The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.

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What is Sustainable Development

I remember so distinctly standing in the middle of the “bullpen” shortly after our annual sales meeting and thinking the company’s new “growth targets” were ridiculous. Their targeted 15% annual growth in a mature market was unrealistic. It dawned on me then that, on a larger scale, the idea of growth year over year over year to infinity was impossible. We live in a finite world. Why couldn’t businesses be structured in a way that was sustainable instead of running on some illusory perpetual growth model? What would a sustainable model look like and how could it be applied?

In his February, 2019 post at IDEAS For Us Akari Giraldo takes on the issue of sustainable growth. He notes that ” One of the longest ongoing debates in the world of economic trade, politics, and human growth involves the evolution of sustainable development.” 

In 2005, the World Summit on Social Development identified the three cores areas of sustainable development, called The Three Pillars of Sustainability. The pillars are economic development, environmental development, and social development, also informally known as profit, planet, and people. These three cores vary in basis, but, are similar in collective goal and place each other into consideration.


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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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Cooperative Economic Model Best Suited for Obtaining Lasting Peace and Ecological Integrity

Orlan Ravanera’s piece in the Sun Star lays out the fundamental principles inherent in a cooperative economic model.

By their very existence, the cooperatives are debunking a flawed development paradigm that allows a privileged few to use democracy to serve special interest groups at the expense of the people and the environment. They are vehemently condemning an elitist system that uses power, like vultures, feeding upon the flesh of the poor, the downtrodden and the oppressed as exemplified by the Napoles scandal. If indeed the named legislators have shamelessly pocketed billions at the expense of the people in whose name and for whose cause they are in government for, then those who are giving highest credence to time honored and universally-accepted cooperative democratic principles must now advance an alternative development paradigm. Continue reading

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Monsanto Drawing Opposition Across Globe

Increasingly Monsanto is drawing opposition across the globe.  In The Times of India Laxmi Prasanna reports on a recent conference held in Thiruvananthapuram that attracted green activists and scientists from around the world.

As part of the global call against Monsanto, participants including green activists from 400 cities across the world including Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram will organise protest marches and rallies on October 12, calling for Safe Food to prevent contamination of food by genetically modified crops and toxic pesticides. “We have no crisis in food security, it is crisis in distribution of safe food and the government has to address that,” Green activist Sridhar Radhakrishnan told TOI on Friday.
Later in the day leading freshwater conservation biologists got together calling for concrete strategies to conserve freshwater biodiversity in a symposium on ‘Aichi Targets and freshwater biodiversity conservation in the Western Ghats’. Though freshwater ecosystems occupy less than one per of the Earth’s surface, it harbors 10 per cent of the planet’s biodiversity. Yet they are one of the most poorly protected ecosystems on earth and face various threats including pollution, overexploitation and alien invasive species.
Dr. Jorg Freyhof, Scientist at the Leibniz Institute of Inland Fisheries in Berlin, Germany stressed the need for larger holistic data bases to convince and prioritise arguments for biodiversity conservation. He said policy makers and conservationists need to collate data that is easily available including species description, ecological trait data, threatened biodiversity, Red List assessment, protected area network and priority areas for restoration.

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Link Between Sustainability and Environmentalism Fairly Recent

The link between sustainability and environmentalism is actually fairly recent:

Before 1980, sustainability was an uncommon variant of sustainable, as in “capable of being upheld,” and it could be used in any context. But in 1980 that all changed when the International Union for the Conservation of Nature published the World Conservation Strategy, including an entire section called “Towards Sustainable Development.” Since then, the word’s popularity has skyrocketed.
The concept of environmental sustainability—but not the phrase itself—is present in Rachel Carson’s seminal work, Silent Spring, published in 1962. This book is widely considered the beginning of the modern environmental movement. In fact, the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) starts the “Sustainable Development Timeline” with its publication.
Sustainability was a major theme of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen in 2009 (also called the Copenhagen Summit on Climate Change or COP15). The word sustainable appears frequently throughout the Copenhagen Accord, the non-binding agreement that was the result of weeks of negotiations between the 193 participating countries.

Read more here.


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Sustainability Does Not Travel Well


Pamela Mar explores the distinction between the meaning of sustainability in the East vs. the West and concludes that “sustainability does not travel well.”

