Earth Charter; A Glimmer of Hope

Written by Anam Gill on . Posted in Anam's blog: Global issues, General Information, Green Economy, News, News & Updates, Take Action, Uncategorized, Weekly news

Originated in 1968 the idea of sustainable development to be incorporated in a charter by Maurice Strong and Mikhail Gorbachev led to a lot of organisations stepping forward and try to make it a reality. The charter was created by a global consultation process endorsed by various organisations, representing the hope of millions to work towards a sustainable future which focuses on the well- being of human family at large.

It comprised not only of global connectivity which we as a human race have been sharing for a long time rather it also obligated to keep in mind the future of mother earth along in it’s struggle for a better world for future generations.

faceofworld

Photo Source: Google

On this road to forming a sustainable global community Nektarina founded in 2009, wanted to carry this message forward. The message was simple which is to create a sustainable global community respecting nature, human rights, economic justice that promotes a culture of peace. The only hindrance now was making it a reality not letting the message get distorted on the way like the Chinese whisper.

Mustering up courage along with other organisations Nektarina wanted to implement the four basic principles of Earth Charter in all it’s projects since it’s inception. Enthusiastic to make a difference and ardent to make a positive contribution it developed projects that aimed at engaging people from all over the word, declaring responsibility to one another, the greater community of human existence and to future generations.

Projects like Nektarina Connect through Art, My Planet and Me and Nektarina Visual Essays invited people from all over the globe to participate using non formal, participatory methods like the medium of arts to express themselves focusing on caring for community with love, understanding and compassion. Young people, women and children participated wholeheartedly in all these projects. Using sustainable art that comprise the use of various mediums like photography, painting  etc to engage people, raise awareness, helping them to improve their lives and communities with a better understanding of living in a global community that disseminates the message of protecting the environment .

21st century is a century of peaceful coexistence. We must acknowledge the fact that we live in a pluralistic, diverse world. We stand at a moment in Earth’s history where we must choose our future. The future holds great perils and promises simultaneously as the world becomes increasingly interdependent. To move forward we must keep in mind that as a human family and earth community we must move forward with a common destiny. Bringing forth a sustainable global society that is founded on the values of universal human rights, respect for nature , economic security and justice and a culture of peace we must join together.

Keeping in mind the first principle of the charter that is respecting and caring for the community of life, Nektarina engaged various communities in all it’s projects focusing especially on the Roma rights.  The Roma people have been segregated since a long time and integrating them into the mainstream is a challenge in Europe. The campaigns and projects of Nektarina rejects the isolation of communities based on ethnicity, cast, creed and religion. Moving on with empathy, compassion and love to build just societies has been an essential objective of Nektarina. Projects like Connecting Through Art and Nektarina Web Magazine invites people encouraged everyone to voice their opinion. Connect through Art was a space especially for women from conflict areas to express themselves using art forms. Moreover the Visual Essay competition especially invited young people engaging them to learn more about issues relevant to their communities. To express their thoughts in creative visual styles invitations were sent to around 300 educational institutions from all over the world. Young people were asked to contribute on the issues of human rights, minorities, environment and integration.

Nektarina’s various educational campaigns centre on recycling, reducing carbon footprint and development of sustainable cities keeping in mind the ecological integrity principle of Earth Charter. The campaigns focused on protecting Earth ecological systems preventing harm as the best method to protect the environment.  To advance the study of ecological sustainability promoting open exchange and application of acquired knowledge Nektarina has dedicated a space for the publication of researches, articles, and other publications that stresses on the need to adopt patterns of production, utilization and reproduction that safeguards the ecological system.  All Nektarina’s publications including the web magazine are for everyone under creative commons licensing. The essential aspect behind these various projects and publications is to connect people from across the globe to share ideas, educating and inspiring them to work for a peaceful global community.

To promote social and economic justice strengthening democratic institutions and promoting a culture of peace and non-violence Nektarina came up with an initiative Education for Sustainability. The aim of this initiative is to make sustainability part of the educational institution’s curriculum. To inculcate in children the importance of a sustainable world that safeguards their future. Education plays a vital role in human development. Educating young people which will enable them to gain an understanding, knowledge, values and skills and address environmental and social changes issues. Education for sustainability is a step forward to include sustainable education in the “official” curriculum with the help of education ministries and departments, institutions and councils and boards relevant to the field of education around the world.

