Tuesday 2 August 2011

A strategy emerges...

I'm just back from the UN’s Intl. Youth Year High Level Meeting – one of the very few times when the UN’s old General Assembly Chamber rings with the sound of politicians speaking up on behalf of youth. Sadly, the outcome document made no mention of Rio+20, the Green Economy or even Sustainability! But the UN Secretary General made up for it in a rousing opening speech where he called Rio+20 “one of the most important meetings in the UN’s History. It will determine our collective future. Heads of State must come,” he said, “And young people must play a central role in bringing dynamic new ideas, fresh thinking and energy to it.”

Well – I didn’t hear any of the Youth Speakers at the HLM mention Rio+20. Certainly, they didn’t add any energy or fresh thinking. I can’t remember any of them even mentioning Rio+20! Though Rio+20 youth Prepcoms are proliferating around the world, the youth of ICMYO (the 30-strong, self-appointed Youth coalition that seeks to coordinate international youth meetings) – did not see fit to insist that this, the youth of today’s biggest generational challenge, should feature in either the youth interventions or the outcome document. I complained about ICMYO and the serious vacuum in youth leadership after the debacle of the Mexico World Youth Conference last year –on which ICMYO also took leadership. Their failure with the IYY HLM is more serious as every UN member state was involved in this.
Into that vacuum stepped PCI and its partner, Taking IT Global, who, together, organised a well-attended side meeting on: “How to mobilise youth globally for Rio+20.”

The answers appeared to be:
“Tell your friends”
“Use the power of online networks…”

But the most striking intervention came from my friend, Tariq Banuri – who made it clear, to me at least, why the UN is betting the farm on success in Rio next year. The UN is about eradicating poverty: Tariq explained that, throughout history, economic growth has only occurred in times of cheap, plentiful energy – whether timber, coal, oil or more recently gas. Statistics prove that the world is never going to eradicate poverty using fossil fuels: they are already too expensive – and will only get more expensive. So the transition to a Green Economy is an imperative for the eradication of poverty – not just for Green Growth, the creation of green jobs, avoiding climate change – and all the other reasons that make that transition a no-brainer.

And yet, as the US Congress struggles to increase its debt ceiling, very few of the US citizens I spoke were even aware there is a problem: yes, gas has gone up to four times what it was ten years ago – but, well?! – “Things go up!” they say, “If oil runs out, we’ll find an alternative…. Biofuel or something.” Well – they won’t: even if farmers in the US cultivated every scrap of US agricultural land for biofuels, it would not create enough to meet the demand of the domestic transport fleet – let alone all the power stations and factories currently run on fossil fuels.

Some countries are blazing a trail to a low-carbon or zero carbon future: Iceland, Costa Rica, Sweden, New Zealand, Denmark, Israel and Germany are on their way. Several other nations are making big strides in that direction, including China and Spain. But most are not even out of the starting gate. The problem is not yet on their radar. The USA is only the biggest example.

I have previously pointed out that the transition to a Green Economy has to be a NATIONAL decision. The UN can pester, cajole and advise – but only national governments can levy the green taxes and deliver the subsidies that will make sustainable consumption and production(C&P) cheaper and more attractive. That is why – the best thing that can come out of Rio+20 is a commitment by all UN Member States to publish NATIONAL PLANS for a rapid transition to a Green Economy. The publication should be by – say – June 30th 2013 and the transition should be complete by - say - 2035(?)

In the absence of any work being done on this in your country, I urge youth everywhere to start creating their own National Green Economy Transition Plans. The framework for such plans could include the following:
1. Phase out all subsidies for fossil fuels and unsustainable C & P by 2015;
2. Calculate your nation’s total energy needs and map out a zero carbon energy infrastructure – based on wind, wave, tidal and solar power + biofuels and biogas; to be built by (??) 2025;
3. Revise your Nation’s education curriculum to ensure that education for sustainable lifestyles is at the heart of it by 2015;
4. Make a plan to retro-fit your nation’s housing stock with super-insulation by 2025 to reduce the national fuel requirement;
5. Make a plan for a National Tax regime that rewards sustainable and punishes unsustainable behaviours, especially the use of fossil fuels, with higher taxes.
6. Make national plans for sustainable agriculture and fisheries
7. Make fresh water and sanitation a right for all your nation’s citizens – and map out strategies for delivering it
8. Most important of all, create a national budget that allows for a welfare safety net to support the vulnerable and ensure that all have equal access to basic needs (including health care);
9. Finally – review your security needs and ensure that your nation is creative about peace-keeping through non-military means, and that policing is a community joint effort rather than a centralised, top-down national one;

Of course – there could be many, many other components to such transition plans – and some will run to hundreds of pages. But the point is: the world is looking for leadership in this transition: Ban Ki Moon may struggle to get his UN member state governments to provide it. But – at the very least – the Rio+20 Summit can call for all UN Member States to deliver their plans for Green Growth transition to zero carbon economies by June 30th 2013.

Mr Ban, and the UN, need all the help they can get to deliver even that modest goal at Rio+20. Youth can provide it: we must lobby ministers in our national capitals to develop outline national plans ahead of the June 2012 Summit. We can draw on existing national plans and templates drawn up by those governments that are already looking ahead. And we can do our own research and pester ministers with our own, viable strategies for the transition. For it is in the interests of youth to do so: it is they – not the older generation – who must achieve that transition – or live in energy-stressed, food stressed, water-stressed penury by mid-century. For, make no mistake, poverty and unemployment will get much, much worse if we cling to the business-as-usual brown economy model. With oil at $500 to $1000 a barrel – none of the tenets of our current civilisation will be affordable. With peak oil production passed in 2006, and stocks dwindling fast – that is the future we are heading towards.
So it is a no-brainer that we have to change direction – and Rio+20 offers us the perfect opportunity to make that change.

So – how are we going to do it?

