Club of Amsterdam Journal, May 2021, Issue 232

CONTENT

Lead Article

First Out, Last Back: The Economic Impact of the COVID Crisis on New Yorkers With Disabilities
By Melissa Lent, Eli Dvorkin, and Laird Gallagher 

Article 01

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
By the United Nations

The Future Now Show

SDGs and the UNGSII on reporting what matters
with Roland Schatz and Patrick Crehan

Article 02

Scientists find “strong evidence” for new mystery sub-atomic force of nature
By BBC News

News about the Future

> Connectivity for the Skies & Beyond
> Action Plan for the development of organic production

Article 03

Project to Digitise the Archives of the Montreux Jazz Festival
By Claude Nobs Foundation & EPFL

Recommended Book

Climate Justice: Hope, Resilience, and the Fight for a Sustainable Future
By Mary Robinson

Article 04

How scientists are restoring boreal peatlands to help keep carbon in the ground
By Bin Xu, NSERC Industrial Research Chair Colleges, Peatland Restoration, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

Climate Change Success Story

Nemonte Nenquimo
Waorani nation, Ecuador

Futurist Portrait

George Gilder


Club of Amsterdam Search
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Welcome



Felix B Bopp

Roland Schatz teaches Perception Change and hosts masterclasses on ‘Unlearning Intolerance’ together with the UN Academic Impact and is devoted since 30 years on implementing Social Change.

Mary Robinson: “As Elders we have great respect for all religions and traditions as important forces that bind people together. Faith and tradition provide much of the foundation of our laws and social codes. But where religion and tradition are used to justify discrimination and especially when they are used to justify cruel and harmful practices such as female genital mutilation, infanticide and child marriage, then we believe that is unacceptable.”

Nemonte Nenquimo: Taking care of the rainforest is not only of importance to indigenous people. This fight, what we are doing day after day is for all of us living on this planet. I have a beautiful four year old daughter and I want her to have the same rainforest as I have it. Without our land, there is no life.

George Gilder: “The most precious resource in the world economy is human genius.”

Lead Article

First Out, Last Back: The Economic Impact of the COVID Crisis on New Yorkers With Disabilities
By Melissa Lent, Eli Dvorkin, and Laird Gallagher
 




Report - March 2021
New Yorkers with disabilities are suffering among the steepest economic losses and hardships from the coronavirus pandemic and face an especially challenging path back to employment, while the organizations that serve them have sustained millions in lost revenue.

Amid a pandemic that has taken a disproportionate toll on the most vulnerable New Yorkers, this report finds that the economic impact on New Yorkers with disabilities has been especially severe.

Even before the pandemic hit, just 35 percent of working-age New Yorkers with disabilities were employed, and more than one-third were experiencing poverty. But over the past nine months, these economic challenges have been magnified. Interviews with more than a dozen direct service providers and advocacy organizations across the five boroughs reveal the massive economic hardship that New Yorkers with disabilities are enduring — including near-total job losses and unending furloughs — as well as the fiscal cliff facing the organizations that serve them.1

Five of the organizations interviewed for this report say at least half of their clients with disabilities have lost their jobs or been furloughed and remain unemployed because of the pandemic, with some reporting near-total job losses among New Yorkers with disabilities. At the JCC Manhattan Center for Special Needs, about 70 percent of its clients with disabilities were laid off, and around 20 percent were furloughed. The Institute for Career Development (ICD), which helps New Yorkers with disabilities access employment, reports 75 percent or more of its clients in full-time employment lost their jobs or saw a reduction in hours. And even as employment has shown modest signs of recovery citywide, around 60 to 70 percent of Job Path NYC’s clients — people with autism and other developmental disabilities — remained furloughed, more than eight months after lockdown. (Interviews for this report were conducted in October and November of 2020.)

The pandemic has only magnified these economic challenges, in large part because many of the jobs and industries that have provided an entryway to the workforce for New Yorkers with disabilities have experienced the steepest losses. “Individuals with disabilities are usually the first laid off and the last to be rehired” in an economic downturn, says Susanne Bruyère, disability researcher and director of the Yang-Tan Institute on Employment and Disability at Cornell University. But she says that the specific impacts of this crisis are resulting in extreme challenges for New Yorkers with disabilities. “People with disabilities have always been in lower-end jobs, in part-time jobs, jobs that you find in service industries like restaurants and hospitality, but also nursing homes and hotels. And those industries have been hit really hard.”

Even in a growing economy, New Yorkers with disabilities faced alarmingly long odds of achieving stable employment. In fact, the unemployment rate for working-age New Yorkers with disabilities in 2017 (14.7 percent) was higher than the citywide unemployment rate in October 2020 (13.2 percent). For many New Yorkers with disabilities, Great Depression–level unemployment was already routine. But while other dimensions of this ongoing crisis have received significant attention from policymakers and in the media, the enormous economic challenges facing New Yorkers with disabilities have largely flown under the radar.2

“The disproportionately low rate of participation in the labor market for people with disabilities is a huge problem,” says Julie Christensen, director of policy and advocacy from the Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE), a national organization that supports employment opportunities for people with disabilities. “And we have not really made progress in the last 30 years.”

