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Companies, communities and NGOs define a new trade Market for Amazon products

by Helga Yamaki (ELP 2013), Brazil

The companies that want to fill up their products with oils, nuts, native essences from the Amazon, will need to create a dialogue with the extractivist communities, quilombolas and small producers of the region. Having accumulated knowledge on how to extract valuable raw material in a way that don’t degrade the forest, the supplier communities enter a new era of relationships with the industry.

Supported by the NGO, the traditional communities that survive from the sustainable use of the Amazon biodiversity, established the base line for trading of NTFP (Non-Timber Forest Products). The Community Protocol was launched on December 4th at Alter do Chão, Pará state, during the seminar on “Dialogues about Agroecology and Ethical Trade in the Amazon”.

Community representatives, partners and speakers in the Seminar at Alter do Cháo.

Community representatives, partners and speakers in the Seminar at Alter do Cháo.

The Forest of Value Project, is an initiative of Imaflora – Institute of Management and Agriculture and Forest Certification, that has a goal to conserve the Amazon forest through the strengthening of sustainable supply chain of NTFP and the dissemination of agroecology.

This Project is developed in three different territories of traditional communities and small holders in the country side of the state of Pará: Calha Norte of the Amazonas River, São Félix do Xingu and Terra do Meio regions. The project helps to establish paths to a new economy which keeps the forest standing and on its traditional ways of life, maintaining its most important value.

Our main focus is at the end of this chain, but we have partners such as ISA – Socio environmental Institute and ICMBio – Public sector responsible for these Protect Areas, that work along the chain.

To create a network between companies and communities, guide lines were created in order to develop a Community Protocol. This protocol emerged from negotiations between companies and communities from the State of Pará, taking into consideration their needs and rules.

The development of this Community Protocol aimed to diffuse the idea and allow it to be used in different communities from Pará and other Amazon communities.

To get to know more about the Community Protocol – companies and communities establishing new ways of trading protocol, click here:

This video represents part of our learning process at Imaflora and part of my work, where I have worked for the past 6 years.

yamaki2Through this video, we hope to stimulate the dialogue between traditional communities and companies, aiming to promote a differentiated trade market that contributes with the biodiversity conservation, that respects traditional communities ways of life and that follows ethical trading principals.

The Loudest Call for Climate Action in History: Will it be Heard?

by Alexander Iscenco, Moldova, ELP 2013
Written on September 23, 2014.

September 21st, 2014 became one of the historical moments in the global action to raise awareness about climate change issues and mitigate them. On this very day the largest march calling for climate change action in human history took place. More than 675 thousand people (around 0.01% of global population) marched on the streets of New York, Barcelona, Paris, London, Rome, Berlin, Istanbul, Jakarta, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Melbourne, Sydney… There were over 2800 climate-change-related events in 166 countries that day. This so-called People’s Climate March became the largest and loudest call for action to mitigate climate change and its negative consequences so far.

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All that was organized to push the global leaders, who are gathering on September 23rd, 2014, at the UN Headquarters in New York City for the UN Climate Summit 2014 to discuss the state of climate change nowadays, what is currently being done, and what still needs to be done in order to reduce (as avoidance is already not feasible) the economically, socially and environmentally damaging consequences of global climate change caused by anthropogenic activities. The one-day programme of the Summit includes announcements of national action and ambitions from the participating countries, forum for private sector, and then announcements of multi-stakeholder initiatives agreed upon. All in all, it is expected to be a surprisingly short event with quick discussions on such a complex and crucial issue as global climate change.

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As I am currently doing research at IÖW in Berlin, Germany, I managed to participate in the Climate March and Festival here. Approximately 10,000 Berlin residents marched in a Silent Climate Parade from the Neptune Fountain (Neptunbrunnen) towards the Brandenburg Gate, where the Parade transformed into a Festival with music, dances and climate-change-related exhibits. Different environmental organizations, both local and international, such as Avaaz and Greenpeace, put up their stands to inform people about the issue of climate change, what it leads to, and how we can mitigate it through common action.

Indeed, such an event attracted much attention of pedestrians, visitors, local residents, and mass media. Still, did it succeed in communicating the whole complexity of the issue and the urgent need for action? This is the question I keep asking myself since my participation in the Berlin Climate March.

Firstly, the general message was mostly about the problems related to climate change. Much less focus was on possible solutions for climate change mitigation. What can a person do to reduce his/her carbon footprint and at the same time maintain the same level of happiness and wellbeing (and perhaps increase it)? It would have been great to have more showcasing of solutions to climate change offered for the people by the people.