Step ONE: write to the UN – in my next blog, I am going to introduce you to the UN guidance on how to do this, and lay out the PCI Road to Rio+20 Campaign. This involves writing to the UN BEFORE 17.00 EST on Tuesday November 1st. Everyone can write – and every one MUST write – to show the UN and its member states that Youth care.
Step TWO: start work researching your national plans and your own personal action plan for leading a low-carbon / no-carbon lifestyle; write a concept note for a Green Economy business: go to www.geebiz.biz The Private sector built the brown economy, and the private sector will build the Green Economy – and youth must devise the business start-ups that will deliver it.
Step THREE: start raising awareness: ask to host an assembly in your school or college; request a Town Hall Meeting; make your town a Transition Town. Write to your elected officials (of course!) – send out a press release; hold an exhibit at your school or college about the new, clean Green Economy. Plan to do ALL of the above and accentuate the POSITIVE: show how much fun it will be to live in a Green Economy: show how much healthier it will be than the atmosphere currently created by the Brown Economy. (Believe me, it is: I have just been in Beijing – and the smog and humidity kept me in bed for my last day there!)
Step FOUR: keep watching, learning – exploring how best to make this transition. I am! That point about eradication of poverty being dependent upon the transition to the Green Economy – that was an epiphany for me: and I keep having such moments. It is dazzlingly clear to me that those of us who are arguing for a rapid transition to the Green Economy are on the right side of history: but all of us still have masses to learn about how to get there.

Those countries and corporations who join us – they are going to be the world leaders and Fortune 500 companies of the future. Products drawn from oil-fuelled companies will become just too expensive to be able to make any one very rich any more: even the oil companies are going to suffer diminishing returns as the quantity of their sales diminish – even though they will be selling at higher prices. And very quickly, it will not seem cool any more to burn fossil fuels.

For the kicker in all this is climate change. Remember that? It is not being much mentioned in the UN debates I have heard – and, in a way, it seems like a throwback to an earlier, more innocent era. Global Warming, Sea-level rise, extreme weather – “Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!!!!” we screamed! “Get us some legally binding deal to stop those criminals flooding our coastlines, melting our glaciers and polar ice caps…” And it didn’t happen. Governments are not likely to pass laws that they know they are going to break – and then throw themselves in jail for doing so. We have to find another way.

But make no mistake: avoiding catastrophic climate change is the big prize to be won in the race to transition rapidly to the Green Economy. Those consequences have not gone away: on the computer I write this on is a bumper sticker saying: “For the Island States – 1.5 degrees to stay alive!” We’re horribly close to that – and the island states are in real peril.

So – my friends: this is not a game we’re involved in. This is about survival. Your survival – my survival: the survival of our species, our biodiversity, our eco-systems and our civilisation. It is not something we can ever give up on. In the words of good old Dylan Thomas: “Rage! Rage! – against the dying of the light!”

Saturday 25 June 2011

Epiphany along the Road to Rio+20

It’s been a busy week – for me, and for fellow-travellers along the Road to Rio. First, there’s been the UN’s Vienna Energy Forum – at which we heard Mr Ban propose the 3 x Es and 30-40-30-30 targets. If you are sad enough to want to know what these mean, watch him at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnhlLpZqi-Q - but, for most of you, I hope you will treat these hoped-for fantasies with the skepticism they deserve: like the 20-20 compact before them, they are likely to die slow, unlamented deaths.
More promising has been the European Commission’s Communication on Rio+20 and my meeting in Brussels with one of the people who wrote it. It’s definitely worth a read (see: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/international_issues/pdf/rio/com_2011_363_en.pdf) It’s purpose is to frame the debate and suggest a shape to the outcomes – not to specify the content of those outcomes as Ban Ki Moon tried to do in Vienna. That’s the job of UN member states and, of course, civil society represented by the major groups. Let’s look at the FOUR outcomes the EU is proposing:
1. A ‘Rallying Call’ – we should think about what might work: what would you write on your banner if you were demonstrating for results at Rio+20? “Green Economy Now!” “Green Jobs Now!” “Just transition now to the Green Economy!” – or what? We need to think about this – and come up with some suggestions.
2. A Roadmap – with milestones and targets; what do we need to get done by when? For example: “Remove all subsidies to fossil fuel industries by the end of 2012!” “50% of our energy from renewable resources by 2020.” “End subsidies to industrial fisheries by 2015.” These are the SMART targets that we need to see in the Political Statement coming out of Rio+20 – and we need to define them, ourselves – as youth! – so that we can give governments, and the Commission, something to chew on.
3. A Toolbox of Policy Approaches - this relates directly to the Roadmap above: if you want to achieve Target ‘X’ – you have to introduce Policy ‘Y.’ Many of the policy approaches discussed in the European Communication are about Green Taxes, removal of subsidies, pricing and regulatory mechanisms – and in this Toolbox, they need to be spelled out and articulated persuasively.
4. A Monitoring and Evaluation regime: by what measures should we judge if we are being successful? Every government seems to accept that we have not been very successful in measuring the speed with which we are transitioning to Sustainable lifestyles. So – in this final component of the outcome document, we need to spell out how we are going to measure progress towards sustainability – or the lack of it.
So where was the Epiphany? It came about when I mentioned that I had been talking with the X-Prize organization in the USA. (These are the people that set up multi-million dollar prizes for making the first solar flight across the USA or the first private voyage to the moon – the point being that a $10m prize leverages many tens of millions in research from other companies to win the prize.) I have been talking to them about creating a prize for the LDC country that comes up with the best National Plan for transitioning to a Green Economy.
And then it hit me: what we should be seeking from Rio+20 is not some grand international plan or ‘agreement’ that’s never going to happen. Instead, we should get governments competing with each other to produce the most effective National Plan for the transition to a Green Economy. For Peak Oil and the imminent end of the Fossil Fuel era requires every government to plan for that Transition: so – rather than encouraging them to avoid biting that bullet by encouraging carbon capture and storage schemes or Emissions Trading Schemes – we should encourage every government to plan an orderly, rapid transition away from a fossil fuel drive economy to one based on renewable energy. For the faster we can make that transition, the less we have to worry about catastrophic climate change.
Epiphany = National Plans – not International Agreements! That’s what we got so wrong about Copenhagen – raising expectations for an international agreement when none was ever likely, or even possible! For the UN does not levy green taxes, or give subsidies, or set regulations: that is the work of National Governments. So our focus has to be on National Plans. There are things that the international community can – and must – do: like policing the global commons – the oceans and seas, outer space – in the same way as it polices air traffic through IATA. And it can organize itself better – by clustering the secretariats for the 500+ Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) into one – or a smaller number of - centre(s). But the main thing we should look for from Government representatives coming to the Rio+20 Summit is ever-more ambitious National Plans.
What should those plans contain? In broad terms, there should be FIVE parts to it:
ONE: Plan for a zero-carbon Energy Infrastructure: each country must do the math – and figure out how they are going to keep their lights on, and the wheels of industry and commerce turning without a drop of fossil fuel;
TWO: Plan for a Tax / Subsidy regime that encourages sustainable consumption and production and punishes unsustainable consumption and production.
THREE: National Education / Training Curriculum that places at its heart learning about the challenge of sustaining a global family of +/- 10 billion people to live in comfort and security within the means of a small, fragile planet.
FOUR: A Poverty Eradication Plan that spells out how the profits of a Green Economy will be used to raise the poorest sectors of society into relative prosperity and comfort with more choices and opportunities for all;
FIVE: A Just Transition: a plan for minimizing the social upheaval of closing down unsustainable industries and activities and opening up sustainable industries and activities so that the workers and families are not left destitute. This will involve massive training and information schemes..
The list could go on and on: we would like to see Youth at the heart of all national plans – with support for youth-led SME start-ups and a focus on green jobs for youth. And there should be provision of social care – for the elderly, the sick, the disabled, and the unemployed. And, as we have argued since the original Rio Earth Summit – a sustainable society should be a peaceful, de-militarised society with shared armed forces, open borders and community policing. But those are additions that National Planners can make or not as they wish: all plans should address the key points outlined above – which could be 5 or 10 – or however many we think we can agree upon.
This makes the task in the World Youth Congress(WYC) in Rio in April 2012 more obviously strategic and hugely important. For it should be seen as a dry run for the Government Summit in June – and now it is entirely in the hands of young people. I suggest that WYC delegates engage with their governments BEFORE they come to the Congress – so that they can hear their plans and build on them. They must then discuss with their organizations and peers and add their own suggestions for their country’s National Action Plan – also before they come. At the Congress, we shall have sessions where delegates can compare Plans, adding the best components of each so that they can return with improved National Action Plans to present to their governments.
Bottom Line: the young delegates must come up with, and agree, a series of their own brilliant National Action Plans for a rapid transition to a Green Economy that are far better, and more aspirational, than those of their governments. They must be plans that will make the governments and the media sit up and take notice – and require them raise their game before arriving in Rio six weeks later. WYC delegates, and youth all over the world, must use those six weeks to lobby for improvements to the National Plans.
So – please, please, please: let us learn the lessons of our failures in Copenhagen, Johannesburg and even at the original Rio Summit: some of you will remember those International NGO treaties we spent so much time and effort creating in 1992: they were brilliant but who remembers a word of them now? All that lobbying and flag-waving we did in Copenhagen: it didn’t make a blind bit of difference, did it? If we can come up with a National Green Economy Transition Plan for each of our countries – that is something that we can all work on without raising our carbon foot-print and travelling twice to Rio. And Rio+20 can then become a race to the top for the best and most effective plan – not a race to the bottom to secure the minimum possible shared international agreement.

