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Introducing … The UN’s Jolly Green Sustainable Hockey Stick

The blogger Autonomous Mind had an interesting – but disturbing – essay a few days ago, “Forget climate change, we must focus on the real issue”, in which he concludes:

No matter what the ‘science’ reveals and how much it is debunked, there will always be another line of attack from the sustainability playbook to further the political – and dare I say economic corporatist – agenda. This is where the battle needs to be fought, not in the theatre of carbon dioxide emissions, raw and adjusted data or fractions of a degree of temperature change. [emphasis added – hro]

I’m not entirely sure about the “corporatist” agenda. No question that there has been no shortage of Johnny-come-lately opportunists and shady operators on the corporate side. But surely not all corporations are bad – and without them there would be far fewer jobs, and more people without jobs means far less disposable income to keep the economy going

That aside, I definitely agree that we need to brace ourselves for another line of attack from the “sustainability playbook”. There are already a number of indications that the jargon is shifting (being reframed for the umpteenth time?!)

It was all laid out so warmly and fuzzily in the UN’s Agenda 21 – more than 20 years ago.

In 1987 Gro Harlem Bruntland, Maurice Strong et al coined the “official term” of “sustainable development” – and its “three pillars”. This gave rise to the not necessarily alarming at the time:

Agenda 21 is a comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the United Nations System, Governments, and Major Groups in every area in which human impacts on the environment. [Source]

Agenda 21, so we’re told, was adopted by all the nations of the world 20 years ago in Rio at the first “Earth Summit”. Reading through the bromides and bureaucratese in this document is enough to make one fall asleep – which may well have been the intent when it was written 🙂

But here we are, en route to Rio+20, and – as I had noted about a month ago – there’s now a “High Level Panel” UN document on the table that unashamedly declares:

The peoples of the world will simply not tolerate continued environmental devastation or the persistent inequality which offends deeply held universal principles of social justice.
Achieving sustainability requires us to transform the global economy

I’ve never been a believer in the conspiracy theory of history. But …I have to admit that there have been days when I’ve wondered if the whole climate change “controversy” (for want of a better word) has been fostered (if not allowed to fester) in order to distract our attention – just in case anyone with any common sense and influence should wake up and see what we’re being lulled (or bullied!) into accepting!

Consider the circus that has evolved thanks to the big players in the “climate change game” – particularly in the past few years. Certainly the recent antics of Peter Gleick and Michael Mann, along with the highly risible nonsense that passes for “journalism” in the MSM can only be described as a three-ring circus!

Meanwhile the United Nations continues adding branches and shrubbery to its merry maze, spawning acronymic panels, working groups, committees and cultivating and enabling the influence of Non-governmental organizations (NGO)s – whom they call “civil society”. I’m not sure where that leaves the rest of us whose organizational affiliations might not lead to membership in one of the “chosen” (?!) groups. Indeed, one might well ask: “What am I, chopped liver?”

Within the maze (and there’s no other way to describe it because the multiplicity of UN websites makes it almost impossible to determine the “chain of command”), there’s a Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) which has an “Office for Economic and Social Council Support and Coordination” (ECOSOC) – or maybe it’s the other way around. But in any event, there is an “NGO Branch” – here’s a link to an org chart, if you’re curious!

The NGO Branch does have a very pretty banner:

Click to embiggen

I hope you noticed the very friendly slogan at the top of this banner. Just in case you missed it, the message to the NGOs is … drum-roll please … “Welcome to the United Nations. It’s your world.” (emphasis added -hro)

They have a lovely glossy 49 page brochure, written in a close approximation of “plain English”. Quite a refreshing change from the plethora of other UN docs I’ve slogged through during the past few years! Lots of pretty pictures, too. No walls of words for this elite group!

A little background and context from this glossy brochure (all emphases are mine -hro):

NGOs contribute to a number of activities including information dissemination, awareness raising, development education, policy advocacy, joint operational projects, participation in intergovernmental processes and in the contribution of services and technical expertise.


Article 71 of the UN Charter opened the door to provide suitable arrangements for consultation with non-governmental organizations.

And in case you’re curious, here’s the rather wide doorway – which, considering the bios of some of the UN’s top honchos, might well be the frame of a “revolving door”, come to think of it – provided by Article 71:

The Economic and Social Council [ECOSOC] may make suitable arrangements for consultation with non-governmental organizations which are concerned with matters within its competence. Such arrangements may be made with international organizations and, where appropriate, with national organizations after consultation with the Member of the United Nations concerned.

It also appears as though in 1996, for some reason, it was determined that the door might not have been quite as open as it could be. The following suggests that in response to this concern, ECOSOC acted as follows:

This accreditation framework benefits both the United Nations and the NGOs. As stated by resolution 1996/31 on the “Consultative relationship between the United Nations and non-governmental organizations,”

“… Consultative arrangements are to be made, on the one hand, for the purpose of enabling the Council or one of its bodies to secure expert information or advice from organizations having special competence in the subjects for which consultative arrangements are made, and, on the other hand, to enable international, regional, sub-regional and national organizations that represent important elements of public opinion to express their views.”

— ECOSOC resolution 1996/31, part II, paragraph 20

Oh, well …Once an NGO is in the door accredited, it can:

participate in a number of events, including, but not limited to, the regular sessions� of ECOSOC, its functional commissions [pls. see below -hro] and its other subsidiary bodies. [… An NGO] may:

  • Attend official meetings;
  • Submit written statements prior to sessions;
  • Make oral statements;
  • Meet official government delegations and other NGO representatives;
  • Organize and attend parallel events that take place during the session;
  • Participate in debates, interactive dialogues, panel discussions and informal meetings.

What fun, eh? But only for representatives of the 3,523 (make that 3,421, because there are 102 NGOs under suspension – because they haven’t filed their “quadrennial reports”. Naughty, naughty NGOs!).

Here’s a big picture for you:

Click to embiggen

The jolly green sustainable hockey stick … Eat your heart out, Michael Mann!

My thanks to Peter Bobroff, the wizard behind AccessIPCC, who very kindly extracted the data from ECOSOC’s “official list” for me. At this point, please consider our data – and this analysis – to be preliminary and subject to further refinement.

So, in 1946, four NGOs were granted “consultative status”. Between then and 2011, there were six years during which no NGOs were accredited: 1958, 1965, 1968, 1982, 1988 and 1992. Although it is within the realm of possibility that during each of these years a number of NGOs – who acquired their accreditation by virtue of their affiliation with other “UN agencies or bodies” – were added. The total of such NGOs, as of Nov. 2011, was 412.