Meanwhile, many of the organizations that serve New Yorkers with disabilities have sustained steep financial losses, with some teetering on the edge of fiscal insolvency. Organizations have reported the loss of millions of dollars in expected revenue while incurring major unanticipated costs for technology, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and other needs. Among the organizations interviewed for this report, all are reporting revenue declines in 2020 of between 20 and 66 percent. For instance, the Institute for Career Development estimates that contract revenue will decrease by 66 percent, and that total revenue will plunge by 40 percent from the previous fiscal year to this one. A recent survey of 34 New York-based agencies serving people with disabilities by a statewide coalition underscores this pattern, finding that these organizations incurred more than $75 million in unanticipated costs due to the pandemic, and lost almost $63 million in total revenue since March.3

At a time when programs and services supporting employment opportunities for New Yorkers with disabilities will be needed more than ever, their very existence is threatened. “The infrastructure, the network of community-based organizations that do training and employment for people with disabilities is at real risk,” says Susan Scheer, CEO of the Institute for Career Development. “And there may not be enough provider agencies there when people are ready to go back to work and when the jobs start picking up.”

This report — generously supported by Citi and Kessler Foundation—documents the unprecedented financial and employment challenges facing New Yorkers with disabilities during this crisis, as well as the serious vulnerabilities of the organizations that serve them.

Among our key findings on income and employment losses for New Yorkers with disabilities:

  • Five of the organizations interviewed for this report say at least half of their clients with disabilities have lost their jobs or been furloughed and remain unemployed because of the pandemic, with some reporting near-total job losses among New Yorkers with disabilities.
  • 75 percent or more of the Institute for Career Development clients who had full-time employment either lost their jobs or had their hours reduced. At least 400 clients lost their primary source of income.
  • About 70 percent of JCC Manhattan Center for Special Needs clients were laid off, and 20 percent were furloughed.
  • Around 60 to 70 percent of Job Path NYC’s clients were still furloughed more than eight months after lockdown.
  • Over half of the 100 people enrolled in Bronx Independent Living Services’ COVID-19 relief program have either lost their jobs or had their hours reduced.
  • About 1,500 community members of the Center for Independence of the Disabled NY (CIDNY) lost their primary source of income.
  • The Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE), a national organization that supports employment opportunities for people with disabilities, conducted a survey with over 20 New York providers; of those organizations, about 60 percent report that their clients have lost employment (490 clients lost jobs in total).4

Among our key findings on the economic impact of the crisis on organizations serving New Yorkers with disabilities:

  • Job Path NYC reports a 30 to 40 percent decline in expected fundraising revenue due to in large part to a dip in giving caused by the pandemic.
  • VISIONS, an organization providing services to people who are blind or have low vision, lost a state contract worth $500,000 due to the pandemic and estimates another $500,000 in lost or delayed revenue for its in-home and community training programs, which have been canceled or postponed. The organization estimates incurring between $250,000 and $300,000 in unanticipated labor, technology, PPE, cleaning and other costs from March through December.
  • Institute for Career Development estimates that the organization projected a 66 percent decline in contract revenue in 2020 and a 40 percent decline in total revenue. The organization also spent about $50,000 to $75,000 to purchase computers, tablets, hotspots, and Zoom licenses for clients and staff, to enable remote services.
  • New York Foundling, which provides support services to people with developmental disabilities, expects to lose $120,000 in projected fundraising in 2020 and $480,000 from vacancies in their residential program, due to the pandemic. The organization also estimates that it will incur $700,000 in unanticipated costs for PPE and cleaning equipment.

On top of the ongoing economic pain felt by New Yorkers with disabilities and organizations serving them, looming cuts to city and state programs could bring new challenges to the organizations best positioned to provide employment opportunities and aid to New Yorkers with disabilities on the long road to recovery. New York State plans to cut agency contracts by 20 percent, which will directly reduce available funding for supportive services. Cuts to providers of services to disabled New Yorkers have been even steeper: New York State’s Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) has reduced the residential reimbursement rate by 50 percent for clients who live at home or in a hospital, nursing home, or rehabilitation facility, even if the provider’s costs remain the same.

Organizations are also facing challenges due to COVID-caused government slowdowns. A dramatic slowdown in referrals from state programs like ACCES-VR (Adult Career and Continuing Ed Services Vocational Rehabilitation) at the height of the pandemic deprived organizations of much-needed funding linked to job training and placement, according to several organizations interviewed for this report. In fact, over 80 percent of providers surveyed by APSE reported a decrease in vocational rehabilitation funding. The Institute for Career Development saw virtually no referrals at all from April to July for its employment programs, and the current referral rate remains nearly 60 percent lower than in 2019.5

Still, the massive disruption caused by the pandemic could generate new opportunities for New Yorkers with disabilities as remote work and virtual programming becomes more normalized across the economy — but only if policymakers, philanthropy, and the private sector seize the moment to harness them.

“One of the ironies of this moment is that a lot of innovations or opportunities that were long advocated for by people with disabilities are now being recognized,” says Susan Scheer of the Institute for Career Development. “Employment makes a difference in people’s lives unlike any other policy intervention I’ve seen. We have a unique opportunity to work together on rebuilding the economy and making sure that equity and inclusion are part of the process from the start.”

This report details the economic challenges facing New Yorkers with disabilities in this time of crisis, as well as the financial impact on direct service providers. Based on interviews with the leaders of more than a dozen organizations that serve, advocate for, and employ New Yorkers with disabilities across the five boroughs, this report also provides recommendations for city and state policymakers to ensure that New Yorkers with disabilities are included in any effort to cultivate a lasting economic recovery.

