Best of our wild blogs: 6 Feb 12

Latest Green Jobs in Singapore [30 Jan - 5 Feb 2012]
from Green Business Times

Coming up ... first Chek Jawa Boardwalk outing in 2012
from Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs

White-bellied Sea Eagle: Early nesting behaviour
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Green Crested Lizard
from Monday Morgue

Bukit Batok Town Park
from Crystal and Bryan in Singapore

Our Southern Islands featured in Singapore magazine!
from wild shores of singapore

Celebrate Earth Hour @ Orchard
from Green Drinks Singapore

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Heritage society 'disappointed' with Govt's Bukit Brown decision

Grace Chua Straits Times 6 Feb 12;

THE Singapore Heritage Society wants Bukit Brown Cemetery to be fully documented, and its heritage and environmental value taken into account, before any road or housing decisions are made, it said in a position paper.

It added it was 'deeply disappointed' with the Government's decision to continue with a road through part of the historical burial ground, adding it regretted there was no public consultation before zoning and road-building decisions were made.

The position paper, released on Saturday night, comes after a Facebook post on Friday by Minister of State for National Development Tan Chuan-Jin, who described the ongoing work to document some 5,000 of the graves there.

In his post, Mr Tan - who is the Government's de facto point man on Bukit Brown public engagement - said a controversial road through the cemetery would be adjusted to reduce the impact on the graves, based on the documentation exercise.

But the society felt that documentation of all graves should have come before the route setting, rather than the other way around.

The dual four-lane carriageway was announced last year and is meant to ease congestion on Lornie Road. However, it will affect 5 per cent of the area's 100,000 grave sites.

The society said: 'The argument that a road which is not the shortest possible route through the cemetery is sub-optimal is a calculation based upon traffic needs only.

'Unlike standard road-building projects, this one comes at the opportunity cost of a unique historical and valuable natural space in Singapore.'

It added that the society 'regrets there was no consultation prior to the decision, and urges the Government to consider alternatives that would not destroy the heritage value in the cemetery'.

The 223ha cemetery, which is slated for residential use under the Urban Redevelopment Authority's Concept Plan 2001, is the resting place of notable immigrants like businessmen Cheang Hong Lim and Chew Joo Chiat. The society's paper argues that it is not only the graves, but also cultural practices like rituals and offerings, which will be lost should the graves be exhumed for development.

It recommended the cemetery be gazetted as a heritage site and turned into a heritage park, suggestions it had made in its book Spaces Of The Dead: A Case From The Living, which argues for cemeteries to be conserved as open-air museums or parks.

The society also suggested the Government look at best practices of historical cemeteries and heritage parks such as Mount Auburn Cemetery in Massachusetts and Saints Innocents Cemetery in Paris.

'If it is not possible to gazette Bukit Brown in its entirety, large swathes of the cemetery can be designated for legal protection,' the paper said, adding that the decision on which parts to be gazetted can be made based on information gleaned from the full documentation of Bukit Brown's graves.

Cost-benefit analyses, the society added, should be a key part of any heritage-related decision, and take into account a site's physical space, its biodiversity, value as a tourist attraction, and the sense of identity or belonging it promotes among citizens.

Likewise, environmental impact assessments should be done, it said. The lushly forested cemetery slows down stormwater run-off into the Kallang River, wrote Assistant Professor Lim Han She of the National University of Singapore's geography department, in an annex to the position paper.

The hydrologist added that clearing the vegetation would increase surface run-off, straining drainage systems around the Thomson Road area.

Other environment and heritage civic groups have previously taken a similar stance.

The Nature Society (Singapore) last year put out a position paper asking planners to consider the site's uncommon birds and plants, and its value as a carbon dioxide sink and rainfall 'sponge'.

Members of the public have also spoken up. In a December letter published in The Straits Times, Madam Marian Tay wrote that 'already-concretised plots like Turf City are left untouched for years, golf courses are not acquired, and much of western Singapore is still available for development'.

Mr Tan, who is also Minister of State for Manpower, had noted on Friday that Bukit Brown could hold 15,000 homes for around 50,000 residents, and be an extension of Toa Payoh township.