Children of today are our future, our hope for a better world. Letting them learn to think ecologically and developing a capacity to apply this understanding effectively to develop better communities is an essential measure in today’s age and time.  A true sustainable community is diverse, dynamic and continuously evolving. Starting off by educating children encourages us to dream and hope for thriving, sustainable human communities. We can learn this from the nature’s ecosystems which are sustainable communities of animals, microorganisms and plants. Education itself centres on environmental or sustainable education where students are taught that they are a part of natural world, now they should also be taught to protect the natural world.

In Pakistan the local education ministry at provincial level tried to incorporate value education which was related to sustainable education in the public schools. With limited resources they developed curriculum and trained the teachers to pass on the knowledge of how children can take small steps that will make a big difference. Those small steps starts from saving energy my switching of unwanted lights, closing the water taps while brushing, keeping a litter free environment to the importance of recycling to name a few.

A curriculum especially designed to impart knowledge on waste management, protecting the forests, looking after each other and thinking about a greater community, a global community will equip the children with a better understanding of the world. The project Education for Sustainability is in line with the fundamental principle of Earth Charter that talks about Integration of knowledge, values and skills needed for sustainable living into formal education. The importance of educating children to understand and act on the issues of sustainable world was seconded at Earth Summit. Keeping in mind that today’s students will be tomorrow’s leaders and decision makers helping them engage in debates , letting them acquire a better understanding of the world and global community will be a positive step for the future.

We live in a unique time in history where the technological advancements are prodigious. These advancements added both to the progress and recession of world communities. Keeping in mind this juxtaposition we need to work towards an impact that only contributes positively. Living in a globalized world where the distances are becoming less with each passing year, globalization is bringing people and cultures together. We have transcended the geographical and national boundaries in communication.  This definitely proves the point that we are at stage where the problems associated with the Earth are no longer affecting one region or group of people rather we all are affected equally by the problems that affects the marginalised groups more. This is an important time in history where we have to take each other with us on our struggle to build a better world.

The Earth Charter is based on intercultural dialogue fostering the need for unified responsibility. Nektarina has been acting on this principle of integration. Nektarina comprises  of a multicultural team from all over the world including Pakistan, Croatia, France, India, Fiji, Trinidad & Tobago, Spain and people working in Nektarina have travelled extensively getting to know various cultures, equipping themselves with a better understanding of the world communities. Nektarina in upholding the Earth Charter principle of mutual respect and understanding by giving equal opportunity to everyone involved in it’s mission.

The principles and values in the Earth Charter reflect the influence of a rich diversity. The vision of shared values in the Earth Charter is especially focused on environment.  However, the inclusion of ethical vision reflecting the realization that political, socio-economic and cultural challenges are interrelated. Nektarina is trying it’s best to take everything together keeping in mind all the principles. Nektarina recognizes the interconnections between human rights and protection of ecosystems promoting a culture of justice and peace. This holistic understanding is reflected through Nektarina’s various projects and campaigns that do constitute sustainable development in it’s core.

At the heart of the Earth Charter is a tenet of respect for life on the recognition that all beings are inter-reliant and all life forms have value irrespective of their worth to individuals. Beginning with an attitude of respect for others and finding expression in caring, preventing harm and promoting well-being these tenets inculcate a sense of ethical responsibility. Earth Charter encourages everyone to identify with the global community as well as their local communities and to be compassionate towards the entire human family.

The ethics of Earth Charter and Nektarina are grounded in a shared vision of widely shared responsibility for the planet Earth and it’s inhabitants. Nektarina does believe that human existence is about being more not having more. The shared values between Nektarina and Earth Charter do focus special attention on the environment.  The vision is inclusive realizing that all global challenges facing the world today are interrelated. Nektarina asserts that the spirit of human solidarity lies in the kinship with all life, mutual understanding and gratitude. Keeping in mind the Earth Charter principles Nektarina believes in the vision of a peaceful and just world celebrating life joyfully.

A Human Rights ‘Meltdown’

Written by Anam Gill on . Posted in Anam's blog: Global issues, General Information, Green Economy, News, News & Updates, Take Action, Uncategorized, Weekly news

Human rights and climate change are inseparable. There are many studies available now that provide evidence that in an unstable climate, conflict and human rights violation will escalate. In a cooler and wetter world cool heads won’t prevail.

