Posts Tagged ‘cooperation’

E4S in Sierra Leone

Written by Alice Rees on . Posted in News, News & Updates, Sierra Leone

The E4S project was warmly welcomed by the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology following several successful activities, and George of E4S Sierra Leone and The Kiradi Initiative was invited to join the curricula review team who are responsible for mapping the way forward for education in Sierra Leone.

Unfortunately, there were inconsistencies and the direction was unclear, especially with regards to key considerations such as who does what, how, when, and where. There was also some confusion about UNICEFs role in the process, exacerbated by the Ebola crisis. Then, after some bureaucratic shenanigans, the secretary and the director of the Curricular Review Office, both of whom had been keen champions of the E4S project, retired from their positions. These changes caused a general sense of confusion over the project’s next movements, and so we consulted the President’s Office for advice on how to proceed in this situation.

In the face of these continued challenges, George almost despaired of the project ever seeing any movement or progress, and came close to abandoning it to work on something new. However, he realised that the E4S project is important and relevant – anyone who found out about it agreed that it is a project which could really make some important changes. George used patience and endurance to grease his elbows, pushing the project onwards and upwards, taking the daily challenges in his stride.

After consulting with the President’s Office, it was determined that the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) would be the authority best suited for dealing with this initiative, and we entered into discussions with the EPA, looking at the project’s concept and the scope of our planned activities.

Discussions With the Environment Protection Agency

EPA Sierra Leone logoThe first official meeting centred discussions around what the EPA does, and Nektarina & Kiradi’s role in promoting the E4S project’s main tenet; that sustainability should be included on school curricula as a separate subject.

Working with the EPA is already a great step in the right direction. They have regional offices across the country and, working closely with local councils, have formed around 100 nature clubs in schools (especially in cities), and already run campaigns on environmental education for sustainability.

The Executive Chairperson welcomed our involvement in this endeavour, as all hands are needed on deck to promote our common goals. George has been co-opted onto the strategic planning team, piecing together a roadmap leading to the introduction of sustainability as a school subject in both primary and secondary schools.

The greatest challenge we face is rolling out this scheme across the nation, building on the successes we have already achieved. Gaps need to be filled, and in this our role will be paramount.

We shared our insights, our activity proposals, and our global strategic plan. These thoughts and plans were most welcomed. Volunteering will also be a vital part of these initiatives, and interns have an important role to play as we move forward. Environmental assessments need to be carried out and expert advice of varying opinions must be sought.

They are open and ready to make our goal their goal and we will make their goal our goal.

Beyond Samba and Soccer

Written by Anam Gill on . Posted in Anam's blog: Global issues, Books & Magazine, E-Magazine, General Information, Green Economy, News, News & Updates, Publications, Take Action, Uncategorized

With the soccer fever at its peak, Brazil the 5th largest country in the world and the largest in South America hosting the mega event, is experiencing disapproval for spending so much money on the sports extravaganza sidelining major priorities like health, education and housing for the Brazilian people.

BRAZIL-WORLDCUP-05-05-2014-03-05-58-454Photo Source: Google

My fascination for this country is not new. It was the first country I traveled to when I was 18 years old. Experiencing the rich culture, the diversity it has to offer, the beats of samba and bossa nova, the magnificent beaches unfolding secrets of the country, Brazil did come a long way after years of colonization and military dictatorships.

Luckily I had an opportunity to visit Brazil again after six long years and to be honest I was welcomed just as before. I felt as if I have returned to a place I knew so well whether it was sitting on Copacabana beach sipping the guarana, going for strolls in Rio or exploring Rio Grand du Sul. Having known little Portuguese I did manage to communicate with the locals and this is what I loved the most about that place. To me Brazil is the many loving people I came across during my visits, listening to their stories and seeing their smiles and resilience made me learn a lot from them.

To be honest seeing the protests on television made me feel terrible. I agree polar extremes exists everywhere but why the insane expenditures on a sporting event. All these governments talk about austerity at some point so why not in sports. Seeing the football nation not happy with “futebol” (football in Portuguese) this time was sad. Football is the religion of Brazilian people and you can see them playing everywhere, in the streets and on the beaches people from various segments of society come together to play. Brazil has won five FIFA World Cup titles hence becoming the most successful national team in the history of World Cup. Interestingly it is the only country that has taken part in all FIFA World Cups since 1930 scoring the most goals and with most wins in the history of competition. The favelas have produced some amazing soccer players and that is the spirit of sports. It brings nations and people together rejoicing in the victory and feeling sad about the defeat. But for the World Cup 2014 in Brazil it is more than that, there is revulsion and discontent seen in many people.

Brazil Confed Cup ProtestsPeople protesting against the World Cup

Photo Source: Google

For the World Cup, Brazil has spared no expenses. For the month long competition there will be 64 matches held in 12 cities across Brazil. The cost incurred on refurbishing old stadiums and building new ones has cost 3.6 billion dollars. After the World Cup several of the new stadiums will be seldom used. If we look at the South Africa World Cup debacle, stadiums that cost a fortune are not being used as people can’t afford it. The displaced persons in South Africa are still struggling for housing. Countries when thinking about hosting such mega sports events should take into consideration their social and economic well being not giving in to corruption along with many organizations and multi nationals associated with it.

This World Cup is undoubtedly extremely costly for Brazil costing 62 million dollars on each match. Moreover displacing the poor, the Brazilian government is holding this event at the cost of unemployed, underemployed and neglected citizens.

EPAPhoto Source: Google

When talking about sustainable development the situation mentioned above does not convey the message of Rio+20 UN Earth Summit. Ironic as it is the country hosting the UN Earth Summit, gathering various UN bodies to talk about Millennium Development and Sustainable Development Goals for the world did resign when it came to staging a short term show which was less about joy and more about profits favoring just a few. The nexus is clear; a portion of the billions spent on cosmetic projects could have cured the ills plaguing the country. Sadly the millions of tourists pouring billions of dollars into the nation’s economy and giving a blank check to the country’s Sports Minister will not benefit the communities that gave us Romario, Pele and Rivaldo nor will it help in improving the quality of life of millions of poor and working class of Brazil.

Now the question is when will the governments start thinking about the millions of poor people in the country and not just give importance to a few billionaires? The Brazilian government could have taken provisions that not only benefited the few billionaires but also the many homeless living in the streets, largely young protesters , coming from working class backgrounds instead of hiding them and their demands from the world’s gaze. Brazil doesn’t need to market itself to the world with a misleading image, thanks to the media these days. A country that promises fun and sun, carnival and sun kissed smiles personifying this beautiful South American nation cannot be hidden from the world anyway.

