Latest activities of group #16 - The Pink Face of Indian Vigilantism<p style="text-align: justify;">The 2008 crisis is special in that it will soon be renamed the 2008-2014 crisis. We know crises as emerging sharply and fading rapidly &ndash; this one is taking its time. We are experiencing a longue dur&eacute;e crisis. In terms of global governance, things seem to be going differently. Traditional bilateralism is currently of little relevance, just like out-dated multilateralism. In reality, the global governance game is about to change. The view from our window is evolving each passing day.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Of course, old leaders still use old behind-the-scenes ingredients: high doses of disingenuous discussion, dirty electoral tricks grounded in national politics that spread into global debates and endless pressure exercised with the upmost politeness to hush their neighbor or competitor. Nothing has changed here. What is new, however, are those who plot outside of the old drinking-well. By playing with vocabulary &ndash; citizenship, accountability, corporate responsibility, sustainability, transparency and multi-stakeholderism &ndash; we see that it ultimately ends up provoking an outbreak of new ideas. So much so that the G20, BRICs, World Economic Forum, ICANN and other &lsquo;groupings&rsquo; should worry about when the pressure of global public opinion will catch up with them. Legitimacy, representativeness and justice are still the core words that a real democracy cannot ignore. This transformation of global governance has the public, private and non-profit sectors in its sights. Masters of advocacy are confronted with the limits of their impact; partisans of compromise with the energy industry on climate change have lost their battle and will soon be replaced with more radical peers. The way in which Kumi Naidoo, boss and fundraiser-in-chief of Greenpeace, was criticized heavily via a tweet from a British Telecom CSR nerd encountering him in Davos is a sign that an icon of &lsquo;good&rsquo; is now &lsquo;touchable.&rsquo; What should we think about the new species of NGOs deciding to capitalize in order to carry on? Or the Red Cross, which trades in clothes or hotels to fi nance itself? The lines move around inexorably. In the private sector, even though we believe the Taliban of the Internet forbid us from discussing the need for regulation, we are now seeing the voice of Susan Crawford abruptly moving the debate towards the notion of public interest &ndash; a perception which if applied to the global discussion held in Dubai on this subject, would have facilitated agreement rather than an unproductive uproar.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Just as we witnessed the Arab Spring, we will soon see another type of Western Spring: more intense and more enduring. To believe this intensifying transformation will be possible outside of a democratic setting is a lie &ndash; an illusion that leads us straight back to our old despotic demons. Let us be cautious to not forget, but also not deny ourselves the pleasure of seeing global governance slowly but surely revising many concepts and unleashing new ideas.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">In this edition, we remain loyal to the idea of observing and surveying the underlying movements and processes of this transformation. John Ruggie points out the increasing gaps in a globalized world and the need for new global regulations. Other countries like India reinvent their feminism &ndash; see the excellent report by Amana Fontanella-Khan on the Pink Gang. Equally a must-read is our interview with Philippe Van Parijs, whose intellectual clarity gives his ideas a quality lacking in our old continent. Our European politicians should draw inspiration from him without delay if they want to save the European Central Bank and all that goes with it. Just as they should also note our investigation into the &lsquo;future of food&rsquo; to get back to some inner-convictions.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Lots to read over the coming weeks to remind us that it is not only German elections that will count this year for the future of Europe. And if somehow those European politicians are fed up with all of this, they should turn to Ping Fu and her &lsquo;geomagical&rsquo; life. It will make them spin the earth more quickly.</p>Africa’s Mineral Wealth: Eternally Cursed?2013-03-27T11:22:33Z<p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/s3/cache%2F99%2Fe2%2F99e23f45bb5a4e29f035fc1036b701e7.jpg" alt="" width="580" height="387" /></p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Africa&rsquo;s so-called &lsquo;resource curse&rsquo; is a paradox that has endured. How is it that states enjoying a rich bounty in oil, gas or minerals can end up with worse economic growth and poorer development outcomes than many countries without this natural advantage? The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) may be mineral-rich, for example, but it sits at the very bottom of the United Nations (UN) Human Development Index at 187th, while oilrich Nigeria accounted for a scandalous 11 percent of the world&rsquo;s deaths in 2010 for children under five years old.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Much has been written about this phenomenon, whereby natural resources disrupt an economy and create incentives for wide-scale corruption and even conflict. The effects of the resource curse need not, however, be viewed as inevitable. Political choice is key. Botswana &ndash; a frequently cited example &ndash; used its mineral wealth to develop into a stable, middle-income country. More recent producers such as Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone appear to be making good governance decisions so far. It is an exciting moment for the region. Emerging markets, especially China, continue to ramp up demand for the continent&rsquo;s commodities, offering a once in a millennium opportunity for African governments &ndash; whose resource endowments, after all, are finite &ndash; to lift millions of people out of poverty.