Tag Archives: civil society

São Paulo water crisis shows the failure of public-private partnerships

Welcome to the Cantareira desert.

Welcome to the Cantareira desert.

São Paulo’s ongoing water crisis has left many of the city’s 20m or more residents without tap water for days on end. Brazil’s largest metropolis is into its third month of water rationing, and some citizens have even taken to drilling through their basements to reach groundwater. Most commentators agree that the crisis is to blame on multiple factors, but few have questioned the role of the water company in charge: Sabesp.

The utility, responsible for water and waste in São Paulo and the surrounding state of the same name, has clearly failed its public service remit. Yet, it’s not even clear whether public service is the highest priority for part-privatised Sabesp, whose directors have just awarded themselves bumper bonuses despite millions of their customers going thirsty. São Paulo’s water will go from crisis to crisis so long as Sabesp prioritises profits over long-term investment.

Clearly there are human-induced environmental factors at play: climate change, deforestation of the Amazon, pollution, as well as overconsumption. The pressures we put on nature are likely to increase water shortages worldwide, perhaps leading to conflicts and wars.

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Budget 2015: experts respond

Take five.

Take five.

Chancellor George Osborne has unveiled his fifth budget. Fifty days before the general election, it was a more optimistic set of announcements than the UK public has become used to, and Osborne made strong claims about the economic recovery, claiming a Tory government would take Britain “from austerity to prosperity”.

Here our panelists give their take on what this budget means for the economy, business, healthcare, education and the environment.

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Even climate change experts and activists might be in denial

But what do you want unconsciously?

But what do you want unconsciously?

Another month, another important UN climate change conference. The latest is in Lima, the capital of Peru. Thousands of experts from the world of politics, business, academia and civil society – and Leonardo DiCaprio – have flown around the world to urge us all to curb our carbon emissions.

Recent meetings have failed to make significant progress. Yet, this year there are high hopes that the US-China climate dealand the New York UN Climate Summit will allow Lima to provide a stepping stone for a binding emissions agreement at next year’s meeting in Paris.

However, even if a deal can be reached – despite the urgent need for it – there is no guarantee that global greenhouse gas emissions will actually come down significantly and dangerous climate change can be averted. Psychoanalytic theory provides disturbing insights into why this may be so – and it is all to do with the split psychological make-up of those who work at the forefront of climate science, policy and activism.

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Ecocultures: Blueprints for Sustainable Communities

Ecocultures: Blueprints for Sustainable Communities

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abstract:

The world faces a ‘perfect storm’ of social and ecological stresses, including climate change, habitat loss, resource degradation and social, economic and cultural change. In order to cope with these, communities are struggling to transition to sustainable ways of living that improve well-being and increase resilience. This book demonstrates how communities in both developed and developing countries are already taking action to maintain or build resilient and sustainable lifestyles. These communities, here designated as ‘Ecocultures’, are exemplars of the art and science of sustainable living. Though they form a diverse group, they organise themselves around several common organising principles including an ethic of care for nature, a respect for community, high ecological knowledge, and a desire to maintain and improve personal and social wellbeing.

Case studies from both developed and developing countries including Australia, Brazil, Finland, Greenland, India, Indonesia, South Africa, UK and USA, show how, based on these principles, communities have been able to increase social, ecological and personal wellbeing and resilience. They also address how other more mainstream communities are beginning to transition to more sustainable, resilient alternatives. Some examples also illustrate the decline of ecocultures in the face of economic pressures, globalisation and climate change. Theoretical chapters examine the barriers and bridges to wider application of these examples. Overall, the volume describes how ecocultures can provide the global community with important lessons for a wider transition to sustainability and will show how we can redefine our personal and collective futures around these principles.

full text available on Academia.edu

 

Greener, wealthier, happier: how Brazil has changed since 1950

Reason to cheer.

Reason to cheer.

It was a fearsome blow. It was the first World Cup after World War II, on home soil, and the country was desperate for international recognition. Brazil reached the final, only to lose 2-1 in a shock defeat to Uruguay. The match has forever been known as the Maracanazo – it was a national tragedy.

Now, 64 years later, Brazil is hosting the World Cup once more and the country has developed at a remarkable pace. With the eyes of the world on it once more, expectations are vast. The tragic collapse of the bridge in Belo Horizonte shows just how quickly views of a host country can change. But it’s worth looking back at Brazil’s economic development and the significant strides it has taken.

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It’s not just the World Cup Brazilians are protesting about

Protestors bust the Belo Monte Dam

The World Cup has highlighted Brazil’s dissatisfaction with the mega-development involved in building the tournament’s infrastructure. But the football stadiums are just the latest in a long line of Brazilian mega-developments, including building venues for the 2016 Rio Olympics, the Belo Monte Dam and the Cuiaba-Santarem Highway – all of which have caused controversy.

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The Politics of Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives: The Crisis of the Forest Stewardship Council

Abstract: Multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs) have become a vital part of the organizational landscape for corporate social responsibility. Recent debates have explored whether these initiatives represent opportunities for the “democratization” of transnational corporations, facilitating civic participation in the extension of corporate responsibility, or whether they constitute new arenas for the expansion of corporate influence and the private capture of regulatory power. In this article, we explore the political dynamics of these new governance initiatives by presenting an in-depth case study of an organization often heralded as a model MSI: the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). An effort to address global deforestation in the wake of failed efforts to agree a multilateral convention on forests at the Rio Summit (UNCED) in 1992, the FSC was launched in 1993 as a non-state regulatory experiment: a transnational MSI, administering a global eco-labeling scheme for timber and forest products. We trace the scheme’s evolution over the past two decades, showing that while the FSC has successfully facilitated multi-sectoral determination of new standards for forestry, it has nevertheless failed to transform commercial forestry practices or stem the tide of tropical deforestation. Applying a neo-Gramscian analysis to the organizational evolution of the FSC, we examine how broader market forces and resource imbalances between non-governmental and market actors can serve to limit the effectiveness of MSIs in the current neo-liberal environment. This presents dilemmas for NGOs which can lead to their defection, ultimately undermining the organizational legitimacy of MSIs.

full text available on academia.edu