EWI Welcomes New Board Members

The EastWest Institute announced six new board members this month, adding years of insight into areas such as China, military affairs, resource security, and the economy.

“The success of the Institute’s work depends on the valuable experience of its board members to enable its unique convening role among key policy communities worldwide. These additions to our board reflect our growth in 21st century issue areas and our commitment to private-public partnership,” EWI President and CEO John Edwin Mroz said.

The new board members are: Angela Chen, Anurag Jain, Kevin McGovern, Ronald P. O’Hanley, William A. Owens, and John Rogers.

EWI also thanks departing board members Thor Bjorgolfsson, Don Kendall, Jr., Mike Maples, Frank Neuman, and Hilton J. Smith for their service to the institute and its goals of international cooperation.

Get to know EWI’s new board members by reading their full biographies below.


Angela Chen (U.S./China)
Founder and Managing Director, Global Alliance Associates
Director, China Arts Foundation International

Angela Chen’s career spans three decades of global corporate finance and cross-cultural management. She is the Founder of Global Alliance Associates and is a Partner of Epoch Fund, a pioneer private equity fund with sizeable equity investments in Chinese companies. Previously, she was Vice President, Investments at Prudential Securities in New York where she established its International Private Banking Group and developed and managed the Group’s high net worth private client base. Ms. Chen was also Vice President at Merrill Lynch. She launched its China Futures Department and worked with Chinese government officials in establishing the first Securities and Exchange Commission in China.

Ms. Chen was the sole United States representative sent to China by the U.N. Development Program to set forth the first Securities Law and Stock Exchange Law in China. She is a dedicated philanthropist and a Founder of China Arts Foundation whose mission is to improve communication and understanding between the United States and China through cultural exchange programs. Ms. Chen is also a Board Member of the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum where she advises on strategy funding and management. She is currently a member of the National Committee on United States – China Relations and an active member of the Asia Society.


Anurag Jain (India)
Chairman, Laurus Edutech Pvt. Ltd.

Anurag Jain has founded Viziniti Global, LLC, which is a social entrepreneurship incubator based in the United States and India. Its first incubated venture, Laurus Edutech, trains over 30,000 students in India  in vocational skills using over 35 locations and is scaling a for profit model to train over 250,000 students a year in Asia and Africa. Viziniti is also in the process of incubating models to provide a $1,500 house for the homeless and provide primary health care to rural India.

In addition to serving on the board of the EastWest Institute, Jain serves on the board of the North Texas Food Bank.

Jain was the chairman of the Skill Development Forum for the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). He also served on the Board of the National Skills Development Corporation, a first-of-its-kind public–private partnership in India. He is also chairman of the board of Laurus Institute, a premier not-for-profit skills development think tank in India.

Jain left Dell in 2011, where he used to lead the Services Delivery unit, a global team of more than 18,000 professionals who deliver leading-edge technology solutions to Dell customers around the world. The Services Delivery unit includes Dell’s technology service functions of Infrastructure and Managed Technology Services, Applications, and Business Process Solutions. The organization also included Dell’s Innovation group, which was pioneering technological advancements in areas such as cloud computing, mobility, virtual data services, technology delivery and optimization, and others.

Jain previously led the Perot Systems (now Dell) Applications, Business Process Solutions, Financial Services and Insurance organizations, where he directed global operations and sales to enhance growth and business results. He also served as managing director of the company’s Asia Pacific region.

Jain also previously founded 3 highly successful, large-scale, India-based IT services outsourcing businesses. He co-founded and served as head of operations for Brigade Corporation, a customer support company with employees across centers in the United States, Europe, and India. He then founded Vision Healthsource, a business focused on providing IT services outsourcing to health care providers and payers that was acquired by Perot Systems in 2003. He also co-founded a successful finance and accounting outsourcing business, IQ Backoffice, which was bought by LiveIT based in the Philippines, earlier this year.

In addition, he serves on the board of Asia (Chennai) Engineering, a leading commercial, industrial civil engineering firm in India for more than 40 years.

Jain holds an MBA from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical and electronics engineering from the Birla Institute of Technology and Sciences, Pilani, India.


Kevin McGovern (U.S.)
Chairman, The Water Initiative

Kevin M. McGovern is the Chairman and CEO of McGovern Capital, LLC, which provides investments and business strategy to emerging companies, particularly those engaged in consumer technologies and holders of Intellectual Property Rights. He has founded over a dozen companies, seven of which have become world and/or category leaders, including SoBe Beverages, Tristrata (AHA skincare technology), and KX Industries (home-based water purification).