New Yorkers with disabilities have experienced major employment losses or reduced hours, and few jobs have returned.

  • 75 percent or more of the Institute for Career Development clients who had full-time employment either lost their jobs or had their hours reduced. At least 400 clients lost their primary source of income.
  • 70 percent of JCC Manhattan’s Center for Special Needs community members were laid off, and around 20 percent were furloughed.
  • About 1,500 clients of the Center for Independence of the Disabled NY (CIDNY), which provides services and education to help people with disabilities direct their own lives, lost their primary source of income.
  • Roughly 30 percent of the 100 people in Goodwill’s supported employment program lost their jobs.
  • 55 percent of clients enrolled in Bronx Independent Living Services’ COVID-19 relief program have either lost their jobs or had their hours reduced.
  • About 25 percent of NY Foundling’s clients with disabilities who were employed experienced a reduction in hours.
    Of the 85 percent of Job Path NYC’s clients who were furloughed in the beginning of the pandemic, about 60 to 70 percent are still furloughed.
  • “For many of the people we hire, this has been their first job,” says Jean-Emmanuel Shein, director of global corporate social responsibility at UNIQLO, which has a corporate policy of hiring people with disabilities in all retail locations. “If they’re let go, it’s not as if they’re just starting again from square one — they’re even further behind. For some, it may end up feeling like the job market isn’t for them, making it even harder to get back up and fight again.”

Direct service providers report losing 20 to 66 percent of expected revenues in 2020 due to canceled fundraising events and a major reduction in government contracts, while incurring millions of dollars in unanticipated costs due to the pandemic.

  • Institute for Career Development predicts contract revenue will decrease by two-thirds, and that total revenue declined by 40 percent since the previous fiscal year. The organization also spent about $50,000 to $75,000 to purchase computers, tablets, hotspots, and Zoom licenses for clients and staff. The organization’s employment program is seeing just 40 percent of their typical referral rate.
  • Job Path NYC reports that fundraising revenue has decreased in 2020 by 30 to 40 percent.
  • VISIONS canceled four events that, in total, usually raise $175,000 to $200,000. It also lost $500,000 on a state contract for residential vocational rehabilitation center programs that were canceled and another $500,000 in lost or delayed revenue for in-home and community training that was canceled from March to June. The provider estimates unanticipated labor, technology, PPE, cleaning and other costs between March and December to amount to $250,000 to $300,000.
  • Community Resources Staten Island, an organization providing comprehensive services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, reports losing about 70 percent, or around $83,250 to $88,250, in expected revenue due to canceled fundraisers. None of the funding proposals the provider sent to private foundations have been successful.
  • NY Foundling expects to lose $120,000 due to canceled fundraising events. The organization estimates a decline in revenue of $480,000 due to vacancies in their residential program. It also projects $700,000 in costs for PPE and cleaning equipment.
    Bronx Independent Living Services, which provides people with disabilities access to education, job training, and other resources, predicts that it will end 2020 with as much as a 20 percent loss in revenue. They have not received about 25 percent of their grants and $170,000 of their advances for the new fiscal year.
  • Barrier Free Living, which provides comprehensive support services for survivors of domestic violence with disabilities, has been owed almost $180,000 in reimbursements from the state for over five months.
  • CIDNY incurred $60,000 to $75,000 in unexpected technology costs in order to set up remote services and programming.

Access to resources such as technology and digital skills training, food, and housing continues to present challenges for New Yorkers with disabilities.

  • Community Resources Staten Island has only been able to reach 60 percent of the clients enrolled in its services since the pandemic hit, often because clients lack technology at home or need one-on-one in-person assistance to use it.
  • About half of the older adults 55 years or older that VISIONS serves do not have computers or Internet at home and have been unable to access remote or virtual services.
  • The Institute for Career Development reports that fully 95 percent of the organization’s clients come from low-income households and lack digital fluency and/or access to broadband and Internet-connected devices at home. Now that the pandemic has forced the organization to move to remote learning, student retention has been a struggle. “When we went online in April, 25 percent of our active students in training dropped out because of their fear or lack of comfort with tech and learning online,” says CEO Susan Scheer.
  • The Institute for Career Development also gave out more than $25,000 in direct cash assistance to about 70 people, and the vast majority used that money for food.
  • More than 100 families served by Bronx Independent Living Services reported challenges accessing enough food. The organization either buys food for them, helps them enroll in the city’s free food programs, or refers them to partner organizations.

The pandemic has forced direct service providers to cancel or scale back programming, limiting the number of New Yorkers with disabilities who can access these vital supports.

  • Community Resources Staten Island has been forced to cancel all of its supported employment programming.
  • The Institute for Career Development suspended or postponed certain services until August, when job training and career assessments that must be delivered in-person resumed at no more than 50 percent capacity.
  • In mid-March, 100 percent of VISIONS programming was canceled, and staff only had check-in calls with clients for urgent needs like food.
  • By mid-April, the organization restarted with 50 remote classes for older adults, but their training programs for all ages remained canceled until July. VISIONS was only able to reach 200 of its 800 residential services clients in person, mostly due to their fears about virus exposure. VISIONS projected serving 400 fewer blind people and their caregivers in 2020.
  • Over 25 percent of NY Foundling’s community members are no longer receiving regular programming due to the disruption caused by COVID.
  • Barrier Free Living’s non-residential clientele dropped to about 80 individuals at the height of the pandemic, down from over 150. By mid-October clientele was still 25 percent below normal. “Many of the people we work with were sheltered with their abuser, which made contact impossible,” says Paul Feuerstein, the organization’s president and CEO.
  • Bronx Independent Living Services lost roughly 40 percent of their clientele due to funding and staff cuts. It expects that the total number of its community members will decrease from 2,000 to 1,200 to 1,300 for 2020.

