Cooperatives as Business Models of the Future - When the International Year of Cooperatives (IYC) concluded last week, some of the overwhelming success stories highlighted at a two-day interactive session came both from developing and developed countries,...
Dame Pauline Green, president of the International Cooperative Alliance...
In Brazil, Green said, a clearly defined government policy aimed at helping rural people, through cooperative businesses, has seen a massive reduction in poverty in the rural areas of the sprawling South American nation.
In Kenya, cooperatives account for nearly half of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), while in Rwanda the cooperative economy has gone from zero to eight percent of GDP over the last 10 years.
The world’s largest 300 cooperatives, primarily in the insurance and food and agriculture sectors, generated revenues of 1.6 trillion dollars and employed nearly 100 million people worldwide.
Asked if the cooperative model of enterprise may well be one of the answers to the global economic crisis, Green told IPS, “Without doubt the cooperative business model offers a proven solution to this global economic crisis we are mired in.”
In the UK, she said, schools have become one of the fastest-growing parts of the cooperative economy.
“Renewable energy cooperatives have been springing up all over the globe, and of course media is another area which benefits from the cooperative model because it ensures independent journalism remains viable,” she noted.
If girls and women continue to live in greater poverty, with lower education levels, less access to healthcare and other services, less opportunity to work, and lower status in their societies, chances are that their access and use of ICT will not match that of boys and men.
Getting more girls into school and improving the quality of education could help more girls access and learn to use technology. Finding ways to encourage critical thinking and innovation within the education system and ways for girls to join extra-curricular activities to stimulate new ways of thinking could also help them gain skills for jobs in the ICT sector.
NGOs should advocate and support policies to make internet more accessible and affordable. Libraries and other safe spaces can also help girls and women feel more comfortable to access information and learn how to use technology.
The follow snippet was taken from the Commencement Address by Paul Hawken to the Class of 2009 at University of Portland.
This planet came with a set of instructions, but we seem to have misplaced them. Important rules like don't poison the water, soil, or air, don't let the earth get overcrowded, and don't touch the thermostat have been broken. Buckminster Fuller said that spaceship earth was so ingeniously designed that no one has a clue that we are on one, flying through the universe at a million miles per hour, with no need for seatbelts, lots of room in coach, and really good food -- but all that is changing.
There is invisible writing on the back of the diploma you will receive, and in case you didn't bring lemon juice to decode it, I can tell you what it says: You are Brilliant, and the Earth is Hiring. The earth couldn't afford to send recruiters or limos to your school. It sent you rain, sunsets, ripe cherries, night blooming jasmine, and that unbelievably cute person you are dating. Take the hint. And here's the deal: Forget that this task of planet-saving is not possible in the time required. Don't be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was impossible only after you are done.
When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren't pessimistic, you don't understand the data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren't optimistic, you haven't got a pulse. What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair , power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world. The poet Adrienne Rich wrote, "So much has been destroyed I have cast my lot with those who, age after age, perversely, with no extraordinary power, reconstitute the world." There could be no better description. Humanity is coalescing. It is reconstituting the world, and the action is taking place in schoolrooms, farms, jungles, villages, campuses, companies, refuge camps, deserts, fisheries, and slums.
Cities looking to be models of sustainability must look beyond city limits to the global flow of goods and materials into their realm, Swedish researchers say.
"Urban areas drive much of the global changes we see, whether in energy use, food supply, resource depletion or land-use change," says study lead author Sybil Seitzinger of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program based in Stockholm.
Sustainable cities will require adequate information on resource flows and their impacts, she said, preferably in near-real-time and on a global scale so they can be aware of how resources consumed within a city are sourced, produced and transported.
A partnership between "sustainable" cities and between cities and non-urban regions could provide the foundations for a more sustainable approach to urbanization and urban living this century, the researchers wrote.
Working with the Government, Mr. Mishra has taken special interest in environmental issues and has been instrumental in mobilizing hundreds of villagers across the district for climate action. People of Aasayi village in the district took part in Climate Impacts Day on May 5th earlier this year where locals gathered for a human art formation depicting the need to safeguard their fragile forests.