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Photos Source: cartoon movement.com

I remember reading about the London Olympics in the year 1948 known as the real austerity Games. The government during that time was determined to do the Games on the cheap. Well despite the austerity and so called raggedness it was considered a success and did make profit too. Looking at the economic backdrop from that period we can spot similarities, a world economy in trouble, why certain measures can’t be taken that benefit the larger community especially the segments that suffer the most because of the excessive spending?

Besides the protesting youth the heroes of yesterday like Romaria and Rivaldo coming from humble beginnings to hoist the World Cup in 1994 and 2002 respectively also criticize the government’s exorbitant expenditures. For Romario serving as a congressman in Rio de Janeiro and a World Cup dissenter, the C.B.F (Brazilian soccer federation) is a “disgrace”. According to him corruption in football be it C.B.F or FIFA is the reason for all evil. Yes for all those people coming out in the streets with loud demonstrations, the World Cup is about donning the canary yellow outfit and cheering for their country rejoicing in the much loved game, for them it is not about multimillion dollar stadiums or being sidelined by the social, economic and political injustices.

While trying to get the views of my friends, most of them were just excited about the game, enjoying the reverie like myself. I have also put a facebook profile picture donning the yellow Brazilian T-Shirt. It is not that they are not for sports or for that matter soccer, the reason why most are unhappy is very clear.

“The overall Brazilians could never afford a FIFA ticket; small bars who would transmit the games have to pay absurd fees to FIFA, making it impossible to be done. In a nutshell, this is it. This world cup is not for us, at all, just for some rich alienated foreigners. The nations may be coming together, but at the cost of our blood and homes. If this is the price, I really rather to keep them apart and our children alive.”

 Leticia Zenevich

“They could organize a real world cup, as will be done with the European championship soon. In several countries in stadiums that already exist, so that millions don’t have to be spent on stadiums as in Manaus, that is going to host, how many, 4 games?”

Rodolfo Pedro Sello

“A short term revenue generation /immediate job creating action through a FIFA World Cup vs a long term sustainable development through investment in health n education. You tell me what should be priority and a much more solid option?”

Taimur K Bandey

“General discourse has two general tendencies, these days: 1) Elitist and fewer representatives 2) Non-elitist and more representatives. You are right but for “bigger” picture you need to study about contemporary economic models, of how trillions are spent on defense and when it comes to giving shelter, governments cant find a penny, about how billions are spent in festivals and when it comes to improving social conditions of under-privileged, we can’t find a penny and so forth. It was not event specific. If a World Cup had to happen in Brazil, it should have catered for local sensitivities and address them instead of putting a superficial exhibit of billions lost in entertainment (for the privileged)”

Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi

 The protests clearly demonstrate that this World Cup is not going to be a feast of national unity, putting on a temporary great show setting aside the grievances of many people. Sad to see that instead of becoming a feel good moment of national pride this event was commercially and politically exploited to a great extent.

So who should be held accountable? Definitely the ruling government blinded by the money pouring in for their personal good and these big corporations. FIFA, the Federation Internationale de Football Association, is a non governmental organization founded in 1904. FIFA is responsible for administering the World Cup and other international competitions of international football. The organization located in Switzerland is marred with allegations and accusations of corruption and money laundering. FIFA is also criticized for its lack of accountability and transparency. Seeing the grievances of general public of hosting nations the accountability of FIFA matters when it comes to the business of football and governance of sports. Effective governance of such institutions is important and a matter of general public interest. It is interesting that the wealthy nations preach and talk about democracy, good governance, accountability and transparency but when it comes to practising these ideals we look for backroom deals.

 Just to avoid similar sentiments in the future it is important to pay heed to where the problem lies and try to find a solution. It is not just about World Cup, when it comes to Olympics we see similar behavior filtering out the realities of life. The life of under privileged, we don’t consider important. Yes they are important only during the time of elections, when we beg for their votes, making false promises.

 Time and again FIFA demonstrated that it has no fiscal, hierarchical, supervisory and public reputational accountability. Efforts to reform FIFA from within or as a consequence of public pressure, media and watchdog organizations can result in a positive change.  Moreover as FIFA doesn’t fall under the relevant jurisdiction for corruption policing, accountability needs to be indirectly applied by national and international governments such as European Union or European Council. There should also be a legal accountability through regulation and enforcement of legislation on FIFA’s marketing partners. International Olympic Committee does set a precedent by showing the importance of multiple mechanisms of accountability working in harmony.

 FIFA and the member organizations and confederations do have the ability to be an actual force in change.  FIFA deals with more countries than the United Nations and interestingly these countries are more responsive to FIFA’s policy change than UN. With transparent and good governance in sports things might not look bleak as it look today.

Brazilian-artist-BoneA graffiti artist in Brazil

Photo Source: Google

As FIFA continues to make more money it is time that the demands of the protesters in the streets should be heard too. FIFA needs to be careful in this matter to avoid their legacy being tarnished.  With the growing criticism all the people involved in this show can’t hide anymore behind the false do good publicity stunts.

We are not against sports, we never were. We are against the use of sports as a cudgel of putting an over the top, pompous show. Use of sports as a neoliberal Trojan horse is what we are against. We definitely don’t want capitalism to seep into the things we love including “futebol”. Count everyone in your celebration next time as everyone living on this planet wants to enjoy life.

 world-cup-2014-brazil-soccer-footballPhoto Source: Google

Military Might Dwarfs the World

Written by Anam Gill on . Posted in Anam's blog: Global issues, Books & Magazine, E-Magazine, General Information, Green Economy, India, News, Publications, Regions, Take Action, Uncategorized, Upcoming Events

Recently in Pakistan the budget for the fiscal year 2014-2015 was presented. The budget which begins on  1 July comes in the midst of high inflation, dwindling foreign exchange, never ending power cuts and weak economic growth. Citizens around the country were glued to the television sets hoping to hear some good news but once again they had to face disappointment at the hands of the government’s finance minister presenting the budget in a baroque language which most people couldn’t understand, not everyone living in the country is an economics major. Maybe that was his job as well, not making himself understood.

Special interest groups were peddling for special treatment while the budget priorities were being finalized. The government of billionaires led to the making of few more billionaires but will that be good news for everyone else? What about the rest of 99% of the population? If we continue like this, it will give rise to inequality.

