Friday, February 5, 2016

Profiles of Changmakers

Profiles of Changemakers: Shawn Anderson, founder, Extra Mile America Foundation

By Nancy Henderson Contributing Editor When Shawn Anderson arrived at the ramshackle school in the Philippines, ready to address the students as part of his first...

The Hub

Navdanya: India’s tea capital can recover from devastating floods – if...

The Conversation, 16 September 2015 Photo: epa04905689 EPA/STR Source: https://theconversation.com/indias-tea-capital-can-recover-from-devastating-floods-if-the-government-gets-its-act-together-47305 Heavy flooding has affected more than a million people in the north-eastern Indian state of Assam, with 45 dead and more than 200,000 in relief camps. And yet [...]

LIFESTYLE NEWS

PETA: Vegan Ben & Jerry’s Is HERE With 4 New Flavors

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Fellowship of Reconciliation: World Interfaith Harmony Week : Steps Toward A...

The Association of World Citizens, a non-governmental organization in consultative status with the United Nations, cooperates fully with the World Interfaith Harmony Week, which takes place February 1-7. The UN General Assembly designates the first week of every February as a time for cooperation for a common purpose among all religions, faiths and beliefs.

The General Assembly, building on its efforts for a culture of peace and non-violence in which World Citizens have played an active part, wishes to highlight the importance of mutual understanding and inter-religious dialogue in developing a creative culture of peace and non-violence. The General Assembly recognizes “the imperative need for dialogue among different faiths and religions in enhancing mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among people.” The week has a potential to promote the healing of religion-based tensions in the world.

As Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wrote,

At a time when the world is faced with many simultaneous  problems—security, environmental, humanitarian, and economic—enhanced tolerance and understanding are fundamental for a resilient and vibrant international society. There is an imperative need, therefore, to further reaffirm and develop harmonious cooperation between the world’s different faiths and religions.

Global citizens have stressed that peace comes from cooperation beyond the boundaries of ethnicity, religion and nationality, and have called for a cultural renaissance based on the concept of harmony. Rather than concentrating primarily on conflicts, struggles, and suffering, they have  suggested focusing on cooperation, coexistence, and visions of a better future. Harmony includes tolerance, acceptance, equality, and forgiveness of past pains and conflicts. Harmony leads to gentleness, patience, kindness, and thus to inner peace and outward relations based on respect.

World Citizens maintain that harmony is a universal common value. In harmony, we can find true values that transcend all cultures and religions. The meaning of life is to seek harmony within our inner self. Humans are born with a spiritual soul that develops to seek self-fulfillment. Our soul has a conscience that elevates us. As our soul grows to maturity, we achieve our own harmony.

However, harmony is not only a personal goal of inner peace, but a guideline for political, social and world affairs. Citizens of the World believe that our actions should enhance peace, reduce conflict, and activate a culture of harmony. The 21st century is the beginning of a Harmony Renaissance. Our world mission is to be ready for humanity’s next creative wave to lead us to a higher level of common accomplishment. The World Harmony Renaissance will bring the whole world into action for this new millennium of peace and prosperity with unfettered collective energy.

World Citizens have underlined the strong contribution that Chinese culture could play in the creation of this harmonious culture. In an earlier period of Chinese thought during the Song Dynasty, there was an important conscious effort to create a Harmony Renaissance.  This was a period of interest in science —“the extension of knowledge through the investigation of things.” It was a time when there was a conscious effort to bring together into a harmonious framework what often existed as separate and sometimes hostile schools of thought: Confucianism, Buddhism, philosophical Daoism and religious Daoism. These efforts were called Tao hsuch, the Study of the Tao, an effort Western scholars later termed “Neo-Confucianism.”

Zhou Dunyi, often better known as the Master of Lien-his, was a leading figure in this effort. He developed a philosophy based on the alternation of the Yin and Yang, each becoming the source of the other.