Seizing the opportunity to include New Yorkers with disabilities in the city’s economic recovery

The mass shift to remote work and virtual training underway right now presents an enormous opportunity to fundamentally expand access to competitive employment for New Yorkers with disabilities and help spur a far more inclusive recovery. Julie Christensen of APSE says the normalization of working from home has the potential to significantly expand work opportunities for people with disabilities.

“This whole map migration to virtual and remote communication has opened up a whole new way of thinking about job opportunities for people with disabilities that have been denied previously,” says Christiansen.

In the short term, direct service providers see the potential to cultivate new employment opportunities for people with disabilities focused on contributing to New York’s recovery efforts, although these jobs carry health risks. For instance, providers including ICD’s Susan Scheer cite the growth in custodial jobs fueled by the pandemic response, and training programs aligned with these jobs already exist. “One bright spot has been opportunities for cleaning work, including on the city’s subways,” says Scheer.

Providers have also seized new employment opportunities in contract tracing, local PPE manufacturing, and online retail fulfillment. “We have had success in placing blind people in jobs that are specific to the pandemic such as contact tracers and warehouse positions for companies like Amazon,” says Nancy Miller, executive director and CEO of VISIONS. “There are some factory jobs that manufacture PPE that have actually expanded job opportunities for blind workers throughout New York State.”

But to reconnect New Yorkers with disabilities to the workforce — and realize the larger opportunity that the shift to remote work and training provides — New York policymakers, philanthropy, and employers will need to take action now. New Yorkers with disabilities are experiencing unprecedented job losses and unending furloughs. Many of the community-based organizations serving New Yorkers with disabilities are facing fiscal crisis, including major disruptions and funding losses for programs that support employment. Too many individuals with disabilities are on the wrong side of the digital divide. Relatively few job training, upskilling, and workforce development programs are accessible to New Yorkers with disabilities. And employers are understandably more focused on salvaging their businesses rather than thinking creatively about how a more inclusive and accessible workplace can help. But by acting now, New York can take advantage of the unique opportunities that this current moment presents and help ensure that New Yorkers with disabilities are no longer among the first to suffer the economic impact of a crisis and the last to benefit from a rebound.

What New York City and State can do now to support an inclusive recovery for people with disabilities

Existing city programs to support employment for people with disabilities have provided valuable assistance both before and amid the COVID-19 crisis. For example, NYC: ATWORK, an employment program run by the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD), has continued to help connect job-seeking New Yorkers with disabilities to employment in the public and private sectors, and has moved its engagement process online. But ensuring an economic recovery that is inclusive to New Yorkers with disabilities will require bold new commitments and investments at both the city and state level.

Set clear goals to hire and retain New Yorkers with disabilities and develop new incentives to encourage rehiring. To ensure that New Yorkers with disabilities are included in the city’s difficult economic recovery, policymakers should establish statewide goals for hiring and retaining New Yorkers with disabilities — including hiring for COVID-response jobs like contract tracers, cleaners, and testing site workers. Policymakers should consider a package of incentives designed to encourage more businesses to rehire New Yorkers with disabilities, including tax credits, temporary wage subsidies, and partial insurance coverage. City and state government can continue to expand opportunities by working with MOPD and the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (NYCDCAS) to hire even more New Yorkers with disabilities through the 55-a program, specifically taking advantage of roles that now accommodate remote work. "I think that the key is really employment," says Brett Eisenberg, executive director of Bronx Independent Living Services. "I think that the government can hopefully lead by example, whether it's the state or the federal level, and hire more people with disabilities that can work remotely and also create programs that encourage that."

Invest in skills-building infrastructure accessible to New Yorkers with disabilities, including job and technology training programs that can unlock remote work opportunities. As opportunities for remote employment grow, New York should ensure that organizations focused on preparing New Yorkers with disabilities for jobs have the resources needed to succeed. Equally important, New York should help high quality job training and skills-building organizations that serve the general population to build accessibility into their programs and services. City and state government should create an emergency loan program to shore up the finances of training providers and invest in scaling up training programs for remote work while expanding access to assistive technology for specific disabilities. The city can build on the success of NYC: ATWORK's AbilITy Cisco Academy at ICD, the first fully-accessible computer networking certification program for New Yorkers with disabilities, which is now on its fourth 16-person cohort. City and state leaders should set a goal of developing another 50 accessible training courses — in partnership with workforce organizations, employers, and philanthropy — in high-growth fields like tech, healthcare, and the creative economy, ensuring that these pathways are open as the economy begins to recover.

Eliminate the benefits cliff disincentivizing employment opportunities. New Yorkers with disabilities are often forced to choose between keeping their public benefits and holding a steady job, which disincentivizes work even in better economic times. Most New Yorkers with disabilities rely on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) of roughly $10,000 a year, along with Medicaid. Though these benefits are far from a living wage, gaining full-time employment would mean losing this crucial safety net — a dangerous trade-off at a time when employment feels highly insecure. New York should eliminate asset limits for programs it controls, advocate for the federal government to do the same, and make it easier for workers with disabilities to access flexible programs like the Medicaid Buy-in Plan. “You should not have to choose between your health and employment,” says Scheer of ICD. “Allowing people the maximum flexibility to work and still maintain health insurance coverage is critical.”