David R. Woollcombe, June 25th 2011

Wednesday 20 April 2011

GEEBIZ - Re-inventing Green Corporations

Today we launch the GEEBIZ challenge – a new, and hopefully central feature of our Road to Rio+20 preparations. All the links are at www.geebiz.biz - but in making this launch, my mind is filled with comments from two of the most interesting figures in the preparatory process for Rio+20. The first was from the highly respected political economist, Dr. Maja Göpel, Director, Future Justice at the World Future Council and one of the leading proponents of ‘Intergenerational Justice.” She wrote:

Although their definition tagline sounds great, I think the Green Economy as UNEP defines it until now simply does not work: I have huge problems with the absence of any criticism of the exploitative market structures of Goliath against David corporations which are already far too big in comparison to governments. The top 500 corporations have to be broken up for any meaningful level playing fields in competition that markets are supposed to be… the old domination and exploitation patterns have to be cracked. The big corporations must finally start paying taxes and for their externalities in a meaningful way. Also, I totally disagree that simply turning from using coal to using bio-tech will get us out of the mess unless we tackle our consumerism and growth fetish.

Though I feel that the UNEP Definition of Green Economy simply does work (“A Green Economy is one that results in improved human well-being and social equity while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities…”) – and that ‘breaking up the top 500 corporations’ is an aspiration that no G-20 government is likely to embrace this century, her points are valid and raise justifiable concerns. Concerns which Pavan Sukhdev, who led the preparation of UNEP's 'Green Economy Report,' clearly shares:

Whilst I do not disagree with any of the 12 points you set out for Rio+20(see my Blog of 27/2/2011) - I doubt if they are "sufficient" for the change we seek. The reason is "Today's Corporation".... a cost-externalizing monster that is the main economic agent for three-fourths of the global economy, and which is built on the principle that "the purpose of the Corporation is its own self-interest" (a legal principle - Dodge vs. Ford, 1919)

Until the goals of today's main economic agent become congruent with the goals of society, all your 12 changes, and indeed the economic arguments presented in UNEP’s Green Economy Report, become "necessary but not sufficient." Because of their cost-externalizing, consumerism-promoting, volume-fixated, quality-agnostic, societally-dysfunctional behaviour, "Today's Corporation" must continue to prevail. Indeed, such is the power of self-interest, that Corporate lobbies will resist many of the changes you suggest (eg : Taxes, Oil prices, etc.)

We need a movement to reform the Corporation and evolve it into "Tomorrow's Corporation", or what I call "Corporation 2020" - because I really believe we have no more than 10 years to introduce this new species....

So why on earth is Peace Child International promoting the generation of young green capitalists with its GEEBIZ Challenge? How would a Green Economy Capitalist be any different from the ‘cost-externalizing, consumerism-promoting, volume-fixated, quality-agnostic, societally-dysfunctional’ Brown Economy Capitalist? The answer lies in how you define – and envision – the word ‘Economy.’ The famous Sheridan line about how having a ‘husband disrupts the whole economy of my bed’ – points at the original meaning, which is very much more than a concept embracing money, markets, hedge funds, banks etc. The word comes from the Greek, OEKOS – meaning household; and NOMOS – meaning management with a sub-meaning referring to thrift. So – for me, a Green Economy is all about green, thrifty household management – living lightly on the earth, and being as resource efficient and carbon zero as possible.