McGovern founded and serves as Chairman and CEO of The Water Initiative (TWI), which develops and markets home-based water purification systems, particularly in developing countries. TWI has worked with the Mexican government and the people of Mexico as its first pilot project. In less than 2 ½ years, TWI has formulated technological solutions to Mexico’s most severe unclean water conditions and has launched product distribution through the government and through those people most impacted.

He has served as Co-Chair of the Advisory Board and Board Member of the USA Pavilion and as the only foreign Senior Advisor to the Development Committee of the 2010 Shanghai World’s Expo.

McGovern co-published the pioneering Forbes/Wolfe Nanotech Report, which is currently the Forbes/Wolfe Emerging Tech Report.

He created and directs the worldwide licensing program for Tristrata Inc., which owns the rights (over 100 patents) to Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs), a successful skin restoration and wrinkle reduction technology. Tristrata licenses over 70 companies and is the leading seller of skincare products to dermatologists and plastic surgeons in over 80 countries.

McGovern is a principal and strategist for Clean Coal Technologies, Inc., which has created proprietary technologies to clean coal; for EnviroFuels Manufacturing, Inc., which markets and distributes proprietary smokeless stoves; and for Aquea Scientific, which developed and markets proprietary nanotechnology to “wash-on” additives to the skin, such as sunscreens.

A graduate of Cornell University (B.A.) and St. John’s University School of Law (J.D.), he is a Presidential Councilor (highest honor to alumni) and Trustee Emeritus of Cornell University, having chaired its IP and Tech Transfer Committees. He also serves on Cornell’s Joint Venture (CNI) in Singapore, Chairs Entrepreneurship at Cornell, and was named Cornell’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” in 2007. He teaches each spring at the Johnson Graduate Business School (Global Innovation and Commercialization) and recently donated and founded the McGovern Family Venture Development Center, Cornell’s first on campus science-business incubator.


Ronald P. O’Hanley, III (U.S.)
President, Asset Management and Corporate Services, Fidelity Investments

Mr. O’Hanley is a leading executive in the financial services and mutual fund industry. He spent more than 12 years with BNY Mellon, where he helped the Asset Management division more than double in size and assisted in the substantial growth of the company as a whole.

In 2010, Mr. O’Hanley moved to Fidelity Investments, and now serves in the number-two position to the firm’s CEO, Edward Johnson III, as President of Asset Management and Corporate Services.

Mr. O’Hanley is highly involved in philanthropy and serves on the boards of directors of many organizations in Boston.

Mr. O’Hanley has served previously as the President at Boston Company Asset Management, LLC. After leaving Boston Company Asset Management in 1987, Mr. O’Hanley worked at McKinsey & Company Inc., global management consulting firm, until 1997 where he served as a Partner and Leader of the firm’s worldwide Investment Management division, and co-Leader of its North American Personal Financial Services. During his 10 years with McKinsey, Mr. O'Hanley was based in Boston and Stockholm, focusing on financial services and heath care payers throughout North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia.

From 1997 to 2001, he served as a Senior Vice President at Mellon Bank, N.A. Prior to the merger of The Bank of New York and Mellon Financial Corporation in July of 2007, Mr. O’Hanley was Vice Chairman of Mellon Financial Corporation and President and Chief Executive Officer of Mellon Asset Management. Following the merger, he became Vice Chairman of The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation, and a member of the Executive Committee.

Ronald O’Hanley is a graduate of Harvard Business School and Syracuse University. He also attended Vanderbilt University School of Law.


Admiral William A. Owens (U.S.)
Chairman, AEA Holdings Asia
Former Vice Chairman, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff

Admiral William Owens is the managing director of AEA Investors in Hong Kong.

Prior to joining AEA, he was Chief Executive Officer and Vice Chairman of Nortel. Mr. Owens had served on the board of directors of Nortel and took the helm of Nortel following the disclosure of accounting issues in April 2004. Under his leadership, Nortel was reestablished as a strong, stable, ethical Fortune 500 company growing strongly and on the path to leadership in the telecommunications and enterprise IT global marketplace.

Prior to joining Nortel, Mr. Owens was chief executive officer and chairman of Teledesic LLC and before that, he was the president, chief operating officer and vice chairman of Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), the largest employee-owned high-technology company in the U.S. Prior to joining SAIC, Mr. Owens was vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the second-ranking military officer in the United States. He had responsibility for the reorganization and restructuring of the armed forces in the post-Cold War era.