At first I could not decipher the link between human rights and climate change. Though the correlation is evident at times convincing many environmental scientists and researchers that there is a dire need to take action. It is essential that the need for action has to come from all stakeholders.

There are many today who will disagree. When researching through it I came across various studies trying to find a direct and indirect links, finding a connection, giving evidence every now and then to prove their point. It has also become a norm these days that if someone doesn’t have a specialization in a certain field most of the time they are not taken seriously.

Do I need to specialize in environmental sciences to know this simple truth? Can’t I make a choice by being rational and looking at the bigger picture? Because the truth is simple no matter how bitter it is or how much we try to run away from it. We have done enough harm to mother earth. She is dying, calling out for help, loud and clear. And in this situation looking away would just be another selfishness which comes naturally to us as human beings.

Fascinating as it is, in 1994 there was a study done in which it was discovered that two groups of police officers undergoing the exact same simulation training were more likely to draw their weapons if the room was uncomfortably warm. This doesn’t mean that there are cool heads in cooler regions. But sometimes heat fuels aggressive behavior in people. It is just to state the fact that in uncomfortable environmental situations there is a likelihood of a rise in violence. Now there are studies proving it but just to share my regular observation during our extremely hot summers in Pakistan, you get to see fights and people arguing more on the streets.

Drawing a connection doesn’t mean that climate change is solely responsible for human rights violations. Various factors interact with climate to produce chaos. Drought and flooding cripple an economy, especially one that is already weak or that is based on agriculture.

In a research done by University of California, Berkeley and University of Princeton the researchers found that personal violence was far more influenced by a leap in temperature. The researchers in the journal called Science stated that an unstable climate aggravates three types of violence namely personal, political or intergroup leading to institutional breakdown. Analysing 60 studies from a number of disciplines including archaeology, criminology, economics and psychology — the researchers have explored the correlation between weather and violence in various parts of the world from about 10,000 BCE to the present day. Reviewing the studies for a period of 18 months they were confident in drawing their conclusion. The researchers predicted in the study that people may face a threat as precarious as extreme weather and that is each other.

Seeing the current state of world affairs where most of the countries in the East and West are having a political turmoil it does sound accurate. We have been witnessing disparity and human rights violations leading to various social outburst across the globe, be it Egypt, Crimea, Turkey, US, Sudan to name a few. Taking an example of Egypt people came out on the streets demanding for their rights, pressing the governments the need for their well-being. They came out furious as if fed up with the current system. People have been protesting in other places too like Brazil and this phenomenon looks global now not confining to any one particular region or affecting any one particular tribe. The study reports that due to extreme climatic conditions violence in all three categories exacerbates regardless of geography or stability. A connection was seen between atypical climate and incidents including ethnic violence in Asia and Europe, spikes in domestic violence in India and Australia; assaults and murders increase in the United States and Tanzania; land invasions in Brazil; use of force in the Netherlands; rise of civil conflicts throughout the tropics; collapsed ancient empires; and in Middle-Ages Europe wars and displacements.

The researchers in their study also stated that they see the same pattern across the world. They stated that it is assumed that our modern society is largely independent of the environment because we are technologically advanced but it is quite the contrary. The climate play a vital role is sustaining peace and well-being across human societies.

In the research Prof Hsiang quoted that environmental conditions do change people’s perception of their own conditions and the use of violence or aggressive behaviour by people to change their situation and accomplish some goal. He also added that this doesn’t mean that climate is the only cause of conflict. There is not a single conflict that can be attributed to some specific climate event.

Well that does make sense being a student of conflict resolution and peacebuilding I also understand that there are various reasons triggering a conflict and have their roots in interpersonal and intergroup relations.  Looking at the dynamics of conflict which is a tricky subject to deal with no sane person can equate violence with climate. The need for this research is to highlight that climate is a critical factor and affect how things escalate even to the point of violence. We need to connect the dots and let our reasoning be based on solid foundations to avoid more damage.

