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Canada: Vancouver community garden hosts free beekeeping workshops
23 July 2014 - Vancouver's first free public beekeeping mentorship programme opened in mid-July. It was hosted by Hives for Humanity. Dozens of people turned up to enjoy breakfast with thousands of honeybees. The bees are residents of the Main Street-based pollinator sanctuary in two hives, surrounded by more than 130 boxes of flowering herbs and vegetables. (more)

Denmark's near-zero-waste wonder
23 July 2014 - When we look closely at systems in nature -- coral reefs or rainforests, for instance -- we see something we don't often see in human systems: mutually beneficial relationships and energy flows among the various elements, such as air, water, rocks, soil, and plant and animal life. If we emulate these relationships in our cities and in our industrial infrastructure, we can vastly improve the sustainability of natural resources and energy use. That's exactly what the municipality of Kalundborg, 64 miles west of Copenhagen, is doing. In fact, for over 50 years, Kalundborg has been home to the first -- and still the most advanced -- example of this concept: the Kalundborg Symbiosis. (more)

US: PSE&G initiative lets employees at New Jersey firms charge electric cars at work
23 July 2014 - In a programme aimed at encouraging employers in New Jersey to provide employees with a way to charge electric cars while at work, Public Service Electric and Gas is offering approximately 150 free plug-in stations to businesses in its franchise territory. The so-called smart-charging equipment will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis to businesses that secure a commitment from a minimum of five employees that they will use an electric car for their commute. (more)

'Indigenous peoples' must feature in new global development agenda, stress UN experts
23 July 2014 - The new global sustainable development agenda that Members States are currently working on must include specific references to indigenous peoples and the challenges they face, a group of United Nations experts stated on 21 July. Indigenous peoples can contribute significantly to achieving the objectives of sustainable development because of their traditional knowledge systems on natural resource management which have sustained some of the world's more intact, diverse ecosystems up to the present -- the experts stated in a news release. (more)

Britain sticks with tough carbon target despite opposition
23 July 2014 - Britain's government said it would stick with a goal to curb emissions by 2027 to 50 per cent of 1990 levels, a target that has led to political opposition and that its own advisers have said will be hard to meet. 'By sticking to its guns on carbon targets, the coalition government will help bring some much-needed investor confidence, and more importantly capital, into funding the transition to a low carbon economy,' said Jon Williams, partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers. (more)

Cambodia opposition drops boycott after Prime Minister makes rare deal
23 July 2014 - Cambodia's opposition on Tuesday agreed to drop a parliamentary boycott following talks with Prime Minister Hun Sen, ending a year-long deadlock and easing political tension stemming from a disputed 2013 election. The decision came during a four-hour meeting between Hun Sen and Sam Rainsy, leader of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), after the Prime Minister guaranteed his longtime adversary a greater political stake in two crucial institutions. 'From now on, there's a balance of power between the ruling party and the other party that has seats in parliament,' CNRP lawmaker-elect Yim Sovann, told a news conference. (more)

Canadians most optimistic about housing since 2008
23 July 2014 - Canadians are the most optimistic about the country's real estate market in more than six years as prices reignite. The behaviour of buyers today would be 'completely ridiculous, unless there's an implicit assumption that there's going to be capital gains involved, and that's a mentality that you see in these long upswings in prices,' Ben Rabidoux, president of North Cove Advisors Inc, a research firm that specializes in housing, said in a phone interview. (more)

UN rights expert praises Cambodia's political agreement, urges promised reforms
23 July 2014 - The United Nations expert on the situation of human rights in Cambodia have welcomed the agreement reached between the two main political parties in the country, which was followed by the release of the opposition party members arrested last week. 'The two parties have finally found common ground, in the best interests of the Cambodian people. They deserve our congratulations, and the Cambodian people to enjoy a moment of celebration,' said Special Rapporteur Surya P Subedi. (more)

Finland is the world's least fragile country
23 July 2014 - Finland has placed last in The Fragile States Index, which rates nations based on their brittleness through factors of risk. The indicators used by the list compiled by the Fund for Peace include demographic pressures, human flight, economic decline, and public services, among others. Finland's last place in the list means it has the lowest total points, making it the least fragile country in the world. Finland also is the only country in the 'Very Sustainable' category of the ranking. (more)

France backs 30 per cent energy efficiency goal: letter
23 July 2014 - France's energy minister threw her weight behind an energy savings goal of at least 30 per cent for 2030 ahead of talks in Brussels on Wednesday to thrash out a target. Energy efficiency has gained popularity in the context of the Ukraine crisis as EU member states seek to do all they can to reduce the need for imported Russian energy. The letter, dated 17 July, is addressed to European Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard and European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger, who will discuss an EU energy efficiency goal with all the other commissioners on Wednesday. (more)

New South Wales to be 'Australia's answer to California'
23 July 2014 - New South Wales aims to be 'Australia's answer to California', accelerating the use of renewable energy and finding new ways to curb waste. 'We are making NSW number one in energy and environmental policy,' Environment Minister Rob Stokes told the Clean Energy Week gathering in Sydney. (more)

US: Towns can ban fracking, New York's top court rules
23 July 2014 - Local governments in New York can use their zoning ordinances to ban drilling for oil and gas, including fracking, the state's highest court has ruled. By a 5-2 vote, the New York Court of Appeals rejected energy industry arguments that only the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has legislative authority to regulate fracking. (more)

