UN: After the Pandemic Sustainable Cities will Succeed

Montreal

Like the rest of the world, the United Nations is looking forward to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic and they’re projecting what our future may hold. The UN sees a consistent theme of ecological thinking as a way for cities to succeed in all the sustainable development goals. Most people live in cities, and in those urban settings people can see the clear interaction between societal forces like governments, commerce, the built environment, and so on. As a result, if we focus on making our cities sustainable and a wonderful place to live then the whole world can benefit.

The report explores how well-planned cities combining residential and commercial with public spaces, along with affordable housing, can improve public health, the local economy and the environment.

It calls for cities to be at the forefront of moves towards a Social Contract between governments, the public, civil society and private sector.

The new social contract should “explore the role of the state and cities to finance universal basic income, universal health insurance, universal housing”, said Sharif.

For one real-world example, Claudia Lopez Hernandez, Mayor of Bogota, explained how in the Colombian capital, their new social contract prioritises women and children.

It is a “social contract that includes women, that provides them with time, with time to take care of themselves, with time to educate themselves, and with time and education skills to come back to the labour market”.

“To have self-sustainable women is to have self-sustainable societies”, Hernandez explained.

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Carbon Pricing in Canada is Constitutional

Phramacy

A few years ago the federal government in Canada started charging for carbon wastage by people and companies. The 2018 Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act was passed to ensure that every province in Canada is doing the bare minimum to avoid catastrophic climate change. This led Conservative leaders of a couple provinces to challenge the government’s ability to do this (yes, the same Conservative party which recently decided to not acknowledge climate change, and the same Ontario Conservative government which paid millions of dollars to illegally break a cap and trade business deal with California and Quebec, sigh). The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in favour of the federal government’s approach to reducing carbon emissions by putting a price on carbon.

Carbon pricing isn’t taking direct climate action, but it’s a good step in the right direction and signals to the world that Canada is at least willing to do something.

The full impact of this ruling will be felt over the coming years as this opens up more climate-friendly action and cases to move forward.

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How PayUp Got Fashion Companies to Payout $22 Billion

money

Capitalism works when companies pay for good and services, when companies make deals and don’t pay for what they ordered then things fall apart. This is exactly what happened last year in the fashion industry, and it was the workers who suffered the most. The owners of companies like JCPenney, Urban Outfitters, Walmart, and others had deals in place with factories to produce clothing which they should have paid for but failed to do so. These were international deals which smaller countries have a hard time enforcing (meaning the large multinationals got away with breaking the law due to their size).

Then the #PayUp movement started and campaigned against these unethical companies. By March of last year they got pledges from many companies to honour their contracts (valued at $22 billion). This money would go to pay the owners and workers of the companies originally sourced by the large multinationals. To date many of paid, but there are still a few outliers.

By the summer of 2020, #PayUp had been shared on social media millions of times. A Change.org petition, which was sent to over 200 fashion executives directly, garnered nearly 300,000 signatures calling on companies to pay for the cancellations. Behind the scenes, NGOs and activist groups like Remake, the Worker Rights Consortium and Clean Clothes Campaign moved in tandem to negotiate with brands.

This pressure was combined with direct action by workers around the world. In response to factory shutdowns that left thousands in the apparel industry without jobs, workers in Myanmar went on strike, eventually securing a wage bonus and union recognition through a two-week sit-in. In Cambodia, around one hundred workers marched to the Ministry of Labor to submit a petition requesting compensation after their factory shut down. When they weren’t offered a resolution, protesters continued their march to the prime minister’s house, where they were blocked by nearly 50 police officers.

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Happy International Year of Fruits and Vegetables

The old adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” is really all about having a healthy diet to stay healthy, and this is the year to increase your apple consumption. 2021 is International Year of Fruits and Vegetables as celebrated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Use this as inspiration to try some fruit and veggies which you’re curious about and find a new way to cook with them.

Maybe this is the year you plant your own “victory garden” and grow a small amount of produce on your own.

Previously we celebrated the best FAO year: pulses.

Objectives of the IYFV 2021

  1. Raising awareness of and directing policy attention to the nutrition and health benefits of fruits and vegetables consumption;
  2. Promoting diversified, balanced, and healthy diets and lifestyles through fruits and vegetables consumption;
  3. Reducing losses and waste in fruits and vegetables food systems;
  4. Sharing best practices on:
    1. Promotion of consumption and sustainable production of fruits and vegetables that contributes to sustainable food systems;
    2. Improved sustainability of storage, transport, trade, processing, transformation, retail, waste reduction and recycling, as well as interactions among these processes;
    3. Integration of smallholders including family farmers into local, regional, and global production, value/supply chains for sustainable production and consumption of fruits and vegetables, recognizing the contributions of fruits and vegetables, including farmers’ varieties/landraces, to their food security, nutrition, livelihoods and incomes;
    4. Strengthening the capacity of all countries, specially developing countries, to adopt innovative approaches and technology in combating loss and waste of fruits and vegetables.

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What you can do: eat more fruits and veggies! Maybe even start growing some in your garden

Turning Sewage into Something Useful

ocean shore

Today is World Water Day and what better way to celebrate than by talking about sewage?

The Stockholm Environment Institute, an international non-profit research and policy organization, released a report on how we can better handle human waste. When it comes to basic sanitation there is plenty of good news including that only 26% of the global population has access to sanitation which is down from 50% in 1990. The report this year looks at how we can use sewage in the circular economy including turning into power to fuel buses.

“We need to reevaluate our view on wastewater and human excreta. Today’s approach to disposal means lost opportunities in the form of nutrients and organic matter which are being flushed away,” says Kim Andersson, Senior Expert at the Stockholm Environment Institute and one of the lead authors of Sanitation, Wastewater Management and Sustainability: From Waste Disposal to Resource Recovery. “Instead, we could use these materials to improve soils or produce clean burning, low carbon biogas. If cleaned properly, wastewater can even be turned into drinking water. Reusing this resource will generate new jobs and business models.”

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