|image: Steps Center|
'Green' market initiatives are increasing poverty; local ecosystem stewardship must be nurtured instead:
Reprinted - Julia Day
Institute of Development Studies
'Green grabbing' - the rapidly-growing appropriation of land and resources in the name of 'green ' biofuels, carbon offsetting schemes, conservation efforts and eco-tourism initiatives – is forcing people from their homelands and increasing poverty, new research has found.
Ecosystems being 'asset-stripped' for profit is likely to cause dispossession and further poverty among the already-poor land and resource users, according to a set of 17 new research case studies from Africa, Asia and Latin America, published in a special issue of the Journal of Peasant Studies.
"Green grabs are the dark side of the green economy," said Professor Melissa Leach, director of the ESRC STEPS Centre. "If market-based mechanisms are to contribute to sustainable development and the building of economies that are not only green but also fair, then fostering an agenda focused on distribution, equity and justice in green market arrangements is vital."
This means including meaningful local engagement and consultation based on transparency, accountability and free, prior informed consent. Yet green markets cannot do it all. In the rush to repair a damaged nature through trading and offset schemes, the political-economic structures that caused the damage in the first place must not be neglected.
Responsibility for tackling unsustainable practices in wealthy industrialised settings should not be offloaded by financialising ecosystems in other parts of the world. And if sustainable development is genuinely to be pursued at Rio+20 and beyond, we need to recapture nature from the market's grasp, nurturing and legitimising more interconnected human-ecological relationships and understandings, along with tried-and-tested forms of local ecosystem stewardship based on them.
Examples of green grabs include: in Guatemala, conservation agencies, ecotourism companies and the military are 'protecting' the Guatemalan Maya Biosphere Reserve as a 'Maya-themed vacationland', violently excluding local people. In Eastern and Southern Africa, businesses are revaluing soil systems and farming practices for 'biochar', dispossessing farmers and pastoralists from land and resources important for their livelihoods. Meanwhile evidence is mounting that some Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD and REDD+) schemes are dispossessing local forest users of vital resource access.
Single-track sustainability 'solutions' threaten people and planet:
Fostering grassroots innovations and empowering the creativity of marginalized groups can boost sustainability
The targets, indicators and approaches being used to pursue progress towards sustainable development at Rio+20 are counter-productive, say scientists in a new paper. Three renowned sustainability institutes -- the STEPS Centre, Stockholm Resilience Centre and Tellus Institute -- argue in Transforming Innovation for Sustainability that global and grassroots innovations must be connected to avoid breaching planetary boundaries and reversing progress on poverty reduction.The targets, indicators and approaches being used to pursue progress towards sustainable development at Rio+20 are counter-productive, say scientists in a new paper. Goals focussing on one-track scientific solutions to the most urgent sustainability problems fail to respond to the uncertainty and shifting dynamics of today's world. These one-direction approaches risk breaching the already weakened planetary boundaries which define a safe operating space for humanity, while undoing past progress on global poverty reduction.Instead, sustainable futures should be plotted on a landscape of multiple possibilities – with their directions confined by planetary boundaries. By allowing diverse types of science and innovation to co-exist, the potential for resilient solutions responding to people's varied social, economic and ecological needs would increase. Distribution - who gains and who loses from particular policies and innovations - is also critical. Fostering grassroots innovations would help to prioritise the interests of the most marginal groups. Scientists from three renowned sustainability institutes – the STEPS Centre, Stockholm Resilience Centre and Tellus Institute – argue in Transforming Innovation for Sustainability that technological solutions appearing optimal from a global perspective rarely prove viable across all localities, condemning many international initiatives to failure. A radical new approach is urgently needed, linking the direction, diversity and distribution of innovation."Science, technology and innovation can help avert catastrophic developmental and environmental damage. But only if we move beyond outdated notions of whose innovation counts, to empower the vital contributions of poorer people's own creativity in building green and fair economies and contributing to resilient socio-techno-ecological systems," said Professor Melissa Leach, director of the STEPS Centre."Until the connection is made between global and grassroots innovation, the chances of steering away from potential earth system thresholds and keeping global societies within a safe operating space is limited," said Professor Johan Rockström, executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre.