Notes

1. Office of the New York State Comptroller. Employment Trends for People with Disabilities in New York City, October 2019. Retrieved from https://www.osc.state.ny.us/files/reports/osdc/pdf/report-7-2020.pdf
2. Ibid.
3. New York Disability Advocates, New York. NYDA Financial Survey through 5/31/20.
4. Association of People Supporting Employment First. Impact of COVID-19 on Disability Employment Services and Outcomes. Retrieved from
https://apse.org/covid-19-impact-survey/
5. Ibid.

Funding for this report was generously provided by Citi and Kessler Foundation. General operating support for the Center for an Urban Future has been provided by The Clark Foundation and the Bernard F. and Alva B. Gimbel Foundation.


Tags: economic opportunity human services disabilities job training

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

CONTENT

Article 01

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
By the United Nations


Imagine the world in 2030, fully inclusive of persons with disabilities


In September 2015, the General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Building on the principle of “leaving no one behind”, the new Agenda emphasizes a holistic approach to achieving sustainable development for all.

Visual identity of the SDGs that shows each individual goal in colour boxes

The SDGs also explicitly include disability and persons with disabilities 11 times. Disability is referenced in multiple parts of the SDGs, specifically in the parts related to education, growth and employment, inequality, accessibility of human settlements, as well as data collection and the monitoring of the SDGs.

Although, the word “disability” is not cited directly in all goals, the goals are indeed relevant to ensure the inclusion and development of persons with disabilities.

Inforgraphic that shows where disability is explicitly included in the 17 SDGs

The newly implemented 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development holds a deep promise for persons with disabilities everywhere.

The year 2016 marks the first year of the implementation of the SDGs. At this critical point, #Envision2030 will work to promote the mainstreaming of disability and the implementation of the SDGs throughout its 15-year lifespan with objectives to:

Raise awareness of the 2030 Agenda and the achievement of the SDGs for persons with disabilities;
Promote an active dialogue among stakeholders on the SDGs with a view to create a better world for persons with disabilities; and
Establish an ongoing live web resource on each SDG and disability.

The campaign invites all interested parties in sharing their vision of the world in 2030 to be inclusive of persons with disabilities.



The
17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) to transform our world:

GOAL 1: No Poverty

GOAL 2: Zero Hunger

GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-being

GOAL 4: Quality Education

GOAL 5: Gender Equality

GOAL 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

GOAL 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

GOAL 10: Reduced Inequality

GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

GOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

GOAL 13: Climate Action

GOAL 14: Life Below Water

GOAL 15: Life on Land

GOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions

GOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal



CONTENT

The Future Now Show


SDGs and the UNGSII on reporting what matters
with Roland Schatz and Patrick Crehan


Roland Schatz recounts how early insights into shortcomings of financial reporting practices, motivated his work at the UN and the UNGSII foundation, being first Senior Advisor to Michael Moller, Director General of the UN in Geneva and now to the CEO of World Banks Climate Investment Fund. He refers to the impact of the SDGs on advanced economies, the role of SMEs and new supply chain laws, greenwashing, procurement and issues the accountancy profession must one day address.










Credits

Roland Schatz
President at Geneva Agape Foundation
www.gafoundation.world/en/front-page
Chief Executive Officer, Founder, UNGSII FOUNDATION
www.ungsii.org


Patrick Crehan
CEO and Founder, CKA, Brussels
former director Club of Amsterdam
www.cka.be

The Future Now Show
https://clubofamsterdam.com/the-future-now-show

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/envision2030.html

SDG Commitment Report 2021
Preliminary Results



You can find The Future Now Show also at

LinkedIn: The Future Now Show Group
YouTube: The Future Now Show Channel

Producer of The Future Now Show: Felix B Bopp

CONTENT

Article 02


Scientists find “strong evidence” for new mystery sub-atomic force of nature
By BBC News



CONTENT

News about the Future


> Connectivity for the Skies & Beyond
> Action Plan for the development of organic production

Connectivity for the Skies & Beyond

Mynaric
is a manufacturer of laser communication equipment for airborne and spaceborne communication networks.

Satellite constellations are networks of several hundred to several thousand interlinked satellites that span the globe and which can deliver a secure broadband internet connection to any location on Earth.

Our communication system works by utilizing an accurately steered infrared laser beam to transmit data unguided through air and allows for greatly superior performance parameters than competing X-, Ka-, E- or even D-band communication systems.

Half the world has no access to the internet and existing connections are increasingly slow and insecure. The need for more connectivity grows daily with more devices demanding more data but it is too expensive and too impractical to extend current infrastructure or build new networks on the ground. So Mynaric looks to the skies for a solution. Sending high-speed internet down from satellites and airborne networks to the most remote and inaccessible parts of the planet.



Action Plan for the development of organic production

The EU the Commission presented an Action Plan for the development of organic production. Its overall aim is to boost the production and consumption of organic products, to reach 25% of agricultural land under organic farming by 2030, as well as to increase organic aquaculture significantly.

