WHY DOES BRAZIL DEFOREST THE AMAZON? �� ������ ���� ����
THE PHILOSOPHICAL BACKGROUND OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT �� ������� �������
THE GROWTH: WITH OR WITHOUT YOU �� ����� ���������
CIVIL RESPONSIBILITY IN THE WORLD OF GLOBAL POVERTY �� ����� �������
EYCE Campaign to Promote Ecological Justice 2011-2013
EYCE’s Campaign to Promote Ecological Justice
In the wake of the Rio+20 Conference, we can say the environment is now more under the spotlight than ever. The meeting takes place 20 years after the 1992 Earth Summit, which launched some of the most important international environmental agreements we have today (such as the climate convention). This time, more than 90 Heads of State and delegations from over 190 countries have met in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, together with non-state actors to discuss how the world could concert a movement towards a “green economy in the context of sustainable development poverty eradication”. In the heart of the discussions around “green economy” and “sustainable development” is precisely the link between ecological and social imperatives, such as reducing environmental impacts but also reducing poverty. How to go about the two things at once? This volume of The Leaf tries to shed some more light on that link. Brunno Kuhn Neto explores the causes of deforestation of the Amazon forest as well as links to political processes by describing the situation in the Brazilian state of Acre. Natalia Sirotko discusses the philosophical background of industrial culture and growth as a departing point for the concept of sustainable development. Pawel Pustelnik in his contribution highlights the need to link economic development and poverty eradication with ecological responsibility. Last but not least Tomáš Tožička calls for civil participation and responsibility for challenges of the current world.
by EYCE Campaign Coordination Team (CCT)
Why does Brazil deforest the Amazon?
by Brunno Kuhn Neto
The Philosophical Background of Sustainable Development
by Natalia Sirotko
Growth: with or without you
by Pawel Pustelnik
Civil Responsibility in the World of Global Poverty 10 by Tomáš Tožička
Asking Childish Questions About the World
by Kristīne Jansone
The Green Hand Day
by Catharina Covolo
Green Politics Events
EYCE Upcoming Events
We hope you enjoy these readings! Mairon G. Bastos Lima and Benjamin Mlýnek - editors of the third issue of the Leaf. Mairon G. Bastos Lima (left) is a PhD candidate in environmental studies at the VU University Amsterdam and part of the coordination team for EYCE's Campaign to Promote Ecological Justice. Benjamin Mlýnek (right) is a member of the campaing coordination team as well as a member of the executive committee of the EYCE. He currently studies political science at the Masaryk University in Brno, the Czech Republic.
EYCE’s Campaign to Promote Ecological Justice by EYCE’ Campaign Coordination Team (CCT)
���������� The environment is one of the most, if not THE most, challenging concern for contemporary society. It includes not only the obvious “green thinking”, but also issues concerning land use, water, food, pollution and waste, migration and a lot more. Very few young people are aware of the links between environment and issues like social justice, lack of education, poverty and armed conﬂicts. Therefore, the Campaign to Promote Ecological Justice is based on a broad approach and seeks to explore those links. During the three years, the campaign will focus on the diﬀerent political and theological perspectives, the promotion of an ecologically responsible way of thinking and living, the links between ecological justice and wealth and poverty, as well as the question of how the lack of natural resources trigger armed conﬂicts and violence.
����� EYCE Campaign to Promote Ecological Justice was launched in March 2011 and aims at raising awareness on ecological issues from global and diverse perspectives among young Europeans, as well as at implementing practical changes and ecologically responsible solutions within the work of youth organisations and lives of young people. With the outcomes of the campaign we plan to contribute to the work of other actors in Europe and beyond, who work in the ﬁeld of ecological justice.
Throughout the three years of the campaign it is planned to focus on three diﬀerent aspects linked to ecological justice: 2011: approaching the issue from theological and political perspectives; 2012: tackling the theme of ecology and justice and exploring the relation between ecology, economy and politics; 2013: sustainable paths forward;
The Campaign Coordination Team – a group of young volunteers coming from diﬀerent social, cultural, denominational and geographical backgrounds – are responsible for planning and implementing the activities of the campaign. The team is supported by a full time volunteer based in In order to achieve the aim, the following objectives have EYCE’s oﬃce in Brussels and two members of EYCE’s Executive Committee. In order to provide a variety of thematic been identiﬁed: input and human resources, a Pool of Interested People has 1. to raise awareness of ecological issues in Europe and been created for the campaign, where people from EYCE’s beyond; network, its member and partner organisations belong to. You want to join that Pool? Write us an e-mail at cam2. to study and analyse the developments from the firstname.lastname@example.org! ferences in Kyoto and Copenhagen; During the three years of the campaign, an on-line mag3. to explore the relation between ecology, economy and azine on ecological justice, information leaﬂets, EYCE’s politics, including reviewing ecology issues as basis for homepage and the Campaign’s Facebook page will provide numerous conﬂicts; both basic, as well as speciﬁc information on the themes addressed. 4. to empower the organisations and/or individuals to tackle issues connected to ecological justice; Are you interested in the campaign? See EYCE’s homep5. to enable the organisations and individuals to lobby for age: www.eyce.org or visit and like us on Facebook: EYCE’s Campaign to Promote Ecological Justice. a greener Europe; 6. to provide practical advice and tips for ecologically re- You’re interested in joining the Pool of Interested People? sponsible lifestyles; You would liketo write articles for the magazine? You have any other idea or project you think we should know about? 7. to develop a policy paper on ecological justice to be Or you simply have a question? Write to campaign@eyce. presented at EYCE’s General Meeting in 2013, which org or email@example.com. would entail implementing results of the Campaign as an integral part of the running of the Council.