As I say, I seriously doubt that any government has the power to break up today’s vast and powerful corporations. As Maja says, many of them are bigger than the governments that supposedly control them. But – in these times of economic austerity – it is surely possible to persuade governments to STOP giving the fossil fuel corporations the $600 – to $700 million dollars in annual subsidies which enable them to engage in the kind of purchasing of democratic results to which Pavan refers. They are dinosaurs – and like dinosaurs – they will eventually die out. Probably not before 2020 – but hopefully by 2050. And they will die out and become extinct precisely because of the kinds of business that the GEEBIZ contest challenges young people to dream and think about.

Micro-generation and feed-in tariffs in Maja’s native Germany are already showing a way to power generation that transcends the massive corporate behemoths. This trend will surely continue building a green economy based on local power production (often as local as house-by-house, school-by-school, factory-by-factory.) Likewise, as green values are embedded in the hearts and minds of rising entrepreneurs, they will see the value of SME corporations that do not shackle themselves to the treadmill of quarterly returns to share-holders, but rather repay their loans to banks, make payroll and distribute salaries to working directors. Also, as consumption fatigue becomes endemic and youth tire of the constant challenge of keeping up with the latest fashion brand or trend, corporations peddling life-style products will see markets decline. The Gandhian principle of making enough for people’s needs – but not for their greed – has to take hold, and the playboys of Monte Carlo in their powerboats which use a ton of fossil fuel every hour to take part in their high-speed (and extremely dangerous) races will become like the incredibly un-cool follies of another era.

For let us be clear: at some point, humanity has got to kiss goodbye to the Brown Economy which has brought civilisation to this point: peak oil, peak coal – peak everything! – dictates that this be so. And the intelligent point at which to bid farewell to it and greet the dawn of the green economy – is next year: at the Rio+20 Summit. The general public, and youth themselves, as they begin to get used to bike hire schemes city centres, electric scooters and – soon – electric cars – are ready for this change. The popularity – and ‘cool’ – of the Toyota Prius is a signal of this trend.

So – as the world gears up to greet that dawn of the Green Economy, GEEBIZ lays down the Challenge to the rising generation to ‘re-invent the Corporation’ – to make companies and products that support a Green economy, and have sustainability as a core purpose. As more and more of these corporations fill the market place, the Tim Jackson / Herman Daly dream of ‘prosperity without growth’ and ‘steady state economics’ – will be realised. And the banks, the hedge funds, the stock-markets and the ‘cost-externalizing, consumerism-promoting, volume-fixated, quality-agnostic, societally-dysfunctional’ will be heading the way of the Dinosaurs.


Sunday 20 March 2011

Reflections on the 2nd UN Prepcom on Rio 2012:

At the Prepcom in March at the UN, governments still appeared uncertain about what might be expected from Rio 2012. Achim Steiner of UNEP said: “I get the sense that governments are still scratching their heads and asking themselves: why are we doing this?” That gives those of us who are clear about what Rio 2012 is for an amazing opportunity.
I support the vision of the German Government and UNEP itself: Rio 2012 will deliver a road map with bench marks and targets that will lead to a sustainable Green Economy by the middle of this century – earlier if possible.
But the USA and others are leading the charge to lower expectations of Rio 2012: they don’t see it as a Heads of State Summit. The US repeatedly tell us that President Obama will not be encouraged to come. The Brazilian hosts who, along with G-77, still have doubts about the Green Economy moniker, want heads of state to attend. The UN does too: so – they say – it is up to us in Civil Society to create such an unstoppable momentum around Rio 2012 that there will be a whole host of ‘announcables’ that Heads of State will simply have to turn up to announce.
That’s why it’s important that we use every opportunity we have to contribute to the negotiations. We know of three clear opportunities:

Contribute to the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Global Sustainability (GSP) - “to reflect on, and formulate, a new vision for sustainable growth and prosperity, along with mechanisms for achieving it.” A 17-point questionnaire which they are encouragining civil society to answer to feed into their Final Report which will be delivered late November 2011. Go to: www.environmentalgovernance.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/UN-NGLS-GSP-consultation-questionnaire.pdf Deadline for Input: 28 March 2011

Contribute to the EU Public Consultation: A 3 x Section, 13-point Questionnaire designed to provide the Commission with initial views from stakeholders for the Communication on the EU position on Rio 2012 which the Commission will publish expected in June 2011. Go to: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/consultations/un%5F2012.htm Deadline for input: April 10th 2011

Contribute to the UN Commission for Sustainable Development’s Zero Draft of the Rio 2012 Statement: Methodologies for submission not yet agreed – but contact: csdmgresgister@un.org for information on how to submit. Deadline for input: November 1st 2011

At the March Prepcom, we were reminded that any input you – or Civil Society - wishes to deliver on Rio 2012 must fall under the 5 x Main themes of the Summit: here they are, and here are my musings on them:


• At the heart of the political commitment to Sustainable Development must be a commitment to Intergenerational Justice. The second part of the Brundtland definition of Sustainable Development is the commitment ‘not to compromise the ability of future generations to meet their needs….’

The Baby boomers have landed younger generation with £1 trillion pounds of debt; in 1980, housing in London cost baby-boomers 3.5 times average earnings: today it's x 9. In the 1960s, baby-boomers were paid equivalent of £4.5k p/a to go to university. Next year you will pay £9k p/a for the same privilege.

Today’s youth feel, not unreasonably, that the baby boomer generation care little for how their needs are met: the use of language about Intergenerational Justice, backed up by commitments to the politics of long-termism, renewables and resource efficiency are essential to persuade a sceptical youth population of their governments commitment to Sustainability.
• Governments would be smart to abandon the language of Sustainable Development. Civil Society has struggled to get the public to understand and mobilise behind this phrase for 20 years – and it hasn’t worked. The language of the “Green Economy” is much easier to grasp, more attractive, and thus a better media narrative. G-77 governments must understand this – and use the language that will bring them the sustainable development they want and the long term environmental sustainability their countries need.
• To demonstrate their ‘renewed commitment,’ governments must re-visit their Agenda 21 commitments – and re-commit to them, accelerating their commitment to achieve them. One of the simplest is the commitment to ‘re-orient education towards sustainable development.’ Any new ‘Focussed Political Statement’ coming out of Rio 2012 must commit to organising education so that young people emerging from their schooling with a rich and detailed understanding of their generational challenges to build the green, non-polluting, post-carbon energy infrastructure, to prevent global warming, and to remove the blight of poverty from our world.
• Second: Governments must show that commitment by removing perverse subsidies and introducing green taxes – making it more expensive to live unsustainably in the brown economy – and cheaper to consume goods produced by the Green Economy. Pricing mechanisms are a key part of the architecture of the transition to the Green Economy – and the first step along that road must be to reduce – then phase out completely – all perverse subsidies of the Brown Economy. Only governments can do this – and, in a time of low tax revenues, one would have thought they would want to. However, the UN must introduce some systems of compulsion as retention of perverse subsidies and the absence of green taxes will sustain the Brown Economy long beyond its sell-by date – and tip the world into greater poverty, extremes of weather due to global warming, depleted fish stocks, massive profits for oil companies and thus more widespread corruption in governance, and increased distortion in farm markets;
• Alongside such taxes and phasing out of subsidies, governments must set up large investment funds for the building of the Green Economy infrastructure;
• Finally, governments must lay out a Vision of the clean, green post-brown economy prosperous society. They must promote it as the way that all economies must move – if only because peak production of fossil fuels is upon us, and resource efficiency is the new imperative. So – they should articulate that attractive, compelling vision of the future, and map out the way that they plan to move their nation and their people towards it.