Organic production comes with a number of important benefits: organic fields have around 30% more biodiversity, organically farmed animals enjoy a higher degree of animal welfare and take less antibiotics, organic farmers have higher incomes and are more resilient, and consumers know exactly what they are getting thanks to the EU organic logo. The Action Plan is in line with the
European Green Deal and the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies.

KEY FIGURES: The area under organic farming has increased by almost 66% in the last 10 years - from 8.3 million hectares in 2009 to 13.8 million hectares in 2019. It currently accounts for 8.5% of the EU’s total ‘utilised agricultural area’. This increase in area has been matched by a substantial increase in retail sales. These have doubled in value in the last 10 years, from approximately EUR 18 billion in 2010 to more than EUR 41 billion in 2019.



CONTENT

Article 03


Project to Digitise the Archives of the Montreux Jazz Festival
By Claude Nobs Foundation & EPFL






Montreux Jazz Artists Galaxy - Artistic data visualization for the network of Montreux Jazz Festival musicians. By Kirell Benzi in collaboration with LTS2 Lab



Montreux Jazz Digital Project

In partnership with the Claude Nobs Foundation and with the support of numerous sponsors, EPFL is in charge of the project to digitize and enrich the collection of Montreux Jazz Festival recordings, as well as its long-term preservation.

Recorded from the beginning in the highest quality professional formats, both in video and multitrack audio, the collection built up by the festival and its visionary creator Claude Nobs has brought together 5,000 concerts since 1967, representative of the greatest artists and musical trends of the last 50 years. It was inscribed in UNESCO’s Memory of the world Register in 2013.

The EPFL Cultural Heritage & Innovation Center has been in charge of the Montreux Jazz Digital Project since 2010. Made up of a trans-disciplinary team integrating competences in several fields such as audio/video engineering, software development, databases, archiving, documentation, musicology and sociology, the centre directs the operational aspects of the project (inventory, digitization, quality control, indexing, storage, preservation, valorization) and defines the innovation projects carried out within the various laboratories, start-ups and partner institutions, both academic and private.

For EPFL, this audiovisual heritage represents an innovation platform, a unique database made available to the numerous researchers and laboratories working in fields such as acoustics, audio/video signal processing, artificial intelligence, neuroscience, musicology, sociology or artistic fields, as well as museology, design and architecture when it comes to creating spaces that allow the public to immerse themselves in new experiences of immersive concert reproduction.

A Montreux Jazz Café was created in 2016 on the EPFL campus. Integrated into the ArtLab building, it allows for a public showcase of the archive and new technologies developed by the EPFL and the numerous partners or associated startups.




Project to Digitise the Archives of the Montreux Jazz Festival
Supported by
the MW Shakhnovskiy Foundation






CONTENT

Recommended Book


Climate Justice: Hope, Resilience, and the Fight for a Sustainable Future
By Mary Robinson




An urgent call to arms by one of the most important voices in the international fight against climate change, sharing inspiring stories and offering vital lessons for the path forward.

Holding her first grandchild in her arms in 2003, Mary Robinson was struck by the uncertainty of the world he had been born into. Before his fiftieth birthday, he would share the planet with more than nine billion people -- people battling for food, water, and shelter in an increasingly volatile climate. The faceless, shadowy menace of climate change had become, in an instant, deeply personal.

Mary Robinson's mission would lead her all over the world, from Malawi to Mongolia, and to a heartening revelation: that an irrepressible driving force in the battle for climate justice could be found at the grassroots level, mainly among women, many of them mothers and grandmothers like herself. From Sharon Hanshaw, the Mississippi matriarch whose campaign began in her East Biloxi hair salon and culminated in her speaking at the United Nations, to Constance Okollet, a small farmer who transformed the fortunes of her ailing community in rural Uganda, Robinson met with ordinary people whose resilience and ingenuity had already unlocked extraordinary change.

Powerful and deeply humane, Climate Justice is a stirring manifesto on one of the most pressing humanitarian issues of our time, and a lucid, affirmative, and well-argued case for hope.

“As advocate for the forgotten and the ignored, Mary Robinson has not only shone a light on human suffering, but illuminated a better future for our world.” - Barack Obama




Mary Therese Winifred Robinson (née Bourke; Irish: Máire Bean Mhic Róibín) served as the seventh, and first female, President of Ireland from 1990 to 1997, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, from 1997 to 2002.




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Article 04


How scientists are restoring boreal peatlands to help keep carbon in the ground
By Bin Xu, NSERC Industrial Research Chair Colleges, Peatland Restoration, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology



 

The United Nation Environment Program is leading the Global Peatlands Initiative to save peatlands and help keep climate change in check. (Bin Xu), Author provided

Peatlands are one of the most valuable terrestrial ecosystems in our fight against climate change. These deep layers of partially decayed plants and other organic material are tens of thousands of years old.

Globally, peatland covers more than three million square kilometres, and contains more than 550 gigatonnes of carbon — more than any other type of terrestrial ecosystems, including forests. In fact, one square metre of northern peatlands contains five times the amount of carbon as one square metre of Amazon’s tropical forest.

Unfortunately, peatlands have been heavily exploited and damaged. They’ve been drained, converted into agricultural fields and burned or mined for access to natural resources.

But the United Nations Environment Program is leading the Global Peatlands Initiative to spearhead a co-ordinated effort to save peatlands, helping keep the global average temperature increase under 2C above pre-industrial levels. Through trial and error, peatland scientists like myself are finding the best ways to return peatlands to a functional state after they’ve been disturbed by oil and gas activity.