Why does Brazil deforest the Amazon? A study of causes based on the history of the occupation of Acre state. The Amazon rainforest is probably the most biodiverse region in the world. The “probably” is because this biodiversity is still unknown, and based on estimation. However, it’s not only the Amazon’s biodiversity that is important. The process of evapotranspiration (i.e. gas evaporation from plant surfaces) and the forest cover both have inﬂuence on the climate and raining pattern in almost the entire South American continent. According to the estimates of Thomas Lovejoy, Professor of Environmental Science and Policy at George Mason University (USA), if the Amazon rainforest loses more than 20% of its total forest covering, the climate would change in a proportion that the forest would begin to degenerate, being reduced to only some spots rounded by the Cerrado ecosystem, which is a form of wooded savannah.
where agribusiness is fundamental for the economy, and depends on regular rainy seasons for growing the crops? If Brazil is a rich country and owns technology that could improve land-use, increasing the productivity without causing deforestation then why does Brazil continue with deforestation? The answer to that question is complex, because the reasons are diverse, as heterogeneous as Brazil itself, the country that shelters most of the Amazon forest. Although I do not have a direct answer to give, I can make some considerations about Acre, a state of Brazil that represents only 3.8% of the whole territory covered by the Amazon biome, but which bears lots of similarities with the other 96.2%.
The Brazilian State of Acre is located on the western portion of the country, a borderland that was once the reaCurrently, about 18% of the Amazon’s son for a dispute between Brazil, Peru total area has been deforested, ac- and Bolivia, and whose occupation cording to the Brazilian Institute for was encouraged by industrial extracSpatial Research (INPE). As a result of tivism, most notably latex for rubber further deforestation, other regions manufacturing. Brazil eventually won around the forest would also have the dispute after a civil war and diplotheir rainy seasons concentrated in matic resolutions in 1903. shorter periods, turning those lands from semi-arid to arid. This kind of industrial extractivism succeeded in colonizing the region, But, why does Brazil deforest the Am- making some people rich and keepazon, if the forest has an economic ing the forest intact, but did not importance so great for a country bring much social development. As
by Brunno Kuhn Neto
Brunno Kuhn Neto works for the Government of the state of Acre, in the Amazon region of Brazil. a consequence, by the 1970s, Acre’s lands still had their forests reserves almost intact, but as the rubber market prices decreased, the military dictatorship that ruled Brazil from 1964 to 1984 promoted a new model of occupation and economic development in the region. In this new model, the dictatorship gave land to families coming from south Brazil under the condition that they would obtain some production from the land, and that meant deforestation. But the Amazon lands depend largely on the forest to sustain fertility. Once it is deforested, it may provide soil fertility for corn, cassava, rice and other crops for one or two years, but then the soil turns compact and becomes exhausted, leaving only the grass for cattle grazing as an economic option. Even nowadays small
Photo by Kristine Jansone
farmers still have to deforest part of the forest in their land every year to grow what they need to eat, clearing the land using ﬁre and converting the forest gradually into grass.
dictatorship. While these conﬂicts will not be detailed in this text, it is essential to note that they have occurred and have marked deeply the occupation of the state of Acre. One of the most notorious of these conﬂicts was There are laws to regulate defores- that which Chico Mendes undertook. tation though. Any process of land- He became world-famous for his ﬁght use change should obey the “Código for environmental causes in the 1980s, Florestal Brasileiro” (Brazilian Forest turning into a symbol of the ﬁght for Code). Implemented in 1965, it obli- environmental conservation in Brazil gates farmers in the Amazon region of and worldwide, before being murBrazil to preserve at least 50% of their dered in 1988. properties as forest reserves and also to keep up a belt of natural vegetation With the end of military dictatorship in around rivers — varying between 30 1985, and a new constitution in 1988, to 200 meters depending on the size some concepts of the environmental of the river. law changed, along with government policy for the Amazon, from a view However, in reality, these rules were of nature as a mere source of natural not enforced on the settlers that resources to something linked to qualcame to colonize the Amazon area, ity of life. In 2001 a new law increased since these settlers already face many from 50% to 80% the proportion of diﬃculties to migrate and occupy the land property that must be preAcre’s territory. The arrival of south- served. The conservation logic to stop ern settlers, as well as the change in deforestation entered on government the economy, also brought about a plans, and settlers were required to number of conﬂicts with the native ensure the conservation of such forpopulation, indigenous and old “rub- est reserves on their lands. The govber soldiers” (traditional extractiv- ernment’s environmental institutes ists) who were considered lazy by the started to work on the regularization