• This is the proper work of the CSD and think tanks, university departments and individual consultants that they may hire. With over 500 MEAs, it is impossible for Civil Society to contribute in any meaningful way to such assessments. This needs to be done by development professionals. However, we, in the youth sector, are inviting teachers and students to express their opinions in wide-ranging surveys on Agenda 21 commitments: we shall be pleased to share these with the bureau – but only as background context to their rigourous, quantitative research. Such context is sometimes instructive: For example: we find it interesting that, in regular surveys, the US public express the belief that their government contributes 10-15% of its budget to Overseas Aid. When told that the actual figure is 0.01%, they express disbelief! Our surveys will provide similar perhaps surprising perceptions.

• The main challenge to have emerged since 1992 is that of climate change. The implications of catastrophic climate change are far worse than feared – and its dangers have captured the public’s and the media’s imaginations. However, the failure of the COP process to deliver concrete results means that the climate change issue is now ‘damaged goods’: it is clear that both governments and civil society are drawing back from using the language of climate change and using the language of green economy instead. This is a wise way to treat this emerging issue – as the solutions of Cap and Trade, and carbon capture and sequestration are expensive, complex to manage, and far from proven technologically. The Green Economy / Sustainable Development approach neatly cuts the Gordian knot of climate change negotiations which many believe are going nowhere.
• Another huge challenge is youth unemployment: 43% in Spain – and double/triple the general rate almost everywhere. With over a billion young people coming on to the job market in the next decade and around 300m jobs awaiting them, this massive waste of human resources is set to get much worse. And, as recent events in Tunisia and Egypt have proved, it is a tinderbox of danger for societies world wide. As Bill Reese, CEO of the Intl. Youth Foundation put it, we have to ‘Open the Windows of hope to the younger generation….’ – give them some optimism about their future, or we face a bleak, embittered generation who will never deliver the prosperity that a Green Economy could provide.
• Uncertainty about Peak Oil and the amount of fossil fuels that can be burned before we release sufficient carbon to trigger catastrophic climate change is an issue that has emerged quite recently: there have been stories of political pressure affecting the scientific conclusions of the IEG. If true, this has to be stopped. Also, we are told that burning just 60% of the world’s known fossil fuel reserves would tip the atmosphere over the 2 degree threshold of catastrophic climate change. If that is true, why are we allowing the fossil fuel companies to prospect for new reserves? The global family must be given the best science possible, unfettered by political considerations to allow us all to move forward, in a consensus, to the Green Economy that must replace the Brown one in this century.
• Terrorism and conflict: by far the biggest obstacle to development – sustainable or any other sort – is war and conflict. Terrorism has emerged these last 20 years as the major thorn in the flesh of many societies. Government, and perhaps more – civil society – must take steps to root it out. Faith communities can lead. Teachers have an important role to play. But governments must re-double their efforts to resolve festering conflicts, make new and deeper commitments to de-militarisation, dismantle their nuclear arsenals etc. – and prepare for collective, global security systems.


This is the defining vision of Rio 2012 – and it is a brilliant, attractive one. However, it needs some fleshing out. For the Youth Sector, who will be largely responsible for populating and leading the companies and governments who will build the Green Economy over the next 40-50 years, the priority is training – both technical and attitudinal. A green economy needs green business skills: business schools must take steps to identify and teach these. Also – youth need enhanced entrepreneurial skills: the World Bank call for, “Young people need to be trained, not to seek a job – but to create ten jobs…” Initiatives like the one that splices experiential business trainings on to a High School 6th Form so that some students leave, not just with a paper certificate, but an operational small company, is one that should be promoted more widely. Green Entrepreneurship must form part of the road map to the Green Economy.
And governments and civil society must use the very best media and public relations specialists to promote it effectively: we are convinced that it will prove a much more attractive, accessible concept for the general public than the weirdly convoluted phrase: “Sustainable Development” – (which was always a semantic contradiction.) The idea that business as usual brown economic growth will turn into a downward spiral of recession and decline as fossil rocket in price and run out must become embedded public knowledge; likewise the understanding that Green Growth is likely to be faster, create more jobs, and avoid the twin threats of expanding poverty and climate change – must be promoted to the General public. While not diminishing the complexity, and diversity of methodologies inherent in the building, of a Green Economy – the public must be made to feel that this way lies their future. And it is a prosperous one.
The UNEP definition of a Green Economy (“one that improves human well-being and social equity while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities…”) - must be used and expanded to convince doubters in the South that a Green Economy is NOT a protectionist plot to further separate the rich North from the poorer South. Rather, the growth promised by a Green Economy is likely to favour the Solar Rich South: and any whiff of green protectionism must be stamped out by instructions to the WTO. Developing countries that continue to promote, subsidise and cling to the Brown Economy must face the costs and opprobrium that will accrue to all who do – but the incentives must be set in place by the investment community and international donors that will encourage LDCs and other disadvantaged parts of the world to leapfrog tired, outdated Brown Economy models straight to the clean, resource efficient Green Economy technologies.