The paper offers principles to guide decision-makers and suggests a new role of 'sustainability broker' to help identify grassroots innovations that respond to climate, food, biodiversity and energy crises and connect them to high-level international efforts.
So what do both these articles mean ? Pictures say a 1000 words!
|Photo & text by Intercontinental Cry|
US Investors want a 72,000 hectare palm oil plantation in the middle of the rainforest
The Blackstone Group, from getting a brand new 72,000 hectare palm oil plantation in the middle of the rainforest. The Blackstone Group, based in New York City, is the world's 5th largest private equity firm. Blackstone, which owns Sithe Global Power, is heavily invested in the new Cameroon deforestation drive, along with Herakles Farms (Herakles Capital).
The Carefully Constructed Mirage of the "Green Economy"
Not a week goes by nowadays without one high-profile institution or high-powered interest group directing us all to be part of the ‘new, green economy’. That’s where the next jobs are, where innovation is, where the next wave of financing is headed, where the best social entrepreneurship lies. There are the big inter-governmental organisations telling us this: United Nations Environment Program, UNCTAD, OECD, International Energy Agency, the big international lending agencies like the World Bank and Asian Development Bank. There are big think-tanks telling us the same thing – backed up by hefty new reports that are boring to read but whose plethora of whiz-bang charts are colourful. There are big companies, multinationals and those amongst the Fortune 500, also evangelising the new green economy and patting themselves on the back for being clean and green and so very responsible.
|Photo & text by Makanaka|
This was after all the old 'green economy'.
A late 19th century painting in a maritime museum near, India
Old Guard of the "Green Economy" - What's Changed ?
"These are the two major trends. The forces of production want to move much further into what used to be the ‘developing’ world, but want to meet much less resistance. That’s why they appeal to the consumer minds of China, India and the other target countries – you need jobs, homes, nice cars, big TVs, cool vacations, credit, aspirations, and lifestyle is what the messages say, whether they’re from telecom companies or condominium salesmen. But it’s hard to market all this stuff – real stuff, virtual stuff – to people who are still struggling to make ends meet."
|Photo Courtesy of Gigaom|
Ivanpah – The solar mirrors at Ivanpah spell out the word Google,
one of three of the plants owners
Desert Damage: The Dark Side of Solar Power and Wind Power Farms
"Thousands of acres of solar panels could spring up across California’s Mojave Desert like a crop of crystal mushrooms — a new kind of gold rush meant to bring powerful environmental benefits. Cutting such a wide swath, however, might also disrupt desert ecosystems and the fragile plants that thrive there. (AP file photo of Mojave desert solar array.)"
|Photograph by Friends of Mojave|
Photograph is self-explanatory
|In this 2005 file photograph, workers tend fields of sugar cane in Xinavane, north of Mozambique's capital Maputo. REUTERS/Grant Neuenburg/Files|
Update News Releases May 25, 2015:
Mozambique is mulling a plan to lease 240,000 hectares of prime farmland to investors to grow crops for export, threatening to displace more than 100,000 local residents, activists and academics said, citing a leaked document.
The Lurio River Valley Development Project in the country's northeast aims to produce cotton, corn, sugar, ethanol and livestock, said Clemente Ntauazi, a researcher with advocacy group Academic Action for the Development of Rural Communities. An estimated 500,000 people will be affected by the plan, with 100,000 forced from their homes, Ntauazi said, citing a leaked presentation to would-be investors and satellite images of communities that would be impacted.
The leaked plan is the latest in a series of major foreign-based agricultural project proposed in Mozambique and other African countries that supporters say will bring jobs and boost land productivity but critics fear will displace local people and rob small-scale farmers of their livelihoods.