Asked about Bukit Brown's potential for housing, Heritage Society executive committee member Terence Chong, who wrote the paper, said that the society 'understands the nation has housing needs. However, housing at Bukit Brown Cemetery remains a conceptual possibility which must be reassessed with changing times'.

Heritage Society takes issue with handling of plans for Bukit Brown
Esther Ng Today Online 6 Feb 12;

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Heritage Society (SHS) has spoken against what it felt was a lack of "genuine" consultation on the Government's decision to build a road through the Bukit Brown Cemetery.

In a 26-page position paper released over the weekend, the SHS said: "Unfortunately, such consultation processes have, in reality, been used by the Government for two purposes - to inform civil society and relevant stakeholders of the rationale behind government decisions and/or to gather feedback in order to fine-tune such decisions before they are announced to the public."

The SHS claimed that the decision - which it is "deeply disappointed" with - to build the road was relayed privately to a senior member of SHS by the authorities only two weeks before it was publicly announced on Sept 12. A series of meetings was then held between the SHS, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and the Urban Redevelopment Authority, where the "primary purpose ... was for the authorities to explain the need for the road".

Urging the Government to reconsider its decision, SHS said it understands the need to provide public housing and relieve traffic congestion. But it does not believe that "enough effort has been invested" in the search for alternative solutions.

The SHS adds that it "strongly recommends" gazetting Bukit Brown as a heritage site, the full documentation of the graves and the conversion of Bukit Brown "into a heritage park for Singaporeans to enjoy".

Starting in April, about 5 per cent of the cemetery's 100,000 or so graves will be exhumed.

On Friday, Minister of State (National Development) Tan Chuan-Jin said on his Facebook page that the road will proceed as planned. But the LTA will "use the findings from the documentation exercise to fine-tune the road alignment so as to reduce the impact on the graves". Esther Ng

The SHS position paper can be viewed at

The Singapore Heritage Society’s Position Paper on Bukit Brown is now available at the society’s

Direct download link to the Position Paper on Bukit Brown:

Residents split over new Bukit Brown road
Those in Sime Road worry about noise, while Lornie residents expect less traffic
Royston Sim & Goh Chin Lian Straits Times 7 Feb 12;

TWO sets of residents have mixed reactions regarding the building of a road through Bukit Brown cemetery.

While those who live along Sime Road are upset that they will have to put up with noise and pollution once the dual four-lane road to run behind their homes is operational, those residing along Lornie Road will have some reason to cheer.

They can expect less traffic on the busy carriageway after it is reduced to a dual two-lane road when the Bukit Brown road is completed in 2016.

Work on the estimated 2km new road - which will start from Lornie Road, cut through Bukit Brown and join Adam Road before the Pan-Island Expressway exits - is expected to begin early next year.

There are 19 bungalows and semi-detached houses along Sime Road. Besides citing noise and pollution concerns, residents like Mr Daniel Goh, 63, also expressed concern that the new road would cut off their access to Kheam Hock Road.

Now, Sime Road leads to Kheam Hock Road, which in turn connects to Dunearn or Bukit Timah road.

The residents will no longer have that direct access after the new road is built. Mr Goh said that during a meeting last October, Land Transport Authority (LTA) officials said an underpass would be created off Lornie Road so residents could use that instead to access Kheam Hock Road.

Besides the inconvenience of a longer drive to use the proposed underpass, Mr Goh fears an accident on the new road could divert traffic back to Lornie Road and clog up that carriageway too. 'We are very worried. They are going to choke off our entrance and exit,' said the retiree, who has lived in Sime Road since 1987.

Traffic along Lornie Road is not that bad except during peak hours, he added, so he feels it is 'mind-boggling' that the LTA would want to create a new road with eight lanes instead of just expanding Lornie Road, which has seven lanes in both directions.

Another Sime Road resident, who wanted to be known only as Ms Tay, said it would definitely be a lot noisier with the new road behind her home. 'Urbanisation is good, but you have to retain... what makes Singapore beautiful,' said the 25-year-old student.

Grassroots leader Michael Ng said about 30 residents turned up at the LTA meeting last October. They live in semi-detached houses and bungalows along Lornie Road and Sime Road, and represented about half of the 50 to 60 households that grassroots leaders had informed about the meeting.

Mr Ng, chairman of the Dunearn Neighbourhood Committee for the area, recalled that the LTA had shown a map of the proposed road then.