of rural properties according to the law, making some exceptions only for those who had deforested before 2001. Slowly the deforestation rates have dropped, although deforestation has not vanished. Why has it not vanished? The answer demands an assessment that takes socio-economic considerations into account. How can a family that lives on 3000m² of land given by the government, survive cultivating only 600m² of grass? The law and the government have changed, but the technology for poor farmers has not. It is diﬃcult to convince a farmer to keep the forest when he has no other option to feed his family. Sometimes families are so isolated because of the strong rains and poor transport infrastructure that their only food source is what they can grow deforesting. For farmers in Acre, the forest and the law are enemies of development. Forests can not give them the money that grass and agriculture can. Moreover, the environmental law does not take much eﬀect on small farmers, since the government cannot take from
photo by Brunno Kuhn Neto
them what they do not have. The law could have a strong eﬀect on large farmers, since they have money to pay ﬁnes and to recompose their forest debts, but corruption and economic priorities prevent this from happening. As such, less than 1% of the penalties for environmental crimes in Brazil are actually paid for. Since 2010, the Brazilian Congress has been trying to change the environmental law, making it weaker, arguing it helps poor farmers solve their environmental debt. The solution means forgiving all the debt and keeping the cleared area to small farmers who deforested until 2008. This solution discourages those who kept their forest fragments and it also opens a dangerous precedent for future deforestation and pardonning of environmental crimes. Largely as a result of political interest in votes, the Brazilian Congress has been almost unanimous on approving this change in the law. Another important cause of deforestation in Acre is the market demand for high-quality wood. The high value of hardwood trees such as “jatobá”, “cumaruferro”, “itauba” and many others encourages investments for wood extraction. Since 2001, most of those investments have had some sort of government permission. The problem, however, is that even legalized extraction projects weakens the forest fragments, opening clearings and roads
inside of it. Also, it is not uncommon that a farmer will clear a forest fragment after it loses its potential for logging. Some kinds of trees are forbidden to be cut, such as “mogno” and “castanheira”, but its control is hard to maintain for such a large region, with so many rivers to transport logs and the possibilities to take illegal wood across the border to other countries.
the improvement of technologies for ﬁre and deforestation control, such as satellite monitoring, and in environmental management of the entire territory of Brazil. It is important to know that Acre lands still have 88% of their original forest covering, and people are starting to see the importance of maintaining this level. Also, even if at a slow pace, technology is ﬁnally being developed to improve livelihoods Brazil has not developed proper tech- in Amazonian lands, and it is gradunologies and exploitation models to ally being accessed by small farmers. colonize sustainably the Amazon. In- In Acre, farmers who need credit ﬁrst stead, from the 1970s until now a have to take a license that assesses highly destructive system brought the environmental conditions of his or from eastern Brazil is being imple- her lands, obligating the owner to sign mented. This is the same destructive a pact of preservation and recovering system that cleared the old Atlantic his or her environmental debts. rainforest to only 7% of its original covering. Adding to the problem is Projects of sustainable extraction the lack of knowledge by a large part combined with industrialization and of the Brazilian population about the price control of products like Amazoimportance of the Amazon, from poor nian nuts, latex, açaí berry and others, and uneducated people to rich politi- coordinated by NGOs and the Acre cians and members of the private sec- government have also brought proftor defending agribusiness interests its for many families, avoiding forest at the national level. Thirdly, the con- destruction. These initiatives come to sumption of products such as beef is strengthen the “Florestania” — adaptdestroying the Amazon, despite any ed from “cidadania” or citizenship, not “green” meat certiﬁcation program, in a city but in a forest — a movement since people would never care about that intends to regain an old tradition the forest recovering if they can earn of Acre state: the forest as a way of from the destructed land. living. Despite all this, it is very important to conclude that Brazilian deforestation rates, especially in Acre state, are decreasing every year. This is because of
photo by Brunno Kuhn Neto
The Philosophical Background of Sustainable Development by Natalia Sirotko The world provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Mahatma Gandhi Historically, civilization can be divided in technological and traditional. The ﬁrst is characterized by its desire to maximize the eﬃcient use of resources and its search for new technical solutions and organizational innovation. The second is characterized by its desire to reproduce itself. The ﬁrst is characterized by individualism and the desire of the individual for independence. In the second case, priority is given to the group or the community. The Euro-American, Western civilization is an example of the technological type, while Asia and Africa oﬀer many examples of traditional civilizations. Such a classiﬁcation is, of course, conditional: each civilization has its own speciﬁc features and vary from one another. Still, this dichotomy can be useful. This distinction between traditional and technological civilization means two diﬀerent approaches to understanding the world. In the ﬁrst case, the philosophical approach to the world can be described as holistic. In this sense there is no separation between nature, society and individuals. These parts of the universe together are involved in the historical process, in the wheel of time.