We are not much convinced that international legislation is going to deliver the Green Economy or a safer environment. UNEP is fine as it is: converting it into a UNEO is not, in my opinion, going to prevent future Bhopals or Chernobyls or Fukishamas happening. It would be nice to think that governments would pass laws to ensure that polluters would genuinely pay to restore landscapes to how they were before they started stripping out the tar sands oil, or surface mineral mines, or polluting river systems with cyanide-laced tailings: but even if they did pass such laws – companies seem to find a way around them. Easier just to price products produced in such ways out of the reach of customers who might buy them – and create an atmosphere in which companies that operate in that way are perceived as the dinosaurs of the Brown Economy – headed for the abattoir of history.
The one element of Institutional Framework we would like the UN to consider is a better representation of Youth within its systems. Young people will be the builders and beneficiaries of the Green Economy. They will also be the victims if society fails to build it in the first half of the 21st Century. So – the UN should develop its capacity to advise governments on successful youth policy, training, empowerment and motivation. The current 3-4 person Youth Dept. within DESA is woefully inadequate – and, though some excellent work has been done in pushing the Inter-agency Committee on Youth and Development to weave together the activities of the different UN agencies that focus upon youth, I would like to see the UN do for Youth what it has already done for Women: draw together the different youth programmes of the different agencies under the leadership of a new U-S-G who would champion effective youth policies to member states and other UN agencies. In this way, the massive demographic youth bulge currently passing through the world’s least-developed countries can be exploited to economic advantage, not wasted – or, as we have seen in North Africa, become a security risk.
The abject failure of the UN and its member states properly to manage and exploit the opportunity of the UN International Year of Youth is just the latest example of the low priority afforded to youth by most governments: Rio 2012 – and its institutional reform programme – offers another opportunity for Member States to fill this massive institutional vacuum at the heart of the UN – and draw in the energy, talent and idealism of that 51% of the world’s population who are under 25.

Monday 14 March 2011

12 Milestones along the Road to Rio+20

On behalf of all the young people who have passed through the programmes of Peace Child International these last 30 years, doing work to promote peace, the end of the Cold War, and delivery on the promises of the Rio Earth Summit promise of sustainability, I call on governments to recognize the Rio 2012 as a Watershed moment: the moment when we kiss good bye to the Brown Economy that has cleverly built the unsustainable civilization we inhabit at the moment – and greet the dawn of the clean, Green sustainable Economy in which our children and their descendants must live if there is to be a chance for Humanity to survive beyond the end of the current century.
It is also the moment when we recognize that, in order to survive, we must lay the foundations of Global Environmental Governance and kiss goodbye to the sanctity of the nation state to which we have clung, often perversely, these last 66 years.
In order to achieve a smooth transition to the Green Economy, the UN must, on behalf of the “future generations” in whose name it was founded, persuade, cajole, and insist that its member states take action, by 2017, to -

1. Abandon Perverse Subsidies
: A Green Economy is one that does not subsidise brown economy measures. Governments must take steps to phase out all subsidies on unsustainable practices NOW ( - a good time to think about it when many western, high consuming governments are close to bankrupt: always a good time to ask them to stop paying subsidies to unsustainable sectors of the business landscape.)

2. Introduce High Taxes on unsustainable Consumption and production practices
. Make it cheaper for citizens of every UN member state to live sustainably. For example, when petrol is €10 a litre – and 5th generation algae biofuel is €2 a litre, the public will go ‘green / renewable’ in a heartbeat. Argue the wisdom of the ‘Double Dividend’ of green taxation: if taxes are levied on environmentally harmful goods and services, the funds can be used to reduce the tax burden on activities we want to encourage, such as employment and green investment.

3. Accelerate the transition to a Post-Carbon energy infrastructure
– with massive and immediate government and private investment in schemes that build the solar-hydrogen energy infrastructure. The World Bank has calculated that this $43 trillion dollar project has to be completed within the lifetimes of the generation now passing through our secondary schools. It has to be started now – and planned, year-on-year for a total fossil fuel phase out by, if possible, 2025 – anyway 2050.

4. Deliver Education for the Green Economy
: As Agenda 21 promised in Chapter 36, Education must be ‘re-oriented to deliver sustainable development.’ Any agreement reached at Rio+20 must commit to re-orienting education to prepare young citizens to help construct, and operate, a green economy. Current curricula, has barely been updated for over 200 years. Anywhere in the world, a child is likely to emerge from a traditional education with a much better knowledge of the challenges of the last 200 years than the challenges that s/he will face in the next 50. That must change: education has to have its heart the embedding of values of sustainability – knowledge and experiential learning about the construction and operation of a Green Economy, and the values inherent in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UNEP’s Charter for Nature and other excellent UN-generated agreements and conventions.

5. Promote Youth Green Entrepreneurship
– a green economy is one that encourages green business innovations, especially in developing countries where young people must be taught not only how to seek a job, but how to create ten jobs. Youth must be encouraged to be entrepreneurial at every level, from no cost social enterprise to low cost SME start-ups on up to vast, transnational eco-innovative schemes. Training and education must inform every young person about the detail of the Green Economy: what it is, how to achieve it, the consequences of not achieving it, the win-win-win-win benefits of fully achieving it. It must teach green entrepreneurship and train, equip and support students, experientially (through the practical setting up of small green companies) - to develop SMEs that contribute sound building blocks of a Green Economy. In this way, students will graduate from High Schools, not just with a paper certificate, but with a fully operational small business that will provide the student manager, and some colleagues, with decent, green jobs. [PCI’s GEEBIZ contest offers a model that should be continued year-on-year to encourage the world’s youth to compete to deliver the most innovative building blocks of the Green Economy.]

6. Create Fair & Inclusive Indicators
: We need a new measure of national environmental, social and economic well-being that goes beyond GDP: something that values intergenerational justice and human well-being: an indicator that measures and prices all human and environmental inputs and outputs; that measures the abundance – or lack of – Choices available to human beings young and old;

7. Enable Fair Trade
: genuine equitable trade that supports import substitution, job-creating growth and a measure of autonomy for infant economies that allow them to grow.

8. Accelerate the fight against corruption
: corruption is a cancer that gnaws at the sustainability of all societies. We would like governments meeting in Rio to declare that a Green Economy is a corruption-free economy with the integrity to deliver enough for everyone’s need but which does not seek to meet everyone’s greed.

9. Protect Natural Resources: In the same way that National Parks Services protect wilderness areas and areas of outstanding natural beauty, so the UN must administer ‘International Park Services’ – so that environmental resources that have cash value to economies, especially the poorest members of such economies, are protected from exploitation by national and international organizations.