The researchers found that while climate is not the sole or primary cause of violence, it undeniably intensifies existing social and interpersonal tension in all societies, regardless of wealth or geography. It was found out during the research that the amount of change from the local norm — in heat or rainfall boosts the risk of a riot, civil war or ethnic conflict. Things are changing and changing fast. Looking at the climate change models the research proves that by 2050 there will be a change in global climate conditions. The change in global climate conditions will escalate murders, rape, riots etc. Establishing a casual relationship between human conflict and climate through the collection of data the researchers were cautious about drawing a direct link. The individual researches or analysis on the same subject did not garner headlines before, people have been sceptical of an individual study.

But this collective research is opening a new window for discussion and action. It can be seen that the patterns drawn in the research are extremely general and are no exception. It should be considered as a rule of thumb. It will be an awakening call for the policy makers out there to take actions accordingly. Climate change does destabilise social institutions by testing the amount of stress they can endure. The social institutions mostly fail to deliver to the public when it comes to natural catastrophes, all these typhoons, earthquakes and floods are a clear indication of our misdoings. There is a red flag here, pretty much in the face. Instead of acting like onlookers waiting for our turn we need to collectively put an end to this.

In a state of vengeance and unlimited power while having our nuclear tests, where we are busy feeding the guns instead of the people, we forget what harm they will bring to the nations in the coming years. We still face the aftermath of Hiroshima and Nagasaki after so many years.  What else do we need to know now? The past has been a good indicator of the turmoil which we can end up in but we don’t want to pay heed right now. In the race to have more there will be a time when we will lose ourselves.

The research also pointed out the fact that after disasters populations tend to suffer permanently. They usually don’t end up being stronger rather are more prone to catastrophes in the future. Populations end up struggling more and it also affects the performance of political organizations they tend to do very badly. There can be a rhetoric which most political organizations are capable of, that after disasters they tend to become stronger as a community or economically but there is hardly any evidence that proves it. After a natural disaster it has been seen that those areas become more vulnerable putting lives of millions in danger.

Copyright AlJazeera English   Photo Source: Aljazeera English

The research pressed the fact that human rights are, and will continue to be, interconnected to climate change. These most basic of human rights include the right to have a home, food and water. The research clearly indicates that whether there is a relationship between climate and conflict is not the question anymore. Now the question should be what is causing it. Moving to a second stage where more facts are known. It is important to investigate the cause of this connection. This study establishing a correlation between violence and climate change can also allow policymakers and researchers to examine what causes it and how to intervene and prevent it or at least make an effort to resist it. By figuring out what is causing the correlation between human rights violation and conflict would be a step forward. It will help is designing effective policies or institutions capable to manage and interrupt the connection between climate and conflict. In the face of greater violence, the research continues to examine how certain social and political institutions may help mitigate some of the impacts that lead to more conflict. It is important to find that out so that the future generations can be saved enabling to create a better planet.

The changes might seem to be moderate when it comes to climate but they have a sizable impact on the societies. There are many other researches that came up with global climate models that projected an increase in global temperatures. This is not a conspiracy theory against any government. It is a simple but an inconvenient truth.  This global warming and the rate by which it is increasing according to the researchers warming at a certain level could increase the risk of civil war in many countries by more than 50 percent.

This indication doesn’t come as a surprise to me. Dr. Kumi Naidoo, executive director at Greenpeace International argues the same point. Naidoo recently said that the struggles between catastrophies caused by climate change and human rights struggle should be seen as two sides of the same coin. This statement further augments the need not to see the two things separately.

In an interview, Human Rights Watch senior researcher Richard Pearshouse also stated that many of the most vulnerable in society will be affected by climate change. That vulnerable stratum includes and will affect the poor, ethnic and religious minorities, women and children. That should be enough for human rights organisations. It is clear with what he said that the marginalised will feel the impacts most deeply. He stated that there are many places where the amount of human suffering is caused by environmental degradation. He quoted the example of Hazaribagh, Bangladesh saying that as someone working in the areas of human rights and health, the climate change overlap is very evident. He added that the human suffering due to environmental degradation is very obvious in Bangladesh. It is indeed true that flooding and drought does affect the agricultural economies that are solely dependent on the crop. When looking at the bigger picture we see that we are draining the natural resources that can jeopardize the future of our planet. Hopefully the exhaustion of natural resources will let us stay at the point where we buy water to drink instead of not having water at all.