With rising carbon emissions across the planet, the need for a concerted effort to tackle climate change is only growing. Here are a few suggestions, which need urgent attention:
1. There should be a “WORLD COMMISSION FOR SCIENCE AND DEVELOPMENT” for promoting the researches and developmental works which have zero to low carbon emissions. 2. Our investment in R & D should be more on the development of “RENEWABLE ENERGY” like solar, tidal, wind and water energies, apart from developing “low carbon emission technologies”. 3. There should be a big role and support for civil society institutions in implementing environment friendly plans & projects of government. 4. There should be effective “AWARENESS programmes at grassroots level”, to save the environment from degradation. 350.org is doing an excellent job in this regard. 5. Carbon capping should not be the one way legislation programme against developing nations. DEVELOPED nations should provide financial help and green technology transfer to DEVELOPING nations, to phase-out the fossil fuels.
The wasteful expansion of cities in "endless peripheries" leads to additional risks associated with the provision of water, physical infrastructure, transport and energy, and affects industrial production, local economies, assets and livelihoods, according to the report. (...)
Margareta Wahlström, who heads the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, supports UN-Habitat's approach, which takes equity and good governance into account when assessing a city's prosperity - these elements also help bolster disaster resilience.
From devastating floods in China and the Philippines to droughts in Africa, the extreme weather patterns that hit the United States have impacted sites around the world as the face of global warming.
According to a new report, climate change has already contributed to 400,000 deaths per year and over $699 billion, 0.9 percent annually, in loss to gross domestic product (GDP). The report estimates even greater damage from air pollution caused by the burning of fossil fuels. also driving global warming.
'Climate Vulnerability Monitor: A Guide to the Cold Calculus of a Hot Planet (2nd Edition)' was written by over 50 scientists, economists and policy experts, and commissioned by 20 governments. The study calculates and compares the vulnerability of 184 countries in terms of environmental disasters, habitat change, health impact and industry stress.
Read on for statistics, implications and global health issues related to these new findings, proving that 'failing to deal with global warming will have real and lasting impacts on local communities, economies, health and safety, and people around the world.'
We should be concerned that that unsustainable stories have formed a powerful hegemonic discourse that have legitimized a trajectory to an uninhabitable planet.
America is indeed facing tough times and not just from a fragile economy. With 23 states experiencing a "national emergency" this summer due to drought and more than 3,000 daily high temperature records set in the month of June alone, regardless of where you live in the world you are likely experiencing some sort of record-breaking weather.
To be fair to the media, global warming and related sustainability stories are complex and not easy to tell. Environmentalists, politicians, scientists, economists and skeptics seem locked in a permanent battle across the "information commons." Despite progress in some areas, an ugly truth lurks behind the general discourse on the global environment.
We see these dominant narratives on the news, advertising, films, TV shows, billboards, on the streets and we even hear them from our leaders. They are everywhere. For every Prius or Nissan Leaf that is advertised, 10 SUV commercials are aired. For every farmers market, there are 10 junk-in-a-box billboards across town.
"Continued immigration, across cultural and economic divides, is not only inevitable but also broadly beneficial. Immigrants deepen the ties that hold our world together. Today's migrants don't abandon their homelands, but bridge their homelands with their adopted countries. They make links, economic, cultural, and social. Immigration needs to be steady and sure, neither a floodgate nor a trickle. A floodgate would disrupt the long-term processes of social trust and institution building in the host and source countries. A trickle would allow a build-up of global pressures and illegal population movements to an intolerable degree." ~ Jeffery Sachs at Columbia University, New York in 2007.
Understanding the learning potential of young children can change the world in dramatic ways. It can ensure peace or exacerbate war. That little brain is going to adapt whether it means pulling a trigger or planting a seed. Peace Corps and Rotary International are powerful organizations dedicated to a peaceful world. One of the avenues to that end is literacy. If children are able to read, they will be more informed and can make decisions for themselves. People who can read are more able to take charge of their lives and are less likely to be victimized.
Urbanization has already declared itself the mega-trend of the 21st century, with half the world’s population now living in cities for the first time in human history.