back to the philosophy of Francis Bacon, who predicted the improvement of human society by technological upgrading. The most favorable conditions for the technological transformation of nature developed in North America, where there was an abundance of raw materials and freedom from political and economic constraints. From this time in Western civilization there is a change or distortion of understanding the human place in the world. The bloody century of the Conquistadors (15-16 century) was evidence of this. Technological progress has led to a conquest of new lands, which turned into a colossal loss of life among the indigenous population. However, in a hurry to turn virgin nature in domesNatalia Sirotko is an assistant at ticated environment, and land, minthe Department of Philosophy of eral and wildlife in the products, often Gomel State University, Belarus. forgotten commandment of Francis Bacon: to command nature is possible and for pricing by economists. In turn, only if it complies. this has inﬂuenced the emergence of Western civilization has misunder- the problem of unlimited consumpstood the man's place in the world: tion. Now stronger and new global man emerged from the natural world, challenges appear: structural unembut he is not a separate part of it. Nat- ployment, the ‘McDonaldization’ of ural environment was seen as a thing, society, etc. Faced with the traditional an object, which can be used. values and behaviors they generate many hotbeds of tension and deep Labeling things as `resources' takes oﬀ social conﬂicts, relegating to second whatever protective identity they may place concern for the environment have and opens them for intervention and threatening us with disastrous from the outside. Looking at water, consequences. soils, animals, and people in terms of resources reconstitutes them as The real possibility of ecological disasobjects for management by planners ter, leading not only to the extinction
Technological (industrial) cultures have a diﬀerent attitude towards nature. Since the era of modern times, the philosophical idea of development came to be understood in economic terms and linked to technological progress. The progress of the human mind in the Enlightenment meant mastery and exploitation of nature. Technical capabilities, to the largest extent based on natural resources, testiﬁed about the level of civilizational development.. This understanding of development is characteristic of a technological civilization. Its roots go
Photo by Kristine Jansone
of many species of living creatures, but above all human, is now the big question. More and more people are beginning to realize that all this is the result of the modern trends of development of civilization. This development is leading to a deepening mismatch between the scale, the acceleration of human inﬂuence on nature and the evolutionary mechanisms established to maintain ecosystems and the biosphere in equilibrium. The result of this discrepancy is the growth of the contradictions between the dominant tendency in modern societies to the continuous growth of production and consumption and the ﬁniteness and limitations of the Earth (the biosphere) and its resources. At the present stage of development, we have an environmental crisis caused by man-made inﬂuences. Thus, the developed countries are responsible for this development paradigm that exists in modern times to the present day. Traditional cultures, in turn, tend to be the victims of the activities and lifestyle of western countries. They were also imposed models of behavior and consumption considered to be good. At the present stage of civilization
without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs"2. The classic deﬁnition of sustainable development consists of few words, being at the same time very signiﬁcant and substantial. It may be Awareness of global catastrophe and criticised for excessive generality, but the general state of social sciences that is precisely what makes the deﬁand humanities has led the interna- nition hard to challenge. tional community to the conclusion that it should reconsider its values and At the same time, sustainable develmake a signiﬁcant course correction of opment is a diﬃcult concept to devalues of humanity in the new millen- ﬁne, and it is also continually evolving. nium. If we want to continue to exist, Sustainable development is generally we must conform to the laws of the thought to have three components: biosphere. "We've got to get our act environment, society, and economy. together quickly. We don't have gen- The well-being of these three areas is erations or even decades — we're one intertwined, not separated. For exampoor harvest away from chaos", said ple, a healthy, prosperous society reLester Brown, the founder of World- lies on a healthy environment to prowatch and the Earth Policy Institute, vide food and resources, safe drinking which both seek to promote a sustain- water, and clean air for its citizens. able society1. The sustainability paradigm rejects The concept of sustainable develop- the contention that casualties in the ment thus emerges as a new para- environmental and social realms are digm of global social life, to become inevitable and acceptable consethe direction vector of the global quences of economic development. transition to a format of civilization Thus, we consider sustainability to be development. a paradigm for thinking about a future in which environmental, societal, The classic Brundtland deﬁnition and economic considerations are balidentiﬁed sustainable development anced in the pursuit of development as "meeting the needs of the present and improved quality of life3. development, mankind has realized that it faces a choice: self-destruction as a result of following the modern values, principles and trends, or a new paradigm of development.
