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Thursday, November 2, 2017

Sami People Adopt the Indigenous Unity Flag for Solidarity

International Indigenous Unity Flag in Stockholm

By Maria Veneke Ylikomi, Author and Goodwill Ambassador

At Riksbron bridge in Stockholm, Sweden, every Thursday between 11 and 12 o'clock, there is a group of devoted people who fight for land rights, clean water and a living cultural heritage. In all weathers, they stand up for the rights of indigenous peoples and protest against Sweden’s current mineral regulations. On Thursday, October 26th, Pierre Åhrén received the International Indigenous Unity Flag. The International Indigenous Unity Flag is an international symbol uniting all indigenous peoples in world peace calling for the need to unite to protect indigeneity and the planet earth (mother nature). The flag was created in 2012 by aboriginal Canadian, Col. Michael Lawrence Sher, one of the commissioning founders of the organization Globcal International.

Tidningen Gränslöst is a magazine published in Sweden, this article was published original article: "Riksbron every Thursday"

Pierre Åhrén became a Goodwill Ambassador for Indigenous Peoples Unity.

After demonstrating for 3 years with a homemade banner of the International Indigenous Unity Flag on Thursday, October 26th, Pierre Åhren received a genuine flag, representing unity among indigenous peoples, world peace and how we must become united to protect our planet. The gift was facilitated by goodwill ambassadors of Globcal International.

It all started in November 2013

Pierre Åhrén explains the background to the activities that take place on the Riksbron bridge every Thursday. It all started in November 2013 when activists demonstrated against the mining project in Gállok outside Jokkmokk during the summer. When Pierre stood there demonstrating he came to think of the women in Argentina, Madres de la Plaza de Mayo, whose children disappeared between 1976 and 1983, and who march on Thursday every week. Pierre decided that he also can march once a week, on Thursdays, and other people followed him.

The Poisonous and Destructive Mining Industry

Pierre is on the bridge half an hour before the other demonstrators arrive to prepare the activities. Through the years, they have had protest placards supporting different peoples and places in the world, for example Brazil. The purpose is to protect the earth from deforestation and destruction. The mining industry is poisonous to nature and contaminates our drinking water. The mass consumption society is destroying our planet.

If you follow the chain starting from the mine in the mine you extract metals, from the metal things are made that people should buy, then the things are thrown away and new things are bought. This is going on all over the world, says Pierre.

In Sweden, many of the mines are located in the Sami reindeer herding areas.

The Sami Cultural Heritage

Despite the severe problems with the mining industry, Pierre is quite hopeful when it comes to young Sami people. He means that young Sami people readopt the Sami languages and the Sami art. The young Sami people are the ones who feel the urgent need to protect their cultural heritage.
Kinship with all Indigenous Peoples


Erica Lundström presenting Pierre Åhrén with a medal for indigenous human rights advocacy.

When talking about the Indigenous Unity Flag and the event on the Riksbron bridge on October 26th when Pierre Åhrén received the flag from Erica Lundström, he gets emotional.

I feel kinship with all the world’s indigenous peoples.

On October 26th Pierre Åhrén was awarded a medallion to acknowledge and recognize his contribution to the advocacy of human rights and future of indigenous peoples in Sweden.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Fighting Hunger with Bytes of Data and the Blockchain

What is ‘Blockchain’ and How is it Connected to Fighting Hunger?

Photo: WFP/Alexandra Alden

‘This can revolutionize assistance to vulnerable families across the globe.’

The World Food Programme (WFP) is testing the use of blockchain, a bold technology that can potentially transform the fight against hunger. Blockchain technology, most famously associated with the crypto-currency Bitcoin, offers unique opportunities for humanitarian agencies to provide the best-possible assistance to vulnerable people around the world.

What is blockchain?

Put simply, blockchains provide a way for two parties to do business with each other without the need for a trusted third party. Akin to emails, information on the blockchain can flow from one address to another. The content of the message, for example, can be a value transfer, a beneficiary’s ID, or somebody’s health records.

Where markets are functioning, cash-based transfers allow people to choose what food to buy. Photo: WFP/Farman Ali

An identical record of all messages on a blockchain is available to every participant (or ‘node’) on the blockchain, which can be many thousands or more. Because there are so many copies of the data on the blockchain network, it is exceedingly difficult for a would-be attacker to alter the records and falsify transactions. Should this happen, however, it would be immediately obvious that there has been an intrusion. This makes the blockchain much more secure than traditional, centralized systems, and renders its records unchangeable.

Shifting towards Cash-Based Assistance

In recent years, WFP has significantly scaled up its cash transfers. In areas where markets and services are well functioning, these transfers are often more effective and efficient at improving livelihoods. Not only do they allow recipients to choose which food to buy, they also inject much-needed cash into local economies. WFP’s Innovation Accelerator is therefore exploring approaches to delivering cash-based transfers in order to reduce costs and risks, while improving data protection and speeding up delivery.

From the Sandbox to the Field

The first, successful test at field level of WFP’s blockchain innovation — called ‘Building Blocks’ — was carried out in January deep in the heart of Sindh province, Pakistan. As vulnerable families received WFP food and cash assistance, the transactions were authenticated and recorded on a public blockchain through a smartphone interface. Transaction reports generated were then used to match the disbursements with entitlements.