"Globalization itself is as much an inter-city phenomenon as it is about lowering national borders. According to a McKinsey Global Institute study, almost the entire world economy is represented by approximately 400 cities. Airline connections around the world depend on the development of robust “hubs” such as Chicago, London, Zurich or Singapore, which in turn magnify the reach of globalization inward to smaller cities in their regions. "
This photograph is taken in Guangzhou (the city once known as Canton) at a wholesale clothing market. Most of the people in the market are not from Guangzhou. The market traders are a mix of people from China and from a number of different nations in Africa. The customers are primarily Africans. It is an international place, drawing all toward a common goal: to escape poverty through the international circulation of cell phones and clothing.
Most of those Africans in Guangzhou are working in businesses that facilitate the export of goods back to Africa. Gordon Matthews in his book Ghetto at the centre of the world tells us that Africans go through stages of engagement in the process of becoming a trader with China. The easiest point of access is via Hong Kong and in particular through a single building: Chung King Mansions. The traders come to Hong Kong with money that they have scraped together from friends and family seeking out those with experience. In Hong Kong, they will either buy from local wholesalers, which is a more expensive but potentially less risky option, and ship the good back or taken home as part of their luggage. Those who are more connected or willing to take bigger risks may find a guide who will take them to Shenzhen or, even better, Guangzhou to buy from wholesalers directly. Goods will then be shipped as in the photograph above or again carried home as luggage. Those who successfully manage the first trip, and are able to get their goods home, then survive economically to return again. Many do not.
Earlier this month, national security scholar Patrick Doherty published a proposal in Foreign Policy magazine for America’s next “grand strategy,” a plan for how the U.S. should reposition itself in a world defined less by threats from communism or terrorism and more by the global challenge of sustainability. His offering is among a crop of such foreign policy tracts all aiming big ideas at the newly re-inaugurated president.
These treatises usually have little to do with the more prosaic problems of cities, with housing or transportation or unemployment. But part of Doherty’s particular argument snagged our attention: He believes a central piece of American security and strength in the 21st century will reside in walkable neighborhoods.
Walkability, as we typically think of it in cities, is deeply connected to sustainability, public health and economic development. But foreign policy? That was a new one even for us.
Doherty’s basic idea is that pent-up demand for such communities could help power a new American economic engine in the same way that suburban housing (and all of the consumption that came with it) made America economically and globally powerful in the Cold War era.
I am talking about the ideas that deal with the reshaping of our identities, as both individuals and communities, given what we now know about the changing living conditions on our planet, and of a new sense of identification with, and commitment to, those who will be affected in the future by the way we live right now, by both what we are doing and what we are not doing yet. I am talking about a new notion of citizenship that is called for by the demands of the ecological crisis, an “ecological citizenship” of a global scope, that can best be promoted by, well, the one global body of nations we have. -- Ilan Safit
A sustainable role to play as citizens of the earth, considering the impact of our behaviors and new means of participating with our local communities.
Help build a global community network for people to connect, share, and experiment with alternative ways of living! Resilience beyond current crises!
Kuru is a grassroots initiative that is focused on the "radical reinterpretation of what it means to be 'human' by changing those stories and systems that no longer serve us, specifically those involving food, education, money, and community.
The 11 social activists and cultural visionaries who are spreading this vision come from around the world to resist the currents of the mainstream in favor of "community and smallness".
They are aiming to crowdfund the development of a social network where local experiments, transitions stories, and indigenous wisdom can be cross-fertilized around the world.
Perlman is the President and CEO of the Mega-Cities Project, which she founded in 1988 with the intention to shorten the lag time between ideas and implementation in urban problem-solving. Working at the intersection of poverty, environment and voice for the disenfranchised, the organization has brokered over 40 transfers of successful urban innovations across boundaries of geography, ethnicity and nationality. Research/action teams in cities with over 10 million people across Asia, Africa, Latin America and the United States are hosted by university research centers or non-profit organizations and use leaders from government, business, non-profits, grassroots groups, academia and the media to help identify unrecognized local initiatives.
Back in 2006, Give to Colombia (G2C), a US-based non-profit group that creates, promotes and facilitates alliances between international donors and grassroots organisations in Colombia, hosted a forum in Miami targeted at the US diaspora.