He said it could not confirm the alignment of the road at the meeting as it had to take into account the position of the graves, which he was told had not yet been documented.

'The residents know the road will come out from Adam Road, but how near to or how far from their homes, they don't know,' he added.

No further meetings with the LTA have been scheduled.

Even so, there are those who are glad that the new road will divert traffic away from Lornie Road.

Counselling psychologist Georgina Chin, who is in her mid-40s and lives in Wallace Way, said it would be easier to turn out to Lornie Road. It can be difficult now because of heavy traffic and cars speeding towards Adam Road. She added: 'The noise is awful. I genuinely look forward to the noise level going down.'

Others opposed to the new road include heritage groups.

In a position paper released last Saturday, the Singapore Heritage Society said it was 'deeply disappointed' with the Government's decision to go ahead with plans to build the road - as mentioned in a Facebook post by Minister of State for National Development Tan Chuan-Jin last Friday.

It expressed regret that the Government did not hold consultations prior to the decision and urged the authorities to consider 'alternatives that would not destroy the heritage value in the cemetery'.

The LTA has said that the road would affect just 5 per cent - or about 5,000 - of the 100,000 graves there.

Bukit Brown has been earmarked by the Urban Redevelopment Authority for long-term residential use.

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Using 'celebrity' animals to push for conservation doesn't work

Straits Times Forum 6 Feb 12;

DR LEE Wei Ling ('Confessions of an embarrassed omnivore'; Jan 29) offered an intriguing angle to the issue of keeping dolphins in captivity, which has sparked a knee-jerk reaction from netizens.

What has not been considered is the importance of a studied, ecosystem-based approach to conservation.

In any ecosystem, organisms are intertwined in a series of complex interactions. In the marine ecosystem, top predators like whales, dolphins and sharks play an important role as key regulators, keeping in check the population of the animals lower down in the food chain.

Quite coincidentally, these top predators are also the animals that numerous conservation groups have been using to champion their cause.

The focus of local marine conservation efforts, in particular, has been largely skewed towards such 'celebrity' animals.

At a recent local symposium, an expert panel was asked about its views on using these animals to promote conservation. It highlighted that drawing attention to the plight of animals the public can relate to should, ideally, generate interest in the conservation of the entire ecosystem.

In reality, this model may not be working as well as it should.

Marine biologists often find it hard to convince the public about the importance of coral reefs, sea grass and inter-tidal habitats, bearing in mind that these habitats are the foundation on which turtles, dugongs, dolphins and sharks exist.

Taking corals as an example, few Singaporeans know with certainty whether they are animals, plants or rocks, or where they can find coral reefs here.

Conservation should begin with the provision of basic knowledge to educate the public, tapping the expertise of the scientific community and the active collaboration with the relevant government agencies and stakeholders.

Attempts to rush into the conservation of a single, isolated organism without due consideration and understanding of the entire ecosystem can be potentially abrasive and misleading.

Toh Tai Chong

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Singapore the right climate for green groups

More global bodies being drawn here by resources, govt support and prospect of generous funding
Grace Chua Straits Times 6 Feb 12;

A HOST of international non-governmental organisations, whose work involves the environment, are setting up shop here.

More of these NGOs are moving to town, drawn by the space, resources and prospect of generous funding available.

In the coming months, conservation groups BirdLife International and Fauna & Flora International will be opening offices here.

Others, like the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Conservation International (CI) and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) have already done so.

But challenges remain, namely raising environmental awareness - and therefore funding - among Singapore residents and Asian companies. Still, one major factor in bringing NGOs here has been government support.

In 2007, the Government started a formal programme to attract international organisations, setting up the International Organisations Programme Office at the Economic Development Board (EDB) to inform non-profit organisations of opportunities here, said Mr Quek Swee Kuan, the board's assistant managing director.

Environment non-profit organisations, he added, do not typically think of Singapore as a base for work, as most of their beneficiaries are elsewhere. Five years ago, for example, the only big name in town was the WWF.

International NGOs say they have received various government grants, tax incentives and help.

For instance, the WWF, which set up an office here in 2006, received tax incentives and help getting registered as a charity.

Tanglin International Centre, located at the former Ministry of Education grounds in Kay Siang Road, opened last year as a dedicated space for non-profit groups.

