The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.

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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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United Nations’ FAO Reaches Landmark Decision

This is great news! The Wall Street Journal’s Christopher Emsden announces a landmark decision reached by the  United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization:

…The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization Tuesday reached a deal giving extended support to co-operatives, a growing force in the global economy.
The FAO’s memorandum of understanding is with the International Co-Operative Alliance, a 118-year-old non-governmental organization that seeks to promote and represent producer-owned co-operatives around the world.
The deal, which promises legal and policy collaboration as well as ways to “enhance the voice” of cooperatives in FAO’s governing bodies and technical committees, will give ICA’s members access to and a voice in state-level agricultural trade talks and help them benefit from FAO’s resources in agronomy, Charles Gould, ICA’s director-general, said in an interview. Continue reading

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Cooperatives Responsible for 3% of GDP in New Zealand

Scoop Business Independent News reports on the contributions cooperatives make to New Zealand’s economy:

Showing a combined annual revenue of $41,129,034,964 for the year 2011-12, the Top 40 cooperatives in New Zealand ranged from Fonterra Cooperative Group and Foodstuffs at the top through Southern Cross Healthcare Society and Mitre10 to Ashburton Trading Society, the Dairy Goat Cooperative and World Travellers, with the NZ Honey Producers Cooperative coming in at #40.
“I think it is important that New Zealanders sit up and take notice of cooperatives; they help drive the economy, respond to social change and create jobs in a variety of sectors. While they may often be low profile, they are significant economic actors,” said Minister Foss. Continue reading

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Message from WIPO Director General, Francis Gurry, on the occasion of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

GENEVA – Indigenous Peoples’ traditional knowledge (TK) and traditional cultural expressions (TCEs) embody significant innovation and creativity and contribute to the diversity and richness of the planet’s civilizations and cultures. They also contribute to the cultural identity, sustainable development and social cohesion of Indigenous Peoples and local communities, and, globally, to the conservation of the environment, the promotion of food security and the advancement of public health.

The enhanced promotion, preservation and protection of TK and TCEs are called for by Indigenous Peoples and local communities, who seek greater control over if and how their TK and TCEs are accessed and used outside the traditional context. Continue reading

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UN buys from Ethiopia’s farmer co-operatives to feed local, starving people

Global News Anthony Murray in Co-operative News reports on a new pilot project to promote small farmers’ access to local markets. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) buys food from local co-operatives and distributes it to vulerable populations in Ethiopia.  This year’s harvest will feed 1.8 million Ethiopians for a month:

Farmer co-operatives around Ethiopia are set to deliver one of the largest amounts of maize to a food development programme that will redistribute the food to country’s most vulnerable.

As part of a pilot project to promote small farmers’ access to local markets, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) buys food from local co-operatives and this harvest will feed 1.8 million Ethiopians for a month.

Abdou Dieng, WFP Country Director, said 28,000 metric tonnes of maize will form part of the UN’s relief distributions. He said: “Our goal here is to support Ethiopia feeding itself. Buying food for our Ethiopia operation right here in Ethiopia makes sense in cost-effectiveness, and in providing a boost for the local economy by helping small farmers to get closer to markets.” Continue reading


Malala Yousafzai Addresses United Nations

Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai addresses the United Nations as part of her campaign to ensure free compulsory education for every child. “I am here to speak up for the right of education of every child,” she said.  She also invokes the names of Gandhi, Mother Theresa and Martin Luther King while advocating for peace and non-violence.

She marked her 16th birthday by delivering the speech on Friday at the UN headquarters in New York. 

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Mermaid Garden – Taking Seafood Transparency to New Level

Excerpted from an article by Amelia Pang, Epoch Times:

NEW YORK—Consumers and chefs have the potential to alter the scientific facts that portend fish will be extinct from Earth by 2048. But in a world where, according to the United Nations, 30 percent of fish products are mislabeled, it becomes difficult for people to eat responsibly. 
Since the prediction was made in a 2006 study by Boris Worm, PhD, of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, there has been a rise in sustainable fishing efforts, although many were marred by issues in transparency. 
But Mermaid’s Garden, which runs Brooklyn’s first Community Supported Fishery (CSF), is taking seafood transparency to the next level. 
The Park Slope-based seafood consultancy uses a community fishery model to connect customers with seafood that has been caught sustainably within a day or two by small-scale fishers.
A CSF works in a similar fashion to the better-known Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) system, which delivers fresh produce directly from local farms to consumers. 
Mermaid’s Garden cuts out the middleman to bring fresh and sustainably-fished seafood to over 300 customers in Brooklyn. Customers sign up for a season at a time and receive fresh fish once a week. 
Brooklynites can either purchase a half-share or a full-share. A half-share (1-1.25 pounds/week) can feed two people once a week, and cost $66 for four weeks of fish. 
Full-shares (2-2.25 pounds/week) can feed four people once a week, or two people twice a week, and cost $132 for four weeks. Both shares run in four-week cycles. There is also a $15 membership fee. 
Local fish that are currently in season now include black bass, porgy, bluefish, striped bass, summer flounder, swordfish, yellowfin, bigeye tuna.