This budget clearly showed inadequate spending on education besides other things. Leaving Pakistan lag behind other countries in education sector it gave priority to the defense sector by increasing 10% in defense spending. The under spending on education, health, energy sector etc has not only created huge disparities in the country but have also made millions suffer in the blistering heat when the temperature rises up to 50C. But why the government representatives care about that because back in the government capital they have unlimited power supply. Moreover whenever struck by a natural calamity or a disease they have their second homes in the rest of the world with the best medical treatment. The only interesting logic I need to decipher is why we the 99% have to pay for their pompous lifestyles. It is our taxes that make them survive and continue to enjoy the glitz and glamour.

51b8a119bc112Men listening to the finance minister presenting the budget in Pakistan

Photo Source : AFP

Without giving any details and by using mumbo jumbo the finance minister did paint a positive picture but anybody not ready to accept the eyewash could picture the reality. With a crippling budget deficit of 8.8 percent, 10 percent increase in defense spending doesn’t make sense to me.  Sidelining the energy crisis, inflation, unemployment, poor health and education, poor economic growth, a whopping billion rupees were allocated for the military.

Corruption, years of mismanagement and under-investment has not only led to a blackout of up to 20 hours a day in the scorching heat but has made these people lose their consciousness, giving in to the to the deity of greed.

In 2013 a report by UNESCO revealed that Pakistan has the second highest number of out-of-school children in the world, the other country in this infamy is Nigeria. On the other hand a comparison of military spending presents Pakistan as a exceptional county. Historically spending 3.13 percent of its GDP on the military makes Pakistan oust Nepal, Kenya and even its immediate neighbours which spend much less on the military. Without any doubt the under spending on education has contributed to raising a society inclined towards illiteracy and fanaticism. Because of decades of neglect in education Pakistan has embraced militancy and extremist ideologies, hence justifying its over spending on the military. Creating the enemies and then fighting them isn’t better than stopping the creation of the elements emerging due to disparity.

So what exactly comprise the military budget? Interestingly there isn’t any agreed definition worldwide. According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) military expenditure includes the spending on the armed forces, defense ministries, government agencies engaged in defense projects, paramilitary forces, military research and development, military personnel both in service and retired, military aid etc. Considering the long list of expenditure it makes sense now why so much money is needed on the defense alone. Here the private multinational corporations used for combat are not included. The private corporations sanctioned by the governments don’t want to reveal their sources of funding either. So it is safe to say that the military expenditure has varying definitions according to each country and organization.

Now the question is why do we need to measure the military spending? The information regarding the defense spending is needed by governments, researchers, students, diplomats, non-governmental institutions, international organization like IMF and World Bank, media and the general public for varied purposes. It could be used to analyze government priorities, by comparing spending on the military with other sectors can make us understand the shortcomings of the governments.  It also determines a country’s orientation as militaristic (we need to be cautious in labeling a country as such) or peaceful. There could be various reasons to assess the military expenditure, its impact on economic growth and development as one of the reasons.

The reliability of the data is still questionable. Some countries do make basic military budget available. There are many countries that don’t give any information at all including Somalia, Cuba, Myanmar, Uzbekistan and a few more. The budget presented by the national governments may be subject to a number of problems compromising the international comparability of data. It may also limit a proper understanding due to the economic burden of military on a particular country. While talking about the military expenditure it would be unfair not to incorporate the international arms trade. Governments and corporations cooperate to meet their economic and political agendas with the arms trade.

Foreign and military policies are influenced by the military industrial complex of the powerful countries. Selling arms can help the geopolitical and strategic interests of the governments. Take for example United States, many US weapons are sold to Turkey that have been used against Kurds. This is known as the worst human rights violation and ethnic cleaning since World War II, the US turns a blind eye to the mayhem in Turkey. In return the US managed to set up bases in a key geopolitical location giving access to places in the Middle East.

Similarly in India since 11September, 2001 Kashmir issue, Hindu-Muslim relations and other issues have become volatile. As a result India and Pakistan increased its military spending; the arms dealers are willing to help both the countries. Having obvious political dimensions the government officials from major arms dealing nations are playing a role to see deals through. For the arms dealers this tension between the nuclear equipped nations is nothing but a unique selling opportunity. Making profit to remain in the business is what matters to these dealers.

global-arms-exports

The-countries-that-doubled-military-spending-between-2004-and-2013Photo Source: SIPRI

It is the developing countries that are affected by the consequences of over spending on military expenditure the most is no secret. Warfare and military expenditure have adverse consequences for the development of nations. When talking about sustainable development the arms industries and the need to have weapons is essential to keep in mind. Whom are we fighting and for what? Each other to grab more land and have more power. The military expenditure not only diverts the government for putting resources and money into better use but also reduces the growth rate making it difficult for the governments to reach the millennium development goals. The research departments of International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank found out that when a country doubles its military expenditure the growth rate decreases rapidly resulting in the reduction in the level of income. This makes the developing countries more volatile than the global average.

It could be noted however that the military expenditure is influenced by the internal rebellion. When there is unrest in the country or a civil war going on the expenditure will be undoubtedly elevated. It can be noted that the risk of such rebellion is associated with economic causes; a major risk factor would be lack of development. For developing a safe and sustainable society the most effective strategy would be development rather than deterrence. In a just and safe society the disparity graph is low and everyone enjoys the basic amenities like food, clean drinking water, health and education.

To mark the Global day of Action on Military Spending, the United Nations called on all governments to impose cuts in the military expenditure and boost transparency. The independent expert on the promotion of an equitable and democratic national order of UN also asked the governments to increase investments in nutrition, environmental protection, health and other major sustainable development challenges being faced today. Ironic as it might sound the United Nations itself has peacekeeping forces which are fully equipped. When working on the fiscal budget every democracy should involve the civil society and other sectors of society to determine what are the real concerns and priorities of the population. Here the representatives of the military industrial complex and military contractors should not be allowed to hijack the priorities of the population at the cost of their needs.

The populations everywhere are not very keen on governments going to war. It can be seen during the war on Afghanistan and Iraq. Similarly in the context of Pakistan people in both countries love to visit each other and know each other. It is all political propaganda that has been highlighted to create rift between the two nations. The ruling elite taking decisions for the rest of the population only has its own vested interests in mind when designing certain policies. It is time for the world parliamentarians to implement the will of the people to reduce the military expenditures.