From 1991 to 1993, Mr. Owens was the deputy chief of Naval Operations for Resources, Warfare Requirements and Assessments. He served as commander of the U.S. Sixth Fleet in 1990 and 1991 during Operation Desert Storm in Iraq. Between 1988 and 1991, Mr. Owens served as senior military assistant to Secretaries of Defense Frank Carlucci and Dick Cheney, the senior military position in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Mr. Owens has served on the board of directors of 19 public companies and has founded two technology companies, Lumera and Extend America. He is on the board of Daimler Chrysler AG, Polycom, Wipro, Embarq and AEA Investors LP. Mr. Owens is a member of several philanthropic boards including the Carnegie Foundation, Brookings Institution and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Mr. Owens has a B.A. and M.S. in politics, philosophy and economics from Oxford University and an M.S. in management from George Washington University.


John Rogers (U.S.)
Managing Director, Goldman Sachs & Co.

John F.W. Rogers is the Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff and Secretary to the Board at Goldman Sachs. He has previously served at the White House for more than 10 years.

Mr. Rogers was Assistant to the President for Management and Administration from 1981 to 1985 and Assistant Secretary of the Treasury from 1985 to 1987.

From 1988 to 1991, he was Executive Vice President of the Oliver Carr Company.

From 1991 to 1993 he served as Under Secretary of State for Management at the U.S. Department of State.

In 1992 he helped to establish the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University.

He joined Goldman Sachs in 1994 and has been the Chief of Staff and Secretary to the Board of Directors since November 2001.

As Executive Vice President, Mr. Rogers’ responsibilities include press and public relations, the firm’s government affairs office in Washington, and Goldman’s considerable philanthropic efforts.

Rogers is member of the Goldman Sachs Foundation and Goldman Sachs Gives, the Baker Institute at Rice University, the American Museum of Natural History, the International Republican Institute, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library, and the Smithsonian Institution.

John F.W. Rogers graduated from Georgetown University and was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal in 1985.

Press contact: Graham Webster,, +1 212 842 4145

EWI Presents Economic and Cybersecurity Awards

On October 13, EastWest Institute recognized key international leaders for their impact in private–public efforts to ensure global economic security and cybersecurity.

The Russell 20-20 Association received the inaugural George F. Russell, Jr., Economic Security Award, IEEE received the EWI Cybersecurity Award, and The Water Initiative received the "Game Changer" Award.

"International security challenges are moving from military problems to economic dilemmas," EWI President and CEO John Edwin Mroz said. "With the United States and Europe weakened by the financial crisis, only private–public, East–West cooperation will fill the gap."

EWI presented the awards at its 2011 Recognition Dinner at the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Washington.

U.S. Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr., in a speech at the dinner, said international collaboration is more important than ever.

"Members of Congress of both parties could learn from this good work of East–West partnering for so many years," Casey said.

George F. Russell, Jr., appeared by video from Washington State to honor Russell 20-20, a group of investors who work in the developing world.

Russell said EWI's focus on bridging divides and economic security produce value for investors. "To me, from an investor perspective, the EWI topics are completely aligned with what we need," he said.

The evening's second award went not to an individual but to IEEE, an international association of engineers, who EWI's Co-Chairman of the Board Francis Finlay called "the unsung heroes of cyberspace."

IEEE's Communications Society has partnered with EWI to study critical issues in cybersecurity, including a landmark 2010 report, "Reliability of Global Undersea Communications Cable Infrastructure" (ROGUCCI).

EWI presented its "game changer" award to The Water Initiative, which develops and provides point-of-drinking water filtration equipment to developing country communities.

"We see water as a key component of our economic security work, and The Water Initiative has been a trail blazer in this area," EWI Board Co-Chairman Ross Perot, Jr., said.

Kevin McGovern, President of The Water Initiative, accepted the award. "Working with local communities, we create community-specific, integrated, platform technology solutions to bring clean drinking water as close to the community as possible," McGovern said.

The awards dinner took place as part of EWI's board meeting to close its 30th anniversary year.

World Economy Collapses for Want of Water?

In a 2008 study, Australian scientist Graham Turner compared the projections in the famous 1972 report, “Limits to Growth”, with the observed outcomes from 1970 to 2000. The news is not good. According to Turner, the data as observed in those 30 years supports the original hypothesis that the global system will collapse midway in the 21st century.   The data “does not compare well” with more optimistic scenarios in the 1972 report that show stabilization, in part through reliance on advanced technologies, instead of collapse.