Today, after decades of conflict when the emphasis of nations both in policy and practice was upon competition, conflict, and individual enrichment, we need to emphasize harmony, cooperation, mutual respect, and working for the welfare of the community with a respect for nature.  When one aspect, either Yin or Yang, becomes too dominant, equilibrium needs to be restored.

Obviously it takes time to put into place a harmonious society at home and a harmonious world abroad. The cultivation of harmony must become the operational goal for many. As Mencius, a follower of Confucius said,

A trail through the mountains, if used, becomes a path in a short time, but, if unused, becomes blocked by grass in an equally short time.

The World Interfaith Harmony Week is an opportunity to open new paths. As global citizens, we must find a new guiding image for our culture, one that unifies the aspirations of humanity with the needs of the planet and the individual. We hold that peace can be achieved through opening our hearts and minds to a broader perspective. We are one human race, and we inhabit one world. Therefore we must see the world with global eyes, understand the world with a global mind, and love the world with a global heart.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

 

TECH AND GADGETS

Rainforest Action Network: “More Talk, More Delays, Little Progress”

Rainforest Action Network Responds to Cargill’s Just-Released Policy on Forests

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Emma Rae Lierley, 425.281.1989, Emma@ran.org 

San Francisco, CA - Today, Cargill Inc. released a new policy on forests that permits over a decade of ongoing rainforest destruction, climate pollution and egregious human rights violations in the agribusiness giant’s global operations.   

Today’s announcement marks the first anniversary of a commitment made by its CEO Dave MacLennan to eliminate deforestation from its global supply chains. The newly released Policy on Forests includes Action Plans for key commodities such as palm oil. Cargill first stated its intention to eliminate palm oil suppliers associated with deforestation, degradation of carbon-rich peatlands or failure to protect Indigenous and other human and worker rights in July 2015, but this latest policy does little to impact the continual destruction of forests with a timeline out of step with competitors. 

In response to today’s announcement, Rainforests Action Network’s Agribusiness Campaign Director Gemma Tillack says:

“Today’s announcement is more talk and more delays from Cargill––a disappointment when combined with the little progress that has been made in the past year to transform the operations of its suppliers on the ground in Indonesia and Malaysia.

“The global climate and biodiversity crisis is happening now. We simply can not afford to accept the ongoing expansion of commodities that are driving the destruction of the world’s last intact rainforests. Cargill’s weak deadline of 2030 for cutting deforestation from its supply chains supports a ‘business as usual’ trajectory for most agricultural commodities. 

“What’s more, a 2020 timeframe to transform its palm oil supply chain is also slow and out of pace with its competitors who have adopted more ambitious timelines. Cargill needs to take swifter action, particularly given the rate of destruction in Southeast Asia and the extent of existing abuses in the palm oil sector.”

In the past 12 months little progress has been made to drive real change on the ground in Indonesia and Malaysia, where a majority of the palm oil Cargill buys and sells is produced. The following cases demonstrate that more action is needed before Cargill can deliver on its commitments:

  • Palm oil expansion continues to drive deforestation in the 6.5 million acre global biodiversity hotspot known as The Leuser Ecosystem. Located in Aceh on the island of Sumatra, it is the last place on Earth where Sumatran orangutan, tiger, elephant, rhino and sunbear coexist in the wild, and the companies responsible for the destruction of rainforests and peatlands in the area sell palm oil to Cargill’s key global suppliers.
  • In a recent Wall Street Journal report, forced labor and human trafficking was exposed in the operations of palm oil giant FELDA––a known supplier to Cargill in Malaysia where a number of Cargill’s palm oil refineries are located. 
  • The practice of landgrabbing is closely tied to deforestation, as palm oil companies seize community land for the further development of plantations. Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad (KLK), a known supplier to Cargill, has attempted to pursue development in Collingwood Bay, Papua New Guinea and Grand Bassa County, Liberia despite active opposition and lack of Free, Prior and Informed Consent from local communities.
  • An annually recurring issue, forest and plantation fires are currently ablaze across Indonesia, blanketing the skies of local villages and cities, as well as those cities across Southeast Asia, with toxic smoke. The fires are huge drivers of climate change, disrupt air traffic, provoke public health emergencies and trigger diplomatic crisis among Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. Due to lack of transparency in Cargill’s global supply chain, Cargill can not guarantee that it is not sourcing palm oil from plantations where fires are ablaze. 