Secondly, although there were some solutions expressed, they were targeting dominantly the transport and energy sector. Indeed, these are the largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitting sectors (approximately 20% and 30% of the global emissions respectively), but they are not the only ones. Industrial processes (~15%), unsustainable agricultural practices (~10%), and commercial and residential activities (~10%) also contribute to the release of carbon dioxide, methane and other GHGs into the atmosphere. So, we also need to account for them in shaping up the global climate action. For instance, the Climate Festival in Berlin created quite a volume of paper and other waste that could have been avoided. Yes, much of it will probably be recycled. But that also means that energy will be used for the recycling process. And what have I pointed out about the energy sector above?

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Thirdly, the way we communicate messages about climate change and environment protection should be improved. For instance, the Berlin Climate Festival ended up as an ordinary music festival with people around selling merchandise, dancing and getting drunk. Only those participants, who already knew about the importance of climate change, kept the interest and passion for climate action till the end.

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Overall, the People’s Climate March became a significant historical moment within the global people’s movement to address and mitigate the climate change issue. People succeeded in coming together and raising their voice full of desire to reduce the negative effects of the issue now and in the future. Still, as the Berlin Climate Festival showed, the ways of communicating the climate-change-related messages need to be improved. Climate change is a multi-faceted issue that should be considered in all its complexity and from all its sides. Our call for climate action should reflect that. And I hope it will be so in the near future.

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For now, we will see what outputs the UN Climate Summit 2014 produces and whether the People’s Climate March have had any effect on them. Then we should prepare for the next important event – the UN Climate Change Conference, or COP-20, that is going to happen in Lima, Peru, in the period of December 1st – 12th, 2014. It is there the global climate agreement is expected to finally be decided upon. And it is there that our loudest call for change in history is expected to be heard.

“The Monster: Blade of Darkness”: The Novel with an ELP Footprint in It

by Alexander Iscenco, Moldova, ELP 2013
Written on September 13, 2014.

My name is Alexander, and I come from the small but cozy country of Moldova. Besides being a researcher, co-founder of MEGA, and an alumnus of Beahrs ELP in 2013, I am also a poet and writer.

Last month I published my largest novel so far entitled The Monster: Blade of Darkness. It is a science fiction novel about the adventures of two Americans, a biologist and a hunter, on a remote island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. There they attempt to solve the mystery of an unknown species of dinosaur-like animal that threatens the inhabitants of the island and researchers of a scientific laboratory located there. Besides the adventurous plot with the spice of a romantic story, the novel contains a number of powerful messages, the core one being about the interrelations between Human and Nature and how they might develop in the future.

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I had been writing The Monster: Blade of Darkness since 2000. It is then I decided to turn my ideas into a book… in fact, three books, as I decided to make The Monster a trilogy in order to lead readers to the core messages step-by-step in a logical manner. The text of the first book in the trilogy entitled The Monster: Blade of Darkness was finished in July – August 2013, which means that the final chapters had been written and shaped up during my time in California, US, at Beahrs ELP.

Indeed, a small room at Foothill Student Residence within the UC Berkeley campus is where I wrote the concluding chapters of my most elaborate novel so far. The description of the final battle among the tall trees of the distant island and of its outcome was thus laid down on paper and then transferred to a Word document under the warm Californian sun shining through the window of my room there.

Here in 2013 the Moldovan writer Alexandr Iscenco was writing his first large novel The Monster: Blade of Darkness.

Here in 2013 the Moldovan writer Alexandr Iscenco was writing his first large novel The Monster: Blade of Darkness.

There were also some take-aways from the ELP that were integrated in The Monster: Blade of Darkness. For instance, the structure of global environmental governance envisioned in the novel was based on the learning points from some of the ELP sessions. And the trip to the Muir Woods National Monument during the program allowed me to imagine and actually experience the forest described in the book.

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All in all, the time spent in California during Beahrs ELP now has its small footprint in my newly published book The Monster: Blade of Darkness. The book can now be found at the online bookstore on its official website, as well as in the major web bookstores and book clubs worldwide, such as Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Goodreads, etc. So, you can get it there and join Jessie and Jack in their sci-fi adventures of uncovering the mystery of the Monster.

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Nowadays the novel is available in Russian and English. The Polish and Ukrainian translations are already in progress. And one day perhaps you will see The Monster: Blade of Darkness in your own language. For that I suggest you to follow the updates on the novel’s official blog.

So, dear friend, enjoy the book! And I am looking forward to see your creative masterpiece one day!

Clash of the Geoengineering Titans: Poking the Raging Beast

by Alexander Iscenco, Moldova, ELP 2013
Written on August 25, 2014.

“…The planet is no longer a patient observer and victim of human intervention. It is now a raging beast that we continue to poke. And geoengineering might well be regarded as poking it even more…” – That was one of the conclusions of the first international Climate Engineering Conference (CEC 2014) that took place in Berlin on August 18 – 21, 2014, under the topic “Critical Global Discussions.” The speakers and participants of the conference included such prominent scientists, economists, politicians, and writers, as Prof. Dr. Mark Lawrence, Dr. Georg Schütte, Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Klaus Töpfer, Dr. Harry Lehmann, Mr. Jamais Casico, Mr. Rene Röspel, Mr. Oliver Morton, and others. I managed to participate in it as an ELP alum with the generous support from IASS Potsdam.