10. Create New Institutions of Governance: The institutions of governance that brought us through the last millennium are not equipped to bring us through the next. So – our generation must start the move from national to universal human security: if not world government – at least a form of government that puts global, collective interests ahead of national self-interests. This should start with the following incremental steps:
• A re-organised UN Environment Organisation or Programme that brings the administration / negotiation of all MEAs under one roof;
• While reforming the UN, governments should act to strengthen the service to youth by UN institutions by doing for Youth what they did in 2010 for Women: appoint an A-S-G to champion the needs of Youth across the UN system, and draw together in a single office, UN YOUTH, all the activities relating to young people currently carried out by the different agencies and departments – to avoid duplication and maximize synergies.
• The introduction of global taxes administered by the Bretton Woods institutions on behalf of the international community to raise funds and eliminate extremes of poverty by providing a global welfare safety net administered by the UN Agencies delivering as one. These might include a financial transaction tax, a tax on the use of eco-system resources (air, sea, water, forests, biodiversity etc.), and a tax on the use of dwindling fossil fuel resources.
• Set up an International Court for the Environment – or some kind of judicial body that can prosecute governments, individuals and corporations that break private, national or international environmental agreements, so that, not only does the polluter pay – the polluter can be punished and locked up if s/he does not pay the fine;
• A rapid reaction force that can be deployed quickly to restore peace between warring factions in both civil and cross-border conflicts. Such a force needs to be skilled in the arts of conflict-transformation and peace-building as well as peace-making and peace-keeping.
• A Security Council agenda to accelerate resolution of the world’s remaining territorial flashpoints: young people in Model UNs around the world regularly resolve the outstanding issues in Cyprus, Kashmir, Western Sahara, the Kirile Islands, Nagorno-Karabakh and Israel-Palestine: it is time that the real UN Security Council use its powers of sanction and boycott to deliver solutions to these long-standing disputes that scar our world.

11. Promote Peace and De-Militarisation
: Once there is a United Nations organization that can deliver on its founders’ promise to ‘save succeeding generations from the scourge of war…’ – we should accelerate dis-armament processes. For a Green Economy is a de-militarised, de-nuclearised economy with peace between its peoples. UN Member states must make an intentional link between the de-militarisation / Security Council agenda and the Green Economy agenda to reduce military aid and raise human and food security aid.

12. Infrastructuralise Service and Voluntarism: A green economy is one that encourages service and voluntarism: one that promotes the simple idea that the purpose of every life is to leave the world a better place than it was when we arrived on it. Every nation should promote national and international service as a transition period that every one of its young citizens should pass through – experiencing work in the sector to which they are drawn: doing the work because they want to, not because they are paid to. Investment in such service should take on a priority as high as that of universities.

Second Thoughts on how to achieve Intergenerational Justice?

What is Intergenerational Justice (IJ)? – It’s an intuitive thing, isn’t it? Something like: “Meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs…” ? That of course is Brundtland’s definition of Sustainable Development – so perhaps IJ is another way of defining Sustainable Development, preferred because its not a semantic contradiction!

But is IJ any easier to achieve than sustainable development has been in the 20+ years since Brundtland? Maybe – because even the most gung-ho ‘climate-change-is-a-load-of-baloney’ oilman does not want to kill his grand-children. Justice is about being fair to future generations – leaving the world a better place than you found it. So IJ occupies the moral high ground that, hopefully, every leader, wants to occupy.

We raise this now as Peace Child International has just launched its ‘Road to Rio+20’ – to prepare and mobilise young people around the world to make sure that the UN Heads of State ‘Earth Summit’ in Rio de Janeiro in May 2012 is NOT just another boring UN Summit that achieves nothing. We have hundreds of partners around the world.

We had the first meeting of 14 of our key partners from around the world at the end of January: just before we met, Jonathon Porritt – Britain’s best known environmentalist – wrote to us with an idea that set our blood racing:

“Reading through your papers on Rio+20 – I felt a weird combination of despair and rage. Twenty years on and here we are going through the same motions all over again. Rage alone won’t do it. Rage has to provide the spearhead of something much bigger, something that cannot just be brushed aside. In your papers, I saw a reference to the University of Vermont’s coalition of legal academics exploring ‘legal sanctions that might be set in place to deter politicians from wrecking the chances of future generations to meet their own needs’. This is just one of a number of initiatives out there looking at some kind of legal redress to translate the concept of intergenerational justice into formal legal process. I suggest that you work with them to come up with a specific ‘actionable’ form of legal redress, on behalf of young people as the plaintive. Essentially, a global class action lawsuit against today’s rulers….”

There are indeed several fascinating initiatives. You can find the Vermont Climate Legacy Initiative at: http://www.vermontlaw.edu/Academics/Environmental_Law_Center/Institutes_and_Initiatives/Climate_Legacy_Initiative/CLI_Home/A_Legal_Legacy.htm) There is the campaign for the ICE (Intl. Court for the Environment; See: http://www.environmentcourt.com/) And there is a Coalition of groups led by WWF, the Foundation for Democracy and Sustainable Development and World Future Council. They have published a compendium of Legal methods to achieve IJ: (see: www.fdsd.org/reports/)

We took these ideas to run by a group of international students at Atlantic College – as part of their ‘Green Week’ activities. The climax of the day was a Full Dress debate on the motion: “This house supports those who seek ways to prosecute current governments and corporations for intergenerational murder.” It was proposed by students and opposed by older members of staff. The students spoke brilliantly, and won! Because, of course, it has to be in young people’s interests to support any who seek ways to protect our future. But – in the brainstormings that preceded the debate, the students came up with several other, possibly better ways, to achieve IJ. One girl proposed the idea of ‘IJ-labelling’ – “because no one would want to buy a product that would harm their grand-children…” Another pointed out: “Consumers will always go for the cheapest product. You have to work towards a system where doing things in a sustainable way is cheaper than not doing them in a sustainable way…” In other words: Green taxes or pricing mechanisms. If you tax products produced in unsustainable ways, and make goods produced sustainably, using renewable energy, no-waste processes etc. cheaper, – you will create a green economy in which consumers will quickly bankrupt unsustainable corporations. Slapping on a tax is much quicker and easier than hauling a corporation or government through the courts. And, as Ken Corn said in his excellent speech opposing the motion: “Where is your court? What court in the world can possibly prosecute a government elected by its people? Who is going to prosecute Obama? Get real, kids: this motion is petulant, provocative, childish and a dead end!”