Turner observes that the policy recommendations outlined in the “Limits to Growth” that might be able to avoid the collapse and provide sustainability have not been taken up. Turner was careful to also observe that the “Limits to Growth” study was not meant to be predictive but intended to show the linkages between patterns of behavior in global economic development and resource consumption.  The United States National Intelligence Committee and the European Union’s official Security Studies Institute appear to agree on the possible outcome though appear to put some stake in improved governance as a foundation for hope. In October 2010, they concluded that “the growing number of issues on the international agenda, and their complexity, is outpacing the ability of international organizations and national governments to cope.” They went on to say that “Global governance institutions ….probably are not going to be sufficient to keep pace with the looming number of transnational and global challenges absent extensive institutional reforms and innovations.”  

Accepting the assumption that the collapse of the global system would occur by the middle of this century, as suggested by the 1972 study, it is of no small importance to contemplate when we would see the last warning signs that the collapse would be inevitable. We would need to understand now at what point in the future it will be too late to pull back from the path of disaster and take up the policy recommendations advocated by the “Limits to Growth” and so many other studies since.

The first place I would look would be to water. Water, like the atmosphere, is the essence of life on which all else depends. (In fact, the two are parts of one system.) The picture is very grim. 
Here are two assessments. Over 1.4 billion people live in river basins where the use of water exceeds minimum recharge levels (UNDP Human Development Report 2006). By 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world population could be under water stress conditions (FAO, undated).
This does not mean we should plan for inter-state war over water. It does however mean there is considerable urgency to the search for new solutions to water scarcity to prevent degradation of standards of living, political crises and possible large-scale violence emerging in various locations from shocks to supply. That search needs to bring together the technology providers, the consumers, other stakeholders and governments.
The stakeholders are not confined to the “water sector” (assuming one can even postulate that in isolation for a brief moment). The energy sector immediately comes into play, both in ensuring the provision of water and in acting as a competitive consumer. Moreover, the pricing of water is not stable in many economies for a number of reasons. We need to get to work. As suggested by the 2030 Water Resources Group, in its 2009 report “Charting our Water Future”, “policymakers, the private sector and civil society will need to come together to put into practice a transformation towards sustainability”. Do we need radically new, sustainable practices in water use as the world population edges to nine billion, all depending on finite fresh water resources?

Click here to read Dr. Austin's column in New Europe. 

Andree Sosler: A Winning Recipe in Darfur

It’s not easy to get to Darfur from Berkeley, California. For Andree Sosler, the trip begins with a month-long application process for a humanitarian visa to Sudan and two connecting flights to Khartoum. Then, a flight on a U.N. World Food Program plane, which everyone says is safer than a commercial airline, over dusty scrublands to Al-Fashir, North Darfur’s capital — a town so quiet you can hear the wind, so quiet you can almost forget why the Oxfam guest house’s roof is scrolled with barbed wire.

A few miles from town is Zam Zam Camp, which houses about 200,000 of the 2 million refugees who fled their homes during Sudan’s lingering civil war, which killed 300,000 people. 70,000 new refugees arrived in Zam Zam just this year: government troops are still burning villages, even as Darfur’s genocide has slid out of the news. In December 2009, Andree visited the camp to speak with women about a potentially life-saving device: A fuel-efficient stove.

In Zam Zam Camp, women face a terrible choice in order to feed their cooking fires: they must risk assault and rape to search the picked-over countryside for a single tree, walking for up to seven hours three to five days a week, or buy wood by selling their food rations. In 2005, at the request of the U.S. Agency for International Development and haunted by the women’s stories, Dr. Ashok Gadgil, a physicist known for inventing a cheap method of disinfecting water using ultra-violet light, led a team of Berkeley scientists to design a stove that uses less half the wood of the hungry fires.

The Berkeley-Darfur stove is one contender in the crowded, growing field of fuel-efficient stoves. Today, 3 billion people cook over open fires or sooty traditional stoves. According to the World Health Organization, each year 1.9 million people – mainly women and children – die prematurely from inhaling indoor smoke. Cook fires and polluting stoves also contribute to global warming, emitting greenhouse gases laced with sunlight-absorbing black carbon, and hurry deforestation. Last September, Hillary Clinton announced the launch of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, a public-private partnership aimed to put clean-burning stoves in 100 million homes in by 2020, with $50 million from the U.S. government. They even have celebrity spokesperson: Julia Roberts.

According to the World Health Organization, each year 1.9 million people – mainly women and children – die prematurely from inhaling indoor smoke.

Stoves, in other words, are hot. There is something seductive in the idea that, by inventing one perfect appliance, we can save women’s lives, preserve forests and dramatically reduce global warming. But a good stove in the lab is not guaranteed to work in the field, which is littered with failed stoves projects. The challenge is not just designing a stove: it’s getting that stove to people and getting them to use it. That’s Andree’s job.