From the right to life to health, housing and education, climate change has a massive impact on a vast range of civil and political rights. When it comes to suffering on the ground it is the marginalised who are affected the most. There appears a discrimination which the international organizations and government bodies should keep in mind. The mitigations measures should incorporate the impact of climate change on the most marginalised. There are polar extremes everywhere in the world and the gap between haves and have not’s is ever increasing. Drawing a balance between climate change and the group of people affected most by it is crucial to the study.

Pearshouse said there are many example across the globe where clear links are found between the unofficial exercise of government power and environmental harm around the world whether it’s a government unwilling to enforce basic health and environmental safeguards in Bangladesh or state-sponsored repression of environmental defenders in Russia. This reinforces that climate injustice is not limited to one particular region. Even the most stable of the economies can’t get away with the natural disasters putting millions at risk.

The science can be a building block as it is. It’s time for us to start acting and that is the area where we are struggling to convince people of how real this all stated above is. Let’s challenge the old school always suggesting that the issues of climate justice are baseless. We have a very strong base here if we open our eyes and try to notice it. The message is loud and clear and we have seven billion people to whom we need to convey this message.

Sustainable Development: A Global Youth Perspective

Written by Anam Gill on . Posted in Anam's blog: Global issues, Green Economy, News, News & Updates

Sustainable development means different things to different people, but the most commonly quoted definition undoubtedly is ‘development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’ (World Commission on Environment and Development).

Being part of few conferences on this issue and meeting people involved in the movement instead of having clarity of thought I was perplexed to how this broader definition can be translated into the local context among local communities. Obviously there is no one, clear cut solution to the challenges faced by the world today.

“More is always better” is an outdated orthodox rule of thumb. The scandalous and unfair distribution of this planet’s wealth, over exploitation of environment and depletion of natural resources should be brought to an end. This narrow economic rationality dominant in capitalism/post capitalism should be replaced with reason, an understanding that advocates greater common good. Just to have a better understanding on how this concept works in local contexts I got to speak with some active, young members of the globe taking part in the movement. My reason for getting to know how sustainable development is understood by various societies is based on an incident where once when we were discussing climate justice with local audience in Pakistan I got a backlash from the community saying that this is not our problem , we are deprived of our daily bread, that is our problem. Even today what they said echoes in my mind, isn’t everything interconnected? Economic, environment, education, don’t they all fit into one big puzzle to solve the mystery behind sustainable development, adopting an integrated version. To find answers I approached my interviewees belonging to various regions with three questions. What does sustainable development mean to you? What is the general perception of sustainability in the regions where you are coming from? What do you think should be the global link for sustainable development at large? Here is what they had to say.

“For me it means taking good care of the environment and of others around you. What I find very important is respect and responsibility. We need to respect nature (and people!) and we have a certain responsibility to take good care of the earth and manage resources in a sustainable way. Also, it means not screwing things up for future generations and leaving a world behind without environmental destruction, disasters due to climate change, and poverty. We have a lot to do to achieve true sustainability and sustainable development, but there is no other way than to develop in a sustainable way in the years to come, as it’s the only way to deal with resource scarcity, climate risks, and so on. Sustainable development means that we need to improve our current economic system (which for example makes it cheaper to pollute than to produce environmental-friendly, which is crazy), especially make the transition from linear to circular economy.

There is no true sustainability without the global part. We deal with trans-boundary problems so in the end no country can do it alone. I praise all local initiatives where real progress and power lies – however, we do need global cooperation on these issues. Which makes it difficult too, because opinions (and unfortunately, mostly interests) from governments around the world differ and that’s why countries – in my opinion – have not succeeded yet in making strong international agreements on sustainable development. The current process of defining a set of sustainable development goals (as successor of the MDGs) is hopeful, but governments unfortunately find it very difficult to be truly trans formative; which is really needed. That’s where I see the power of other actors, sustainable business leaders for example, but especially young people – taking the lead in their communities, working together with other young people from other countries, with a shared goal: achieving sustainability as soon as possible. More and more people are becoming aware and many (young) people are doing something about it, taking action themselves. That’s where the real hope and change lies. And it’s something we can see happening all around the world – which is amazing.”

