The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.


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Women’s Day Special

The World Fair Trade Organization is celebrating Women’s History Month with a series of podcasts featuring Fair Trade Enterprises started and run by women.

Allison Havens founded Yabal Handicrafts in Guatemala to keep alive indigenous weaving techniques and create livelihoods for local women. Today, the women producers are becoming the main income earners in their family and challenging gender norms. Her story unpacks what it means to truly prioritize local producers over increasing profits – getting to the heart of what makes an enterprise mission-led.

 

Bethlehem founded Entoto Beth in Ethiopia as a social enterprise. Today, her enterprise gives opportunities for 200 women in marginalized communities. She upcycles bullet-casings and has adopted Fair Trade to create jewelry and bags for global markets.

 


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Nobel laureates call for a revolutionary shift in how humans use resources

Reposted from theguardian.com,

Amazon deforestation
Deforestation is among a growing list of planetary ailments, the Nobel laureates warn. Photograph: Sipa Press/Rex Features

 

Eleven Nobel laureates will pool their clout to sound a warning, declaring that mankind is living beyond its means and darkening its future.

At a conference in Hong Kong coinciding with the annual Nobel awards season, holders of the prestigious prize will plead for a revolution in how humans live, work and travel.

Only by switching to smarter, less greedy use of resources can humans avert wrecking the ecosystems on which they depend, the laureates will argue.

The state of affairs is “catastrophic”, Peter Doherty, 1996 co-winner of the Nobel prize for medicine, said in a blunt appraisal.

He is among 11 laureates scheduled to attend the four-day huddle from Wednesday – the fourth in a series of Nobel symposia on the precarious state of the planet.

From global warming, deforestation and soil and water degradation to ocean acidification, chemical pollution and environmentally-triggered diseases, the list of planetary ailments is long and growing, Doherty said.

The worsening crisis means consumers, businesses and policymakers must consider the impact on the planet of every decision they make, he said.

“We need to think sustainability – food sustainability, water sustainability, soil sustainability, sustainability of the atmosphere.”

Overlapping with the 2014 Nobel prize announcements from 6-13 October, the laureates’ gathering will focus on the prospect that global warming could reach double the UN’s targeted ceiling of 2C over pre-industrial times.

Underpinning their concern are new figures highlighting that humanity is living absurdly beyond its means.

According to the latest analysis by environmental organisation WWF, mankind is using 50% more resources than nature can replenish.

“The peril seems imminent,” said US-Australian astrophysicist Brian Schmidt, co-holder of the 2011 Nobel physics prize for demonstrating an acceleration in the expansion of the universe.

The threat derives from “our exponentially growing consumption of resources, required to serve the nine billion or so people who will be on planet Earth by 2050, all of whom want to have lives like we have in the western world,” said Schmidt.

“We are poised to do more damage to the Earth in the next 35 years than we have done in the last 1,000.”

Ada Yonath, an Israeli crystallographer co-awarded the 2009 Nobel for chemistry, said sustainability should not just be seen as conservation of animals and plants.

Humankind should also be much more careful in its use of other life-giving resources like antibiotics.

The spread of drug-resistant bacteria through incorrect use has become a key challenge in “sustainability for the future of humankind”, she stressed.

Several of the laureates suggested a focus on energy.

Dirty fossil fuels must be quickly phased out in favour of cleaner sources – and, just as importantly, the new technology has to spread quickly in emerging economies.

If these countries fail to adopt clean alternatives, they will continue to depend on cheap, plentiful fossil fuels to power their rise out of poverty.

“This will lead to major climate change in the future, and might well destabilise a large fraction of the world’s population due to the change of [climate] conditions,” warned Schmidt.

The climate impact of Asia’s rapid urbanisation will be one of the meeting’s focus areas.

Another concern aired by laureates was the need to strip away blinkers about the danger, while remaining patient in explaining to people why change would be to their advantage.

George Smoot, co-awarded the 2006 physics prize for his insights into the big bang that created the universe, gave the example of LED lighting, a low-carbon substitute for inefficient incandescent bulbs.

“A great innovation is not enough,” he said. “It must be adopted and used widely to have major impact and that starts with general understanding. But until people move from old incandescent bulbs to the new ones, the impact is much less.

“So we need the solutions, for authorities to authorise or encourage their use through regulation, and for people to adopt them.”

And that could only work once everyone understands the benefits for humanity as a whole, but also for themselves, said Smoot.

 

 

 


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FAO Announces International Symposium on Agroecology

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will host an International Symposium on Agroecology for Food Security and Nutrition on September 18 and 19, 2014. The symposium, at FAO headquarters in Rome, will explore recent scientific research and knowledge around agroecological practices, promote open dialogue, and showcase existing experiences and programs on agroecology. Food Tank is excited to be participating in this event.