At this point, I should disclose that Andree and I have been close friends since we met in a Russian History class at Brown in 1999. A few weeks ago, we got together for a hiking trip in Bryce Canyon, where I did my best to forget my job and Andree couldn’t help but speak of hers.

Stepping around fallen trees at the base of the canyon, Andree wondered aloud, “Does it sound better if we say that putting 3 ½ stoves in the field reduces Co2 emissions as much as taking one U.S. car off the road for a year, or, since the stoves last 5 years, each stove in the field is like taking a car off the road?”

“The second,” I said. “I think.”

As the Executive Director of TISS, a fledgling nonprofit founded to help market and distribute the Berkeley-Darfur stove, Andree’s average day seemed to combine all the rigors of running a start-up with adventure travel and Kafkaesque bureaucratic procedure, not to mention the logistical puzzles of fundraising.

It’s rare to have a job dedicated to helping people who have been through the worst horrors of the 21st century, with slowing global warming as a bonus and so, when I got the chance to interview Andree about her work, I leapt at it.

Andree told me that she decided to do development work in Africa during her junior year abroad in Cameroon.

“I was really impressed by how people can survive on so little and still have so much passion and joy,” Andree said.

Andree was struck by what she saw in Cameroon, in part because it was so different from how she’d grown up in Coconut Grove, Miami, where she saw that money didn’t necessarily bring happiness. Her mother died when she was fourteen and her father, in poor health by the time we graduated from college, died when she was twenty-five.

Andree believes that losing her parents pushed her to consider what she wanted out of life, saying, “Meaning became important to me maybe earlier.”

To me, those losses seemed to give Andree an early independence and a kind of deep, implacable calm. Andree is unfazed by things like scampering cockroaches in Brooklyn bedrooms, crossing motorcycle-crazed streets in Hanoi and brushing her teeth with questionable water in developing countries.

At 23, when most of us were slogging through our first cubicle jobs, Andree was traveling alone to West Africa to visit villagers who were opening small shops and raising livestock with microfinance grants administered by Trickle Up, a New York-based nonprofit. There, she saw that the grants were making concrete changes in peoples’ lives.

Andree is unfazed by things like scampering cockroaches in Brooklyn bedrooms, crossing motorcycle-crazed streets in Hanoi and brushing her teeth with questionable water in developing countries.

Andree went on to Wharton, to learn how to manage a business, and then moved to Kigali to work for a competitive consulting company, advising the Rwandan government on how to make tea profitable. She found herself missing the kind of impact she’d seen at Trickle Up.

When she learned about the Berkeley Darfur Stoves Project, she was impressed, explaining, “from the beginning, Ashok understood that you have to tailor the products for the women, which is rare in this kind of work.”

The stove, now in its 14th iteration, is a modest Indian stove that Gadgil’s team adapted for Darfur’s high-winds and uneven terrain. Gadgil says that, in an earlier version, the stoves’ legs and handles were not sturdy enough, which caused the stove to wobble on uneven terrain and the handles to loosen – problems that could only be discovered by working directly with the women.
Certain she wanted the job, Andree offered to fly herself out to San Francisco for an interview.

“I said, we can’t have that,” laughed Gadgil. “But it was clear that she was the right candidate.”

I interviewed Debra Stein, TISS’s one other full-time employee, to get a sense of how she and Andree spend their days. The week I called, they were laboring through a US AID funding proposal and planning for TISS’s next venture: bringing fuel-efficient stoves to Ethiopia. They also had to figure out how to pay a the salary of a new Sudanese marketing expert – tricky, because it is illegal to transfer funds from the United States to Sudan, an official state sponsor of terrorism.

When it comes to getting technology to the world’s poorest people, Andree says, the problem of supply chains and distribution is sometimes as challenging as creating the technology itself.

When Andree began work at the Darfur Stoves Project in September 2009, the team had distributed 5,000 stoves with the help of a previous partner, who built them locally at a limited rate of 200 a month. Today, working with Oxfam America and a local Sudanese nonprofit called the Sustainable Action Group (SAG), the project has distributed over 20,000 stoves using an innovative “flat kit” approach: the stove’s metal sheets are punched-out in Mumbai and shipped to Al-Fashir, where a Berkeley engineer helped train twelve local people to assemble the stoves, creating vital jobs.

The shop also repairs broken stoves for free although, according to Adam Bushara of Oxfam America, so far none of the stoves have broken. Oxfam America and SAG also train women how to use the stoves and how to teach others to do so.

Women pay more than $2 a day for wood for their fires and only $1 a day using the stove, so, since the stoves cost $20, the purchase will earn itself out in twenty days. Andree adds that, in a planned marketing trial, people will be able to pay for the stove over three months and can return it at any time.