Ralien Bekkers

Ralien Bekkers, Netherlands

Dutch Representative, Sustainable Development to UN

“Socio economics is regional,national and global. There are so many differences between places in terms of economics, society and their perception of what is right for themselves – sustainability varies with that psyche.  It varies with the history, culture and the situation the people are currently in. A group or a tribe with a long history of conservation will put environment before development. A more globalized group that thinks resources equal capital will put environment  behind development. A global perspective is difficult.It can only be realized when everybody realizes how the most vulnerable is suffering. It will only be realized when the economically higher set which is usually cushioned from disasters is made to reseal what people working in sensitive areas like farming are going through. Before we head towards a global, i feel there needs to be a lot of  traction between societies in a nation. “

Priti Rajagopalan

Priti Rajagopalan

Winner, Commonwealth Youth Award

“I define SD as development for all, the inclusive development with a collective consciousness. In Mexico there are two different approaches to SD and two key actors. At global, the government is the key player and it seeks for climate change commitments. The government strategy has been built mainly in the efficiency of the use of energy and the use and sanitation of water. Some examples of this were the inputs of the former Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Patricia Espinoza in the High Level Panel report in which her work was fundamental to include energy in the Agenda Post 2015. At local, the CSOs are the key players. And the commitments are more local as well. We are working to include non formal education on SD in elementary schools, green jobs and local law that defend the protected natural areas, the rivers and the indigenous territories. I think the link is to translate the international/global commitments of our government to local projects. We already work in this, for example the food security we translate it into organic harvesting systems in schools or the water efficiency we translate it into harvesting water systems in schools and community centers. That´s how I think it should be SD at large, translate it to all and for all.”

Mariana Gonzalez

Mariana Gonzalez, Mexico

Project Coordinator, Global Youth Action Network

“Sustainable development to me incorporates energy,water, environment, economy, health , food, adaptation,climate, biodiversity,technology, change, to mention but a few.To expand a little bit  further on some key areas for example climate, we all now know it’s not something we have to be told, the climate has changed and this is really having a negative effect on food or crop yields hence the need for adaptation.Water in the rivers is drying up and we need to start thinking  of how do we get energy? This all falls under renewable energy, the environmental landscape is changing day by day how we do adapt?

Being in Africa and representing the African region , I see how sustainability is slowly coming into play. Take for example Solar energy. Our beautiful African sun shines for most days in a year and how we utilize that? It’s through the introduction of more solar use for generating the much needed power unlike relying on the usual hydro power that is proving to be a challenge with climate change. It also reduces even on pollution and replaces non renewable energy to a more eco-friendly energy.

The other aspect especially on adaptation  is on crop rotation. As you maybe aware that for example here in the Southern part of Africa maize is a major crop but due to climate change crop yields have really gone down and farmers  are being encouraged to plant other crops that are less water demanding and that improve soil fertility. This helps in many ways to mitigate  from poor to food shortages.

With all this said, I would say that as a region that is feeling the effects of climate change or global warming, we as a region are doing okay because we are most affected , I know the other regions have the more advanced technology. Still a lot needs to be done.Slowly but surely we can get there, and we just need more joint forces, more government commitments to make it a meaningful development.”

Chola Simzwana

Chola Simzwana, Zambia

Commonwealth Youth Climate Network

“Allowing the next generation to enjoy the current resources we are blessed with. It’s all about inter-generational justice and fairness. For example in some places climate justice is the main area of interest whereas in other regions education and economics are paid more attention though it is interlinked.

For the PACIFIC it is entirely about survival. Our islands are sinking and we contributed the least to this global issue. If our geographical homes are disappearing; this also threatens our histories, cultures, languages & identity. The world is turning a blind-eye to this because we are considered small & insignificant for prompt global action. Enough of the bullying! I plea anyone to please help us protect all we have.

Climate Change is the threatening our very own existence. The whole world is experiencing unorthodox, unprecedented weather episodes. The evidence is clear that we need action now!”

Simon Matafai

Simon Matafai, Samoa and NewZealand

Represented Commonwealth of Nations at Various UN Summits

Indeed a  central feature of sustainable development is adopting an integrated vision. Rather than just a concept it can also be seen as a political or normative act.