The revenue collected from the population as taxes must be directed towards the promotion of social, economic, political, civil and cultural rights for the promotion of sustainable development.

In 2012 according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, global military expenditure levels were at an all-time high, reaching a total of $1.75 trillion. This is indeed a disgusting amount in a world where millions f human being our living below poverty line, dying of malnutrition, lacking medical care and dying of pandemics.

In a world where the ruling elite is busy in feeding the guns rather than the population it is important to pursue disarmament negotiations in good faith, shifting budgets away from insane weapons production, war –mongering, private persons surveillance and devote it to address global challenges including humanitarian relief, development of a green economy, prevention of pandemics, environmental protection and climate change mitigation and prevention. Such a shift in governments spending is essential in achieving the UN post- 2015 development agenda.

It is surprising to note that not many governments put this crucial concern forward in the context of global socio-economic crisis. The governments have been seen talking about austerity drive but it is important to highlight that the place to exercise austerity is in wasteful military expenditures not in social protection where the governments concentrate. It is essential for the governments to reduce funds allocated to the military as a potential contributor to social and environmental progress. The governments in the developing world should give this a special consideration being adversely affected by it. As for Pakistan instead of reducing the defense budget it increased it to 10 percent in this year.  It is not just an issue of disarmament; it is an issue of sustainable development.

The arms industry should promote greater transparency and be more responsible and accountable. There should be a proper check and balance to ensure legitimate use of weapons and curb illicit arms trafficking. It might be unlikely even to hope for real world peace at this point but it is truly desired by most people around the world.

It can be seen that the military expenditure in major countries is increasing rapidly. The statistics given by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) in the diagrams above clearly states the crux of the matter. There are a number of countries that have doubled the military expenditure from year 2004 to 2013. Among the list there are developing nations that will be affected the most by the decrease in the growth rate due to over spending on the military. The governments with the powerful lobbying of military industries aid military industrial complexes. Hence seeking peace via war is a questionable foreign policy.

10352613_875653115795941_2869231750102319682_nPhoto Source: Google

Earth Day Sends a Message

Written by Anam Gill on . Posted in Anam's blog: Global issues, General Information, Green Economy, India, News, News & Updates, Publications, Regions, Take Action, Upcoming Events

  tumblr_lv1vn0FMdo1qek3gjo1_500Photo Source: Google

While watching the movie Avatar for me one striking element in the movie was The Tree of Souls. A giant willow tree the closest connection to Eywa, mother goddess for the Na’vi people of densely forested habitable moon, Pandora. The tree had spiritual significance for the Na’vi people. In the movie the destruction of the Tree of Souls would prove disastrous to Na’vi people as a whole, creating a void that would decimate the race in its entirety. Avatar to me did seem a love letter to the glory of nature and humanity.

You must be thinking why on earth I am talking about Avatar, well the answer lies in the fact that 22 April is the International Earth Day celebrated worldwide in support of environmental protection. . For the first time Earth Day was celebrated on 22 April, 1970 mobilizing millions of people from all walks of life and led to the launching of many environmental movements including Earth Day Network. For some people tree plantation might be an epitome of environmental cliché. But I do believe that a nation’s wealth lies in its rivers, forests, oceans, scenic beauty and wildlife. This is all we have. The biological systems are in fact the whole economy sustaining world’s wealth. With the world now becoming highly industrialized giving preference to cutting down of trees so that big shopping malls can take its place arguing that it leads to development, I somehow can’t fathom this equation of development. Cutting down of trees has led to global warming for which it is important to understand the greenhouse effect. We don’t want to stop economic progress that could give millions better lives. Insisting on sustainable development that combines environmental care, economic growth and social justice is the need of the time. Unrestricted growth cannot be supported by our planet.  

Coming back to the greenhouse gases particularly carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is damaging to the environment. With an excess of these gases by human inventions, the greenhouse effect is accelerating and this is causing the rise in temperature that we have been experiencing in the last two centuries. We might not see a red flag here yet but the effects it has on the environment and the organisms that live in it are detrimental. The greenhouse gas carbon dioxide and it’s concentration has hit 402 ppm this month and alarmingly that is the highest level recorded in at least 800,000 years. Doesn’t this lead to raise a red flag? Many plants and animals cannot adapt to temperature changes in the environment letting them to become some endangered and others extinct. The trees play a vital role in the carbon cycle. The more trees we have, the less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the more oxygen there is to be consumed by the species that inhabit the Earth. Wasn’t it the oxygen that makes life a miracle on the planet Earth compared to the rest of the planets? We live in an age where carbon dioxide is profuse in the atmosphere. The carbon dioxide released through human innovations, such as automobiles, industries, and power plants is damaging and we should do something about it before it gets late. More than ever trees play a significant assigned role in the environment and take some of the excess carbon dioxide out of the air. Unfortunately, deforestation does not let this to happen and with millions of trees cut down each year r various purposes, the amount of carbon dioxide is rising day by day causing average temperature to rise. Ultimately this leads to global warming and its effects are evident now.

Someone rightly said better be late than never. If we do conserve our existing supple of trees we can play our part in securing a better future. So no matter how clichéd it sounds planting a tree, loving our natural reserves, protecting it is essential. We need to think about deforestation.

While watching the movie Avatar and how sacred the trees especially Tree of Souls was for the inhabitants did remind me of Chipko (Hugging) movement. Started in early 1970s the Chipko movement was a non-violent resistance through the act of hugging trees and protecting the trees from being cut down.  Using the Gandhian methods, the movement to protect trees with rising deforestation awareness led to peasant women from the village Rani Khet, India taking an action and reclaiming their traditional forest rights. Their actions inspired many others throughout the region at the grassroots level. The movement had spread throughout India by 1980s that led to the formulation of people-sensitive forest policies, which put a stop to openly cutting down trees in the region. The movement originated in 1970s is an inspiration for many environmentalists where a group of women peasants got together to make a difference. Their efforts cannot ne ignored or forgotten. Today while celebrating Earth Day I want to acknowledge this movement that was started in a small village to save the trees. It was started at a time when there was less talk about protecting environment. Loving something does ignite passion in people that can make them do wonders.