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The discussions at CEC 2014 were indeed critical considering the controversy around the topic of geoengineering. As the conference website explains, geoengineering, also known as climate engineering, is a combination of “technologies and techniques for intentionally manipulating the global climate, in order to moderate or forestall the (most severe) effects of climate change.” These technologies can be organized into two categories:

  1. Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) that aims to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and includes Carbon Capture and Storage underground facilities, afforestation, ocean fertilization, etc.
  2. Solar Radiation Management, or Sunlight Reflection Methods (SRM) are methods of minimizing the amount of solar energy and heat reaching the Earth’s atmosphere by either reflecting sunrays away from the planet with large space mirrors, or dispersing them in the planet’s atmosphere by creating artificial clouds or spreading sulfur dioxide particles into the atmosphere.

As one can see, these are rather drastic methods requiring enormous investments that influence the climate and hence life all over the globe. Moreover, we still know very little about such technologies and the climatic system they should have effect upon. So, there is much anxiety regarding the potential unforeseen negative consequences and risks associated with geoengineering. And last but not least, it raises a multitude of questions and heated discussions about ethics and equity of experimenting with these technologies, not to mention deploying them.

And this is exactly what happened at CEC 2014. The questions discussed ranged from “What is so special about geoengineering and why should we put so much attention to it?” to “Will the global society be prepared for the sudden rise of support for geoengineering due to governmental approval or, let’s say, Rupert Murdoch’s supportive tweet? And for the consequences it will bring to the environment and society?”

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Certainly, the participants of the conference included both active supporters of geoengineering and its active opponents. The “clashes of the geoengineering titans” happened mostly around three topics: the possible military use of climate engineering technologies; the potential of experiments with such technologies and their deployment to redirect attention from actual climate change mitigation (that is, prioritizing “treating symptoms” over “fighting the disease”); and the possible and currently unknown consequences of geoengineering on the developing countries (climate equity issue) and the planet as a whole.

Right from the beginning of the conference there was a document, the so-called Berlin Declaration, proposed for participants’ support and signature. This document called upon governments, research funding organizations and scientific and professional bodies to give approval or endorsement of any experiments on geoengineering (especially SRM) ONLY in the case of these experiments having an open and transparent review process and the “social licence” necessary for them to operate. However, the conference organizers immediately communicated that the Berlin Declaration is not and will never be an official output of CEC 2014 and that signing it is the personal decision of each participant. During the conference, the document had been renamed to A Framework for More Democratic Governance of Climate Engineering, also known as the Scandic Principles, and enriched with the list of risks the geoengineering experiments that should be taken into account and a more detailed description of transparency, open governance and other principles to regulate geoengineering technologies. Still, the document remained as an unofficial individual initiative and was not the official public output of the event.

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All in all, the 5-day conference, including its open-for-public panel “The Anthropocene – An Engineered Age?” on August, 21, 2014, at the House of World Cultures in Berlin, concluded that geoengineering must not be a substitute for climate change mitigation and that much care and regulation is needed before we can move forward to large-scale experiments and implementation of these technologies. Still, many questions remain to be discussed and answered. And thus the true “clashes of geoengineering titans” are yet to come.

Green Markets, Non-Timber Forest Products and Empowering Communities in Terra do Meio, Brazil

Helga Yamaki, ELP 2013, Brazil

In Brazil, 128 millions hectares have been set aside for use by forest communities. Most forest communities depend on the harvesting and commercialization of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) for their subsistence. The Terra do Meio region, in the state of Para, has been declared by the federal government in 2006-2008 a high priority region for biodiversity conservation.

Since 2010, the Institute of Forest and Agricultural Management and Certification (Imaflora) has been working with Instituto SocioAmbiental (ISA) to assist the communities that are subsisting on the Amazon Forest in order to promote the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources in this area by providing support and guidance to 120 families, giving them the ability to access Green Markets.

These protected areas are immersed in a complicated context for conservation, such as:

-The construction of the hydroelectric plant of ‘Belo Monte’ in the same region increases the demand for fish and wood (forest resources), making the extractive sure to manage the forest (collection activity sustainable) only for fishing or to help cut illegal timber;

-They are located far from the city, being one day by boat, and they are located along the river, making it the work of associations and co-operation;

-Are not sufficiently organized for timber management;

This scenario will only get worse, as with each day the number of people increases with the construction of the plant and thus an increased pressure for wood and fish.

The main objective of this work is to find solutions compatible with the local reality in the pursuit of markets for differentiated and adequately compensated extractive production, contributing to a traditional activity becoming competitive against other activities that are not compatible with the conservation units (cattle, illegal timber, and others).

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