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">From Ghana in the west, to Uganda and Mozambique, African leaders have critical choices to make about how best to manage their countries&rsquo; non-renewable resources. The international community, big business and civil society must also assume responsibility. Transparency &ndash; essentially the transparency of contractual arrangements struck between governments and extractive industry companies &ndash; and accountability are critical. The most practical and credible form of becoming &lsquo;transparent&rsquo; &ndash; a deceptively complex notion &ndash; is the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). Being &lsquo;EITI compliant&rsquo; means a government explains clearly and openly the revenues flowing from its extractive sector so that any party can see how much the country in question receives from oil, gas and mining companies.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">So far, ten African governments have been judged compliant. In 2010, for instance, Nigeria became one of the first countries to achieve this status. Greater transparency around Nigeria&rsquo;s oil accounts has placed a spotlight on deficiencies and corruption, while triggering vibrant public debate. This has not been sufficient in itself for Nigerians to benefit immediately. But it does mark the beginning of a process that will ultimately allow more citizens to share in their country&rsquo;s oil revenues, worth more than $50 billion in 2011 alone. To date, 72 of the world&rsquo;s largest oil, gas and mining corporations have chosen to become EITI supporting companies.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Despite resistance from some quarters, transparency has strong benefits for all stakeholders. Host governments win because when they make contracts available for critical analysis, the terms will inevitably improve. With little experience of the extractive sector until recently, many states have found it difficult to negotiate with major international companies enjoying decades of accumulated practical knowledge. Most deals have traditionally delivered unfair benefits to big business. When contracts are published online, however, observers have the opportunity to highlight inequitable financial deals or insufficient provision for the protection of the environment or human rights.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">At the same time, private sector actors also win due to the way transparency builds trust and long-term stability. As oil, gas and minerals become harder to reach, projects increase in duration and become more expensive. In the process, this multiplies a project&rsquo;s exposure to political risk. In Nigeria, failure to build trust with the Ogoni people led to theft, violence and pipeline damage. Contract transparency can be critical to building confidence at a local level.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Finally, the international community wins because long-term social and political stability means a secure supply of important commodities &ndash; essential to the smooth functioning of our global economy. Clearly, real life is more complex. Individual leaders or ministers do not always act in their government&rsquo;s best interests. Some companies still win business by paying bribes. The international community may have more pressing priorities. And perhaps unsurprisingly, we still see resistance to greater openness and accountability.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The American Petroleum Institute, a United States (US) based lobby group, is pushing back against new regulations. Some G8 and G20 countries &ndash; such as Canada, Russia and Australia &ndash; could do more to enforce contract transparency. Most notably, by shepherding through legislation requiring companies headquartered in these jurisdictions to be more open about their offshore business activities. Similarly, some non-G20 countries &ndash; such as Switzerland &ndash; could likewise have a greater influence if they enforced higher levels of transparency from major commodity traders like Glencore and Trafigura.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">But the situation is clearly shifting. Liberia&rsquo;s 2009 EITI Act requires the public disclosure of all resources contracts, which are uploaded in full on a specially-created website. Sierra Leone, Sao Tome &amp; Principe and Guinea have all embedded contract transparency requirements in oil or mining sector legislation. The DRC has made the country&rsquo;s most important petroleum contracts publicly available. Meanwhile, executives at Rio Tinto and Newmont have spoken out in favor of contract disclosure. The International Council on Mining and Metals, which includes 17 of the largest mining companies globally, requires that its members &ldquo;engage constructively in appropriate forums&rdquo; to improve transparency. Recent regulation in the US and European Union is similarly cause for optimism.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Meanwhile, a host of related issues will also be critical if Africa&rsquo;s diverse populations are to benefit from the continent&rsquo;s latent resource wealth. Firstly, quality of contracts is key. The DRC received just &euro;100,000 from mineral rights in 2006 &ndash; a tiny amount compared with the &euro;760 million estimated value of its exports annually. Capacity to negotiate with major extractive companies may be critical to a country&rsquo;s success. This is not just about having the best lawyers, but also about enjoying equal access to key information. For instance, do both sides have a joint understanding of the available geological data?</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Equally, while business may be primarily interested in negotiating over revenues, a government must also consider the social and environmental impacts of an extractive project. How will a company manage pollution and waste? How will it clean up at the conclusion of the project? How will it take care of the local environment?