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Posts Tagged ‘sustainability’

A fair world

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

The second pillar of sustainable development

Su’Ad Muse

diversitystickyIf we were to imagine the perfect world, everybody would think of something different. But it’s safe to assume the first thing we’d all think of is people. Probably smiling, happy people, living in peace with each other and in harmony with nature. Sustainable development strives to achieve such a ‘perfect world’, one we can all agree on and which provides for us now and in the future. In this world there is no place for oppression and injustice, so it comes as no surprise that Social Equity is one of the four pillars of sustainable development

Social equity is about people. It strives to re-enforce Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well being of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services and the right to security…” The concept of social equity boils down to one basic idea – fairness. This means everyone, regardless of sex, race, age, nationality or religion, has their basics needs accounted for and has the opportunity to lead dignified, comfortable lives. But for this to happen some things have got to change.

Poverty

Poverty is the most obvious barrier to establishing social equity, because if one lives in poverty most, if not all, of their needs as a human being are not met. Poverty is not a state reserved for starved children in Africa. Believe it or not poverty is everywhere. Due to war, famine, political unrest, disease, economic fluctuations or even simply lack of social services 1.4 billion people worldwide live below the poverty line – that’s a 1/4 of humanity! The problem is more severe in developing countries yet even the developed world is not completely safe guarded – every year 3 million people are reported homeless in the USA, with similar figures in Russia. So the stats are there, the question now is how can we improve the situation?

Show me the money!

mdgsgoaloneThe turn of the last century saw the establishment of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the UN, eight goals to be achieved by 2015. Goal one is to cut extreme poverty in half. One of the major ways countries can help to achieve this goal, and the seven other goals, is by allocating 0.7% of their annual national income, know as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to aid and development. 0.7% doesn’t sound like much, but we are about five years out from the deadline and only five countries (The Netherlands, Luxemburg, Norway, Sweden and Denmark) have reached the target amount. The UN stresses the MDGs can be reached, but the richest countries in the world are going to need to dig deep. Change is simply not possible without the money.

Take Action

  • Support the MDGs by joining this years ‘Stand Up and Take Action’ campaign, you can find more information at www.standagainstpoverty.org  Get involved and break a world record while you’re at it!
  • Order your books online from www.goodbooksnz.co.nz all the profit go to Oxfam and you’ll be ‘turning the page on poverty’.

Child rights

happy-childrenChildren and young people are humanities greatest asset. It’s only common sense then that the welfare of children be protected. The simplest way of doing this is by promoting and upholding children’s rights. The United Nations Convention of the Right of the Child has been adopted by every nation of earth (except two) and is concerned solely with children and their specific needs. However many children around the world are denied their rights and are exploited and abused. But before we get on our high horses and think New Zealand is above such madness, here are a couple of humbling (yet shocking) facts: 55 children were killed in New Zealand in the last five years due to abuse, 17 of which were under the age of one; our child homicide rate is increasing whereas other developed countries rates are decreasing; 25% of kiwi kids live in poverty (as defined by New Zealand).

Anti smacking or pro rights?

Aotearoa New Zealand has taken steps to address these issues with a nation wide anti-domestic violence campaign last year and the Repeal of Section 59. These steps are all heading in the right direction, and with Aotearoa New Zealand dealing with the issues on our own doorstep, we are in a better position to support the child rights movement globally. Save the Children, the UN and many other charitable organisations are working for children around the world.  The Save the Children ‘Re-write the future’ programme, for example, works to educate children in conflict– affected areas. Education not only allows children to understand their rights, but enables them to break the poverty cycle and gives them hope for the future.

Take Action

  • Get informed! Find out more about the Repeal of Section 59 and the upcoming referendum.
  • Campaign for the rights of children and become active in this field, contact Save the Child NZ www.savethechildren.org.nz and Action for children and youth Aotearoa www.acya.org.nz
  • If you’re outraged by the child homicide rate, voice your opinion- write letters to the editors, write for your school newspaper, because every persistent individual makes a difference in the long run!
Scales of justice, The Guildhall, City of Bath

Scales of Justice

(Un)Fair pay

Say two people, perhaps a black or white person, or a man and a woman, did the same job to the same standard. You would think they would get paid equally wouldn’t you? Unfortunately in many places, this is not the case. From young children in developing countries who are drastically under paid (or not even paid at all!) for their labour, to women in the west whose wages in some places are 47% less then their male counterparts, unfair pay affects people’s ability to look after themselves and their families. It can also affect whole countries. If people are exploited for cheap labour, and not paid enough, the GDP of the developing countries remains relatively low and the cycle of poverty continues. It is truly sad that people have their basic needs denied, not because they do not work hard for them, but because others pay them unfairly.

Take Action

  • As an employee know your rights, if you believe you are being paid unfairly take action start by having a chat to Youthline 0800 376633 or visit www.youthlaw.co.nz who can help you.
  • To support fair pay in the developing world buy fair trade

Sustainable development is about establishing a fair and just world for the people of today, and also of tomorrow. Establishing social equity should be one of our main priorities, because if we could insure everyone had their basic needs accounted for, humanity could collectively work together to solve other pressing issues facing us, like looking after Mother Earth. We can’t wait, however, for someone else to make the change, we have to be the change ourselves!