Many have united today who feel for trees the same way the peasant women of Chipko movement or Na’vi people of Pandora planet did. Just love it and then you will feel the need to protect it. Among many Earth Day Network did step forward adding another drop in the ocean with a hope to educate and inspire. After the first Earth Day in 1970 many environmental laws soon followed. The various acts made it biding on the law to protect the environment and everything therein. Growing out of the first Earth Day, Earth Day Network (EDN) now works with thousands of partners in 192 countries to positively take forward the environmental movement. Millions of people now participate in Earth Day activities each year that makes it the largest civic observance in the world.

Over the last 40 years, Earth Day Network has executed innumerable successful environmental campaigns on issues ranging from drinking water and climate change to saving the whale and many others. To tackle new challenges Earth Day Network created innovative programs with non-environmental partners that were engaging and participatory. EDN’s extensive activities, whether promoting green economic policies or green schools at home or abroad is concerned do inform populations instilling in them the energy to act for a healthy future for themselves and their children. Working with partner organizations Earth Day Network does provide civic engagement opportunities at local, national and international levels. Earth Day Network works to broaden the definition of environment that is inclusive of well being of an individual promoting a sustainable future. This includes creating green jobs, green schools and protecting the environment by stopping air and water pollution. There is a dire need to raise awareness on these issues when many are blinded by the false definition of development, where the shiny and big industries act as eyewash and an epitome of success and prosperity. By no means does this statement reflect that I am against economic growth but too much of everything is bad, we can’t mess with the nature as it’s results would be detrimental, we have already started to experience it’s wrath and it’s time to be aware and act accordingly.

One of the initiatives that did strike me was Avatar Home Tree Initiative. The reason why it struck me maybe was my fancy for the movie Avatar and importance of tree plantation. And this campaign did reflect that interestingly. The Avatar Tree Initiative was a great success and did exceed it’s original objectives aimed at sustainable development and environmental protection. With seventeen partner organizations together with the dedication of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment thousands of trees were planted in six continents. Involving thousands of people these tree planting projects benefitted tens of thousands of people and continue to profit the global environment and all it’s dwellers. To see such projects flourish and affect millions does give hope. We don’t need to belong to the planet Pandora to feel for the trees. These tree planting projects did develop despite the current challenges of natural disasters and depressed international economy.

To protect environment for all people and protect the natural lands The Canopy Project undertaken by Earth Day Network does catch one’s attention. Planting trees to help communities especially the impoverished communities to help them sustain themselves and their communities is an initiative that deserves praise. Instead of focusing on large scale forestry EDN started by reaching out to local communities keeping in mind the think big and start small approach. It is no surprise that the under privileged needs more attention and help as when the atrocities strike they are the ones most affected by it. Ironic as it might sound nature doesn’t keep track of the rich and poor and no one can be saved from it’s rage. Giving priority to the impoverished communities and making them plant trees to achieve environmental sustainability is a positive step. Trees not only filter the air but also provide food, income and energy thus helping the communities economically too.

The reality is that unpredictable weather patterns are increasing and are more frequent. We have been experiencing violent storms and floods. Trees not only help take excessive carbon dioxide from the air but also help to prevent soil erosion that has led to devastating floods. It is true that first line of defense against global warming is planting more trees. We definitely need to go green and that is why in 2012, Earth Day Network made a commitment with the Global Poverty Project to plant 10 million trees in impoverished areas of the world over the next five years. This commitment needs to become a reality and with perseverance and help from everyone it can become a reality.

The Canopy Project has planted over 1.5 million trees in 18 countries over the past three years. In many states in the US, projects to restore urban canopies have been completed. In Haiti alone Earth Day Network planted 500,000 trees. The earthquakes causing landslides on deforested hillsides that led to horrific devastation in Haiti s known to everyone. In many high poverty districts in Uganda EDN planted 350,000 trees providing local farmers with food, fuel and stability of soil. The Canopy Project of the Earth Day Network has been active around the world. In Australia, Landcare Australia working with national parks and land care groups focused on areas with endangered animal species.  In Belgium, Vereniging voor Bos in Vlaanderen  or Organization for Forests in Flanders worked with private landowners  to afforest their properties to fight the environmental effects of intensive livestock and agricultural production. In Brazil SOS Mata Atlântica Foundation worked with local communities to plant innate trees as a means to restore one of the most biologically diverse Atlantic Forest. In Canada, Tree Canada joined the Avatar Home Tree Initiative to restore pine forest that was devastated by 2005 hurricane. In France,  Kinomé’s Trees & Life program helped young children in southern France to plant their own trees. Kids of the same age in Senegal planted two trees for every tree planted by children of France fostering global reforestation and intercultural awareness. In Germany, The Berlin Energy Agency’s and Club-E  planted trees in southern Berlin as part of its mission to raise awareness about sustainable development among young people. In Italy, San Giovanni community and municipality in Persiceto worked on the Cassa Budrie reforestation project that helped to promote local water security and prevent soil erosion. In Japan a tailored tree-planting at a Japanese school provided students and teachers the opportunity to plant trees on their campus and engage in related green schools activities. In Mexico, Sierra Gorda Ecological Group (SGEG) has been working since 1987. The SGEG worked with local communities and farmers to plant trees directly benefiting local communities restoring watersheds. In The Netherlands, Stichting wAarde or the Earth Value Foundation worked with local young prople to plant trees in Amsterdam and Utrecht. In Spain, Plantemos Para el Planeta planted trees in southeastern Costa del Sol, which was destroyed by wildfire in 2009. In Sweden, Under Sweden’s Skogen i Skolan or Forest in School program, various trees in northeast Sweden were planted by teachers and students.

Supported by and carried out in partnership with nonprofit tree planting organizations throughout the world like some examples stated above Earth Day Network is slowly moving towards it’s goal of planting 10 million trees within the period of five years. Many sponsors and individual donations have also contributed in making this project a success. Working in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme’s Billion Trees Campaign Earth Day Network does wish to contribute positively towards the green movement.

We need to protect our Tree of Souls to continue living in a sustainable world. The Na’vi people of Pandora planet did win in the end. Looking at reality rather than fiction does make me say that we can do that too. Interestingly Avatar was released on Earth Day in 2010 which wasn’t a coincidence. Avatar has inspired a worldwide tree-planting campaign, that involves a million trees in 15 countries and that campaign is The Canopy Project of Earth Day Network. Avatar aligning with Earth Day Network is also a deliberate attempt to press for the need of planting more trees. After the film James Cameron and actress Sigourney Weaver went to the Amazon rainforests and they have been talking about the importance of preserving the environment. Film is an important medium to spread the message using an entertaining tool and it’s about taking everyone along, people from all walks of life to make a positive change.