</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Secondly, economic diversification is a preferable route to job creation. Nigeria and Angola, sub-Saharan Africa&rsquo;s two largest oil producers, have hardly made a dent in their poverty levels since beginning to produce substantial quantities of oil. More than half of Nigeria&rsquo;s 160 million people still live on less than $2 per day. With the world&rsquo;s fastest growing population from a regional perspective, Africa must generate jobs quickly in order to prevent youth unemployment from rising. Indeed, this may represent the most significant threat to political stability.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The oil, gas and mining sectors are notoriously poor when it comes to job creation. An offshore platform tapping deep-sea reserves will create few, if any, positions for locals. Only recently, protests were reported outside Rio Tinto&rsquo;s QMM mineral sands operation in the south of Madagascar due to high local unemployment. The best way to convert natural resource wealth into jobs is to take the proceeds and invest in other, more labor-intensive industries such as agriculture or manufacturing.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Finally, governments must also figure out how else to benefit from natural resource projects underway on their territory. Is an oil company shipping food for its employees from London, or is it buying from local farmers? When a mining venture builds a railway to transport precious ore, can nearby populations use that infrastructure too? These and other issues will be discussed in a report to be prepared by the Africa Progress Panel, a ten-member group chaired by former UN Secretary- General, Kofi Annan. The report will contain a series of policy proposals on how Africa&rsquo;s mineral wealth can better benefit current and future generations. Africa has many lessons to offer drawn from the experience of its oil, gas and mining sectors. There is no reason why the continent&rsquo;s citizens should not capitalize on the value of these commodities. The resource curse should be a relic of the past.</p> <p>By Caroline Kende-Robb, Executive Director, Africa Progress Panel</p>The Pink Face Of Indian Vigilantism2013-03-27T11:21:14Z<p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="/s3/cache%2F8d%2Fc4%2F8dc4c3ba349def65e95a2fe107d1212a.jpg" alt="" width="580" height="387" /></p> <blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;">The horrific gang-rape of a 23 year-old physiology student in a moving bus shortly after nightfall on December 16 in New Delhi has laid bare the failure of the Indian state to carry out one of its most basic duties: the protection of its female citizens. With the silence surrounding sexual violence pierced, mass protests have focused on the deficiency of official justice processes. In the northwestern state of Uttar Pradesh, meanwhile, a growing group of female vigilantes had already begun to take the law into their own hands.</p> </blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;">Uttar Pradesh, with a population matching that of Brazil, is considered India&rsquo;s wild west and has been written off as &ldquo;lawless&rdquo; by the central government. Despite being run from 2007 to 2012 by Kumari Mayawati, a lower-caste woman, the state has remained a dangerous place to be female &ndash; feudal rape is widespread and lower-caste women remain the most vulnerable to sexual violence.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">It is in a bandit-plagued region of Uttar Pradesh called Bundelkhand, located in the southwest of the state, that one of the world&rsquo;s most successful women&rsquo;s vigilante organizations, the Gulabi Gang &ndash; known as the Pink Gang in English &ndash; is based. The group, which is named after its distinctive hot-pink sari uniforms and pink-painted bamboo sticks, formed in 2006 and is now reported to number 20,000 women. That is, double the size of the Irish Army and eight times the estimated number of al-Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The founder and self-appointed Commander-in-Chief of the gang, Sampat Pal, is an illiterate woman who was married off at the age of 12 and bore the first of her five children at the age of 15. Despite her humble background, Pal&rsquo;s spartan tworoom office in the dusty town of Atarra sees a steady flow of people arriving from sunrise to sunset with problems ranging from domestic violence and rape, to crimes like &lsquo;dowry deaths&rsquo; &ndash; a widespread phenomenon whereby brides who do not offer a high enough dowry after marriage are murdered by in-laws seeking more money.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">When new cases arrive at her door, Pal asks detailed questions about what is alleged to have happened, making sure to hear both sides of the story. Often, she gathers the whole village together to determine the truth of a certain claim. Then, Pal will either seek a resolution in an Oprah Winfrey-style group discussion or, if that is not possible, will accompany the alleged victim to the police station to make a formal complaint. This is, by far, one of the Pink Gang&rsquo;s most subscribed services.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">According to NGO Human Rights Watch, 87 percent of Indians mistrust the police. Despite the fact that virtually all complaints in India are made by visiting a police station, as opposed to calling an emergency hotline, many hesitate before doing so. Registering what is called a &lsquo;First Information Report&rsquo; is a fraught process. Often, citizens are turned away because stations are short-staffed and lacking stationary. It is common for police, who are under-paid and over worked, to demand bribes in return for registering a complaint. If a case is brought against a powerful individual &ndash; a politician or well-connected businessman &ndash; police will likely shoo away petitioners as law enforcement officials are often under their patronage.