Energy Sovereignty film receives special mention at festival in Venice

December 6th, 2012

Our latest collective UNU videobrief Energy Sovereignty has received a special mention at the Think Forward Film Festival in Venice, Italy (Nov 30-Dec 1, 2012). The work looks at energy innovation and traditional knowledge, and the various challenges for Indigenous peoples when facing the new energy revolution.

Stories include: tribal wind projects in the US; hydro-electric projects which have oppressed Guatemalan communities, solar project for cultural survival in Altai, and energy sovereignty in North-eastern Siberia. Made with dear friend Randall Wood and the UNU team in Tokyo, the work evolved through the collaborative efforts of several indigenous groups connected to UNU-IAS TKI and the generous creative commons community on Vimeo. It premiered in English with Italian subtitles. You can download your own version of the multilingual DVD here.

Well done everyone!

The Think Forward Film Festival was established in Venice in 2011, with the aim to study, discuss, and disseminate climate change as well as the issues related to energy efficiency and renewable energythrough both short and feature films. The Think Forward Film Festival is a project of the International Center for Climate Governance(ICCG), a joint initiative of Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM) and Fondazione Giorgio Cini, now an internationally renowned centre whose research activities focus on the design of climate policy and governance. The festival will feature films and documentaries as well as a selection of the best short films from the competition, new to this second edition. There will be side events such as meetings and discussions with directors and actors. Some activities will be aimed to inform both students and teachers on issues related to climate change and renewable energy sources in order to both increase awareness as well as to encourage discussions on these topics among young people. The Think Forward Film Festival has made sustainability its founding principle, for instance, by printing materials on FSC-certified recycled paperusing zero kilometre catering, and preferring to use digital communication to air travel when organising events.

Documentary methodology

November 7th, 2012

For those documentary filmmakers out there, here’s Oscar-nominated Sean Fine (War Dance), humbly sharing his method. Follow your gut, live life with your storytellers, be a small crew.

4th horizon of capitalism & platform economies

November 4th, 2012

Interesting viewing… from recent “Meanings” conference in UK.

Here’s Vinay Gupta‘s jam packed “Plausible Utopias”. The bodhisattva certainly has a way with scenarios.


At the same conference, Indy Johar discussed the fourth horizon of capitalism, social hydra and platform economies (lecture is a bit slow to start but hang in there). He exampled growing political movements away from a centralised “private economy” and towards a decentralised “civil economy”. Platform economies, as most computer boffins already know, are particularly salient phenomenon socialising us. The rise of MPESA (“mobile digital money ” in Kenya) has been heralded with other socially inclusive examples here

Slide from Johar’s presentation

Anyone with views on this, I’d be happy to hear. @cittw


we at an unprecedented pace

October 24th, 2012

Did you know an estimated 50% of all Wetlands were lost during the 20th Century!

I recently read, “The key role that rapidly diminishing wetlands play in supporting human life and biodiversity needs to be recognized and integrated into decision-making as a vital component of the transition to a resource-efficient, sustainable world economy.” – UNEP report

Here in Tokyo Bay, our flood plain has been pretty much covered over with concrete, its vitality and fluxing energy diverted and oppressed by embankments and expensive “risk-reduction” flood channels such as the ambitious G-Cans.  ” G-Cans project widely known as Tokyo underground flood tunnels is the networks of tunnels 6.4 kilometers (four miles) long built deep under the ground in the Tokyo suburbs. All this infrastructure is dedicated to prevent flooding when Tokyo metropolitan area rivers are overfilling during the rain seasons or in case of typhoons.”

For your pleasure, here’s the sexy Japanese G-Cans youtube promo, with lots of wizz-bang effects, funky synth music and animation sequences.


G-Cans is an incredible testament to our times, an era in which economists and engineers rule the world. Thank-you. However, whilst its all well and good to be safe and dry whilst living ignorantly on this flood plain, very rarely when walking along a Tokyo canal can we (me and the other 29 million Tokyo human inhabitants) enjoy the sound of a cricket or frog, or delight in seeing a northern migrating bird fishing for food. Yes, ‘sattvas, the Anthropocene is upon us.

Hmmm, I think given this mentioned 50% as well as recent Convention for Biodiversity COP11 decisions in Hyperbad, its important that we recognise the behaviour of our current socio-economic systems. They are not working for us. Its important that we start to actively oppose further wetlands development with community monitoring and stewardship, and book-ending these bottom-up efforts with UN top-down internationally recognized decisions like at COP11.

It made me start thinking back to this summer. Whilst studying in Munich, I learnt about an socio-ecological river restoration project that locals were backing. With the support of various municipality leaders, private enterprise and community groups, Munich was actually removing some the man-made channels that had been constructed along their Isar rivers over the last 200 years. It was bizarre to understand at first. But, locals explained, by breaking that barrier, the city was choosing to change the human-nature relationship and allow for natural rhythms and cycles of the river to emerge once again… regenerating the surrounding landscapes and connecting the locals with nature on a more respectful and equal footing.

Probably the shitty tourist photos don’t do the idea justice?  What I am getting at is this, quite frankly, we are blissfully still living out European rational concepts developed during industrial era that constantly seek to reduce risk by oppressing nature, ultimately to minimize any financial and infrastructure damages to business as usual.

What our forefathers did was replace our reverence for God and nature’s bounty with capital as king.

And, I’m not afraid to apply this notion to rapidly approaching Geo-enginneering climate projects as well. What will become of our biodiversity!

I’m not suggesting we don’t plan for disaster wisely. Hell no, climate change already a reality. Also, keeping in mind my friends who were devastated by the Brisbane floods,  I’m not suggesting we remove all disaster infrastructures in place. Instead, I think we need to incorporate other long term aspirations into these plans and address how we can live better with our river, its mood swings and all the other beings  we interrelated-ly steward . I am drawing attention to new models of thought emerging, where collective society are calling for a more humble relationship with nature. Collectives are questioning and changing approaches to development…to development locations, housing styles, realistic impact assessments, factoring ecosystem services. Projects like the Isar River are showing that we can (and  ultimately must) plan equally for the healthy functioning of our neighbourhood ecosystems… one that ultimately keeps us all healthy and alive. During my watch, I’m trying to focus on these things, as various ecosystem habitats disappear at an unprecedented pace.


Seriously, hug your wetland today. If you are not watching (or watching the TV instead), it might be gone tomorrow and then we are all screwed. For example, the Boondall Wetlands Reserve in Brisbane offers an insight to the flora and fauna of Moreton Bay, Australia. At the wetlands’ environment Centre you can learn about the importance of preserving natural areas. Enjoy a picnic, walk a trail, bike ride, explore the wetlands from canoe. Go wild, meet a bird, scare a crab, embrace the smell of mudflat micro-organisms.

Don’t you think its time to widen the definition of we?


45 Life lessons, written by a 90 year old

September 28th, 2012

Feeling a bit reflective on this September full moon …

45 Life Lessons, written by a 90 year old

1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short not to enjoy it.

4. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will.

5. Don’t buy stuff you don’t need.

6. You don’t have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.

7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.

8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for things that matter.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.

12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye… But don’t worry; God never blinks.

16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful.  Clutter weighs you down in many ways.

18. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.

19. It’s never too late to be happy.  But it’s all up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Overprepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words, ‘In five years, will this matter?’

27. Always choose Life.

28. Forgive but don’t forget.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give Time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.

35. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d
grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have, not what you think you need.

42. The best is yet to come…

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Yield.

45. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.

courtesy of Regina Brett

Ecuador Embassy 19/08/2012

August 20th, 2012

On youtube, the embedding of this speech has been “disabled by request”.



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