Monday, March 31, 2014


1. The number and variety of organisms found within a specified geographic region. 
2. The variability among living organisms on the earth, including the variability within and between species and within and between ecosystems. 

Why is biodiversity important? 
Here's the problem with the loss of biodiversity: The Earth functions like an incredibly complex machine, and there don't appear to be any unnecessary parts. Each species -- from the lowliest microbe to humans -- plays a part in keeping the planet running smoothly. In this sense, each part is related. If a lot of those parts suddenly vanish, then the machine that is Earth can't function properly. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

UN Commission on the Status of Women -- March 10 - 21, 2014

Who's key to gender equality? Hint: It's not women

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Tue, 18 March 2014 12:07 PM

When it comes to women’s rights, it turns out it’s really all about men. 

A recent World Bank report underscored that strong economies and greater education for women, once thought to be silver bullets against gender inequality in the world of work, are effectively trumped by persistent social norms. 

Entrenched social attitudes and traditions remain among the greatest obstacles to realising women’s rights globally - and most of those attitudes and traditions are held or enforced by men, according to experts.

An emerging theme at this year’s United Nations Commission on the Status of Women  (CSW58), is an increasing acknowledgment of the importance of addressing and changing the attitudes of men and boys to achieve the stubbornly elusive goal of gender equality. 

“We can empower women more and more, but if men remain the same, what’s the point?” Waruna Sri Dhanapala, minister counselor at Sri Lanka's permanent mission to the United Nations, told a panel discussion on Monday.

He was echoing comments by Babatunde Osotimehin, head of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), who says equality can't happen without boys and men being on board. 

"Why is it possible for men to have access to condoms without any question, but when it comes to providing contraception to women and girls, the whole world comes against you?” Osotimehin said at an earlier CSW58 session.  

“It's about power. Men want to determine what women do and tell them what to do and how to do it. That must stop. Men must learn to accept gender equality."

Education programs for men and boys are key, according to Julie Pulerwitz, Director of Social Operations Research at the Population Council.

Monday, March 17, 2014


Saving Our Blue Future: The Human Race Needs a New Water Ethic

Photo credit: Flickr / cc / Tim Cronin / Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).  
Have you heard? The world is running out of accessible clean water. 
Humanity is polluting, mismanaging, and displacing our finite freshwater sources at an alarming rate. Since 1990, half the rivers in China have disappeared. The Ogallala Aquifer that supplies the U.S. breadbasket will be gone “in our lifetime,” the U.S. Department of Agriculture says.

By 2030, global demand for water will outstrip supply by 40 percent, a surefire recipe for great suffering. Five hundred scientists recently told UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that our collective abuse of water has caused the planet to enter “a new geologic age” and that the majority of the planet’s population lives within 31 miles of an endangered water source.

Just as water can be a source of disputes, conflict, and violence, water can bring people, communities, and nations together in the shared search for solutions.

Yet in election after election the world over, no one’s paying attention to this urgent issue.

That’s why I’m calling for a new water ethic that places water and its protection at the heart of all policy and practice. This may strike you as far-fetched, but we must do it now. The future of the planet and the human race both depend on it.

And taking our water crisis seriously will change everything.

What would farm policy look like if we understood that the global food system is depleting local watersheds through the export of a torrent of “virtual water”? Vast quantities of water are embedded in apples, corn, and other crops.

How would trade policy change if we understood that global trade deals give global firms the right to claim “ownership” of the water they use in other countries?

Would our energy policies change if we realized that water-guzzling biofuels may be more environmentally dangerous than the fossil fuels they’re supposed to replace?

This new water ethic should honor four principles.
First, water is a human right and must be more equitably shared. The United Nations has recognized that drinking water and sanitation are fundamental rights and that governments have obligations not only to supply these services to their people but also to prevent harm to source water. This provides an important tool to local communities as they confront dangerous mines, dams, and fossil-fuel extraction operations around the world.

Second, water is a common heritage of humanity and of future generations and must be protected as a public trust in law and practice. Water must never be bought, hoarded, sold, or traded as a commodity on the open market and governments must maintain the water commons for the public good, not private gain. While private businesses have a role in helping find solutions to our water crisis, they shouldn’t be allowed to determine access to this basic public service. The public good trumps the corporate drive to make profits when it comes to water.

Third, water has rights too, outside its usefulness to humans. Water belongs to the Earth and other species. Our belief in “unlimited growth” and our treatment of water as a tool for industrial development have put the earth’s watersheds in jeopardy. Water isn’t merely a resource for our convenience, pleasure, and profit. It’s the essential element in a living ecosystem. We need to adapt our laws and practices to ensure the protection of water and the restoration of watersheds — a crucial antidote to global warming.

Finally, I deeply believe that water can teach us how to live together if only we will let it. There is enormous potential for water conflict in a world of rising demand and diminishing supply. But just as water can be a source of disputes, conflict, and violence, water can bring people, communities, and nations together in the shared search for solutions.

Preserving water supplies will require more collaborative and sustainable ways of growing food, producing energy, and trading across borders. It will demand robust democratic governance.

It is my deepest hope that water can become nature’s gift to humanity and teach us how to tread more lightly on the earth — in peace and respect with one another.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.
Published on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 by OtherWords

Maude Barlow

Maude Barlow is the national chairperson of the Council of Canadians, chairperson of Food and Water Watch in the U.S., and co-founder of the Blue Planet Project, which is instrumental in the international community in working for the right to water for all people.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Eradicate Poverty: The UN Believes that POVERTY can be eradicated, and must be eradicated if we are to become a sustainable planet.

Poverty entails more than the lack of income and productive resources to ensure sustainable livelihoods. Its manifestations include hunger and malnutrition, limited access to education and other basic services, social discrimination and exclusion as well as the lack of participation in decision-making. Various social groups bear disproportionate burden of poverty.