It should also be kept in mind that narrowing the focus on global warming and losing the broader focus of protecting life on this planet can lead to adverse outcomes. It should be about protecting the forest as an effort to sustain the world’s biodiversity. It is important to look at what is causing the rise of carbon dioxide targeting the current energy system to curb this crisis. It is important to look at all the aspects rather than looking to forests only to solve the current climate crisis.

NB: Nektarina Non Profit is the official partner of Earth Day Network since 2010

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Weekly news #1 / Green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication

Written by admin on . Posted in Green Economy, News, Publications, Weekly news

Posted by Yula Pannadopoulos

This January we are talking about green economy in the context of sustainable development (and poverty eradiction), and today I would like to share some resources that you might finds useful.

In the past two weeks we shared two interesting posts:

United Nations Research Institute for Social Development has a thorough and comprehensive set of resources on Social dimensions of green economy and sustainable development.   UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) has a user friendly green economy page, and I found particularly useful their webinar series which you can view online. UNEP’s TUNZA page shares information on what children and youth around the world are doing for the environment and sustainability. UNEP page on sustainable consumption provides information and content on different ways of consumption and how they can be brought to a more sustainable, environmentaly and socialy more responsible level. Although Rio+20 conference on sustainable development is over, their page remains a great source of content on green economy and sustainable development. In the weeks to come I’ll be sharing more links and information on resources and content on different aspects of sustainable development – economic, social, educational, environmental. We will try to share knowledge, practices and experiences from different sources, but also from our own project, as we are moving forward.  
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Think, Eat, Save: UNEP, FAO and Partners Launch Global Campaign to Change Culture of Food Waste

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

(shared post)

In developed regions around 300 million tonnes of food is wasted annually because producers, retailers and consumers discard food that is still fit for consumption     Geneva, 22 January 2013 – Simple actions by consumers and food retailers can dramatically cut the 1.3 billion tonnes of food lost or wasted each year and help shape a sustainable future, according to a new global campaign to cut food waste launched today by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and partners.

The Think.Eat.Save. Reduce Your Foodprint campaign is in support of the SAVE FOOD Initiative to reduce food loss and waste along the entire chain of food production and consumption – run by the FAO and trade fair organizer Messe Düsseldorf – and the UN Secretary General’s Zero Hunger Challenge. The new campaign specifically targets food wasted by consumers, retailers and the hospitality industry.

The campaign harnesses the expertise of organizations such as WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme), Feeding the 5,000 and other partners, including national governments, who have considerable experience targeting and changing wasteful practices. Think.Eat.Save. aims to accelerate action and provide a global vision and information-sharing portal (www.thinkeatsave.org) for the many and diverse initiatives currently underway around the world. Worldwide, about one-third of all food produced, worth around US$1 trillion, gets lost or wasted in food production and consumption systems, according to data released by FAO. Food loss occurs mostly at the production stages – harvesting, processing and distribution – while food waste typically takes place at the retailer and consumer end of the food-supply chain. “In a world of seven billion people, set to grow to nine billion by 2050, wasting food makes no sense – economically, environmentally and ethically,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. “Aside from the cost implications, all the land, water, fertilizers and labour needed to grow that food is wasted – not to mention the generation of greenhouse gas emissions produced by food decomposing on landfill and the transport of food that is ultimately thrown away,” he added. “To bring about the vision of a truly sustainable world, we need a transformation in the way we produce and consume our natural resources.” “Together, we can reverse this unacceptable trend and improve lives. In industrialized regions, almost half of the total food squandered, around 300 million tonnes annually, occurs because producers, retailers and consumers discard food that is still fit for consumption,” said José Graziano da Silva, FAO Director-General. “This is more than the total net food production of Sub-Saharan Africa, and would be sufficient to feed the estimated 870 million people hungry in the world.” “If we can help food producers to reduce losses through better harvesting, processing, storage, transport and marketing methods, and combine this with profound and lasting changes in the way people consume food, then we can have a healthier and hunger-free world,” Graziano da Silva added. The global food system has profound implications for the environment, and producing more food than is consumed only exacerbates the pressures, some of which follow:  
    • More than 20 per cent of all cultivated land, 30 per cent of forests and 10 per cent of grasslands are undergoing degradation;
 
    • Globally 9 per cent of the freshwater resources are withdrawn, 70 per cent of this by irrigated agriculture;
 
    • Agriculture and land use changes like deforestation contribute to more than 30 per cent of total global greenhouse gas emissions;
 
    • Globally, the agri-food system accounts for nearly 30 per cent of end-user available energy;
 