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Apart from rampant corruption, women face an additional barrier to approaching the police. Most Indian women would not enter a police station on their own, especially not at night, given the numerous cases of custodial rape that occur in these facilities. Before the recent gang-rape case in New Delhi, the last time mass protests were held in response to sexual violence was in the 1970s. Back then, Indians took to the streets to decry the rape of a teenage tribal girl called Mathura by police officers in the state of Maharashtra, which resulted in the reform of laws pertaining to custodial rape. Despite the advances made since the Mathura case, such crimes remain widespread. The policing problem is particularly bad in Uttar Pradesh, which boasts the world&rsquo;s largest police force under a single command. A.N Mulla, an Indian High Court judge, once described the Uttar Pradesh police force as the &ldquo;biggest criminal organization in the world.&rdquo;</p> <p>Text and Photography by Amana Fontanella-Khan&nbsp;</p>The Future Of Food2013-03-27T11:17:02Z<p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="/s3/cache%2Fc0%2Fda%2Fc0daa3d1b730ff5a297fdbf899a913f1.jpg" alt="" width="580" height="386" /></p> <blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;">Agriculture is at a crossroads. Since the global food crisis of 2007 and 2008, foreign investment has soared as a means to lower costs and ensure the long-term viability of worldwide supplies. At the same time, a growing chorus of experts and activists is questioning the sustainability of a status quo approach. The industrial production system favored by major agribusiness players has failed to address the challenge of chronic hunger, nor account for adverse environmental impacts &ndash; is &lsquo;agroecology&rsquo; the future of food?</p> </blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;">Regina Tchelly grew up in a poor household in the hinterlands of Paraiba, a tiny coastal state in the tropical northeast of Brazil. While her childhood was far from easy, Tchelly never experienced the pangs of povertydriven hunger. She was imbued from a young age with a particular form of rural resourcefulness that teaches one not to let any food go to waste, as well as how to cook delicious and healthy dishes from ingredients others would discard. When Tchelly turned 20, she followed the well-travelled path south to Rio de Janeiro to become a maid. Working for wealthier families, she could not believe the amount of food being thrown away. More importantly, Tchelly came to realize that if people were educated in how to make full use of every available ingredient, poverty could be reduced as a barrier to a satisfying and nutritious diet.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">With start-up capital of less than $100, Tchelly ultimately launched Favela Org&acirc;nica in 2011 &ndash; an organic catering business and cooking school run from her tiny kitchen in the recently &lsquo;pacified&rsquo; <em>favela </em>of Morro da Babil&ocirc;nia. In weekly classes for a rapidly expanding community clientele, Tchelly teaches fellow favela residents how to use natural food scraps like banana peel and carrot leaves to eat well on an extremely limited budget. As a successful social entrepreneur &ndash; the initiative has influenced a burgeoning movement well beyond her immediate neighborhood &ndash; and leading voice on waste and food recycling, Tchelly has become a regular and passionate advocate at international food fairs and conferences focused on sustainability, gastronomy and agriculture.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The growing attention to food waste is more than justified. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has calculated that we lose 1.3 billion tons of food between field and table every year. To put that figure into perspective, this equates to approximately one-third of all food produced globally, with a value of almost $1 trillion. As United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director, Achim Steiner, declared recently, &ldquo;wasting food makes no sense &ndash; economically, environmentally and ethically.&rdquo;</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Food waste, however, is only one part of a larger, structural problem. Between 2006 and 2008, global prices increased by 83 per cent. Yet despite the price-reducing effect the subsequent economic downturn has had on other internationally traded commodities, food prices are not declining. In fact, 2012 saw the cost of wheat increase by almost 30 per cent, with soybeans following a similar upward trend. Corn, another crucial staple in much of the developed world, has reached an all-time high due to extreme weather in key producing areas, including the Midwest of the United States (US), Ukraine, Kazakhstan and parts of Latin America and the Black Sea region. This surge in food prices, when combined with insecurity in relation to production and stocks, has led prominent analysts to issue dire warnings about a looming food crisis in the year ahead.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The FAO, meanwhile, forecasts a future that could be even gloomier. The earth&rsquo;s population is estimated to grow from just under seven billion to over nine billion by 2050 &ndash; equivalent to adding another two Europes to the world. Based on this projection, in order to maintain the current food-to-people ratio, productivity will have to increase by approximately 70 percent in the next 40 years. The solution may appear self-evident: intensify production to replenish the world&rsquo;s granaries and find new ways to increase yields to avoid future crises. Yet, such logic only holds if we are facing a scarcity problem &ndash; in other words, insufficient food for everyone. This is not the case.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Based on FAO data, the world produces enough food to feed the entire global population. The problem is this food does not reach everyone in the same way. According to prominent author, professor and activist, Raj Patel, the ratio of chronically hungry to overweight individuals is currently one billion to nearly two billion &ndash; a substantial increase from the figures of 800 million to one billion cited in the first edition of his influential book Stuffed and Starved upon its release in 2007.