What are peatlands?

mosses, bushes and trees in a peatland
Field view of a boreal peatland of northern Alberta. Sphagnum mosses form the ground base and drive ecosystem functions. (Bin Xiu), Author provided

Peatlands are wetlands characterized by the thick accumulation of peat (more than 40 centimetres by the Canadian definition) due to an imbalance between the growth of plants and decomposition by micro-organisms in waterlogged conditions.

The removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and its storage in peat has had a cooling effect on global climate over the past 10,000 years. If all this stored carbon were released, it would more than double the current atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration (to more than 800 parts per million), a scenarios of disastrous consequences for human civilization and natural ecosystems.

Unfortunately, peatlands have been heavily exploited and damaged. Around 15 per cent of global peatland has been drained by trenching, contributing to 5.6 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions (1.3 gigatonnes) already. Natural disturbances such as wildfires also pose serious threats to the the health of peatlands and the stability of stored carbon.

Canada is endowed with the world’s second-largest area of peatlands, the majority of which are found in the boreal and sub-Arctic regions. Yet human activities, such as forestry, agriculture and resource extraction, and natural disturbances, including increasing temperature and fire frequency, are threatening their health and stability.

For example, winter roads and seismic lines created for resource exploration are extensive across the boreal forest, leading to permafrost disappearance, woodland caribou habitat fragmentation and population decline, and a seven per cent increase in Canada’s annual methane emission from land use change.

open linear features are methane hotspots
Aerial view of multiple seismic lines and winter roads through a bog in Alberta. (Bin Xu), Author provided

Bryophytes: A keystone species of boreal peatlands

In Canada, the boreal peatlands are dominated by bryophytes, a group of small, ancient land plants, whose importance to peatlands is often overlooked. Some of the most important bryophytes, commonly known as “peat moss” or “black dirt,” belong to Sphagnum, the keystone genus of boreal peatlands.

Bryophytes form the ground surfaces of peatlands, produce plant tissues that are difficult to decompose and release chemicals that slow down microbial activities that produce important greenhouse gases including methane and carbon dioxide. Over time, the undecomposed plant material of bryophytes form the bulk of peat.

deep pink coloured Sphagnum moss
Close-up of Sphagnum magellanicum, a common peat-forming moss of boreal peatlands. (Bin Xu), Author provided

Peatland restoration: Learning from nature

The restoration of boreal peatland is a relatively new field of practice with the early trials developed for horticultural peatlands in Québec and Ontario in the late 1990s. In Alberta, the restoration of peatland disturbed by oil and gas activities has relied on trial-and-error approaches with variable and limited success.

One of the key issues is the lack of understanding of bryophytes and the misplaced focus on trees. There has been a tendency to introduce trees through planting as a restoration practice and to use the establishment of a tree canopy as a measure of success. But these practices are best suited for upland forested ecosystems.

The approach ignores the fact that boreal peatlands are shaped by the ground-layer bryophytes. Without the keystone bryophytes, important peatland functions will not return.

Aerial view of wetlands surrounding a small lake
A mosaic of bogs and fens around a small lake in northern Alberta. (Bin Xu), Author provided

By studying fossil records of peatland plant fragments, pollens and spores, scientists have been able to reconstruct the development and succession of boreal peatlands over time. Many of Alberta’s peatlands formed through a process called “paludification,” the direct establishment and formation of peat in areas formerly occupied by forest vegetation on mineral soil. The majority of Alberta’s boreal peatlands started to form through paludification around 8,000 years ago.

As the climate became cool and soil moisture increased, Sphagnum mosses slowly expanded into forest areas. Eventually, the growth and expansion of mosses led to the different types of peatlands we now see.

In North America, blocking drainage ditches and introducing live moss fragments with spores, seeds and roots, have restored Sphagnum moss-dominated horticultural peat fields in eastern Canada. This method is known as the moss layer transfer technique (MLTT).

In Alberta, limited field trials have shown that reclaimed industrial sites (for example, a former in-situ oil and gas well pad) can support the development of peatland mosses once appropriate soil conditions are established.

Field of bright green vegetation
Field view of a restored oil and gas well pad in peatland near Peace River, Alta. (Bin Xu), Author provided

Donor moss material can be collected from nearby winter roads and seismic lines. In all cases, the introduction of donor moss fragments was essential to the success of restoring peatland vegetation.

Successful growth of keystone mosses can ensure the return of critical peatland functions over time. Other plants will develop concurrently from seeds and roots in the donor material. Trees will establish naturally or through planting.

When it comes to peatland restoration, we should switch our focus from trees and canopy closure to promoting the development of a carpet of ground-layer bryophytes. We need to learn to use these small but important plants to our advantage in our fight against climate change. The Conversation

 

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.





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Climate Change Success Story


Nemonte Nenquimo
Waorani nation, Ecuador


Nemonte Nenquimo is an Indigenous activist and member of the Waorani nation from the Amazonian Region of Ecuador. She is the first female president of the Waorani of Pastaza (CONCONAWEP) and co-founder of the Indigenous-led nonprofit organization Ceibo Alliance. In 2020, she was named in the Time 100 list of the 100 most influential people in the world, the only Indigenous woman on the list and the second Ecuadorian to ever be named in its history. In recognition of her work, in 2020 the United Nations Environment Programme gave her the "Champions of the Earth" award in the category Inspiration and Action.