But there is a role for legal redress. Green taxes can be avoided or brushed aside by corrupt politicians and corporations. The right kind of legal redress for Tar Sands oilmen and strip mining merchants would be a legal requirement that they re-construct the environment post-extraction to exactly as it was before. And impose enormous, ten-figure fines on them if they don’t. A simple before and after photograph would be all that a court would need to prosecute. Combined, Green taxes and these kinds of legal measures would deliver the kind of Intergenerational Justice that we all dream about.

But will governments deliver those kinds of measures at the Rio+20 Summit? They will face colossal pressure from the oil lobbies and others not to. So young people around the world, and right-thinking elders, will have to get very, very active over the next 18 months to ensure that Rio+20 is not another disappointment, like Copenhagen, but a watershed moment: the moment when we move from the dark ages of fossil-fuelled industrialisation, to the clean green economy of the future.

Rio-2012 - Starting out: Meet the partners!

25th January 2011

Welcome to all the Partners travelling on this Road to Rio+20

The Planet Expects from Rio+20... Intergenerational Justice

On the morning 21st October 1805, before the Battle of Trafalgar, Admiral Nelson raised in signal flags the message which every English citizen remembers to this day. The message was: “England expects every man to do his duty…” Today, as you step on to your planes ( - and massively inflate your personal carbon foot-prints!) - to come to our Partners meeting, I believe the planet expects – the human family expects – young people to do their duty and lead the charge for meaningful results to come out of the Rio+20 Summit. For it is fairly clear that no one else is going to. This is the moment when you have to rise up and defend that part of the Brundtland Definition of Sustainable Development which calls upon present generations not to ‘compromise the ability of future generations to meet their needs.’ The experience of the last 20 years is that the present generation of leaders really don’t care about future generations or their needs. My conviction is that you, and many young people do care – and that you are all eager to demonstrate that care with radical action along the Road to Rio+20. Indeed, future generations will be mightily pissed if you jack up your carbon footprints coming to this meeting – and do NOT take radical action as a result.

The job of Rio+20 is clear: it is to launch the building of the Green, renewable, post-carbon economy. Immediately! It also aims to set in place the governance structures that place a premium on delivering sustainability. How? – it’s very simple: governments have to tax unsustainable products and behaviours ( - making them more expensive to consumers) – and reward / give subsidies to sustainable products and behaviours (making them less expensive to consumers.) Only governments can do this – and it is easy for them: a simple matter of adjusting fiscal policy. But, in 20 years, they haven’t and, without enormous pressure, it is very likely that they will cruise the next twenty years finding very good reasons for not doing it.

So - the job of our first meeting this weekend is to figure out how to persuade them. We will go through all the traditional answers: education, lobbying, demonstrations, petitions etc. We will figure out how we are going to develop a brilliant ‘Focussed Political Youth Statement’ – and pester thousands / millions of young people and others to sign up to it.

Further, we will talk a lot about the GEBIC – the Green Economy Business Innovations Contest, and the Green Community initiatives project developed by our Mexican colleagues. All this will build a compendium of evidence to show what young people are doing already so that they can tell governments: “See?! – we’re building the Green Economy. Now we need you to do x, y and z to help us do it more quickly.” We will teach you all we know about advocacy – both physical and online – and we will plan the Regional Meetings, the book, the musical, the computer game etc.

- and we will work, and struggle, and beat ourselves up – but come November, we kind of know it won’t work: chances are, Rio+20 will be just another large, boring UN Meeting.

So we have to do something seriously radical - outrageously different. Which is why I send you Jonathon Porritt’s challenge. (below)

Think about it. We have an amazing chance here. Don’t let’s blow it!

Travel safely – and I look forward to welcoming you all to the White House,

David Woollcombe

From: Jonathon Porritt, Founder Director, Forum for the Future

Dear David:

Good to be in touch again! You asked for some ideas, so you’ve only yourself to blame if the following isn’t helpful!

Initially, reading through the papers you sent me – I felt a weird combination of despair and rage. Twenty years on and here we are going through the same motions all over again. Fortunately, the anger won out – as it usually does these days!

And, ‘getting angry’ is my theme for your weekend! We know how easily politicians ignore, co-opt or smarm all over most of the sustainable development stuff that young people put in front of them. We’ve learnt that this just isn’t enough – however crucial and valuable it is, in all sorts of ways, not least for young people themselves.

So anger alone won’t do it. It needs to provide just the spearhead of something much bigger, something that cannot just be brushed aside.

In your papers, I saw your reference to the University of Vermont’s coalition of legal academics exploring ‘legal sanctions that might be set in place to deter politicians from wrecking the chances of future generations to meet their own needs’.

In fact, as I understand it, this is just one of a number of initiatives out there today, looking at some kind of legal redress to translate the concept of intergenerational justice (which I much prefer, by the way, to intergenerational equity) into formal legal process – and from there into action.

I just wondered if you’d ever heard of an organisation called Client Earth? Google them – they’re brilliant! It would be an amazing organisation to work with if you go down the sort of route that I’m suggesting below.

Here’s how it might develop:
•  Working with Client Earth, you come up with a specific ‘actionable’ form of legal redress, on behalf of young people as the plaintive. Essentially, a global class action against today’s rulers.
• Peace Child and its partners in all the different countries use this to recruit at least one young person’s organisation in every country all around the world (I’m sure you’ve done all the research on that long ago!).
• You then snowball a sign-up operation to get thousands of young people’s organisations on board with the global class action.
• Their target is of course the Rio+20 Summit itself, and the ‘world leaders’ who will be attending, but just as important, it should be targeted at all those progressive NGOs (in environment, human rights, development, poverty, climate change and so on) who hang on so fiercely to their role as ‘representatives’ of civil society. Young people should almost be as angry about them as they should be about the politicians!
• In the three months running up to the Summit, pressure as many of those ‘adult organisations’ as possible (on a name and shame basis) to sign up to the same class action – and agree that they will actively support it and even help fund it?

As we all know, the politicians these days are endlessly banging on about young people’s vote. In Rio, each and every one of them should be served with the formal writ indicating that ‘the time is over’ for ‘voice as chat’. From now on it has to be ‘voice in rage’.

So that’s just a thought to add to your deliberations!