Photo by Kristine Jansone
Sustainable development involves a reorientation of the industry from a course on resource depletion and environmental degradation towards self-sustenance, environmental conservation, and development coordinated and managed based on ecological principles. Sustainable development therefore ties together concern for the carrying capacity of natural systems with the social challenges facing humanity. All deﬁnitions of sustainable development require that we see the world as a system—a system that connects space; and a system that connects time. When you think of the world as a system over space, you grow to understand that air pollution from North America aﬀects air quality in Asia, and that pesticides sprayed in Argentina could harm ﬁsh stocks oﬀ the coast of Australia. And when you think of the world as a system over time, you start to realize that the decisions our grandparents made about how to farm the land continue to aﬀect agricultural practice today; and the economic policies we endorse today will have an impact on urban poverty when our children are adults. But in many countries — rich and poor — a perception exists that sustainability is expensive to implement and ultimately a brake on development. Poor countries for their part usually lack the physical infrastructure, ideas and human capacity to integrate sustainability into their development planning. Besides, they are often quite skeptical about rich countries’ real commitment to sustainable development and demand a more equitable sharing of environmental costs and responsibilities. Many people also believe that environmental problems can wait until developing countries are richer. Since the publication of the Brundtland report, the report of the World Commission on Environment and Development (1987), we have become accustomed to thinking of the world as a place in which everyone could eventually become rich. This may be so, but it cannot happen using the technologies we possess now, and building to industrialized-world levels of consumption everywhere. For instance, when it became deﬁnite that India would attain independence, a British journalist interviewing Gandhi asked whether India would now follow the British pattern of development. Gandhi replied immediately "It took Britain half the resources of the planet to achieve this prosperity. How many planets will a country like India require?" More recently, Wackernagel and Rees (1995) and others have emphasized again that if everyone lived at the standard of industrialized countries, it would take two additional planets comparable to Earth to support them, three more if the population should double; and that if worldwide standards
of living should double over the next 40 years, twelve additional "Earths." Aspirations to such a standard of living everywhere are clearly unattainable, and yet advertising continues to reassure us that it is both appropriate and achievable. Even those of us who live in rich countries continually strive to seek to increase their standards of living by increasing their levels of consumption. Erich Fromm correctly noted in his book "To Have or Be?": «The transition from owning to being - it's actually a question about what the scales will outweigh, when in connection with ongoing social changes encouraging all new and not old. In addition, it's not the fact that the new man was diﬀerent from the old, as heaven and earth, all business is in change of the direction of development. First is one step in a new direction, then another, and if we have chosen the right direction, these steps solve everything» 4. The concept of sustainability is at best a starting point for consideration of the multiple conﬂicting values at stake: the standard of living of the current generation, social justice, conservation of resources for future generations, and respect for other living beings and for the integrity of ecosystems. Our ethics and our values must change, and they must change because we come to understand that by changing we will be also happier, guaranteeing a decent future for our children on a healthier planet in more vibrant democracy in better neighborhoods and communities. Developed countries should set an example for the rest of the world in the transition to sustainable development. They should abandon the policy of unlimited economic growth, consumption, and to demand the same from developing countries. Until then, developing countries may accept the idea of sustainable development as just another utopia the West has imposed on them for selﬁsh purposes.
B����������� 1. Lester Brown: 'We Must Deﬁne Security To Match The Threats Of The 21st Century'. 2. Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future (1987). 3. Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (1992). 4. Erich Fromm, "To Have or Be?"
Growth: with or without you by Pawel Pustelnik There has been a period when we have been enjoying economic growth and there have been periods of crises. However, the ﬂuctuations aﬀected poverty alleviation only to some extent. A new question that arises is: how do we integrate ecology in the discussion about reducing poverty through growth? In 1972 “The Limits to Growth” has been published and from the very beginning caused a lot of discussion. The authors argued that there is a strong need to change trends in ﬁve variables: world population, industrialization, pollution, food production and resource depletion. An immediate answer came from academia: the world will end up in hunger if we stop developing or producing more goods. Most certainly, the world will stop increasing its production one day, but inducing it artiﬁcially as “The Limits to Growth” argued, was wrong. When we are looking now at the levels of consumption it seems that achieving any kind of sustainability is simply not feasible without limiting the expansion. No matter how much it is being cared in design, everyday practices or production, the increasing number of goods produced is simply beyond the earth capacity to digest them. This consumption is visible in the Western societies that are currently world-wide setters.
For now an important issue is to share the ecological knowledge in a way it is being positively perceived. No need for another colonization of the developing countries singing the anthem “You are not sustainable, we will teach you, you will know”. In order to preserve them, immensely complex relationships between economy, ecology and growth must be understood by each and everyone who contributes to consumption. This means by literally everyone. Of course alleviating extreme poverty with education about sustainability is not the way, but sustainable approaches to development can be implemented in places that are now forgotten by the preachers of carbon diet and reduced consumption. This leads to the problem that is often missed in the debate about ecology and economics: female empowerment. It could appear disconnected with the topic, but there is a strong relationship between sustainability and the position of women in local communities in the developing countries. Women as crop growers, and food and water providers play a crucial role in identifying sustainability and its friends or enemies in disadvantaged environments.
Pawel Pustelnik is a PhD student at the School of City and Regional Planning at Cardiff University (UK) and works for the World Student Christian Federation and the Jewrnalism Foundation. As long as we are in the mood to develop and grow there is a pressing need to integrate ecology in the discourse on developmental aid, microloans or any other institutional answers to poverty. The ecological responsibility is just as important as social justice. Even if some might be helped now, the future can only be secured through sustainable ways of sharing and learning. Growth can then become only a secondary issue.
Those patterns of buying goods are emulated by the developing countries in other continents. The need to own is highly contagious. For example, the growth of vehicle ownership in many Asian countries is presented by a double digit number. China had to recently introduce limits to the number of registration plates issued daily due to drastically increased emissions level. Africa will soon become a continent of possession. It is just a matter of time. I am not arguing that any kind of greed line should be implemented and an international Robin Hood should take from the rich and give to the poor. This would mean that the problem remains present and is only moved to another theoretical level. A logical thought is: once all the continents are saturated with goods, people will simply stop desiring things and we will live happily ever after. Unfortunately, serene as it is, the vision is absolutely not feasible under the circumstances of the real world.