The power of the concept lies in the fact that it brings the differences and contradictions in current behavior to the surface creating a table for dialogue and discussion where varied world views are given heed and importance.  Keeping in mind the socio-political context of various regions and discussing the political priorities for sustainable development might be challenging but the need of our time. It’s better to think in that direction before it gets too late. After all sustainable development is about the quality of life we desire now and in future. An element of equity is important when we are talking about sustainable development as people spread across the globe have the right to quality of life. Making choices and policies visible within the context of our desired future is the essence of sustainable development. The numerous views on a desired future leads to various interpretations of sustainable development as a concept. But it can be seen through the views expressed that there is one thing which we all agree with, which we all share and that is a desire for change, a desire to make this world better.
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Weekly News # 18: reRoute – Building Youth and Student Power for a New Economy

Written by admin on . Posted in General Information, Green Economy, News, Take Action, Upcoming Events, Weekly news

  (shared post) This summer join a diverse generation of students, practitioners, and organizers from across the US and Canada to share strategies, tools, and stories about the movement to build a more just and sustainable economy from the ground up in our communities and on our campuses. reRoute: Building Youth and Student Power for a New Economy will bring together activists in their teens, twenties, and thrities dedicated to systemic change, economic democracy, and environmental justice for three days, July 19-21 at New York University. Early registration is on a “pay-what-you-can-afford” basis through July 5 and some travel scholarships are available. Hostel accommodations available through NEI only until June 12th. You can learn more and register at www.neweconomicsinstitute/
reroute or by emailing cheyennaweber@neweconomicsinstitute.org. Programming is still being finalized but confirmed panels and workshops include: Pathways to a New Economy with David Wood, Institute for Responsible Investment; Maliha Safri, US Solidarity Economy Network; Alexa Bradley, On the Commons; Ed Whitfield, Fund for Democratic Communities, moderated by Atlee McFellin, Symcenter Making a Living in the New Economy with Elandria Williams, Highlander Center; Farah Tanis, Black Women’s Blueprint; Jessie Reilly, TimebanksNYC; Juliet Schor, Boston College, moderated by Joshua Stephens, NYC-based co-op developer Financing a New Economy with Deyanira del Rio, Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project; Steve Wong, the Working World; Lauren Ressler, Responsible Endowments Coalition, moderated by Kenneth Edusei, SolidarityNYC Teaching and Learning a New Economics with Renaud Girac, University of Quebec; Brian Kelly, US Society for Ecological Economics; Olivia Geiger, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, moderated by Keith Harrington, New School Fossil Fuel Divestment and Beyond – Responsible Endowments Coalition Possibilities For Participatory Budgeting – Participatory Budgeting Greensboro Food Justice and The New Economy – CoFED and Mariposa Food Co-op Building Political Power for a New Economy– SolidarityNYC/Philadelphia Co-op Alliance Can The Economics Curriculum Be Reformed?  Lessons From Activists In France and Quebec – PEPS / Horizons Economiques The Real Food Challenge: Uniting Students For A Just And Sustainable Food System – Real Food Challenge Mapping The New Economy – Shareable.net/Data Commons Cooperative/Solidarity NYC How To Start A Worker Co-op – WORC’N Non-hierarchical Staffing Structures – North American Students Of Cooperation Bringing Solidarity Home: creating alternative housing economies through cooperative living – NASCO Timebanks Coast To Coast – Timebanks NYC/Bay Area Community Exchange Democratic and Cooperative Leadership —AORTA Collective We’ll also be offering solidarity economy tours of Brooklyn on Friday.
 
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7th European Conference on Sustainable Cities and Towns

Written by admin on . Posted in General Information, Green Economy, News, Take Action, Upcoming Events

  Get set to join over 200 leading international experts in the field of local sustainability at Geneva 2013, from 17 – 19 April! 30 Break-out sessions will focus on the most pressing topics facing European cities, including climate adaptation and local resilience, sustainable procurement, developing zero carbon communities, funding sustainable actions, the Reference Framework for Sustainable Cities, transport and land use, urban water management and biodiversity as a means to stimulate the green economy in cities. Space is limited – register now to benefit from the insight and knowledge of more than 150 European and international experts. Workshops on-site provide the opportunity to gain practical insight into a range of sustainable areas in Geneva. These workshops are almost full – take this opportunity to secure your place in the one that most appeals to you! We are pleased to share with you the Final Invitation to the conference, which contains all the latest information on the conference programme, Break-out Sessions, Workshops on-site, social events, confirmed speakers and much more. For more information and how to register, follow the link: http://www.sustainablegeneva2013.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/FINAL_INVITATION_GENEVA_2013.pdf  
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Green New Deal in Poland: The Social Dimension