WWF and WCS are located at the centre, while the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) and Fauna & Flora International are expected to move in later this year.

The EDB aims to get 150 international non-profit organisations from all sectors here by 2015, and create 2,500 jobs in the process.

Some NGOs are drawn here by the availability of specific technical skills. For example, WCS managing director Colin Poole said it sought veterinary, animal husbandry and genetics expertise.

But the biggest challenge, all of them said, has been getting Asian firms to be more sustainable, and help fund environment groups.

Dr Kashyap Choksi, managing director of CI, said: 'Corporates... will give money to a charity or marathon, but on sustainability and greening the supply chain, this region has not got the message yet.'

Given the challenging funding climate, what will happen when government grants run dry?

The WWF is a charity and Institution of a Public Character (IPC), so it can collect donations from the public. But CI and WCS are not set up to do so here, and rely on corporate partnerships or foundations. CI's million-dollar grant, matched by its own funding, will cease later this year.

Dr Choksi acknowledged this is a challenge, but said companies' perception of sustainability is changing. 'It's slowly dawning on them that unless they change... they may not exist as a business in the next 20, 30, 40 years.'

WCS' Mr Poole explained that costs here are minimal, and that staff who are based here but manage regional projects can tap funds earmarked for those projects.

So far, international environment groups have not lobbied the Singapore Government like some might in the West. This is simply not their mission here, they say.

Mr Poole said: 'We're not an advocacy organisation, we're not Greenpeace, we don't mount campaigns. We gather data, document what's going on, partner governments. It's about wildlife, ecosystems, forests. It's not about politics and it never has been.'

Local NGOs agree. SEC executive director Jose Raymond said international NGOs typically focus on work outside Singapore.

He said their work, like curbing deforestation in Indonesia, was a vital contribution to Singapore as it helped mitigate the transboundary haze; this was as important as domestic political advocacy would be.

What is more, he added, outspoken environmental advocacy by local NGOs has been on the rise in the past few years. He did not specify any, but issues such as conserving the Bukit Brown cemetery and dolphins in captivity have made headlines in recent years.

Local groups, initially, were concerned that slices of the already small funding pie would get thinner, said Nature Society (Singapore) president Shawn Lum.

But that has not been the case. Instead, local and global groups have complemented each other.

'The pie itself has gotten bigger, the environment community is bigger, and there's more buzz and awareness.'

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Philippines: Marine Life Decline Costs $3.5B

Melody M. Aguiba Manila Bulletin 6 Feb 12;

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines must now aggressively arrest marine degradation so as to sustain $3.5 billion economic value annually, or it will spend for a more costly restoration of degraded biological reef while losing its benefits.

The country derives an economic benefit of $1.35 billion from fisheries, tourism, and coastal protection in coral reefs; $84 million from fishery and wood harvest in mangroves; $1.25 billion from municipal and commercial fisheries; and $830 million from aquaculture.

This is based on White and Cruz Trinidad 1998 study as reported by Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Parks and Wildlife Bureau’s (DENR-PAWB) Theresa Mundita S. Lim in a briefing paper at the United Nations Environment Program’s (UNEP) Land Ocean Connection Global Conference.

As fish catch has been consistently dropping since the 1980s arising from destructive human activities, a massive die-off of coral reefs will happen, much as how this is the trend globally.

“Over-zealous and destructive fishing practices are threatening both the diversity and abundance of fish populations that live in the reefs. Some of these practices are over-fishing, cyanide poisoning, and the use of dynamite, which permanently damage the reefs,” reported Lim.

Fish catch per unit of effort was noted to have consistently declined from 1980 at two metric tons (MT) per hectare for small pelagic fish to an estimated 1.8 MT per hectare in 1990, further down to one MT per hectare in 1995, and finally to a lower 0.5 MT per hectare in 2000.

Correspondingly, mangrove area in the country has been declining from 288,000 hectares in 1970 to 175,000 hectares in 1980, 140,000 hectare in 1998, and 138,000 hectares in 1993.

Given this direction, it is projected that there will be less than 100,000 hectares of mangrove forests left by 2030 if the decline continues.

The Philippines is one of nine countries with high to very high exposure to coral reef threats, according to the World Resource Institute. And it has low to medium adaptive capacity to counter such threats.