Photo by Marie Bohn Olsen
Civil Responsibility in the World of Global Poverty by Tomáš Tožička In 2008, Players in the Global Casino realized that they cannot get anything for their chips. The richest were lucky. Their friends from rich countries’ governments rescued them from losing money. Those millions of people who were saving in annuity insurance funds did not have the same luck. They have lost all of their money within few days. In addition, the crisis has fallen hard on industry as well as services and produced an army of unemployed. As same as happened during the Great Economic Crisis in 1920s, the recession was originated in the richest countries though the inhabitants of the least developed countries have to suﬀer the consequences the most. In addition to eﬀects of the food and commodity crises, the living conditions of the poorest were to worsen even more. The constant increase in the number of people living in poverty, as well as constant increase of the income of the few rich, will cause a slowdown of the economy and can lead to unrest. Pauperized masses are kept reassured by political elites that the problem lays in social, medical and educational investments. However, those investments make just a small fragment of the money feasted away in rescue packages for banks, industry or pointless state obligation connected with corruption and funding of election campaigns of the biggest political parties.
������� Tax Justice Network estimates that worldwide tax losses exceed 250 billion USD per year due to international tax evasion. This money disappears in tax havens where rich individuals and corporations hide more than 11 thousand billion USD behind tax and
anti-corruption bodies. Nevertheless, politicians exert just a minimal or even rhetorical eﬀort to solve this problem. It is not diﬃcult to guess why. This money is untraceable which fosters corruption as well as supports organized crime. More and more citizens in developed countries are aware that they are losing control over political power, over decision-making regarding their lives as well as possibilities to inﬂuence events around them. Activities leading to higher participation on democratic processes are still very weak. Nevertheless more people are starting to realize that by one’s own daily acting and habits one can inﬂuence not only himself and his neighbours but overall development on the global level as well.
��������� ���� One such activity is simple shopping. In a shop we might decide whether to buy a cheap product manufactured by children or employees in miserable conditions or we choose a product which does not violates dignity of workers nor harms the environment. Of course, lots of consumers are limited by their income but that is exactly the reason why we should think about it. Cheap goods could be produced only at the expense of undigniﬁed working conditions. If we continue supporting such mechanisms we can soon ﬁnd ourselves in the same miserable conditions. Therefore civil activities on local as well as global level call to solidarity with workers in developing countries, to buying goods produced in digniﬁed conditions and without harming the environment.
Tomáš Tožička is one of coordinators of the campaign “The Czech Republic against Poverty”.
������ ��� ��� Some people do not realize that poverty in Europe – one of the richest regions of the world – can be diﬀerent from poverty in the poorest ones, such as in the least developed countries. The example of this could be just simple access to electricity which is denied to one third of the whole population of the Earth. This is still the reality even though we know modern technologies and usages of energy resources exist even in the most remote areas. Unfortunately, the rich countries prefer to support supranational corporations which build central electric grids only in areas where they can start quickly proﬁting. However, it is obvious, that we need to seek solutions mainly for poor areas in order to support their local economies and decrease dependence on global markets. Building of local energy capacities and local networks is one of such opportunities. Notwithstanding, this is neither applied in poor countries nor in rich ones in comparison. Even there we can see “wealthy in a sea of poverty”. A consequence is the migration from countryside or poor cities to rich agglomerations accompanied with all the related problems.
����������� ��� ��� ������� A remaining problem is famine and malnutrition. In 2010, 925 million people were starving – which means approximately every sixth inhabitant of the planet. An absolute majority of them were in developing countries, mainly women and children. The problem is not caused by inability to produce suﬃcient food for growing population – as one of the main myth of development studies claims. On the contrary: according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in 2002 there were more than 17% calories per person produced comparing to ﬁgures thirty years before. Despite that we still cannot stop starvation. It
is no wonder that 1,3 billion tons of food are wasted. A report from the FAO in May 2011 claims that the average inhabitant of Europe or Northern America throws away 95–115 kg of food per year. In total consumers in rich countries waste 222 million tons of potable food, which equals to production of all countries of Sub-Saharan Africa. Moreover, according to the latest research, transformation to ecological agriculture would increase production even more. In addition, agroecology would relieve dependence of agriculture on oil products, increase the health of the population and enable revitalization of countryside.
Nevertheless, the interests of supranational industry and habits of consumers in developed countries are the lasting impediments. A further problem is climate change which can dramatically change food security of the most vulnerable. As ones of the biggest producers of greenhouse gases per capita we must face our undisputable share of responsibilities. Therefore it is important to change our habits in this respect, to change our habits on a personal or a family level – as a question of consumption – as well as voters and policy-makers in political-economic paradigms.