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  (shared post)   In the fifth year of the comprehensive crisis we are facing, social questions have come to the top of the political agenda and the public debate in Europe. This Green European Foundation publication, initiated by Zielony Instytut and the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung Warsaw office, links the European level social policy goals to a concrete national example, Poland. The crisis, as well as the proposed mainstream solutions which focus on fiscal austerity exclusively, don’t come without a social cost. This is illustrated by numbers such as 50% youth unemployment in Spain, the cost of third level education rising by 127% in Ireland or a horizontal 15% pensions’ cut in Romania. Notwithstanding Greece, where consecutive adjustment packages to tackle the budgetary imbalances resulted in an increase in the already high numbers of people living below the poverty line and brought about a situation of imminent collapse of basic social infrastructure such as health care. Over the last years we have seen unemployment and social inequality on the rise in Europe, while the standards of the European model of social protection, labour law, collective bargaining rights or working conditions have seen frequent set-backs. In the EU of the common market, social policy has largely remained competence of individual Member States, despite the Treaty of Lisbon and the Europe 2020 strategy detailing social policy objectives and concrete goals related to employment and poverty eradication. It is Member States which make the major policy decisions influencing the achievement of these goals. Embedded in this context, Zielony Instytut and the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung Warsaw office initiated this Green European Foundation publication attempting to link the European level trends, discussions and social policy goals to a concrete national example, Poland. In Poland, the developments in social policy seem largely unaffected by the crisis. As the European Trade Union Institute in its Policy Brief 2/2012 points out, “the crisis is essentially perceived and described as resulting from external factors, and in itself no reason, therefore, to call into question existing national social arrangements.” Nevertheless, Poland has also seen a significant rise in economic inequality in the last years, with a widening gap between those being able to harvest the benefits of Poland’s steady economic growth and the growing numbers of people who are left behind and feel the fruits of transformation are not for them. This stratification of Polish society has effects in the radicalization of the political scene as we could witness during the “Independence March” on November 11, 2012. The fierce political debate over the Polish pension reform (raising retirement age to 67 years) is another example of tensions in the society. The hundreds of thousands of young people who already live abroad or are considering to leave the country cannot be seen as a sustainable solution for unemployment among the young generation in Poland.  The growing number of immigrants in Poland requires better access to the social system and integration programs in order to create an open society of equal chances. These are among the key topics this publication tackles in an attempt to give answers to what a Green social model for Europe could be: a model that preserves 20th century achievements but sets out to innovate for the 21st century. We have translated two of the contributions to this publication (“Social Policy – An Introduction” by Ryszard Szarfenberg and “Social Policy – Green debates” by Bartłomiej Kozek) in English as well. You can download these below, alongside the publication in Polish.
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Inter-agency workshop on Employment and Social Inclusion in a Green Economy

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The ILO is pleased to announce a two day Inter-agency workshop on Employment and Social Inclusion in a Green Economy to be held  in Turin, Italy, from 4 to 5 March 2013.
The workshop intends to provide an interface with country initiatives (Kenya, Tunisia, S. Africa, Serbia, Turkey, Mexico, Indonesia, etc.) and experts working on assessments and policy formulation. The general aims is to better align and combine agency support on the green economy and offer opportunities for mutual learning and peer support for countries.The overall objectives of the workshop are two fold:
   i) expand and share knowledge among the UN and other agencies, donor organizations and country representatives on the employment and social inclusion potential of the green economy, and
  ii) create synergies to bridge, at global and country level, the scope and findings of research with evidence-based policy making in the context of sustainable development.The workshop will review current approaches, tools and policies to promote jobs and social inclusion in the green economy, including country examples of concrete steps to create green jobs and improving skills.Attached is a 2 page programme description and tentative agenda.For background information please visit the ILO event page: http://www.ilo.org/empent/units/green-jobs-programme/training/WCMS_190329/lang–en/index.htm For direct registration please use this link: http://intranetp.itcilo.org/SHF/A905244/en