  • Overfishing and poor management contribute to declining numbers of fish, some 30 per cent of marine fish stocks are now considered overexploited.
Part of the trigger for the campaign was the outcome of the Rio+20 Summit in June 2012, in which Heads of State and governments gave the go-ahead for a 10-Year Framework of Programmes for Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) Patterns. Developing an SCP programme for the food sector must be a vital element of this framework, given the need to sustain the world’s food production base, reduce associated environmental impacts, and feed a growing human population.   “There can be no other area that is perhaps so emblematic of the opportunities for a far more resource-efficient and sustainable world – and there is no other issue that can unite North and South and consumers and producers everywhere in common cause,” said Mr. Steiner. According to FAO (http://www.fao.org/save-food/en/), roughly 95 per cent of food loss and waste in developing countries are unintentional losses at early stages of the food supply chain due to financial, managerial and technical limitations in harvesting techniques; storage and cooling facilities in difficult climatic conditions; infrastructure; packaging and marketing systems. However, in the developed world the end of the chain is far more significant. At the food manufacturing and retail level in the developed world, large quantities of food are wasted due to inefficient practices, quality standards that over-emphasize appearance, confusion over date labels and consumers being quick to throw away edible food due to over-buying, inappropriate storage and preparing meals that are too large. Per-capita waste by consumers is between 95 and 115 kg a year in Europe and North America/Oceania, while consumers in sub-Saharan Africa, south and south-eastern Asia each throw away only 6 to 11 kg a year. According to WRAP, the average UK family could save £680 per year (US$1,090) and the UK hospitality sector could save £724 million (US$1.2 billion) per year by tackling food waste. “In the UK we have shown how tackling food waste through engaging with consumers and establishing collective agreement with retailers and brands, reduces environmental pressures and aids economic growth,” said Dr. Liz Goodwin, CEO of WRAP. “With a rising population, even more pressure is going to be put on resources, and we are excited to be a partner in UNEP and FAO’s Think. Eat. Save. campaign, which is a great start to tackling food waste on a global scale.” In a similar vein to other parts of the world, the European Union is looking into the issue of food waste, and the European Commission has lent its weight to the new initiative. “In the EU we have set ourselves a target to halve edible food waste by 2020 and to virtually eliminate landfilling by 2020; the Commission is planning to present ideas next year on the sustainability of the food system which will have a strong focus on food waste,” said Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for the Environment. “Less food waste would lead to more-efficient land use, better water resource management, more sustainable use of phosphorus, and it would have positive repercussions on climate change. Our work fits perfectly with the launch of this initiative,” he added. For the campaign to reach its huge potential, everyone has to be involved – families, supermarkets, hotel chains, schools, sports and social clubs, company CEOs, city Mayors, national and world leaders. The campaign website, www.thinkeatsave.org, provides simple tips to consumers and retailers, will allow users to make food waste pledges, and provides a platform for those running campaigns to exchange ideas and create a truly global culture of sustainable consumption of food. For example, the website provides the following advice, which will help consumers, retailers and the hospitality industry reduce waste – thus reducing their environmental impact and saving money. Consumers  
  • Shop Smart: Plan meals, use shopping lists, avoid impulse buys and don’t succumb to marketing tricks that lead you to buy more food than you need.
  • Buy Funny Fruit: Many fruits and vegetables are thrown out because their size, shape, or colour are deemed not “right”. Buying these perfectly good fruit, at the farmer’s market or elsewhere, utilizes food that might otherwise go to waste.
  • Understand Expiry Dates: “Best-before” dates are generally manufacturer suggestions for peak quality. Most foods can be safely consumed well after these dates. The important date is “use by” – eat food by that date or check if you can freeze it.
  • Zero Down Your Fridge: Websites such as WRAP’s www.lovefoodhatewaste.com can help consumers get creative with recipes to use up anything that might go bad soon.
  • Other actions include: freezing food; following storage guidance to keep food at its best, requesting smaller portions at restaurants; eating leftovers – whether home-cooked, from restaurants or takeaway; composting food; and donating spare food to local food banks, soup kitchens, pantries, and shelters.
Retailers and the Hospitality Industry  
  • Retailers can carry out waste audits and product loss analysis for high-waste areas, work with their suppliers to reduce waste, offer discounts for near-expiration items, redesign product displays with less excess, standardize labelling and increase food donations, among other actions.
  • Restaurants, pubs and hotels can limit menu choices and introduce flexible portioning, carry out waste audits and create staff engagement programmes, among many other measures.
  • Supermarkets, hotels, restaurants, companies, cities and countries will be able to use the website to pledge to measure the food they waste and put in place targets to reduce it.
Messages of Support Guillaume GAROT, French Minister for Agri-Food “We in France have set the objective of halving food waste by 2025. Currently we are mobilizing the whole of the food chain, from producers and industry, through distribution, and up to consumers for this essential action. This is why I welcome this UNEP and FAO initiative, which will create an international mobilization that will prove more effective by virtue of everybody working together. The fight against food waste on a global scale is a key priority of civilization and an imperative path we must take if we want to take up the food challenge.” Wales’s Environment and Sustainable Development Minister, John Griffiths “It is great news that WRAP is working with the UN Environment Programme to develop a plan to reduce global food waste. Each year around 400,000 tonnes of food and drink are wasted by household in Wales alone. On a global scale, the staggering amount of food we waste is wholly unacceptable and a huge drain on our precious resources. That is why tackling the problem of food waste is a top priority for the Welsh Government and every local council in Wales runs a weekly food waste collection service that covers nine out of ten households.” Scotland’s Environment Secretary, Richard Lochhead “The vast amount of good food which is wasted globally shames us all. It’s also a shocking waste of all the energy and water used in food production, which leads to higher prices and hurts national economies. As Scotland’s Food Minister, I am passionate about both maximising the amount of high quality food we produce and reducing the amount of food we waste. With people going hungry around the world we each have a personal responsibility not to waste this valuable resource. Scotland was among the first countries to take concerted action on food waste through our support for WRAP’s Love Food Hate Waste scheme and its work with retailers.  More recently the Scottish Government has promoted a major national food waste campaign. A collective approach is what’s needed, so it’s great to see the United Nations and its agencies becoming major allies in the battle to end food waste.” Mr.  Helenio Waddington, Roteiros de Charme Hotel Association, President “We are excited to be working with the Think.Eat.Save campaign to preserve and protect our environment and create a more environmentally friendly hotel for our guests. Our effort will also contribute to raising awareness among the Brazilian tourist community.” Luke Upchurch, Head of Communications and External Affairs, Consumers International “This is a great initiative to get consumers and businesses to think more about the food we throw away. Nobody likes to waste food, so we need to do all we can to make it easier to buy, consume, and throw away only what we absolutely need to.” Andrew Kuyk, Director of Sustainability, UK Food and Drink Federation “Tackling food waste is a key priority, both to make what we have go further, especially in the developing world, and to help conserve the vital natural resources on which future production depends. Wasting food also wastes money as well as everything else used to make it. We know from our own work with WRAP in the UK food industry that they will be able to add real value to UNEP’s initiative to devise a global reduction programme, building on lessons learned from actions already taken. The Food and Drink Federation, as the voice of the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, is pleased to offer its support to this new and exciting partnership.” Paul Crewe, Sainsbury’s Head of Sustainability “We’re adding our support to this UNEP campaign because wasting less food is a thoroughly good thing. At Sainsbury’s, we take the issue of food waste very seriously and work to minimize it as much as possible. None of our food waste goes to landfill and we were one of the first major UK retailers to achieve this in 2011. We donate any surplus food to charities and use any waste food for animal feed or anaerobic digestion to generate renewable energy. We also actively help our customers to make their food go further and waste less by providing meal planners and tips on how to store and re-use leftovers, and through our current ‘Make Your Roast Go Further’ campaign that helps them to create two additional family meals from every Sunday roasting joint. We’ve also encouraged customers to embrace ‘ugly’ British fruit and vegetables and to freeze food up to a product’s use by date, which could prevent up to 400,000 tonnes of food being wasted each year.” FoodDrinkEurope ”FoodDrinkEurope’s Environmental Sustainability Vision Towards 2030 identifies that working on the reduction of food wastage is a key priority for Europe’s food and drink industry. Resources and the environmental impacts linked to the production of food, such as raw materials, water and fuels, are also wasted when food is wasted. Preventing waste is key to improving the sustainability of consumption habits and the production of food and drink products. We are committed to working with policymakers, food chain partners and other stakeholders such as the UNEP and the FAO to move towards an integrated approach to raise awareness and optimize the use of raw materials by maximizing the use of by- products for food production. While natural resources get increasingly scarce worldwide, achieving industry’s overall aim of avoiding food waste along the food chain is essential for the future sustainability.” Compass Group “We support the aims of the UN Environment Programme’s new global campaign and last year, Compass Group UK & Ireland signed up to WRAP’s Hospitality and Foodservice Agreement to achieve certain food and associated waste reduction targets in the UK. In addition, we continue to work with our suppliers, clients and customers around the world to reduce waste through implementing initiatives such as ‘Trim Trax’, our programme to measure and reduce food wastage.” NOTES TO EDITORS Food Loss refers to food that gets spilled, spoilt or otherwise lost, or incurs reduction of quality and value, before it reaches its final product stage. Food loss typically takes place at production, postharvest, processing and distribution stages in the food supply chain. Food Waste refers to food that completes the food supply chain up to a final product, of good quality and fit for consumption, but still doesn’t get consumed because it is discarded, whether or not after it is left to spoil. Food waste typically, but not exclusively, takes place at retail and consumption stages in the food supply chain. Think.Eat.Save. Reduce Your Foodprint Visit www.thinkeatsave.org for more information on the campaign. SAVE FOOD Initiative SAVE FOOD the Global Initiative on Food Losses and Food Waste Reduction is a partnership between companies and organizations worldwide to reduce the estimated 1.3 billion tonnes of food that is lost or wasted every year. For more information and facts and figures on food waste and food loss, visit: http://www.fao.org/save-food/en/ WRAP Wrap is a non-profit organization funded by all four UK governments and the EU, and aims to help people recycle more and waste less. For more information, visit: http://www.wrap.org.uk/ Feeding the 5,000 Feeding the 5,000 organizes events where meals made from food that would otherwise have been thrown out are distributed free. For more information, visit: http://www.feeding5k.org/ Video Interview with Robert van Otterdijk, SAVE FOOD: http://www.fao.org/news/audio-video/detail-video/en/?uid=9575 Food loss reduction in The Gambia: http://www.fao.org/news/audio-video/detail-video/en/?uid=7529 Photo Gallery ‘One Third’ by Klaus Pilcher: One Third uses images to describes the connection between individual wastage of food and globalized food production: http://www.kpic.at/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=45&Itemid=88 Related Reports, Facts and Figures UNEP discussion paper on the role of global food consumption patterns in sustainable food systems: http://www.unglobalcompact.org/docs/news_events/upcoming/RioCSF/partner_deliverables/Role_of_Global_Food_Consumption_Patterns.pdf The work of UNEP’s Resource Efficiency Programme on Agri-Food: http://www.unep.org/resourceefficiency/Home/Business/SectoralActivities/AgricultureFood/tabid/78943/Default.aspx  
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Forward, upward, onward!