While it may seem counterintuitive to charge poor people for a product, Andree explains, “I strongly believe that selling something gives us valuable feedback.” That is, whether the women themselves think the stove is worth having and how it can be made even more desirable.

While it may seem counterintuitive to charge poor people for a product, Andree explains, “I strongly believe that selling something gives us valuable feedback.”

Speaking with Andree, I was struck by how much she relies on feedback, from planned independent assessments of the stove to a survey sent to a wide circle of friends listing possible new names for TISS, soon to be an independent nonprofit (the leading name is “Potential Energy,” although Debra still likes “Mule Tech: Carrying Technologies to the People who need them.”) And, of course, feedback from the women.

When Andree visited Zam Zam Camp in December 2009, she had the chance to listen to the women directly. They sat in a meeting area with a thatched roof and walls made of wooden polls, in slotted sunlight. Men in airy white clothes and women in brightly-colored dresses sat on woven mats on the sandy floor, passing around a few sample stoves, turning them over in their hands.

After introductions were made, Andree stood up and told women about the history of the stoves. She told them about the scientists in California who had shaped the stoves’ collars to fit their pots, the legs to suit their floors, and she asked the women to give the stove a name. There was a lot of chatter and then one woman raised her hand and proposed, in Sudanese Arabic, “the Five Minute stove.” Why? Because it the stove cooks their daily meal of assidah, a thick sorgum porridge, in under ten minutes rather than a half an hour.

The women who use the Five Minute stove include Mariam, who fled her home at fifteen when the Janjaweed attacked and wandered for two years before reaching Zam Zam Camp, and Hawa, a day laborer with seven children. Andree says that when the women learned how scientists thousands of miles away had designed a stove specifically for them, they were amazed.

“They loved that,” said Andree. “They were so moved.”

For Andree, the name Five Minute stove tells her a lot – it says that the women value the stove not for abstract concerns related to global warming or even bronchial health, but for the immediate improvement it brings to their daily lives.

Speaking with Andree about stoves, I began to see that a solution for the developing world hatched in the West can’t be just charity, or elegant science, or an intervention with multiple impacts, as the Five Minute Stove might be termed in nonprofit lingo. For the Darfuri women, a stove is a thoughtfully-designed appliance that makes food taste good – just what any cook would want to own anywhere in the world.

Abby Rabinowitz is a writer living in Brooklyn, NY. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, and she teaches writing at Columbia University.

Your Food Prices: That World is Changing Too

In his weekly column for New Europe, Greg Austin investigates the recent inflation in global food prices and asks if the G20 can curb rising prices.

Do not take your food prices for granted. Expect more volatility in pricing than you have ever seen in Europe (if you were born after 1945). The market rules are changing.

The IMF, the World Bank, the G20 and leading NGOs have all issued warnings of one sort or another in recent weeks and months. Of course, their focus has been varied. But the overarching message is that global food markets are now being affected by the most important fundamentals of the human economy: speculation and confidence. In such an environment, the power of the old market rule of supply and demand fades quite dramatically.

According to Bob Zoellick, President of the World Bank, speaking on 15 February: “The Bank’s Food Price Index shows food prices are now 29 percent higher than they were a year ago and only three percent below the peak of the last food crisis in June 2008.” He went on to say: “Global food prices are now at dangerous levels.” There are one billion people going hungry every day, and the trend is not good.

The International Business Times identified three sources of food price inflation: speculation and hoarding; excess liquidity that is driving speculation in the commodities market; and the fact that “agriculture/livestock is one of the most heavily subsidized, protected, and distorted markets in the world”. Europe and the United States are among the biggest offenders on this last front. As for speculation, some leading economists reject this as a cause but whatever the cause, the volatility is troubling most countries.

France as Chair of the G20 is looking to tame the speculation in commodities but with the hope it can be done without regulating prices: “What we would like to do … is try to reduce volatility by simply shining a light on market fundamentals”, Christine Lagarde, Minister of the Economy for France said last week. On 17 February, The Jakarta Post reported Indonesia’s position, typical of developing countries views: “We want the G20 forum to put pressure [on the markets] so there would be no speculators, or any financial or non-financial industries, who speculate on food commodities.” Indonesia’s Finance Minister Agus Martowardarjo, called on G20 to “tell global financial and non-financial industries not to speculate on food and commodities”.

But the faith placed by so many in the G20 may well be misplaced. The EU’s own Security Studies Institute, in a joint intelligence assessment with the United States National Intelligence Committee in September 2010, under the title “Global Governance 2025”, concluded that international institutions were faltering in the face of increasingly more complex global problems. The report noted one view that “the G-20 is essentially a crisis management tool which already suffers from a sense of fatigue”.