Learn more (references)pretty-tree

www.un.org/millenniumgoals
www.oxfam.co.nz
www.tradeaid.org.nz
www.amnesty.org.nz
www.globalissues.org
www.justfocus.org.nz
www.ace.mmu.ac.uk/esd/menu.html
http://en.allexperts.com/q/Human-Resources-2866

Sustainablity is more than just recycling and planting trees

Friday, November 13th, 2009

Just Focus

What is sustainable development?ourworld
Well let’s take a step back and first ask - what is development? It is a pretty difficult term to define because no one really agrees exactly what it is. For many people development simply refers to reducing poverty and improving living condition in poor countries. Others believe that poor countries should pursue the development path that richer countries have followed. For the purposes of this article, lets think about it is as “growth and change that creates a world where more and more people can enjoy a good quality of life and reach their potential”. Sounds pretty good right?!

So then sustainable development would be growth and change that helps us all enjoy a good quality of life, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Even better! I think almost all of us can agree that sustainable development is a good thing. But how do we achieve it? For many of us when we hear the word ‘sustainability’ we think immediately of the natural environment, but sustainability is not just about protecting Mother Earth. A truly sustainable world requires us to look after the people too!  The Just Focus crew like to use the Four Pillars of Sustainability, which are; Environmental responsibility, Economic health, Social equity and Cultural vitality.

Four Pillars of Sustainability

4pillars2This helps us to look at sustainability a bit differently and make connections between happy healthy people and a happy healthy planet.

Over the next few months Just Focus is going to look at each pillar and explore ways each of us can help contribute to creating a sustainable world. In this article we look at a HEALTHY ECONOMY.

To create an economy that is both sustainable and healthy, we need to do things a little differently than we are now. Looking after the environment and our workers has to be held in balance with business development and making a profit. Sounds hard, but we don’t have to choose one over the other. Here are some of the things we could work on…

Energybulb
Energy is a necessity. We use it for heating, cooking, manufacturing, construction and transportation. It’s hard to imagine life without it. But the way we use it needs to change. And fast! We are currently consuming non-renewable resources, such as oil and gas, faster than they can be produced, creating harmful environment effects and creating a global dependency on a resource that will one day run out. We must preserve some non-renewable resources for use in the future and focus on developing renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and hydro power.

Personal Action: We are pretty lucky in New Zealand because 70 % of our power is from renewable sources, but it is still good to try and conserve power. Check out www.climatechange.govt.nz for some games and activities.

Transport
bike-and-busOur transport system help us to move people, food and other goods around cities, countries and the world. But the recent growth in the transport sector is damaging the environment, and many believe it is contributing to climate change The volume of traffic and increased congestion in the big cities also has an economic cost, with loss of work hours and slower delivery services. Transport is an essential part of life, but it is also harmful to the economy and the planet. What do we do!? A good place to start is reducing our dependency on cars. We also need new technology to improve vehicle efficiency and more investment in public transport systems.

Personal Action: Petition your local council to provide incentives for car pooling and using public transport, so more people will be encouraged to do it. You can save money and the planet!

Education and Employment
Without adequate investment in education and training our economy couldn’t grow. Economic prosperity relies on on-to-it people and businesses who provide high quality products and services that others want and are prepared to pay for. Education and training creates skilled workers who are able to meet this need. Helping people improve their skill level and find jobs is also the best way to reduce poverty. To be truly sustainable, work needs to be valued and workers treated fairly and we need regular opportunities to update our skills and knowledge, so that we can adapt to our rapidly changing world.

Personal Action: Make the most of your education and training and never stop learning! Be aware of your rights as a worker www.youthlaw.org.nz

skyscrapers_of_shinjukuBusiness and industry
The business and industry sector has a HUGE role to play in achieving sustainable development around the world. Although many big corporations are accused of causing environmental damage and undermining workers human rights they also have the potential to make a huge contribution, by creating jobs and business opportunities, and using resources more efficiently. Also, by improving their environmental practices, producing less waste, and raising labour standards and valuing their workers, they can set an example to other businesses (try googling ‘Interface Inc’ for an example of a company doing exactly that!).

Personal Action: Check out www.stopcorporateabuse.org and join campaigns that challenge irresponsible and dangerous corporate actions around the world

Trade

International trade isn’t new, people began trading silk and spices thousands of years ago, but the volume of world trade today and the rules that control it have increased the impact it has our everyday lives. Trade has lots of positives but it also contributes to rising pollution levels and has reduced biodiversity (that is the number of living species on the planet). On top of this, the gap between the world’s richest and poorest people has widened, partly due to unfair trade rules created by the World Trade Organisation. How we trade and invest around the world is going to have significant impact on the planet’s future. We need trade rules that benefit people AND the planet.

greencertification-logos

Personal Action: Purchase products that are Fair Trade and/or Organic certified, which means that the environment and the workers who made these products are getting a better deal. Go one step further and get involved with an NGO like Oxfam and work towards reforming the World Trade Organisation

Good time for change
We need to make quite a lot of changes if we want to create a healthy sustainable economy.  You may be thinking that this is not really the best time, what with most of the world in an economic recession. But rather than let all the statistics and media hype get us down this could be the perfect time to take stock. Why did this happen? What are we doing wrong? What would be the impact if we continue to do things like this? This is a great time to think about how we could do better! How could we organise the global economy so that as many people as possible benefit and so that we use the world’s resources sustainability? For our sake, and the sake of those to come, this is a question we cannot ignore any longer.

