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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.

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Monday, October 23, 2017

Climate Refugeeism from Rising Tides

Refugees: Are We Eating our Young?

Islands at Risk

Deborah Levine, Editor-in-Chief of the American Diversity Report

Refugee International reported a few years ago that a Kiribatian man tried to convince a New Zealand court to make him the world’s first climate change refugee. Kiribati is an impoverished group of Pacific islands vulnerable to rising sea levels. He didn’t succeed, but many experts predict a growing number of displaced people seeking asylum because of global warming. The planet has limited drinkable water, fertile land, clean air, and food. The planet’s current supplies are steadily shrinking.

At the same time, valuable resources such as oil, fishing areas, minerals, mines, and even illicit drugs have become a violent crossroads for old ethnic rivalries, international money, and survival. The result is a threat to a global and local economies. Corporations will eventually run out of poor populations to harness, foreign resources to exploit, and regions free of violence in which to operate efficiently and safely. Local leaders are battling fiercely to control access and power, ethnic divisions are stronger than ever, and refugees abound. Above all, the future of this planet, our youth, are experiencing challenges more likely to be identified with the Middle Ages than a post-modern world.

Islands disappearing underwater. Photo: The Guardian: Environment (See photo exposé) 

Youth at Risk

The displacement of young people is producing experts in arenas that were once little known but are now all too central to society. Siddharth Chatterjee works at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) since 2011. Before joining the IFRC, he served in the United Nations. A former Special Forces officer in the Indian Army, he is a graduate in Public Policy from the Woodrow Wilson School for Public & International Affairs at Princeton University, USA. In South Sudan, he negotiated the release and demobilized 3,551 child soldiers from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. This demobilization of child soldiers was the first program of its kind during an ongoing conflict.

Unfortunately, many ethnic conflicts are likely to increase in direct proportion to the decrease in availability of vital resources. CNN.com reported what is becoming a familiar situation … “The South Sudanese government and military, dominated by the Dinka ethnic group of President Salva Kiir, is fighting rebels allied with former Vice President Riek Machar of the Nuer ethnic group… At stake for now is control of oil-rich regions responsible for more than 95% of the country’s economy, and perhaps leadership of the country.” In the first two weeks of violence, tens of thousands of people to seek the protection of United Nations forces. The high stakes involved with oil production as well as South Sudan’s gold, copper and possibly uranium resources, brought international pressure for what is, no doubt, a very uneasy cease fire.

Shocking pictures of refugees from Sudan, Syria, and Myanmar are reshape our world view. A Canadian high school senior Chelsea Liu wrote, “I recently came across an article titled “Millionth Child Flees Syria” on Yahoo News. The picture under the headline was one of a young girl, with dark circles under her eyes, staring hauntingly at the camera. In the West—perhaps in Canada—she would be going to school in a few years, wearing nice clothes and hanging out with friends… If she lived here in Oakville, she could do all of that, and more. But she’s in Jordan, sitting in a mobile home at a refugee camp. She’s wearing a blue blanket, and her candid expression shows nothing but distrust for everything that has come her way… How many times have we cried over something that we believe to be so utterly important, and yet so insignificant when compared to this little girl’s predicament?”

What to do?

What can we do to save the children caught up in these battles? They are the future of a society. Destroy them, and you destroy a culture and a generation. Yet, despite the compelling arguments for protecting the future generation, there is little escape for them. Much of the apathy or antipathy stems from a shortage of resources and an overall economic squeeze. How can any country support the tidal wave of refugees over time? How can we feed, clothe, and provide clean drinking water, not to mention jobs, healthcare, and housing?

Syria’s neighbors and European countries are imploding under the current weight of refugees. Yet, Egypt deported Syrian and Ethiopian refugees, Singapore deported Indian nationals, and National Turk Magazine reports on Saudi Arabia, “Thousands of Egyptians, Indonesians, Malaysians and others have been flown out of the country as the Saudi government seeks to create jobs for local people by deporting some of the estimated nine million foreign workers.”

No region is exempt from the challenges. The US tries to close its borders with Latin America. Trucks and boats of the poverty-stricken attempt life-threatening escapes not only from Syria but from Haiti, the Central African Republic, and other countries decimated by war or natural disasters. They often die in the attempt or end up in make-shift refugee camps that resemble hopeless prisons without adequate food, water, plumbing, or shelter.