If the G20 wants a reformed global order for food and commodity prices, they will need to gain legitimacy for that by helping to deliver new solutions with new partners. As the joint U.S./E.U. assessment referred to above noted, states and intergovernmental organizations now share power and responsibility with non-state actors and many of those, including business and civil society organizations, are proving their capacity to successfully address global challenges in ways that government actors had failed to do.

In the area of food security, and your food prices at home, here in Europe, what shape will that new action coalition of the private sector, civil society and government take in order for you to have confidence in the continued supply of food to your supermarket? How high is your confidence that the national government or the European Commission has a plan to respond to a global shock in the food supply? No need to panic yet, but the warning has been given.

Global Treaty on Energy Efficiency? The NPT Model

Greg Austin wrote this piece for his weekly column in New Europe.

Rules for effective advertizing in the commercial world include elements like “keep it simple”, “find an appeal in the market” and “work off a strategy”. Another good guideline is “think in words and pictures”. Now shift to the climate change debate and think of how to package the idea of “parts per million of carbon dioxide” –  a nightmare brief for any advertizing agency. So why then do the world’s political leaders keep trying so stubbornly to sell the message of mitigating climate change by reference to reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

As serious as the issue of “ppm” is, few people involved in public policy or business actually identify with the term. How many people wake up in the morning and say: “I need to reduce my ppm today?”  There has been an advance in marketing climate change mitigation in recent years with the advent of the idea of “reducing the carbon footprint”, and many more people identify with their carbon footprint than with their ppm. But on closer inspection, the footprint term is not consumer friendly either. The economics of costing a carbon footprint is almost as inaccessible and contested as the science of climate change.

By contrast, the term “energy saving” is one that is universally understood, from the poorest communities to the richest, from the least educated to the most educated.  In the rich world, there is an immediate hip-pocket effect of saving energy. In the poor world, the immediate effect is in terms of keeping some fuel in reserve to cook a meal or boil water to drink – either next week, tomorrow, or perhaps even later the same day.

How can politicians exploit the appeal of this simpler message to advance the cause of climate change mitigation? There is one option that may provide the lion’s share of the outcome we need in ppm and at the same time build a bigger constituency of support for the end result.

We could get this from an energy efficiency treaty. According to the “alternative scenario” in the 2006 World Energy Outlook from the International Energy Agency (IEA), efficiency measures could provide up to two-thirds of the projected reductions needed to stabilize carbon dioxide emissions and begin to reduce them by 2030.

But the world does not have any universally enforceable treaty that addresses fossil fuels or energy security, nor a global energy organization to facilitate regulation, in spite of repeated demands and a pressing need for these.

There are elements in place, such as the Energy Charter, a European invention steadily gaining wider appeal; the IEA, largely a policy shop for the wealthy OECD countries; and IRENA (the International Renewable Energy Agency) set up in 2009, also a policy shop but with much stronger roles in promotion and organizing concrete actions.

As we contemplate what form an energy efficiency treaty might take, it soon emerges that there is in fact a prototype global treaty in this field – the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). The three features of the NPT that have immediate application to the idea of an energy efficiency treaty include: setting a new global norm; a commitment by powerful states to reduce their excesses if the less powerful states commit to a certain path; and a new grand bargain on technology transfer from more developed states that will underpin the commitment by the less developed states.

The biggest challenge in applying this model to a new energy efficiency treaty will be defining the norms. Yet, if the world can agree an International Criminal Court in a few short years, an energy efficiency treaty is achievable in similar time frame. The foundations are there. Most countries and most people aspire to enhanced energy efficiency – here and now.

Postcard from Abu Dhabi: Seasons of Change

Greg Austin wrote this piece for this weekly column in New Europe.

About 16,000 years ago, the entire Persian Gulf (Arabian Gulf to some Arab states) was probably dry land. The Euphrates and Tigris rivers would have run through it and flowed directly into the ocean. The current coastal city of Abu Dhabi would have been more than 500km from the sea. The theory, based on seabed core sampling, is credible.

After inundation of the Gulf occurred sometime around 15,000 years ago, climate change brought about rises and falls in the sea level. Around 5,000 years ago, a “slight, but noticeable, change of climate must have taken place, leading to slightly cooler and dryer average conditions”… “sea level was almost three meters higher at the time the climatic changes began than it is today,” according to the scholarly study. 

This theory of sea level change in the gulf may not be correct, but the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a government that does not takes its physical environment, or indeed the global environment, for granted. You see this in the Abu Dhabi airport electronic posters: “If everyone passing through this airport turned the tap off while brushing their teeth, together we’d save 1,000 bathtubs of water every day”.