Photo: WFP/Alexandra Alden

“Blockchain can revolutionize the way WFP delivers assistance to vulnerable families across the globe. It can bring us closer to the people we serve and allow us to respond much faster,” said Farman Ali, from the WFP Karachi provincial office.

Using the lessons learned in this first phase in Pakistan, WFP is now moving towards a full-scale pilot.

Immense Potential

Blockchain has the potential to allow faster intervention in some of the world’s most difficult environments. For example, in vulnerable countries lacking financial infrastructure, blockchain could help humanitarian actors roll out life-saving cash assistance in a matter of days when disasters strike.

Blockchains can be seen as a foundational technology akin to the internet, upon which many different applications can be built. Just as email was the first widespread application of the internet, payments have been the first widespread application of blockchains. And just as the internet rapidly expanded beyond email, blockchain applications have already expanded beyond payments. WFP is monitoring the scope for applications beyond cash-based transfers, identity management, and supply chain operations.

The full potential of blockchains can only be realized if all humanitarian actors collaborate around this platform. Republished from the World Food Programme blog on Medium.

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Learn more about how WFP is harnessing the potential of blockchain technology to enhance our ability to provide effective, efficient assistance to the people we serve — and save millions of dollars.

Based in Munich, the Innovation Accelerator combines internal WFP staff with experts and entrepreneurs from across the private sector and civil society. Teams collaborate for three to six months on ideas that are either proposed by WFP innovators with first-hand field knowledge, or crowd-sourced by members of the public. For more information, contact: global.innovation@wfp.org.

The Accelerator is generously supported by a network of public and private partners and funded by the German Federal Foreign Office alongside the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and the State of Bavaria.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Power of Unity, the Golden Key to Cooperation

unity graphic Unity is Strength!

Role of Cooperatives in the Agriculture Sector


The irruption of new players in the global commodities trade, greater consolidation of the multinationals, and the effects of climate change are forcing agricultural producers in Latin America and the Caribbean to rethink their strategies for minimizing risks and maximizing results on a sustainable basis.

Realities and opportunities

Although the research and development (R&D) investments of the “Big Four” (Bayer-Monsanto, ChemChina-Syngenta, Dow-Dupont, and BASF) achieved scientific advances that transformed global agriculture, expanded the agricultural frontier, and increased yields, producers face a dependence on technology and prices that is difficult to mitigate. Although in grains, companies like China’s COFCO or Japan’s Marubeni challenge the power of the ABCD (ADM, Bunge, Cargill, and Dreyfus), and demonstrate the strategic importance of ensuring the supply of commodities for some countries. In this fight, it is likely that corporate acquisitions will continue, or that new commodities platforms will be developed, creating opportunities for groups of producers, cooperatives, or business associations. Finally, the effects of climate change (rains, droughts, frosts, floods, cyclones, reduced aquifer flows, and new diseases) are affecting the producers’ profits, particularly in Central America where the narrow strip of land between two oceans makes climatic distortions even worse.

Various ways to partner

It is an historic reality that agricultural producers take the greatest risks but capture the smallest piece of the pie because of their fragmentation, difficulties in accessing financing, and minimum added value.

However, producer partners in cooperatives that adapted to the dynamics of the market, through internal transformations (including advances in the management of corporate governance), were able not only to improve their incomes, but also to become part of a sustainable business, like Copersucar in Brazil, Conaprole in Uruguay, ACA in Argentina, FNC in Colombia, Colonias Unidas in Paraguay, or Dos Pinos in Costa Rica.

In the case of independent larger-scale producers, although they will be able to maintain a certain individualistic profile internally to obtain efficiency and productivity, improving the external profitability is a must. They could take their inspiration from the spirit of cooperatives to create partnerships leveraging their combined volume (with increasing strategic value) and obtaining better conditions, or even process it for greater added value. For example, in Argentina, the 30 partnered producers of Bio4 transform their own and third-party corn to produce ethanol, and the “L” Group partners to sell milk. Similarly, in Mexico, the partnered producers of Proaoass and Gradesa export bread wheat or durum wheat.

Although the greatest challenge for farmers under this model was to remain united, and in some cases to delegate the management of the new business to third-party professionals, they were also focused on obtaining better economic results, and also to develop a platform to start new businesses and obtain market intelligence.

Looking ahead

It is likely that differences in results among producers of a similar scale are due to: (1) more collective than individual actions; (2) a more business-like profile for sustainable production; and (3) the management of individuals or teams that applied the best technology packages.

Considering that quasi-state companies, and sovereign funds from Asia-Pacific and Middle East countries are seeking alternatives to ensure the food supply, soon it would not be utopic to think that networks of partnered producers or cooperatives may develop strategic alliances to have their own ports, freezers, or powdered milk plants. Moreover, since these investments require long-term financing, it would not be unrealistic to think that development banking will be financing these projects.

As Seneca said: “It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that things are difficult.”

Republished from Negocios Sostenibles: What's the role of cooperatives in the agricultural sector? for the members of Globcal International and the Non-State Global Citizenship.

infographic