The calls for help are many. Chatterjee asks, “Will this be the year to protect children caught in armed conflict? We were once filled with hope and happiness, eager to see a better world where Human Rights and equality are advanced. Yet, in another part of our world we see the compelling misery and despair.”

Beyond Compassion

It may be time to recognize that compassion can alleviate, but not resolve. Yes, humanity leads to acts that make a difference. However, there is simply not enough money or resources to counteract the massive dislocations we are seeing. Increasingly, our compassionate acts are like band aids, more temporary and less effective every year. How else can we use our humanity to magnify our efforts, to change the trajectory of the destruction of our children, our future?

Let’s address the root causes of “devour-our-young” syndrome that we are experiencing: Resources. We must create enough food and drinking water for the planet’s population so that we don’t end up killing each other to survive. None of us will be exempt from the impact of depletion. Therefore, we must invest in alternative fuels and renewable energy to power us beyond the fossil fuels that are poisoning the air we breathe. Housing must be energy self-sufficient with solar panels. Roof gardens and urban community farming plots should be encouraged to alleviate the loss of arable land. No longer can we turn a blind eye to the global impact of natural disasters.

Yes, it is humane to contribute food and clothing for those affected. However, the relocation of vulnerable populations only delays, not manages the problem. Investment in structures that can withstand changing weather patterns are long-term solutions that must be rapidly pursued.

As tribalism engulf our planet, armed-conflicts over diminishing resources are resulting in humanitarian crises that overwhelm our ability to assist. Decimating cities and regions in the process of wiping out the perpetrators is creating vast areas of destruction. There must be investments in innovative technology to re-build these areas for environmental sustainability. Will this be the year that world leaders recognize the urgency and act to save the planet, or are we eating our young for years to come in the fight over shrinking resources?

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Discover the Truth about Indigenous Peoples

The Indigenous World in 2017

10th Anniversary UNDRIP Special Edition eBook

The International Work Group on Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) has published Indigenous World 2017 which provides an update of the current situation for indigenous peoples worldwide and a comprehensive overview of the main global trends and developments affecting indigenous peoples during 2016.
 Download Indigenous World 2017

Download Indigenous World 2017 for Free

The Indigenous World 2017 comes in a special edition marking the ten years anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The public launch took place April 25, 2017 during the 16th session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York.

Symbolically, it was launched on the same day, as the UN General Assembly marked the ten years anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Highlights of Indigenous World 2017

Despite some encouraging national achievements, the country reports from around the world in this year’s edition continue to illustrate the great pressures facing indigenous communities at the local level.

If national policies are even available they are often not properly implemented, while in some countries national policies are in direct contradiction with international human rights obligations, including the UNDRIP and ILO Convention No. 169.

The country reports reiterate that the main challenges faced by indigenous peoples continue to be related to the recognition and implementation of their collective rights to lands, territories and resources, their access to justice, lack of consultation and consent, and the gross violations of their fundamental human rights.

The issue of extractive industries is once again a recurrent and overarching theme in the Indigenous World. Numerous examples show that both states and industries are repeatedly ignoring the key principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent.

Mega infrastructure projects, investments in extractive industries and large-scale agriculture are increasingly posing a threat to the everyday life of indigenous peoples and their ability to maintain their land, livelihood and culture.

The year 2016 also witnessed an alarming rate of violence and discrimination of indigenous peoples and human rights defenders around the world.

On a global level, the implementation of the commitments adopted by UN member states at the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (WCIP) continued at a slow but steady pace.

2016 also marked the first year of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and, here, indigenous peoples continued their engagement. Within the area of climate change, the Paris Agreement, adopted in 2015, entered into force in November 2016, which was seen as a great success with regard to states’ commitments to combating climate change.

About the Book: The Indigenous World 2017 contains 59 detailed country reports and 12 articles on defining global processes in a total of 651 pages.

International Authorities

Over 70 distinguished experts, indigenous activists and scholars have contributed to the Indigenous World 2017. Among the contributors are Claire Charters, Patricia Borraz, Albert Barume, Stefan Disko, Joan Carling, Robert Hitchcock, Lola Garcia-Alix and many more.