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The problem of distribution then, is critical. It is also fundamentally rooted in the logic of market capitalism: food is treated like any other commodity and is sold to the highest bidder. This makes perfect sense from a profitmaximization standpoint &ndash; less so if you cannot afford to feed yourself or your family. Distribution and access is an issue not only for food insecure citizens and small-scale farmers in the developing world, but also for those in developed countries that have lost their purchasing power and livelihoods in the wake of the global recession. Think of the approximately 46 million people in 2011 that lived under the poverty threshold in the US (there were less than 40 million in 2008), or of the 250,000 Greeks that line up everyday to receive a free meal from the Greek Orthodox Church.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The sad irony is that while the poor (new and old alike) are going hungry, nearly half of the world&rsquo;s cereal production is used to feed animals to satisfy an increasing demand for meat products. In an official report to the Human Rights Council in December 2010, the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier de Schutter, estimated meat consumption would increase from 37 to 52 kilograms per person between 2000 and 2050. The report also noted that reallocating cereals used in animal feed to human consumption was &ldquo;a highly desirable option in developed countries where excess animal protein consumption is a source of public health problems.&rdquo; Similarly, even accounting for the energy value of the meat produced, the loss of calories resulting from feeding cereals to animals instead of humans &ldquo;represents the annual calorie need for more than 3.5 billion people.&rdquo;</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Beyond distribution issues, capital and technology-intensive industrial agriculture also requires massive areas of land to be cultivated via monoculture planting. This specialization, in order to maximize production per hectare, demands large amounts of water, chemicals to fertilize crops and control weeds and pests, significant energy and the development of a supporting infrastructure &ndash; from research to storage, transport to markets. It also has a deleterious environmental impact. Cultivating the same crop on the same land year after year increases erosion, depletes the nutrient reserves in soil (decreasing fertility), increases salinization and alkalinization, drastically reduces biodiversity, exploits and pollutes local water resources and contributes to the resurgence of pests that have developed a genetic resistance to pesticides.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">De Schutter has warned that increasing food production to meet future needs is insufficient as a strategy in itself. Expanded production will &ldquo;not allow significant progress in combating hunger and malnutrition if it is not combined with higher incomes and improved livelihoods for the poorest.&rdquo; Similarly, short-term gains will be offset by long-term losses if they are achieved while further degrading ecosystems, threatening the ability of the global agricultural sector to maintain required levels of production in the future. A growing chorus of voices has begun to stress the need to find a better way. De Schutter himself has made a cogent case for &lsquo;agroecology&rsquo; &ndash; praising the virtues of a system that would facilitate the &ldquo;transition towards a low-carbon, resource-preserving type of agriculture that benefits the poorest farmers.&rdquo;</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Agroecology was conceived as a convergence of agronomy and ecology. In practical terms, the approach draws upon ecological principles to design and manage agricultural systems that are productive, but also resource conserving. That is, which sustain yields and optimize the use of local resources while minimizing the negative environmental and socio-economic impacts of modern technologies. Although first coined in the 1920s, the concept began to take shape in parallel with the rise of the environmental movement of the 1970s and has assumed an increasingly prominent role in global policy discussions around the &lsquo;right to food&rsquo; (the FAO, UNEP and Biodiversity International are all supporters). Core agroecological principles include: recycling nutrients and energy, rather than introducing external inputs; integrating crops and livestock; diversifying species and genetic resources; and focusing on interactions and productivity across the agricultural system, rather than on individual species. But how could we both increase production and advocate for systemic change along agroecological lines? &ldquo;There is nothing contradictory there,&rdquo; explains Patel. &ldquo;Small-scale production can produce more food than industrial agriculture.&rdquo; He adds, &ldquo;that&rsquo;s one of the big myths that needs to be cleared away. Industrial agriculture is about growing a monoculture. When everything works out perfectly in laboratory conditions, those crops can outperform similar crops. But that is not the real world, where there is variability and climate stress &ndash; where ground water is less predictable, where pests are variable. What you need is not a magic crop, but a portfolio of crops.&rdquo; Studies on multiple cropping systems conducted in Mexico as early as the mid-1980s already indicated that a corn monoculture had to be cultivated on a plot of land of 1.73 hectares to produce the same amount of food as a smaller one hectare plot planted with a mixture of maize, squash and beans. Agroecology champions can point to similarly encouraging data drawn from a large University of Essex study completed in 2006, which identified 286 projects of resource conserving technologies in 57 developing countries encompassing a total area of 37 million hectares. The average recorded crop yield increase was 79 percent, with one quarter of the projects reporting a 100 percent increase in relative yields.