteries are improving which in combination with computers can bring about new trends in automotive markets. Solar-panel system, also for small industries and other consumer uses, can shape additional new trends. 

Except in the automotive arena, the U.S. industries gained more technological advantage than they lost in many other areas. This includes advanced materials, commercial aerospace, communications, computing/IT, energy, environmental, instrumentation, life science, military/defense, and pharmaceutical/ biotech. 

What regards R&D, academia has become the go-to organization for performing advanced basic research and even applied research when government or industrial organizations are looking for cost-effective ways to perform a development program. For many years now, academia has performed the majority of basic research as industrial organizations have reduced their involvement in basic research. The U.S. university and college systems continue to lead other countries in research, technology and innovation. For example, of the top 10 universities in the world, eight are in the U.S. (Harvard, Stanford, MIT, UC-Berkeley, Princeton, CalTech, Columbia and the Univ. of Chicago) and two are in the U.K. (Cambridge and Oxford). Of the top 20 universities in the world, 16 are in the U.S., with Switzerland’s ETH and Univ. College London being the non-U.S.-based standouts—the other top U.S. universities include Yale, UCLA, Cornell, UC- San Diego, Univ. of Washington, Univ. of Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins and UC-San Francisco. This ranking system is run by the Center for World Class Universities at Shanghai Jiao Tong Univ., China. However, five of the top 10 in the Economic Intelligence Unit’s 2015 Global Talent Index are in Europe—Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. The same countries as were in the top 10 for the 2011 version of the Index. The U.S. was number one in both versions of the Index. The Nordic region of Europe is noteworthy as it has four of the top countries in the talent index. The Nordic region as a whole has high government spending, as a percentage of GDP which is maintained throughout all stages of education, right through to universities, which explains why it has outperformed so many prominent rivals in the developed world in the overall index. The linguistic and technical skills of the Nordic countries’ working population are also particularly strong.

What concerns R&D staff, the researchers surveyed indicated that money is likely the most important component for maintaining and attracting researchers. Tied closely to creating a strong research staff is the creation of an innovation culture within the R&D organization.

R&D has been, still and will remain imperative for understanding and making the “best” of “our” lives on planet “earth”. Here comes three questions: first, how to assess the outcome and “how best is best”; second, which lives and which are those included in “our”; third, what are the impacts on “earth” and would the earth provide all the necessary ingredients at all times.  The attached file demonstrates that R&D around the world is still driven with less investments towards solving the threats facing the majority of world population. The focus as far as the majority of the world population is concerned is still geared towards one of the three main sustainability pillars which is “Economy”. The “environment” and “social” issues of the majority of the world population have to remain of much less priority.

https://www.iriweb.org/sites/default/files/2016GlobalR%26DFundingForecast_2.pdf

Mission Is Cloudy – 70 Years of UN & International Bureaucracy

Today 70 years and half a trillion dollars later after the creation of the UN, we are faced with several legitimate questions. What the UN, and its complex systems of International Bureaucracy, has achieved in practical terms, e.g. for the poor, environment, water, agriculture, food, illiteracy, energy, climate, biodiversity, quality of life and in particular water and air …… sustainable developments and many many more? Also, how the future would like in terms of these aspects? 

Well, the United Nations has saved millions of lives and boosted health and education across the world. But what happened with the billions of people that were added to the world population since WW-II, i.e. about 4.5 billions? Did the majority of these new comers got better life and future, escape poverty and illiteracy, get better health, education and employment? As majority of the growing population, i.e. billions of them, is taking place in developing countries, then we can ask: what about affordability and accessibility to the basic needs as defined by the 21-century standards? Did the developing countries advance in the same way as the developed world did after WW-II? Whatever the answer is, it remains imperative to ask what would be the impacts of such trends on the global sustainability and what the developed world, modern technology and R&D did to save the planet Earth from total collapse?

In this context, what would be the future role of UN and its complex, ineffective bureaucratic systems? How would the UN and its bureaucratic systems change from “know-about” systems to “know-how” organizations with effectively managed instruments of implementation? What would be the next practical plans for effective actions and measures to achieve the so-called UN-SDG?

In a changing world with new powers of Internet, Google, Apple, Amazon, Ali Express, …. and the whole web of Social Media Instruments what would be the new role of the UN and its bloated international bureaucracy with undemocratic and ineffective cost-benefits solutions for the majority of the world population in particular the affordability and accessibility to basic life needs according to the 21-century standards?

It is totally true what Dag Hammarskjöld said, the tragic second UN secretary general, who had it best “The United Nations was created not to lead mankind to heaven but to save humanity from hell”? Did the UN save humanity from hell? More interesting what did Dag Hammarskjöld mean by hell? The kind of hell Dag Hammarskjöld had in mind was not hard to imagine in the wake of world war, massive destruction and with the atom bomb’s shadow spreading across the globe. But these threats are now more or less over and new emerging hells are either existing or soon facing us. 

Since it was set up in 1945, the UN helped save millions from other kinds of hell, e.g. the deepest of poverty, save children die of treatable diseases, starvation and exposure to classical wars. The UN’s children’s organisation, Unicef, provided an education and a path to a better life for millions. The UN’s development programmes were instrumental in helping countries newly freed from colonial rule to govern themselves. But in the very shadow of these achievements and on wide-scale prespective, the UN agencies ‘broke and failing’ in face of an ever-growing refugee crisis, global poverty, climate change and global warming, environmental threats and ecological degradation, the very late introduction and the ineffective implementation of UN-SDG with ultra-slow transformation speed to more sustainable future for planet Earth.

In its 70 years, the United Nations may have been hailed as the great hope for the future of mankind – but it has also been dismissed as a shameful organization with numbing bureaucracy, institutional cover-ups of corruption and undemocratic politics of its security council. Policies to go to war in the name of peace with no measures to clean up after collapse of states after wars and ineffective support for millions of victims.

These imperfections have now come to the surface and pressing the UN and its organisation to define its role in the 21st century. Tensions between western governments and developing countries have rippled across the organisation as ballooning costs drive the push for reform. The UN is overly bureaucratic and slow in the way it dealt with development issues. The UN has many organisations with overlapping mandates. It’s built systems on top of systems on top of systems with structures that protect the incompetence and ineffectiveness. Cooperation between organisations has been hindered by competition for funding, mission creep and by outdated business practises. This is clear in water, energy and environment sectors with many UN agencies are active and compete for limited resources without a clear collaborative framework. What we have now is another multiplication of targets and goals which are an extraordinarily comprehensive assessment of what’s needed to be done but there’s no operational clarity around them. Who’s going to do it? Who’s going to monitor it? Who’s accountable for it? The goals themselves are pretty impressive but it doesn’t say anything to the UN about what they should be doing.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/07/what-has-the-un-achieved-united-nations

But on the other hand the UN says it is the member states that fails to cooperate and to deliver effective local and regional solutions. The pile-up of mis- managements on local and regional scales is the major reasons for how the world looks like as it does today (http://m.sputniknews.com/world/20151023/1028980091/United-Nations-70-Years.html). 

So, in any case reforms are necessary and imperative to bring about remarkable changes for the majority of the world population. BUT WHAT,  HOW AND WHEN?