Stewart M. Patrick

The Internationalist

Patrick assesses the future of world order, state sovereignty, and multilateral cooperation.

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Showing posts for "Sustainable Development"

Re-Engineering the Earth’s Climate: No Longer Science Fiction

by Stewart M. Patrick
geoengineering climate change sulfates A portrait of global aerosols is seen in this undated NASA handout released November 14, 2012. In the image, dust (red) is lifted from the surface, sea salt (blue) swirls inside cyclones, smoke (green) rises from fires, and sulfate particles (white) stream from volcanoes and fossil fuel emissions (William Putman/NASA/Goddard courtesy Reuters)

By continuing to spew greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, humanity is conducting the largest uncontrolled scientific experiment in the Earth’s 4.5 billion year history. The most recent assessment report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change paints a dire portrait. Under a “business as usual” scenario, average global temperatures are predicted to rise by between 4.5 degrees and 14 degrees Fahrenheit—and temperatures at the earth’s poles are predicted to rise by as much as 20 degrees Fahrenheit over several decades. Even under the most optimistic scenario, which presumes unprecedented mitigation efforts, average global temperatures will almost certainly rise above the 2 degrees Celsius. The catastrophic implications will include melting polar icecaps, dramatic sea rise, mass extinction events, more extreme weather events, and the death of the world’s coral reefs from ocean acidification. Unfortunately for humanity, in the words of UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, “There is No Planet B.” Read more »

Governing the Resource Curse: Advancing Transparency

by Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick
Smoke rises after a blast in a quarry at the Ariab mine September 28, 2011. The Ariab mine in east Sudan's Red Sea state, the country's largest single gold mining operation, is run by a partnership between Sudan's government and Canada's La Mancha. (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Courtesy Reuters)

Below is a guest post by Alexandra Kerr, program coordinator in the International Institutions and Global Governance program.

Ahead of the G8 summit this June, economist Paul Collier remarked that “instead of preaching to poor countries or promising to double aid, which we never did anyway, the idea now is… to put [our] own house in order, in ways that are good for us and also good for Africa.” Prefacing the summit’s strong focus on transparency, Collier’s statement touches on a recent series of international actions that shift the approach to solving the problem of corruption in the extractives industry. Where countries with natural resource abundance have often been scrutinized for failure to turn their endowments into sustained wealth for their populations, the onus is now on the companies that partner with these states to extract natural resources, to instigate change. Consequently, a new paradigm is emerging wherein the extractives industry is increasingly accountable for its financial transactions—which, in remaining largely ungoverned, have contributed significantly to the “resource curse.” At the heart of this shift, transparency is taking center stage. Read more »

Global Development 2.0: Assessing a New UN Roadmap

by Stewart M. Patrick
British Prime Minister David Cameron (L), and Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (R), prepare for the second day of the meeting of the High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda at United Nations headquarters in New York (Richard Drew/Courtesy Reuters).

Last week the UN’s latest “High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons” released a long-awaited report on global development. The resulting document—A New Global Partnership: Eradicate Poverty and Transform Economies through Sustainable Development—is not only a good read, it’s also a compelling blueprint for extending prosperity to the world’s poor. Read more »

There’s a Fly in My Soup! Can Insects Satisfy World Food Needs?

by Stewart M. Patrick
Locusts and worms are seen on a spoon after being cooked with olive oil for a discovery lunch in Brussels September 20, 2012. Organisers of the event, which included cookery classes, want to draw attention to insects as a source of nutrition. (Francois Lenoir/ Courtesy Reuters)

What world traveler hasn’t declined at least one local “delicacy”? A decade ago in Oaxaca, Mexico, I turned up my nose at chapulines, a steaming plate of toasted grasshoppers. “Tastes like chicken,” my waiter smiled unconvincingly. But overcoming disgust for “edible insects” may be the easiest way to meet global food needs, according to a fascinating, if occasionally stomach-churning, report from the UN’s Food and Agricultural Agency (FAO), based, of all places, in Rome. Read more »

Environmental Security Goes Mainstream: Natural Resources and National Interests

by Stewart M. Patrick
The Nile and the Sinai Peninsula are pictured in this handout photo courtesy of Col. Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency, who is photographing Earth from the International Space Station. (Chris Hadfield/Courtesy Reuters)