Written by admin on . Posted in General Information, News

Posted by Team E4S
We are delighted to announce that as of Monday, October 15th 2012, our project Education for Sustainability will move into its third phase.
Education for Sustainability is a global initiative, started in September 2011 by Nektarina Non Profit, to put sustainability on the curriculum of every school. It brings together communities and individuals, governments, organizations, businesses and the educational community itself to ensure children have the skills to become citizens of a sustainable world.
People and the planet were (and are) interconnected, but more often than not people were focused only on their own development, advancement and well being, treating the nature as a resource, when they should have been treating it as a natural partner. At any stage of human development and progress, education played the major role. Without education change is seldom possible. Today we find ourselves at a point where our planet has been severely damaged, from its ecosystems, to the ozone layer. Today it is clear that if we are to have any chance of preserving this planet for the future generations, we need to focus our time, effort and resources on educating people – children and youth in particular – on sustainable development, sustainable living and sustainable future. The project Education for Sustainability aims to help introduce Sustainable Development (and/or any similar subject that may have a different name, but focuses on sustainable living, practices and futures) in schools’ curricula in countries and regions where that is not yet the case. Education for Sustainability project targets Ministries and Departments of Education, Schools’ Councils and Boards – the decision makers when it comes to “official” education. However, at the end of the day, education and its imprint on each individual impacts greatly the society as a whole. That is why we are also addressing local communities, parents’ groups and general population – we need their help (and yours) to reach our goal.   Implementing the Project We are working with local experts, agencies of environment, civil society organizations, schools and volunteers on understanding the local circumstances of any given country, and on compiling, presenting and sharing data, research and facts that will help us explain and advocate the purpose of the project – introducing Sustainable Development in schools’ curricula. The preparatory phase for the project started in September 2011 and was completed in May 2012. During the preparatory phase an extensive research was done on environmental issues in each country, on its educational system, legislative framework and decision making process. We also used that period to develop a network of partners, local experts, communities and civil society organizations that will work with us on the implementation of the project. The content phase started in May 2012, and was completed in September 2012. During that time we launched project’s website and worked on its content, including the project’s Wiki. Finally – we have reached the phase where we are entering a constructive dialogue with the Governments and Ministries of Education, working together with them, but also with schools, local communities and international institutions on finding the best way to provide children and youth with an opportunity to learn about sustainable development and sustainable way of life during their formal education. This implementation phase will last until the end of 2015. We will start by focusing on European countries, and then move towards other continents, Asia, Central and South America and Africa in particular. We are proud by what we have accomplished thus far, and even prouder to say that 65% of all activities related to this project are performed by volunteers and experts working pro-bono. We are extremely grateful to them, but also to everyone on our  full-time team- without their perseverance, hard work, ideas, brainstorming, arguments and mutual challenges, we wouldn’t have gotten this far. We are also so very proud to have all of you as our supporters, partners, backers and, most importantly, friends. THANK YOU. We appreciate your help and support, and we will appreciate them even more in the months and years to come, in our joint effort to make formal education more environmentally and future oriented.   Forward, upward, onward! Livia, Yula, Sandra, Fabrizio, Peter, Nikos and our fab volunteers   Photo credits Nektarina Non Profit, taken at Doha, Qatar