…the definition of sustainability – i.e. progress which stems from balancing economic, environmental and social priorities – may resonate globally, but the strategies for implementing it have to be tailored to local circumstances.

Mar emphasises the difference between the West’s sustainability strategies vs. Eastern needs and concerns.  In Western terms sustainability applies largely to the environment and does not address the concerns of labor:

US-style capitalism is unique in the advanced industrial world for how the fruits of the industry are shared: while labor is being squeezed, capital collects on the gains. In other words, real wages for the American worker have been falling steadily since the 1970s even though productivity has grown. Elizabeth Warren recently noted that if wages had kept up with productivity growth since 1960, the minimum wage today would be US$22 an hour instead of just above US$7. This also helps to explain why the US CEO-worker wage gap is the highest in the developed world. Continue reading

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San Francisco leading the way with sustainability development program.

San Francisco is, again, ahead of the curve in working with California’s sustainability guidelines to establish a program to reduce water consumption, reduce waste and enhance community-scale energy resources.  Architect News  reports on a new tool called Eco-Districts that will help them get to their goal:

To aid in the fulfillment of these goals, the program is implementing a tool called  – a community of property owners, businesses and residents within a neighborhood that collaborate to develop and initiate sustainable development projects in their area.  Using a set of performance metrics, neighborhoods can shape their projects with custom strategies for their community.

The Eco-District is fundamentally a community-driven development that has the potential to achieve the smart growth of sustainable ideas but also build local urban identity and enforce a sense of place among its residents.  The Eco-District movement has already taken shape in Austin (TX), Boston (MA), Seattle (WA),  Washington DC, and Portland (OR) in various degrees of development.  San Francisco’s adoption of this tool will help drive the successes of the Sustainability Development Program with a focus on holistic approaches of neighborhood development and support with environmentally conscious improvements. Continue reading

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No sustainable development without environmental sustainability and decent work

The contribution of the world of work to the greening of the economy is critical – and presents a real opportunity – to realize the ILO’s social goals, concludes the ILC Committee on Sustainable Development, Decent Work and Green Jobs.

19 June 2013.  GENEVA – For the first time in the ILO’s near century-long history, government, worker and employer delegates have agreed on a strong common vision and key guiding principles to achieve a just transition to a greener economy.

“The greening of economies presents many opportunities to achieve social objectives: it has the potential to be a new engine of growth, both in advanced and developing economies, and a net generator of decent green jobs that can contribute significantly to poverty eradication and social inclusion,” said the Committee on Sustainable Development in its conclusions, after almost two weeks of deliberations during the International Labour Conference (ILC). Continue reading

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Education and Sustainability

The Guardian asks “Is sustainability a key part of education on it’s Environment blog:

“The UK has been ahead with the sustainability school agenda, but I’m worried that they’re now stripping back the work that we’ve spent 10 years developing with the schools,” says Anna Birney from Forum for the Future, a non-profit group promoting sustainable development.

For years, charities and non-profits have been encouraging and helping schools integrate energy into education. One of their main strategies is using energy efficiency projects in schools to teach children about sustainability, by making it part of their learning experience.

“Putting solar panels on the roof of a school building can be a way to show children how much energy can be saved,” explains Birney. “But teachers can also use it as an engagement tool for lessons in science and maths.”

Schools don’t have to create lessons dedicated solely to the environment and energy to teach them about these issues. The point is that this knowledge can be diffused in core subjects like maths, science and even literacy lessons. For example, students from Worcestershire and Warwickshire schools wrote letters to their local MP to voice their concerns about climate change and the environment as part of their literacy lesson.

Studies conducted by Ofsted have shown positive results from schools that integrated sustainability into their curriculum. In some cases, children were getting better marks and were seen as more positive about learning in general. According to Birney, children get excited to learn about real life issues and the prospect of making a change.

While some groups suggest that lessons on sustainability should be taught in higher education, it would appear that the ideal age to start engaging students in these issues is actually primary school. Mike Wolfe from CREATE, another non-profit dedicated to sustainable development, explains that interest on the subject peaks between the ages of 9-14. Later, students have less time to sacrifice as workload increases for GCSEs and A-levels.

Readers can find the article here.