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The UN is not the only institution backing systemic change. The European Union (EU) has also begun to look in a similar direction. With discussions launched over a new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) &ndash; a set of programs currently accounting for approximately &euro;50 billion, or almost half, of the EU budget &ndash; the EU could be on the verge of a radical reform of the way agriculture is done in the old continent. &ldquo;Until now, the CAP has invested a large amount of money in the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund, whose role is to support farmers&rsquo; income through market measures and direct payments tied to agricultural production,&rdquo; says Michele Antonio Fino, a professor at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy. &ldquo;These subsidies would end up in the pockets of farms or businesses that maximized production through industrial agriculture and the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.&rdquo; Fino sees an opportunity to divert a larger portion of CAP funds to the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, where &ldquo;payments will mainly be allocated to those farmers that green-up their businesses and produce sustainably.&rdquo;</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">But things are not so simple in Brussels. Various interest groups are working to retain their market share. &ldquo;Lobbies are trying to influence the vote so as to block or at least re-write the majority of the measures that should make the European productive system more sustainable,&rdquo; says Carlo Petrini, Founder and President of Slow Food International. Described as the Don Juan of the food world &ndash; and more importantly, as someone who has single handedly changed the way we think about eating &ndash; Petrini remains skeptical about the possibility for genuine change embodied in the reform process. &ldquo;With the most recent amendments, we passed from greening to green-washing: 82 percent of European farms and producers would, in fact, be exempted from greening-up their companies.&rdquo;</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Predictably, progress has been swifter outside the EU institutional logjam. In 2009, Ecuador passed a framework law that placed special emphasis on provisions targeting small scale farmers. In particular, by promoting access to capital and investment for small and medium sized agricultural enterprises, alongside a participative approach to food sovereignty laws and integrated educational initiatives. In Brazil, a net food exporter where the right to food is now enshrined in the Constitution, a 2010 law establishing a national program of technical assistance and rural extension for family farming and agrarian reform focused its support on the expansion of agroecological activities. While agribusiness accounts for 62 percent of the country&rsquo;s agricultural production value and is largely responsible for Brazil&rsquo;s monocultural export-led sector, family farms employ approximately three-quarters of all rural labor and produce most of the population&rsquo;s basic foodstuffs. Support to this group has been critical for food availability and access.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Yet the debate between status quo industrial agriculture versus the mainstreaming of more sustainable practices does not always tilt in favor of the latter. The public consultation process intended to feed into Australia&rsquo;s first-ever National Food Plan has been marked by conflict between the entrenched interests of powerful agribusiness and retail players and an increasingly combative coalition of civil society stakeholders. Following the release of an interim &lsquo;Green Paper&rsquo; in July, which discussed potential policy directions focused largely on boosting exports and realizing Prime Minister Julia Gillard&rsquo;s vision of Australia as a future &ldquo;food bowl of Asia,&rdquo; the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance launched a counter project titled the People&rsquo;s Food Plan. This document &ndash; based on the Canadian People&rsquo;s Food Policy Project &ndash; is being developed through the input of consumers, farmers, community organizations and food businesses with the aim of providing bottom up, shared alternatives prioritizing resilience, sustainability and equity.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">While state support can bolster or obstruct efforts towards agroecological reform, the debate over the future of food is not only being played out in plush parliamentary offices or the multilateral corridors of power in Brussels, New York or Geneva. It is also taking a non-institutional form in the often-heated discussions between those advocating for a polished and rebranded version of the 1960s Green Revolution &ndash; which succeeded in improving yields in Mexico and South Asia, though with high social and environmental costs &ndash; and those pushing for a more fundamental rethinking of production systems. The cause of sustainable, healthy and quality food is not only being taken up by NGOs, civil society actors and analysts, but also by peasants, farmers, consumers and chefs.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Take La Via Campesina, for instance &ndash; an international network bringing together approximately 200 million peasants, small and medium-sized farmers, indigenous people and agricultural workers from 70 countries across Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. The organization was responsible for introducing the influential idea of &lsquo;food sovereignty&rsquo; &ndash; the right of populations to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through sustainable methods, as well as to define their own food and agriculture systems. Other similar networks promoting sustainable and equitable agriculture include the R&eacute;seau des Organisations Paysannes et des Producteurs Agricoles de l&rsquo;Afrique de l&rsquo;Ouest, the Eastern &amp; Southern Africa Farmers&rsquo; Forum, the Assessoria e Servi&ccedil;os a Projetos em Agricultura Alternativa and Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Terra in Brazil.