But Abu Dhabi has gone well beyond water conservation in its policies and in its global diplomacy for the environment. It is now home to IRENA, the International Renewable Energy Agency, which opened its office in the emirate in April 2010, after the organization was set up by treaty in January 2009. Abu Dhabi is also founder and host of the World Future Energy Summit, first held in 2008.

In January 2010, the UAE released the results of a study “Climate Change – Impacts, Vulnerability and Adaptation in UAE.” At the press conference for the release, H.E. Majid Al Mansouri, Secretary General of the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, commented: “The UAE is seriously concerned about climate change on many levels. We are a country that already faces extreme climatic conditions and has precious natural resources, so long-term variations in temperature and precipitation will produce adverse impacts.”

The report concluded that current levels of water use in the UAE are unsustainable. According to the website of the UAE embassy in Washington, “Rising sea levels threaten penetration of groundwater aquifers by seawater, a particular concern to the UAE, which already faces problems with groundwater depletion and pollution.”

The report assessed the impact on the UAE of several scenarios for sea level rise over the next century, finding that even the more conservative scenario of a one metre rise would put at risk “85 per cent of its population living on the coast and more than 90 per cent of the infrastructure also lying along the seashores”.

By August, the UAE was recruiting internationally for staff of a newly formed Directorate for Energy and Climate Change. Some senior officials were suggesting that adapting to climate change has now become the main driver of Abu Dhabi’s strategic planning, at least in the economic sphere.

At the commercial level, the emirate has invested heavily in innovation for energy technology, most visibly through Masdar (meaning the “source’), the name both of a company established in 2006 and the high tech city it is building. The company aims to advance the “development, commercialisation and deployment of renewable energy solutions and clean technologies”.  Masdar, the city, will be a “zero carbon, zero waste city”, and a test-bed for new energy technologies and carbon management policy. The country’s companies are looking to profit from carbon offset funding.

The CEO of the Masdar initiative, Dr Sultan Ahmed al Jaber boasts, “Our ambitions are global”. Will Masdar become the model city of the 21st century and a household name for our grand-children?

China's Clean Energy Ambitions

On October 1, 2010, the EastWest Institute, with support from the China-United States Exchange Foundation, sponsored a discussion with Professor Xu Kuangdi on the status and development of China’s energy sector. Professor Xu is a leading scientist, the former mayor of Shanghai, and the former Vice Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). He is currently one of China’s most outspoken advocates for the development of clean energy technology.

In his presentation, Professor Xu highlighted China’s tremendous economic growth in the past 20 years and consequently the significant increase in need for energy resources. Although China already has established itself as a worldwide leader in resources such as wind and solar energy, the country still depends predominantly on coal. Professor Xu referenced Kuznets curve, a model in which a country at the outset is at the bottom of the curve—economically poor but environmentally clean. When the country begins to develop economically, environmental degradation also increases until the country reaches the top of the curve and thereby the highest level of pollution. As the country’s economy continues to grow, manufacturing eventually is replaced by other industries, and pollution subsequently decreases. Professor Xu pointed out that it is impossible for a country to develop economically without some increase in pollution. China, he believes, is currently in the middle of the upward curve and likely to peak at its worst level of pollution around 2030. But although environmental degradation is unavoidable, the severity of the pollution is controllable, and thus China’s most urgent task is to mitigate the damage to the environment by reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions. 

Professor Xu’s presentation and subsequent discussion with participants raised a number of approaches China could implement to develop clean energy resources, including the following:

  • Increase BTB recycling, a process that converts waste into energy. Professor Xu reported that one BTB recycling plant can recycle 50 kilotons of plastic, saving 300 kilotons of oil and reducing carbon emission by 150 kilotons.
  • Construct energy-saving cities and buildings by using, for example, light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs instead of conventional bulbs.
  • Continue the development of hydropower, like that of the Three Gorges project that is saving 50 million tons of coal each year.
  • Increase China’s capacity for solar energy, capitalizing in particular on the abundant sunlight received in the northwest areas of the country.
  • Decrease the number of cars in cities by requiring purchasers to bid for licenses.
  • Place the onus for reducing electricity use on the user by raising costs for those who exceed a certain amount of usage.
  • Increase local government officials’ commitment to environmental protection by encouraging the public to report on environmental degradation via the internet.

 Professor Xu concluded with the reminder that technological advancement takes time. Therefore, although changes in China’s energy consumption cannot be rushed, he expressed confidence that China can and will find the solutions to its energy needs.


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