Survey: 80% of Japan's municipalities eager to promote renewable energy
23 July 2014 - About 80 per cent of municipal governments across Japan are keen to promote renewable energies in the hope that the new energy sources, technology, and sales revenue will help revitalize regional development, a survey shows. The Asahi Shimbun and Hitotsubashi University carried out a joint survey to mark the second anniversary of the government feed-in-tariff system introduced in July 2012 to kick-start the market for renewable energy. Of 1,279 municipal governments that responded, 74 per cent said they currently operate power facilities using renewable energies. (more)

US: Fair Trade brings big sales and a clear conscience
23 July 2014 - Demand for Fair Trade products is rising as people become more aware of how their food and other products are made. That makes the Fair Trade market a growing opportunity for small business owners. While companies sell Fair Trade food, clothing, and bedding products because they believe in being socially responsible, the goods can also be part of a marketing strategy, says Russell Winer, a marketing professor at New York University's Stern School of Business. Sixty per cent of shoppers are willing to pay the higher prices that Fair Trade items tend to have, according to a 2013 study he co-wrote. No organization tracks the amount of Fair Trade products sold in the US, but Fair Trade USA, which says it certifies 90 percent of the products in the country, estimates the domestic market at $2 billion. (more)

Thailand: Every sector of Thai society provided with opportunities to achieve reconciliation and reform
23 July 2014 - The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has provided opportunities for citizens in every sector of Thai society to express their opinions, as a starting point for national reconciliation and reform. Head of NCPO General Prayut Chan-o-cha said this moment is a critical time for all Thais, a time for them to be united and help reform the country in a progressive and sustainable way. (more)

UN working group proposes ambitious future development agenda
23 July 2014 - Member States have forwarded to the United Nations General Assembly a set of proposed goals that consider economic, social, and environmental dimensions to improve people's lives and protect the planet for future generations. Concluding its thirteenth and final session in New York on 19 July, the Assembly's Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals proposed 17 goals with 169 targets, covering a broad range of sustainable development issues, including ending poverty and hunger, improving health and education, making cities more sustainable, combating climate change, and protecting oceans and forests. (more)

US economy, though sluggish, may now be sturdier
23 July 2014 - Out of a seemingly hollow recovery from the Great Recession, a more durable if still slow-growing US economy has emerged. That conclusion, one held by a growing number of economists, might surprise many people. As the economy has slowly healed, analysts say it has replaced some critical weaknesses with newfound strengths. Among the trends: (more)

US: Despite obstacles, solar gains ground in Texas
23 July 2014 - In Texas, solar is making inroads, albeit slowly. Several Texas counties have granted solar companies tax breaks and good deals on the open spaces needed for industrial scale solar panel farms. Recurrent Energy of San Francisco is building a 150-megawatt solar farm in West Texas. It has signed a 20-year deal to sell the power to Austin Energy. And First Solar of Arizona, one of the world's largest solar companies, has started construction on a 22-megawatt farm near Fort Stockton. (more)

US: Northwest wildlife refuges to phase out pesticide
22 July 2014 - US federal wildlife refuges in the Northwest and Hawaii will phase out a class of pesticides that are chemically similar to nicotine because they pose a threat to bees and other pollinators key to crop growth. The region covering Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Hawaii is the first in the agency to ban neonicotinoids. There is scientific evidence that neonicotinoids kill bees and other pollinators, said Kim Trust, the agency's deputy regional director of refuges. (more)

Restaurant run by Indian convicts wins praise for politeness, hygiene
22 July 2014 - 'Tihar Food Court' in west Delhi, a rehabilitation effort kicked off by the Tihar prison, opened in the first week of July on an 'experimental basis' while awaiting formal clearances. The 50-seat restaurant has been praised for the polite behaviour of its employees, who were trained by a prestigious nearby hotel management school. Revenue from the non-profit vegetarian restaurant is earmarked for prisoner welfare and vocational training. One prisoner working there is a former electrician who plans to switch careers upon release. 'My aim is to set up a branch of the Tihar restaurant,' he said. (more)

Britain's blue-chip share index rises as tech group ARM beats profit forecast
22 July 2014 - Britain's top share index, the FTSE, rallied on Tuesday, lifted by technology group ARM, which posted higher profits that beat analysts' expectations. Global equity markets were also boosted after pro-Russian rebels complied with calls from Western governments and handed over the black boxes of a Malaysian Airlines plane shot down over eastern Ukraine last week. (more)

Cambodian political rivals say agreement reached
22 July 2014 - Cambodia's yearlong political deadlock appeared to be resolved Tuesday as Prime Minister Hun Sen and his rivals agreed on political reforms and the opposition agreed in turn to end its boycott of Parliament. A joint statement said the parties agreed to work together to solve important issues and to reform some institutions. (more)

Global stocks rebound as Ukraine rebels offer black boxes
22 July 2014 - Global equity markets and the dollar rode a rebound in risk appetite on Tuesday, lifting the S&P 500 to a record intraday high, helped by signs of cooperation from Ukraine's pro-Russian separatists over the downing of the Malaysian Airlines jetliner. All major European bourses closed up 1 per cent or higher. (more)

More than half of consumers globally upbeat on job prospects - Nielsen
22 July 2014 - More than half of consumers globally expect job prospects to be good to excellent in the year ahead, a survey showed on Tuesday. That helped push global consumer confidence up in the second quarter to its highest since the first quarter of 2007, according to the survey by global information and insights company Nielsen. India overtook Indonesia as the most optimistic consumer market. By region, consumers in the Asia Pacific were most confident about job prospects. (more)

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