According to World Health Organization (WHO) there should be 9 sq. meter green space per city dweller for ensuring better life. In developed countries, normally, they have more trees (more than 20 sq. meter green spaces per city dweller) to meet the ecological balance for human well-being compared to cities in developing countries, which often fall below the minimum standard of open green spaces set by WHO. For example, most of the cities of China have 6.52 sq. meter green coverage per head.
Department of Environment (DoE) pointed out that air pollutant (SOx, NOx and CO2) levels in Dhaka city are about 4 to 5 times higher than the prescribed levels of Air Quality Standard (AQS) in Bangladesh. Such pollutants remain and persist with air due to lack of tree coverage. Several research in US shows that trees can remove pollution by intercepting airborne particles. Another study of BAPA (2002) pointed out that air pollution causes headache, burning of eyes, pain in throat, bronchitis, breathing problems, heart disease, anemia, mental problems, kidney disease and even cancer. According to experts, about 33% of Dhaka dwellers suffer from hearing problems due to noise pollution. In US one research estimate suggests that 7db noise reduction is achieved for every 33 meter of forest. Therefore, vegetation can play an important role in attenuating noise and absorbing sound energy.
We must invest the time and resources to form a more effective, coherent and focused governance system in order to truly achieve our goals and build a better, sustainable future.
Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, Achim Steiner, said "without a strengthening of international environmental governance, whatever is potentially agreed in Rio+20 will only contribute to a persistence of the challenges, rather than the delivery of the opportunities and the imperative for a more intelligent and equitable 21st century development."
The costs of either rebuilding or relocating in response are enormous but unavoidable. Furthermore, since the economies of many coastal communities are based on fisheries and tourism, the impacts of anthropogenic climate change threaten their long-term sustainability.
Given their vulnerability, coastal communities are on the front line of global warming. But do they have the capacity to adapt to so much environmental change? Do their responses to past challenges suggest strategies for coping with future change? Can we predict which communities are most vulnerable and help them to become more resilient?
A look at nine places defining life on the margins for the new century, from Chongqing to California.
These places are known around the world by many names: as the slums, favelas, bustees, bidonvilles, ashwaiyyat, shantytowns, kampongs, urban villages, gecekondular, and barrios of the developing world, but also as the immigrant neighborhoods, ethnic districts, banlieues difficiles, Plattenbau developments, Chinatowns, Little Indias, Hispanic quarters, urban slums, and migrant suburbs of wealthy countries, which are themselves each year absorbing 2 million people, mainly villagers, from the developing world.
When we look at arrival cities, we tend to see them as fixed entities: an accumulation of inexpensive dwellings containing poor people, usually in less than salubrious conditions. In the language of urban planners and governments, these enclaves are too often defined as malign appendages, cancerous growths on an otherwise healthy city. Their residents are seen, in the words of former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, "as an ecologically defined group rather than as part of the social system."
This leads to tragic urban-housing policies in the West, of the sort that made Paris erupt into riots in 2005, led to clashes in London in the 1980s, and propelled Amsterdam into murderous violence in the first decade of this century. It leads to even worse policies in the cities of Asia, Africa, and South America, to slum-clearance projects in which the futures of tens or hundreds of thousands of people are recklessly erased.
In a relatively short period of time, home-sharing websites like Airbnb and CouchSurfing have changed the way we view traveling. Instead of shacking up in dorm-like hostels or overpriced hotels, travelers now have the option of a home-away-from-home, in the shape of a furnished condo, treehouse, bedroom, or gently-worn sofa.
These travelers end up staying in locations that can provide an embedded community experience — they live in private homes, furnished by individual city residents, rather than 400-thread-count Egyptian cotton.
CouchSurfing, founded in 2004, reports over four million CouchSurfers on their site this year (over 16 million since launch), and Airbnb has had 10 million nights booked since their founding in 2008. The main distinction between the two sites is payment: CouchSurfing is free, and the idea is to stay with a "host." Airbnb's rates vary on the place, but tend to be solo (57 percent of listings are entire places [PDF]) — you are renting the place, not the hosted experience.
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