WORLDCHANGING - A user’s guide for the 21’st century

Friday, September 25th, 2009

Edited by Alex Steffen; Forward by Al Gore.

This book is a ground breaking compendium of the most innovative solutions, ideas and inventions emerging today for building a sustainable, livable, prosperous future.

ecohouse_photoSections on Power, Shelter, Business, Community and just Stuff are divided into short, easy to read explanations of a few hundred of the best solutions out there. The guide is put together by a team of people who invite us to join their conversation on the best tools we can use to improve our lives.

You can join our library and get books and DVDs out for Free!

Global warming already causes 300,000 deaths a year

Friday, July 17th, 2009

Climate change is already responsible for 300,000 deaths a year and is affecting 300m people, according to the first comprehensive study of the human impact of global warming

It projects that increasingly severe heatwaves, floods, storms and forest fires will be responsible for as many as 500,000 deaths a year by 2030, making it the greatest humanitarian challenge the world faces.

Economic losses due to climate change today amount to more than $125bn a year — more than all the present world aid. The report comes from former UN secretary general Kofi Annan’s thinktank, the Global Humanitarian Forum. By 2030, the report says, climate change could cost $600bn a year.

The full article is here

Please don’t take our money away

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

Young people and adults involved with Enviroschools make themselves heard about what Enviroschools (and the recent budget cut) means to them.

The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook: Recipes for Changing Times

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

By Richard Heinberg

swissarmyknifeThis book is like a Swiss army knife. Sharp. Simple. Very practical. Extremely useful. From Solar Heating to Sweet Potato Soup,  water-readiness to worms, and lollies made out of flowers. You can learn how to create walkable communities and/or become a medic-in-a hurry treating accidental electrocution. There is even a glossary of Surfspeak (useful I suppose for a beach disaster) and advice on how to loaf around more creatively. This book is especially designed to stand the test of time, and points out that the stone age didn’t come to an end through a lack of stones - that instead we moved on to a better, more creative, use of new technologies.

You can join our library and get books and DVDs out for Free!

An Inconvenient Truth - the Crisis of Global Warming

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

By Al Gore

globecrackingWhat do you think about Global Warming Do you care enough about the planet to get involved? What can we do to deal with the crisis? This book shows what is happening on our planet and how it affects us. From wildfires to disappearing icecaps we learn what the scientists have been discovering. We also learn how to become part of the solution, in the decisions we make both now and in the future.

The DVD is also available.

You can join our library and get books and DVDs out for Free!

Changing the world one word at a time

Friday, April 24th, 2009

Global Bits - Issue 16 (24 Pages)

Global Education Centre

cover-art-issue-161This Global Bits offers readers a chance to look inside the heads of our future leaders – and to understand the issues and passions that drive them. Open to all 12-18 year olds, 10 young people were picked for this programme for the first time in 2008. In this issue these creative and savvy new authors relate history to global politics. They unravel subjects such as international guidelines for human rights the difference between actual and relative poverty, and just how democracy works.

Watch this space for our new group in 2009!

Download PDF 5.44MB

You can also join our library and get books and DVDs out for Free!

WWF (Worldwide Fund for Nature)

Friday, February 20th, 2009


www.wwf.org.nz

What do they do?
WWF is a science-based conservation organisation that works together with many sectors – government, business, science, environment, community – to find solutions to environmental and sustainability issues.

How can I get involved?
Support a WWF Campaign – WWF often campaign on a current issue in one of their conservation areas. Check the website for current campaigns and how you can help. This usually involves collecting signatures and writing letters to local/national government.
Apply for a Grant – WWF administers a fund called EEAF (Environmental Education Action Fund) which, in partnership with The Tindall Foundation, distributes $50,000 worth of grants each year to environmental education projects around the country. The focus for these grants is on young people taking action for their environment. Grants are not given to individuals, but young people who are interested can suggest the idea of applying to their school or youth group. See the WWF website for more details.

VSA (Volunteer Service Abroad)

Friday, February 20th, 2009


www.vsa.org.nz

What do they do?
VSA recruits and sends skilled New Zealanders to work as volunteers with communities in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific.

How can I get involved?
Volunteer overseas! VSA has formed an alliance with Students Partnerships Worldwide (SPW) and is recruiting now for 18-28 year olds looking for a 9-11 month experience in Africa. You will go through a training programme, where you’ll learn new and fun ways of teaching messages about health and the environment. Then you will be posted to a community with local volunteers, where you will be supported by SPW to work on one of three key themes: health (and in particular HIV/AIDS education), the environment, or community development.