All the contributors are identified by IWGIA on the basis of our knowledge and network. The contributors offer their expertise on a voluntary basis, which means that not all countries or all aspects of importance to indigenous peoples are included in the book.

Still, any omissions of specific country reports should not be interpreted as “no news is good news”. In fact, sometimes, it is the precarious human rights situation that makes it difficult to obtain articles from specific countries.

The book is published with support from the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs / Danida.

USE OF THE BOOK: It is IWGIA’s hope that indigenous peoples themselves and their organizations will find the Indigenous World 2017 useful in their advocacy work of improving indigenous peoples’ human rights situation. They may also, in this regard, find it inspiring for their work to read about the experiences of indigenous peoples in other countries and parts of the world.

It is also IWGIA’s wish and hope that the Indigenous World will be useful to a wider audience interested in indigenous issues and that it can be used as a reference book and a basis for obtaining further information on the situation of indigenous peoples worldwide.

The Indigenous World 2017 is, in that sense, an essential source of information and an indispensable tool or those who need to be informed about the most recent issues that impact on indigenous peoples worldwide. Article reformatted from IWGIA Website book reference. 

Article: States and industries still ignore the rights of indigenous peoples

Despite significant progress on global and regional level, indigenous peoples are left behind when it comes to recognition and protection of their right to land, territories and natural resources. This is the main conclusion of IWGIA’s 30th edition of the annual global report on indigenous peoples.

For ten years, indigenous peoples like the Maasai, Adivasi, Inuit and Quechua peoples have had their own UN declaration that commits States to promote, respect and protect indigenous peoples’ rights.

Still, the dignity and survival of the world’s 370 million indigenous people is under threat, as the global race for land and natural resources is increasing.

The Indigenous World 2017 provides an update of the current situation for indigenous peoples worldwide and a comprehensive overview of the main global trends and developments affecting indigenous peoples during 2016.

Focus on the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The Indigenous World 2017 comes in a special edition marking the ten years anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The public launch took place April 25 2017 during the 16th session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York. Symbolically it was launched on the same day, as the UN General Assembly marked the ten years anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Lola Garcia-Alix, co-director of IWGIA, says, “The adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is a landmark. Still, action on the ground is really needed. Good intentions are simply not enough, as indigenous peoples lose lands and livelihoods every day.”

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples provides a legal framework and an instrument for fulfilling the rights relating to indigenous peoples, including recognition of their right to self-determination, collective land rights, self-determined development, culture and more.

During its first ten years of existence, the Declaration has helped to shape laws, policies and programmes worldwide and continues to do so.

Consultations ignored in the global run for land and raw materials

Still, the realisation of the Declaration falls short in many parts of the world. Numerous examples show that both states and indus­tries are repeatedly ignoring the Declaration’s key principle of free, prior and informed consent. The principle is to protect indigenous peoples by including them in processes that affect their lands and lives.

Kathrin Wessendorf, co-director and coordinator of IWGIA’s climate programme says, “In the global race for acquiring land for industries and large-scale infrastructure projects, indigenous peoples and their rights are too often neglected. International companies and States should be concerned with this development and take responsibility. We call for joint action to realise the Declaration and ensure the dignity and survival of indigenous peoples.”

Development projects on indigenous lands continue to take place without consulting the people living on and from the affected land. And increasingly, energy projects and tourism threaten indigenous peoples to the same degree as construction of hy­droelectric dams, fossil fuel development, logging and agro-plantations do.

Shrinking space for indigenous activists

The year 2016 witnessed an alarming rate of violence and discrimination of in­digenous peoples and human rights defenders around the world.

Conflicts over land often lead to forced eviction and displacement of indigenous peoples. When defending their rights to land and territory, indigenous peoples risk being arrested, harassed, threatened and even murdered.

Lola Garcia-Alix says, “We condemn the use of threats, arrests and violence against indigenous peoples. Our hope is that by applying the principle of free, prior and informed consent and by generally respecting indigenous peoples’ rights, violent conflicts over land and resources will decrease in the future.”

For any further questions, please contact IWGIA's Press and Communications team: press@iwgia.org or +45 30749470.

Content re-published from IWGIA WebSite for Globcal International Network followers.