The establishment of Marine Protected Areas (MPA) is seen to help arrest marine degradation. It is also less costly.

While the cost of restoring a damaged biological reef is between $2,000 to $13,000 per hectare, the cost of managing a 40-hectare MPA is placed at only P40,000 or just P1,000 per hectare.

“The cost of restoring a damaged coral reef is high compared to the rather affordable cost of effectively managing an MPA,” according to the DENR.

MPAs are areas where fish catching is banned and limitation on entry is imposed.

Amid marine destruction, DENR claims government has already issued Executive Order (EO) 533 which adopts integrated coastal management (ICM) as a strategy in sustaining marine and coastal resources. ICM is being instituted in Cagayan, Zambales, Quezon, Romblon, Masbate, Iloilo, Cebu and Siquijor Zamboanga, and Davao.

But despite the presence of laws, the intensified involvement of local government units should be harnessed for a more effective marine conservation.

“Local initiative and involvement is the most effective method for the protection of coral reef and other ecosystems,” according to Lim.

With this, the Fisheries Code should be implemented where LGUs are mandated to allot at least 15 percent of their municipal waters for fish sanctuaries.

The Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA) is also carrying out the Sustainable Development Strategy for the Seas of East Asia (SDS). This includes support to zoning of Manila Bay, one of Philippines most important but critically damaged coastal resource.

DENR reported that the ICM has so far rehabilitated 2,129 hectares of understocked natural mangrove forests and established new plantation on 856 hectares.

But there is a need to carry out more rehabilitation. DENR has initially identified 2,000 hectares for rehabilitation under the Upland Development Program and another 7,500 hectares under the DENR’s General Plan of Action which supports integrated watershed management.

The government is also formulating a management plan for a total of 21,434-hectare coral reef area and 10,351-hectare seagrass beds, DENR reported.

Integrated into an MPA management plan are 30 MPAs nationwide including the Tubbataha and Apo reefs. There is also coral transplantation including coral farming in Marigondon in Mactan Island and Camotes Island around Cebu, Bolinao, Pangasinan and Duka Bay, Misamis Oriental.

These rehabilitation programs involve preventing destructive fishing, pollution, and sedimentation.

In a coral reef conservation, villagers are educated on the importance of coral reefs, community-managed fish sanctuaries (no fishing zone), and community-benefiting ecotourism activities are established.

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Insurance to cost more in areas hit by natural disasters

Jasmine Ng The Business Times AsiaOne 5 Feb 12;

SINGAPORE - Commercial insurance rates in Asia are expected to climb in regions affected by natural disasters following record insurance losses last year.

According to global insurance broker and risk adviser Marsh, Thailand alone is forecast to cost the insurance and reinsurance industry more than US$10 billion. The insurance market is reacting to the Thai flood disaster in September last year by severely restricting flood coverage on property insurance policies, Marsh says.

It anticipates rate increases of at least 20 per cent across the board on all property and business interruption programmes in Thailand with sub-limited flood cover or no flood cover, plus higher deductibles.

Underwriters are starting to label certain regions and countries as 'nat cat' (natural catastrophe) zones, whereas they were not previously considered as such, says Marsh.

Some are even pulling out of geographies or lines of business altogether to stabilise their portfolios and address profitability issues, Marsh adds.

Market conditions in Singapore are expected to remain soft and competitive as underwriters see Singapore as free from natural catastrophe exposures.

Most insurance premiums are on the decrease, except for companies that have regional insurance programmes with exposures to markets with catastrophe risks.

Marsh says financial lines will continue to enjoy abundant new capacity, keeping rates very competitive, with only crime insurance as an exception due to worsening loss trends. Construction-related insurance will also remain soft with market reductions averaging 10 per cent.

In China and Hong Kong, Marsh expects directors' and officers' liability for US-listed Chinese companies to be up 30 per cent on the back of a significant increase in securities class action lawsuits.

Hong Kong will also see substantial rate increases for companies that have exposure to markets with catastrophe risks.

Japan, which was severely hit by the March 11 earthquake and subsequent tsunami, will see an average 25 to 50 per cent increase for earthquake insurance. Insurers also tended not to provide earthquake capacity unless there was enough underwriting information available.

