Developing Countries

Fair trade versus Local Produce / Fair trade and Local Produce

Arcola Theatre, in association with the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden, is connected with Growing Communities, an organisation that deals with the distribution of local grown produce. Growing Communities is a social business which runs community-led box schemes which can be collected from various pick-up points in Hackney, and is all local, fresh vegetables! As with Fairtrade products, local produce also have numerous benefits: supporting the local economy, reducing food miles, and enhancing community involvement and spirit.

With the concerns surrounding climate change increasing day to day, many firms, households and consumers are searching for ways to reduce our negative impact on the environment and to reduce our carbon footprint. With this in mind, the argument becomes in favour of local produce and somewhat against imported fair-trade. Thus, this raises the question: can they not both exist together?

Many of the products that we buy are only grown in developing countries and therefore it is logical to buy these Fairtrade products. For example, us Brits, we do love our tea! And tea, where does it come from? The majority of tea plantations are found in Asia, South America and Africa; places where the climate is suited to growing tea. Thus, in this case it makes sense to transport and ship over Fairtrade goods rather than growing and producing local goods. It can even be said that in some instances the level of carbon emissions is lower from transporting Fairtrade goods than producing local. In addition, the number of jobs created in tea plantations provides a boost to the local economy and their carbon footprint is reduced as they can afford to buy local food.

Buying local, however, does have its benefits and is often preferred for certain types of food. Our desire to buy local is often a result of our increasing concern over food quality and the need to trust what we buy. With local foods, it is possible to go to the Farmers market and meet the farmer and learn more about where the food comes from. This is increasingly being for advertised international foods through TV adverts and marketing, however the ease with which it occurs with local foods is unparalleled.

At the end of the day, some goods are just better suited to being produced abroad and others that we love are better made locally. A harmonious result is that balance of both types of goods in our shopping basket.

Go to Arcola Energy

Avatar; indigenous peoples, carbon credits and the rainforest

I’m loving the commentaries that have evolved around Avatar’s themes of exploitation of natural resources, imperialism and biological diversity.

Libertarian blogger Stephen Kinsella argues here that it underscores his viewpoint that the movie demonstrates that property rights are the only way to protect the environment. Interestingly this is the logic of the UN’s REDD carbon trading scheme or to give it its long name, the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries. This is based – in theory at least – of forests having assigned carbon values and of local people having property rights over those resources. The “owners” are then rewarded for not chopping down trees.

Such solutions aren’t without their problems though. Aside for the more obvious problems of carbon credits – that they allow the industralised world to delay reducing their own emissions –  Global Witness point out in this report [PDF] that was published last October, this is an untested scheme that may well benefit Africa and South America’s kleptocrat rulers more than it does the environment, or the locals to whom this property has been assigned. Assigning property rights, suggests Global Witness, is part of the process of moving from an environment protected from logging, to a “sustainably managed” forest which allows logging to go ahead.

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology

Avatar and the power of social media

I’m loving the commentaries that have evolved around Avatar’s themes of exploitation of natural resources, imperialism and biological diversity.

Libertarian blogger Stephen Kinsella argues here that it underscores his viewpoint that the movie demonstrates that property rights are the only way to protect the environment. Interestingly this is the logic of the UN’s REDD carbon trading scheme or to give it its long name, the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries. This is based – in theory at least – of forests having assigned carbon values and of local people having property rights over those resources. The “owners” are then rewarded for not chopping down trees.

Such solutions aren’t without their problems though. Aside for the more obvious problems of carbon credits – that they allow the industralised world to delay reducing their own emissions –  Global Witness point out in this report [PDF] that was published last October, this is an untested scheme that may well benefit Africa and South America’s kleptocrat rulers more than it does the environment, or the locals to whom this property has been assigned. Assigning property rights, suggests Global Witness, is part of the process of moving from an environment protected from logging, to a “sustainably managed” forest which allows logging to go ahead.

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology

Trigger Point Theory as Aesthetic Activism

Trigger Point Theory as Aesthetic Activism was a three day workshop, culminating yesterday, led by Aviva Rahmini. I’m trying to meet-up with Aviva later today, but in the mean time, please check out the last three daily recaps from her workshop:

Day 1

Just spoke with someone from Shell: formerly working for their sustainability program, quit so they can look at themselves in the mirror (minimal progress, 30-33 people killed annually, stupid, selfish choices re: developing countries.) Asked not to be identified

Day 2

Fabian, one of the Climate Pirates who brought 5 ships to Copenhagen, saw his colleagues surrounded by the melee of violent police on the way to the World Culture Center where we are working. He perceives that the police are deliberately sustaining the high tension of the situation by making arrests and quick releases.

Day 3

I like an orderly society as much as anyone but not at the cost I’m experiencing here. I spoke to eyewitnesses (people known to me), who watched Danish plain clothesmen infiltrate the protestors and become provocative until the police charged, at which time the police encircled the phony agitators to bring them back into the folds of their own, while going on to beat up the rest of the crowd.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/12/16/protests-in-copenhagen-de_n_393784.html