The event will bring together international experts in the field of Agroecology and falls within the new FAO Strategic Framework, which aims to “increase and improve provision of goods and services from agriculture, forestry, and fisheries in a sustainable manner.”

The symposium will provide a forum for taking stock of the current state of science and practices of agroecology. Discussions will focus on current initiatives underway around the world contributing to the development of an international framework for research on agroecology, with consideration of economic, social and environmental aspects in industrialized and developing countries.

The symposium aims to produce an action plan for a follow up process in Africa and Asia including potential activities in the context of the FAO Strategic Framework. Following the symposium, the FAO will release scientific proceedings and other informational media content for online sharing.

Registration is now open for interested participants.

Maia Reed holds a B.A. in International Development Studies from McGill University and recently received her Permaculture Design Certificate.


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UN Praises Role of Cooperatives in Sustainable Development

 

United Nations officials are highlighting the role cooperative enterprises can play in economic development, social justice and environmental protection.

In his message for International Day of Cooperatives, marked annually on 5 July, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that this year’s Day falls at a “critical time” with the UN working to reach the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and adopt a long-range sustainable development agenda, as well as a new climate agreement.
“Cooperatives are particularly important to agriculture, food security and rural development. In the finance sector, cooperatives serve more than 857 million people, including tens of millions who live in poverty,” Mr. Ban said.
Ranging from small-scale to multi-million dollar businesses across the globe, cooperatives operate in all sectors of the economy, and provide 100 million jobs worldwide – 20 per cent more than multinational enterprises, according to 2011 figures from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP).
In 2008, the largest 300 cooperatives in the world had an aggregate turnover of $1.1 trillion, comparable to the gross domestic product (GDP) of many large economies, the UN agencies said.


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Indian Bio-Diversity Board to Open up 110 Seed Banks in States of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana

News like this gives me great hope that we are wising up and moving away from mono-cultures and industrial farming.

HYDERABAD: To preserve indigenous seed varieties and also promote organic farming, the state bio-diversity board will soon open over 110 seed banks across the two states. With the requisite budgets sanctioned for this pilot project, the board is all set to start the programme in the coming weeks.
The concept is inspired by the activities of a Karnataka-based NGO which was able to do the same in a small scale. A similar project is underway in Gujarat too.
‘’The idea is to start one such seed bank in every village. Farmers can take seeds of various traditional crop varieties free of cost and return double the seeds to the bank after cultivation,” said R Hampaiah, chairman, AP State Biodiversity Board. The board has proposed to open about 60 seed banks in Andhra Pradesh and about 50 in Telangana.
‘’This will not only preserve the local varieties of crops but also promote organic farming, which will in turn reduce the cost of cultivation and yield better output and returns,’’ chairman of the board said adding that huge numbers of farmer suicides in the region was a result of farmers resorting to cultivation of crops not suitable for their region.
According to him, the yield and quality in modern day agriculture were unfortunately inversely proportional though a very small number of farmers practice low cost agriculture and ensure better prices for their yield. The Biodiversity Management Committees (BMC) of the respective villages will also be provided aid to market these varieties so that more and more farmers are encouraged to sow indigenous varieties, he said.

You can read the entire article here.


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Imagining Healthy Work

These excerpts from Jeffery Bilbo’s lecture at Spring Arbor University’s annual Focus series gets to the heart of why “good work often seems impossible…”

I’ll begin with a rough definition of good work, one we can refine as we proceed. Good human work participates in God’s redemptive work; thus it is our loving, healing, and humane acting out the image of God that we bear, the image that obliges us to be God’s representatives to his creation.  Thus, as Wendell Berry argues, bad work is actually blasphemous: “To work without pleasure or affection, to make a product that is not both useful and beautiful, is to dishonor God, nature, the thing that is made, and whomever it is made for. This is blasphemy: to make shoddy work of the work of God” (“Christianity and the Survival of Creation” 104). This may seem like an extremely high view of work, and that’s because it is.
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Organics Under Attack

The OCA has a long history of defending the integrity of organic standards.

Last September, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), under pressure from corporate interests represented by the Organic Trade Association, made our job harder.

They also made it more important than ever for consumers to do their homework, even when buying USDA certified organic products.

Without any input from the public, the USDA changed the way the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) decides which non-organic materials are allowed in certified organic. The change all but guarantees that when the NOSB meets every six months, the list of non-organic and synthetic materials allowed in organic will get longer and longer.

The USDA’s new rule plays to the cabal of the self-appointed organic elite who want to degrade organic standards and undermine organic integrity. For consumers, farmers, co-ops and businesses committed to high organic standards, the USDA’s latest industry-friendly move is a clarion call to fight back against the corporate-led, government-sanctioned attack on organic standards.

Read the essay