Rates in Malaysia have risen between 20 to 30 per cent in a number of insurance classes, including financial and property.

Premiums for medical malpractice cover will also be up by 20 to 30 per cent due to two recent high profile losses.

Despite this, Marsh says the continued influx of insurance capital into Asia, the demand for protection as the volume of construction projects grows, and the increasing general awareness of insurance and risk management are combining to lessen the direct effects in the primary insurance market.

'At best, rates are stabilising, with some areas such as natural catastrophe insurance increasing significantly while others are still enjoying capacity and competition,' Marsh said. It adds that this fragmented and choppy market is likely to continue throughout the first six months of 2012.

This article was first published in The Business Times.

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Environment agency becomes crunch issue in Rio talks

Richard Ingham (AFP) Google News 5 Feb 12;

PARIS — The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) is emerging as a hot issue in preparations for June's Rio conference, styled as a once-in-a-generation chance to restore a sick planet to good health.

The US is fighting a proposal, backed according to France by least 100 countries, for transforming UNEP from a poorly noticed, second-string unit into a planetary super-agency.

Environmentalists have long complained that Nairobi-based UNEP, set up in 1972 as an office of the UN and with a membership of only 58 nations, lacks clout to deal with the globe's worsening ills.

These range from climate change, water stress and over-fishing to species loss, deforestation and ozone-layer depletion.

But the environmental mess also coincides with the crisis of capitalism, which greens say is blind to the cost for Nature in its relentless quest for growth.

The fateful intertwining of these problems points to a unique chance of a solution at the June 20-22 "Rio+20" conference, they argue.

With possibly scores of leaders in attendance, the 20-year follow-up to the famous Earth Summit has the declared aim of making growth both greener and sustainable.

"The new capitalism which emerges from the crisis has to be environmental, or it won't be new," French Ecology Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet said on Tuesday.

The key vehicle would be UNEP, which according to the vaguely-worded French proposal would be changed into the World Environment Organisation.

It would become the UN's 16th "specialised" agency alongside the World Health Organisation (WHO), Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and so on.

To the outsider, this may sound at best like a bit of terminological tinkering -- at worst, just another bureaucracy-breeding machine.

Experts, though, say status change could be surprisingly far-reaching.

Specialised UN agencies have high degrees of autonomy, enabling them to set agendas, frame international norms, stir up interest in dormant issues and sometimes poke their noses into areas of national sovereignty.

At its most ambitious, a World Environment Organisation would embrace not just the member-states which fund it but also business, green and social groups, becoming a very loud voice indeed.

It could intrude into sensitive areas such as trans-border use of water resources, fishery quotas and habitat use -- and even monitor environmental standards for trade in goods and services.

According to Kosciusko-Morizet's ministry, more than 30 European countries back the French proposal, along with 54 countries in Africa, plus Thailand, Malaysia, Nepal, Chile, Uruguay and others.

But in a US presidential election year where green issues -- especially foreign ones -- are easily trumped by domestic politics, Washington has set down a marker.

"We do not believe that international efforts on the environment and sustainable development would be improved by creating a new specialised agency on the environment," a State Department official told AFP.

"We prefer to work towards a strengthened role for UNEP, as well as better coordination across the UN system in integrating environment into development, and in working towards sustainable development."

Canada, like the US, says it prefers a smarter, better-connected UNEP.

Tensions over this are now emerging at preparatory talks on the "zero draft," a document that will be finessed into June's all-important summit communique.

"The Americans have come out guns blazing," said Farooq Ullah, head of policy and advocacy at a London-based NGO called Stakeholder Forum.

"The risk, of course, is not necessarily that they would veto it (a super-UNEP) but that they would pull out their funding for it. A big part of UNEP's funding comes from the Americans, so it would be a major blow," he stressed.

Could the dispute rip Rio apart? Or could it doom it to dismal compromise, as many view the outcome of 2009 Copenhagen climate summit?

"The biggest risk with these things that have a lot of interest is that if you push too far too quickly and it becomes too contentious, it will just be negotiated out," warned Ullah.

Lucien Chabason of a French thinktank, the Institute of Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI), said the outcome did not have to be dramatic.

"One can imagine a mixture of the two ideas, in which Rio adopts a position in principle to beef up UNEP and launch a negotiation process," he said.

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