World Food Programme Hunger Map
T�� ����� �������� ������� ������� ��� ����� ������������� ����������� As an example of national-level approaches, the awareness rising campaign the Czech Republic against Poverty in the framework of the Global Call for Actions against Poverty aims to fulﬁll rich countries’ commitments by which they promised support to the poorest countries. The focus is mainly on so called Global Development Goals (MDGs) which is an internationally approved programme aiming to wipe out extreme poverty. It is clear even today that MDGs’ intentions will not be fulﬁlled. This leads to the question of what to do next? It is obvious that ﬁnancial ﬂow of the so called Oﬃcial Development Assistance is not suﬃcient. In the current ﬁnancial and commercial settings on the global level, there is still the trend that poor countries pay more to the rich ones than they receive from them. There is a continuous vicious circle of unsolvable indebtedness. If we want to change this trend, general goals would not be enough. We need real development strategies which would contribute to ensuring the digniﬁed and undepreciated life of all people – in poor as well as rich countries. However, in order to fulﬁll this vision we lack political will. The
main impediments are competing ideologies – ﬁrst of all, the liberal one. Though it is clear that one size does not ﬁt all, we are trying to ﬁlter reality through our limited imagination which we later proclaim as universal in spite of trying to ﬁnd concrete solution for speciﬁc localities.
����� ������������� Some civil initiatives focus more and more on both awareness rising of global consequences of our daily lives and a concrete work which lead to higher civil participation in public life on local as well as global level. This is the very basic presumption necessary for removing the biggest problems which we are dealing with. Neither an enlightened ruler nor an ideal democratic government on either national or international level could ever solve these problems. Responsibility as well as capabilities must come from citizens. Our world could be a place where everybody has ensured digniﬁed life as well as possibilities for personal development. We have enough ﬁnances, technologies and food to achieve such a state. The only question is how to manage these resources and to which extent we allow their abuse.
Such a state when a few of the rich ones exploits poor majority is not sustainable and from our historical experience always ends tragically. This could be applicable on a national as well as a global level. However, even the living standard of that poorer majority in Europe is largely born by tremendous conditions in distant countries where the most of the products of our daily consumption is manufactured. We would not preserve our rights if we tolerated their violation in other parts of world. We cannot create a lonely island of freedom, happiness and justice. If we want to achieve a better and more digniﬁed life for us as well for the future generations, we must anchor to solidarity. Solidarity as integration of similarly or more threatened individuals and groups. In order to achieve our rights and justice, we must support and be concerned about rights of our neighbours – regardless if they are from our street, from a marginalized group, from an urban ghetto or from another continent.
Photo by Benjamin Mlýnek
Asking Childish Questions About the World by Kristīne Jansone
Film Review It is amazing, how children have the ability to ask the most impossible questions. I think all of us have heard the notorious "WHY?" and many other questions: Who invented parliament? What is a vaccination? Where does the sky end? Do the angels swim? Beautiful innocence lies in these questions. While watching Udo Maurer's "About Water: People and Yellow Cans" I asked myself a multitude of those childish questions: Who is the owner of water? Who invents jobs? Where do people live when their house is washed away? Is murder legal? Who is planning the future?
telling a story, which is hard to forget. Or rather three stories. The ﬁlm is focusing on three very different places in the world - Bangladesh, Kazakhstan and Kenya - where people are aﬀected by water in one way or another. However, water is not the only motive binding these three realities together. It reveals much deeper issues of social justice, gender equality, even crime. It is a story of climate change, engineering folly, and corrupt government practices. How does it change the lives of people, who are aﬀected by those realities? How does it change the people?
Still the beautiful innocence? Perhaps this is the answer to our "Why?" about the childish questions - if children would know the answers, they would probably not ask the questions. Because the reality is often too sad, dramatic, shocking and thought provoking to ask more about it.
Being European woman, living well above the poverty line, thus watching the ﬁlm from quite narrow perspective, sometimes the surreality of the scene stroke me: several men carrying a tin roof, a mother almost pouring her baby out with the bath water, camels walking next to the stranded ships. But, I guess, as a European midAustrian director Udo Maurer in his dle class woman I have not seen much documentary, which is focusing main- in my everyday route. ly on water has managed to raise all those questions. He does not give the Yet, the everyday routes of the people answers, but encourages the viewer showed in the stories bound together to seek for them. The ﬁlm is ﬁlled by water are rather diﬀerent. We are with stunning, even surreal images, taken to a small village in Bangladesh, thought-provoking statistics, and which is heavily aﬀected by ﬂoods very scarce textual material, as if to of monsoon season and the water let the viewer see and understand all makes everything more diﬃcult. We the real tragedies in diﬀerent parts of are taken to an extremely surreal the world. Yet, it is made in a beauti- landscape of former harbour city of ful and gentle way, showing great re- Aralsk in Kazakhstan, where people spect and love for its characters, thus still remember the smell of ﬁsh and
Kristīne Jansone is the General Secretary of the Ecumenical Youth Council Europe. cries of seagulls. Finally, we are taken to Kibera, Nairobi, Africa’s largest slum, where people sometimes have a diﬀerent view of justice and property. And somehow, when following the daily routes of those people, our daily routes are transformed in a way and the only questions that remain, are: How? Why? Can I? Still, these people are just people, just like us. Sometimes we see, how great solidarity and sense of community reigns among people, sometimes they are selﬁsh and evil, sometimes they just linger in memories or dreams of lost future. Yet, they all have their faces, their dignity, their past and more importantly future. Just like us. I think, we need to keep asking the childish questions about the world, so that the dignity and future of every person on Earth can still survive./
D������ Title: Über Wasser: Menschen und gelbe Kanister (About Water: People and Yellow Cans)
Director: Udo Maurer Date: 2007, Austria Language: diverse, English subtitles
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The Green Hand Day by Catharina Covolo Through participating in the Green Hand Day people demonstrated, together with young people from Germany, as well as with many other young people from Europe that you were watching what the politicians decided for the future. Green Hand Day meant to raise awareness about the Rio+20 conference and participants decided how they wanted to raise awareness in their city or village. By planning an activity during Green Hand Day on June 16th (or another day leading up to Rio+20) with your youth group, you showed your involvement to our common future! The symbol of the Green Hand Day is a Green Hand itself, it was used through activities and posted in public places (schools, city halls, bus stops etc.) so people could see it and participants could inform them about Green Hand Day and Rio+20! You can still download the Green Hand from the website www.greenhand-day.de and use it yourself – it is never too late!