Cargill is the largest importer of palm oil into the United States. Palm oil is used in roughly half the packaged goods sold in grocery stores and products containing Cargill-sourced palm oil can be found in most American homes.

With 2013 revenues of $136.7 billion and profits of $2.31 billion, Cargill is among the largest and most powerful private corporations in the world. Cargill’s business lines touch all aspects of palm oil production, trade, refining and marketing as it moves palm oil from producers to end consumers. Cargill has a crucial role to play in building traceable and responsible palm oil sourcing from growers to markets.

 

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Rainforest Action Network runs hard-hitting campaigns to break North America’s fossil fuels addiction, protect endangered forests and Indigenous rights, and stop destructive investments around the world through education, grassroots organizing, and non-violent direct action. For more information, please visit: www.ran.org

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Emma Rae Lierley, Emma@ran.org, 425.281.1989

San Francisco, CA - Quietly released last Friday afternoon, PepsiCo’s latest palm oil action plan does little to address the corporation’s contribution to the deadly, and devastating, environmental and human rights crises currently underway in Indonesia, as the islands of Sumatra and Borneo continue to burn from intentionally set forest fires lit to clear land for palm oil production.

The latest action plan confirms PepsiCo’s place as a laggard among the ‘Snack Food 20’ group of companies profiled by Rainforest Action Network (RAN), and comes in the wake of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index recently dropping the snack food giant from its list.

Gemma Tillack, Agribusiness Campaign Director for Rainforest Action Network, said:

“Rainforest Action Network is disappointed that PepsiCo continues to fail to take responsibility for the impact of its products sold globally. PepsiCo has a huge role to play in the highly problematic global production of Conflict Palm Oil, but will continue to accept ‘business as usual’ operations from its suppliers, including Indofood,” said Tillack.

PepsiCo is the largest globally distributed snack food company and, using one percent of all palm oil produced in the world, has a significant role to play in transforming palm oil production. PepsiCo continues to maintain a joint venture partnership with Indonesian food giant Indofood, which is the sole maker of PepsiCo branded products in Indonesia and Indonesia’s third largest private palm oil company. Indofood has a track record of egregious business practices, including deforestation, labor rights violations and ongoing conflicts with local communities, and is the largest private palm oil company in Indonesia that lacks a responsible palm oil policy.

“With this action plan, PepsiCo has failed to set a deadline for breaking the links between its products and companies that are destroying rainforests and peatlands, and abusing human and labor rights. Instead, its action plan reconfirms to only source physically certified palm oil by 2020––a deadline out of step with what is needed.

“This latest move falls below the standard set by PepsiCo’s peers, which have recognized the need to go beyond sourcing Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certified palm oil. The RSPO is a scheme that permits the destruction of forests, peatlands and has a poor track record of upholding the rights of local communities and workers.

“Given the crisis unfolding in Indonesia, consumers around the world will not accept inaction and will continue to demand that PepsiCo address its Conflict Palm Oil problem. RAN stands ready and willing to work with PepsiCo and its newly appointed implementation partner to develop a credible action plan that will drive efforts to independently verify that deforestation and human and labor rights will no longer taint the snack food giant’s supply chain,” concluded Tillack.

For more information on PepsiCo’s Conflict Palm Oil problem in Indonesia download the full report Palm Oil Sustainability Assessment of Indofood Agri Resources or a summary report, titled Indofood: PepsiCo’s Indonesian Palm Oil Problem, here: http://www.ran.org/indofood_report.

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