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Proponents of an alternative production system can also be found in more industrialized nations. Slow Food was founded in 1986 in Piedmont, Italy. Since its inception, the movement has advocated for locally-sourced, healthy and good food, combined with environmentally-conscious production. Located at the crossroads of sustainable agriculture and gastronomy, in 2000 Slow Food began planning and developing an initiative that could encapsulate its approach to production and consumption. The result &ndash; a rapidly expanding suite of &lsquo;Presidia&rsquo; projects aimed at maintaining biodiversity, boosting producer income and local employment in rural areas and improving the social role of producers while strengthening organizational capacity. In pursuing the Presidia initiative, Slow Food hopes to at the same time make a cultural contribution by promoting forgotten products, crops and producing regions.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">According to the first long-term evaluation study released last year, the results have been &ldquo;remarkable from an economic point of view,&rdquo; confirming the existence of a growing number of high quality products, which at the same time have &ldquo;strong cultural and environmental value.&rdquo; In fact, despite some difficulties linked to implementation, the number of Presidia has grown in almost a decade to over 400 projects in 50 countries. Products like Aged Asiago cheese from the Italian region of Veneto &ndash; which was on the verge of disappearing in 2000 &ndash; have been preserved, along with traditional techniques of ageing. Reflecting the broader goals of the project, the Presidium also helped safeguard the local high mountain pastures and revitalize a dying sector.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Slow Food&rsquo;s emphasis on products and producers points to perhaps the final piece of the agroecology puzzle &ndash; namely, consumers. While the place for the consumer in the debate over sustainable agricultural practices is crucial, the room for maneuver is relatively small. On the one hand, it is true that by shopping differently we send a clear message of the products we want in our shopping basket. On the other, these issues are primarily structural and systemic, making genuine change complicated. Fortunately &ldquo;consumption is only a small part of what we can do every day,&rdquo; insists Patel. &ldquo;It is one of these myths of green-capitalism that the only thing we have to do to change the world is to shop. Historically, all the big changes that have happened in the world have come not though shopping differently, but through protest and standing in solidarity with the people affected by these systems. We are affected too. So we need to explore possibilities other than eating sensibly, shopping as locally, seasonally and sustainably as possible, and making sure workers are paid a fair wage. We need to move beyond that.&rdquo; While fair-trade and green certification schemes can appear to re-frame personal food preference as political choice, they in reality only represent the tip of the iceberg when it comes to deep, systemic impact shaping global agricultural practices. What supermarkets and other parts of the retail web can represent, however, is the first step in our engagement with the challenge of food insecurity. A step towards the understanding that by advocating for agroecology, by taking part in urban community gardening associations, by reducing food waste, by paying attention to dietary choices and by asking questions and caring about products beyond their pricetag, established processes can change. Ultimately, the way the agricultural system is shaped and run at the global level &ndash; despite the ease with which one can feel remote or insulated &ndash; impacts all of us three times a day, everyday.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span><a rel="nofollow" href="">Subscribe</a>&nbsp;or order a copy of&nbsp;</span><span><em><a rel="nofollow" href="" target="_blank">The Global Journal.&nbsp;</a></em></span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #888888;">Photo &copy; Paola Viesi</span></p>Rediscovering The Utopian In Europe: An Interview With Philippe Van Parijs2013-03-27T11:15:40Z<p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="/s3/cache%2F00%2Fd8%2F00d809e4f3413092e9348f5dc06847d1.jpg" alt="" width="580" height="387" /></p> <blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;">Philippe Van Parijs is a central figure in the worlds of philosophy and politics alike. Described by Amartya Sen as &ldquo;one of the most original and creative thinkers of our time,&rdquo; he is famous for his defense of a Universal Basic Income &ndash; an unconditional monthly grant allocated to all &ndash; as the best expression of social justice and freedom. Building on the thought-provoking exchange between <a rel="nofollow" href="" target="_blank">Francis Fukuyama and J&uuml;rgen Habermas</a> published in May, this special extended interview challenges us to imagine a fairer future for the European project.</p> </blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #800000;">In their interview in this magazine last year, J&uuml;rgen Habermas and Francis Fukuyama suggested the financial crisis had revealed the weaknesses of the European Union (EU). There seems to be a critical lack of trust, solidarity and cohesion &ndash; what is your diagnosis?</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Solidarity is easy when it does not cost much. When a crisis hits and the amounts involved reach unprecedented levels, indignation can easily erupt on both sides. Net contributors start quibbling about whether the trouble they are being asked to relieve is self-inflicted, and try to impose conditions meant to cure the source of the trouble and prevent its repeat. Net beneficiaries, on the other hand, resent the conditionalities attached to the help they are given and eagerly believe in stories that place part of the responsibility for the trouble at the feet of net contributors.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Solidarity is also more difficult to manage when different cultures are involved. For example, having just one word [schuld] to refer to both debt and culpability &ndash; as is the case in German and Dutch &ndash; is bound to make some difference when indebted countries call for solidarity. The best predictor of a government&rsquo;s stance on solidarity is not, I am told, whether it is expected to pay or receive, but rather, whether its population belongs in the main to a Protestant or Catholic tradition. In one view, those who default must be punished even if everyone is worse off as a result. According to the other, sinners can get full absolution. This is just one illustration of why solidarity will always be trickier at the EU level than in more culturally homogeneous political communities. But being trickier does not make it impossible, nor less necessary.