Catharina Covolo is the chair of EYCE’s Executive Committee Green Hand Day is a project of EYCE's German member organisation, AEJ. Green Hand Day's aim was to raise awareness about the recent Rio+20 conference on June 16th. The activity looked to the place where the decisions about the global future were being made: Rio.
For more information about the actions led, visit the website of the Green Hand Day at www.greenhand-day.de, its Facebook page or contact the oﬃce by emailing aej:veit. firstname.lastname@example.org We look forward to hearing about your activities! Share them on Facebook or the Green Hand Day website!
In June 2012, governments deliberated on how the climate can be protected, the economy be more eco-friendly and how justice can be achieved among the diﬀerent people of the world. And so, Green Hand Day was the opportunity for YOU to take part in the decision making for the future.
Are YOU sustainable? What do you do when you have a cold? What kind of tissues do you use? Did you know that the use of facial tissue causes whole forests to be cut down? Consume responsibly! Look for recycled or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certiﬁcation (PEFC) certiﬁed products!
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Green Politics Events
EYCE Upcoming Events
2012 has been a very fruitful year in terms of events about the environment. Much has already happened, and more is on the way. March saw the largest-ever gathering of scientists discussing themes of sustainable development, the 3000-people strong “Planet under Pressure” conference in London.
Young people should be at the forefront of global change and innovation. Empowered, they can be key agents for development and peace. If, however, they are left on society's margins, all of us will be impoverished. Let us ensure that all young people have every opportunity to participate fully in the lives of their societies.
The gathering showed a united stand of the global scientiﬁc community for further political eﬀorts in Covolo is the direction of addressing Catharina environmental issues the chair of EYCE’s and promoting sustainable development. This was Executi Committ ee a direct message to the leaders andvenati onal delegations meeting at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in June, the Rio+20. This major conference takes place 20 years after the 1992 Earth Summit where the international conventions on climate and biodiversity conservation were created, in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This time, the debates have focused on two points.
Young people embody our hope for change. EYCE aims to accompany them to further develop their skills and empower these real stakeholders of our tomorrow. Addressing the diverse and major issues facing our current society, EYCE wants to provide young people with a panel of activities, where they can increase their skills and knowledge in an entertaining and non-formal environment. Please ﬁnd out below about our upcoming events and get involved in shaping the future you wish to see tomorrow and for the future generations.
First, the concept of “Green Economy” and how governments, businesses and civil society actors could take up action towards it. Second, how the international institutional framework (that is, the international rules and norms) for sustainable development could be improved, including how to improve the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). This year still reserves the 18th Conference of the Parties (COP) of the climate convention, in Doha, Qatar, attempting to achieve a consensus on the follow-up to the Kyoto Protocol, whose ﬁrst commitment period ends now in 2012 and leaves it in urgent need of a successor. Other than that, do not forget the World Car-free Day (22nd September) and the World Vegetarian Day (1st October). Who knows, you might discover a new habit.
3rd - 9th of September 2012, "Acting Together to Overcome Poverty! Young people address social injustice through interreligious cooperation", Paris, France 26th - 29th October 2012, "National Correspondents’ meeting with focus on sustainability of EYCE", Warsaw, Poland 11th - 18th of November 2012, "Gender: Revised?!", study session in cooperation with WSCF-E, European Youth Centre Budapest, Hungary 10th - 17th of March, 2013, "Shape Democracy! Youth Leaders Promoting Participation and Equality", Romania 2nd - 9th of June, 2013, "Learn. Engage. Lead. Ecumenical Training to Foster the Participation of Young People in International Settings", The Netherlands 18th - 25th of August, 2013, "Be the generation of Peace! A seminar to enhance the participation and contribution of young people to peace processes", Serbia Follow us on Facebook and www.eyce.org!
Imprint Editing: Mairon Givani Bastos Lima, Benjamin Mlynek Proofreading: Tina Barnett Layout: Daniel Sipos Copyright: © Photos: EYCE & respective contributors © Design: EYCE 2012 © Cartoon: Erdem Çolak