Not long ago, concerns about environmental degradation were marginal in U.S. national security deliberations. What a difference climate change has made. Foreign policy officials and experts are starting to recognize profound linkages between planetary health, economic prosperity, and international security. These connections were on full view Wednesday, when the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) teamed up with Conservation International (CI) to convene a symposim,“Global Resources, the U.S. Economy, and National Security.” The livestreamed event (available here) assembled intelligence officials, development economists, defense experts, conservation biologists, and corporate executives to discuss the rapid degradation of the earth’s natural endowments and its dire implications for long term prosperity and stability. The provocative conversation ranged far beyond global warming to assess the implications of deforestation and desertification, collapsing fisheries, habitat destruction, and water scarcity.  That these topics were broached at CFR—an august institution traditionally concerned with issues like Middle East peace, nuclear proliferation, or China’s rise—shows how central the subject of sustainability has become for foreign policy professionals. Read more »

Charting the Future of Global Development

by Stewart M. Patrick
Courtesy Reuters

For more than a decade, the global conversation about development has been dominated by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Established at the United Nations’ Millennium Summit of 2000, these eight objectives focused on what the international community could do to meet basic human needs in the developing world. Read more »

U.S. Priorities at the UN General Assembly

by Stewart M. Patrick
U.S. president Barack Obama speaking at the 2011 United Nations General Assembly (Jessica Rinaldi/Courtesy Reuters).

Next week, Obama will deliver his fourth (and perhaps last) speech from the podium in the Great Hall of the United Nations General Assembly. Given elections on November 6, the intended audience will, of course, be as much domestic as international.

The overall message of his address will be that “engagement” has paid off in spades, that the United States has restored its standing and good working relationships in New York, and that the hard work of retail diplomacy—of rolling up your sleeves and negotiating—has paid off. Read more »

Middle East Turmoil Will Greet Opening of UN General Assembly

by Stewart M. Patrick
A protester reacts as the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is seen in flames. Armed gunmen attacked the compound on Tuesday evening, clashing with Libyan security forces before the latter withdrew as they came under heavy fire. Four American embassy personnel were killed. (Esam Al-Fetori/Courtesy Reuters).

This week, foreign policy took center stage in the presidential campaign, and it appears that it may stay in the conversation for Candidate Romney and President Obama next week as well. Listen to The World Next Week podcast, where Bob McMahon and I discuss the attack in Libya that killed four U.S. embassy personnel, the opening session of the sixty-seventh UN General Assembly, and the improvements of the Human Rights Council: Read more »

Sea Change: A New Tool for Measuring Ocean Health

by Stewart M. Patrick
A fisherman is seen near a rubbish dump on the Sidon seafront in south Lebanon September 27, 2010. The dump, located near schools, hospitals and apartment blocks in Lebanon's third biggest city, has partially collapsed into the Mediterranean sea several times (Ali Hashisho/Courtesy Reuters).

I spent late July alongside the Bay of Fundy, marveling at the world’s most spectacular tides. But the power of the sea can be misleading. The world’s oceans may look omnipotent, but they are all too vulnerable to the short-sighted actions of mankind. As I wrote last summer from Norway’s  Lofoten Islands, the oceans are in deep crisis, thanks to rampant overfishing, calamitous pollution, and unprecedented acifidication induced by climate change. Read more »

Assessing Rio: Silver Linings to Cloudy Forecast

by Stewart M. Patrick
New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg (L) speaks as Rio de Janeiro's Mayor Eduardo Paes (C) and Eduardo Macri of Buenos Aires look on during the Rio+C40 Megacity Mayors Taking Action on Climate Change event in Rio de Janeiro June 19, 2012 (Sergio Moraes/Courtesy Reuters).

Ultimately, the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio+20, seemed to fly by with a flurry of coverage but no clear conclusions. Many observers dismissed the final communiqué as “283 paragraphs of fluff” while others found reason for optimism.  What is, however, undeniable is that the world is in no mood for ambitious new multilateral conventions on the global environment. Read more »