Nenquimo was the plaintiff in a lawsuit against the Ecuadorian government, which culminated in a 2019 ruling that protects half a million acres of Waorani ancestral land in the Amazon rainforest from oil drilling.

In 2020, she was featured on the Time 100 list, the only Indigenous woman that year and among the first Amazonians ever to be named.[3] She was also on the list of the BBC's 100 Women announced on 23 November 2020.[9] In 2020, Nenquimo was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize. - Wikipedia

Nemonte Nenquimo didn’t ask to be a celebrity, not to become friends with Oscar-winner Leonardo DiCaprio, nor to be named by Time magazine as one of the most influential people in the world.

What the indigenous rights activist wanted was for her four-year-old daughter to live in peace, surrounded by the richness of the Amazon rainforest, in her ancestral lands deep in the middle of Ecuador.

“I grew up surrounded by the songs of the wise women of my community who said the green forest that we see today is there because our ancestors protected it,” said Nenquimo, a member of the Waorani indigenous community, who says she is of “warrior blood."


Nemonte Nenquimo I TIME100 2020




Nemonte Nenquimo 2020 Champion of the Earth - Inspiration and Action

 

'The earth expects you to respect her': Meet Indigenous leader Nemonte Nenquimo





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Futurist Portrait


George Gilder




George Franklin Gilder is an American investor, futurist, author, economist, techno-utopian advocate, and co-founder of the Discovery Institute. His 1981 international bestseller, Wealth and Poverty, advanced a case for supply-side economics and capitalism during the early months of the Reagan administration.

George Gilder is Chairman of Gilder Publishing LLC, located in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. A co-founder of Discovery Institute, Mr. Gilder is a Senior Fellow of the Center on Wealth, Poverty, and Morality, and also directs Discovery's Technology and Democracy Project.

Born in 1939 in New York City, Mr. Gilder attended Exeter Academy and Harvard University. At Harvard, he studied under Henry Kissinger and helped found Advance, a journal of political thought, which he edited and helped to re-establish in Washington, DC, after his graduation in 1962. During this period he co-authored (with Bruce Chapman) The Party That Lost Its Head. He later returned to Harvard as a fellow at the Kennedy Institute of Politics and editor of the Ripon Forum. In the 1960s Mr. Gilder also served as a speechwriter for several prominent official and candidates, including Nelson Rockefeller, George Romney, and Richard Nixon. In the 1970s, as an independent researcher and writer, Mr. Gilder began an excursion into the causes of poverty and wealth, which resulted in his books Men and Marriage (1972) and Visible Man (1978) — which led to his best-selling Wealth and Poverty (1981).

Mr. Gilder pioneered the formulation of supply-side economics when he served as Chairman of the Lehrman Institute's Economic Roundtable, as Program Director for the Manhattan Institute, and as a frequent contributor to Arthur Laffer's economic reports and the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal. In the 1980s he also consulted leaders of America's high technology businesses. According to a study of presidential speeches, Mr. Gilder was President Reagan's most frequently quoted living author. In 1986, President Reagan gave George Gilder the White House Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence.

In 1986 Gilder was made a Fellow of the International Engineering Consortium. His deeper examination of the lives of present-day entrepreneurs culminated in many articles and a book, The Spirit of Enterprise (1986), which was revised and republished in 1992. That many of the most interesting current entrepreneurs were to be found in high technology fields also led Mr. Gilder, over several years, to study this subject in depth. In his best-selling work, Microcosm (1989), he explored the quantum roots of the new electronic technologies. A subsequent book, Life After Television, was a prophecy of the future of computers and telecommunications and a prelude to his book on the future of telecommunications, Telecosm (2000). The Silicon Eye (2005) travels the rocky road of the entrepreneur on the promising path of disruption, and celebrates some of smartest and most colorful technology minds of our time. His groundbreaking book, The Israel Test (2009), relates his work on capitalism to the safety and prosperity of Israel, what Gilder calls “the central issue in international politics” in our time. What critics have hailed as a “unique contribution” to the debate, Gilder argues that hostility toward Israel arises primarily from hostility toward capitalist creativity. How we react to that creativity — by resenting it or admiring and emulating it — will impact the future of Israel, the United States, and the world.

Knowledge and Power (2013), presents a new theory of economics, based on the breakthroughs from information theory that enabled the computer revolution and the rise of the Internet. In a review, Steve Forbes stated that the book “will profoundly and positively reshape economics…[and] will rank as one of the most influential works of our era.” The book won the Leonard E. Read prize at FreedomFest in Las Vegas in 2013.

His latest book, Life After Google: The Fall of Big Data and the Rise of the Blockchain Economy (2018), Gilder waves goodbye to today's Internet. In a rocketing journey into the very near-future, he argues that Silicon Valley, long dominated by a few giants, faces a “great unbundling,” which will disperse computer power and commerce and transform the economy and the Internet.

Mr. Gilder is a contributing editor of Forbes magazine and a frequent writer for The Economist, The American Spectator, the Harvard Business Review, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications. He lives in Tyringham, Massachusetts, in the Berkshire Mountains, where he is an active churchman, sometime runner, and with his wife Nini, parent of four children.




GEORGE GILDER - LIFE AFTER GOOGLE:
How The Singularity & Cryptocurrency Will Redefine Humanity






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