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #800000;">Habermas rejects the appropriateness of the German and American federal model for Europe, arguing it is too ambitious and unnecessary &ndash; do you agree federalism is the wrong way forward? What is federalism?</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;">A family of systems of government that involve at least two levels of democratic functioning with a significant set of competences entrenched at each level. The more competences are exercised at the higher level and the more difficult it is for lower-level entities to reappropriate those competences, the more one moves towards a unitary state. The more competences are exercised at the lower level and the more difficult it is for the higher-level polity to reappropriate those competences, the more one moves towards a confederation of sovereign states.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The EU is very far from being a unitary state, but it has also become quite a bit more than a confederation. The competences it exercises are substantial and entrenched enough to make the label &lsquo;federal&rsquo; appropriate. Transferring back to member states some of these competences &ndash; or making it easier for each national government to reappropriate any of them &ndash; could turn the EU into a sheer confederation. But notwithstanding some facile anti-EU rhetoric, all calls for significant moves in this direction lose momentum as soon as people figure out the implications. Within the Eurozone, there is now a widespread awareness that more powers need to be transferred upward if the common currency is to be sustainable.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">It does not follow, however, that the EU should try to fashion itself after either the German or American federal models. This would mean having a federal police force and federal tax collectors, abolishing the right of exit and dispensing with unanimity among member states for constitutional&nbsp;changes. I agree with Habermas that a direct transposition of such a model is not what our multi-national, multilingual entity needs. The EU can become a stronger and more efficient federation, with two significant and entrenched levels of democratic decision making, without needing to be turned into a genuine federal state.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #800000;">Habermas also argues the lack of trust and cohesion between European states is due to the incapacity of elites to transcend their own national concerns and embrace a European agenda.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Some European elites do wish to transcend national concerns. But political leaders are electorally accountable to the citizens of their respective countries. If they sacrifice national concerns to the European agenda, they run a high risk of being replaced by their rivals. The culprits, therefore, are less the main players than the rules of the game they have no option but to play. Of course, if the electorates themselves were guided by Europe&rsquo;s common good rather than by national self-interest, there would be no problem. But with media and parties fragmented along national divides, there is no way this could happen. Against this background, much of the art of European governance consists in achieving good compromises between positions steered by national concerns. It requires generating sufficient trust and mutual understanding between national leaders with enough authority over political majorities and public opinion. Given the existing institutional framework, it is the capacity of political elites to manage this that represents the key to progress.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #800000;">You have argued the main catalyst for European citizenship ought to be a form of European social redistribution &ndash; what do you mean, especially by the notion of a &lsquo;euro-dividend&rsquo;?</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;">A euro-dividend, like any other form of EU-wide social redistribution, may work as a catalyst for European citizenship, just as Bismarck&rsquo;s pension system was arguably a major factor in turning the people of Bavaria, Prussia or Rhineland into German citizens. But this is not my primary reason for proposing it. The immediate reason is that some background conditions need to be satisfied sufficiently for a common currency to be sustainable, given the countries sharing that currency no longer have the option of adjusting to adverse conditions through devaluation.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The theory of optimal currency areas identified four such conditions: homogeneity, flexibility, mobility and solidarity. These conditions are, on the whole, far better satisfied by American states than by the EU&rsquo;s member states. Firstly, homogeneity across member states in terms of sectoral specialization is low in both the United States (US) and the EU because of the single market. It is likely to drop even further in the EU as time allows the comparatively recent single market to produce more effects. Secondly, the downward flexibility of nominal wages and prices is not great in the US and far lower, on average, in the EU, because many member states have far stronger trade unions, a more developed welfare state and more constraining labor legislation. Thirdly, the mobility of workers across state borders is about six times lower in the EU than in the US and is unlikely to increase much, if only as a result of the EU&rsquo;s linguistic fragmentation. Finally, financial solidarity across states (when one is doing worse) is estimated &ndash; depending on the index used &ndash; to be between 20 and 50 times greater in the US than in the EU.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">If we want the euro to survive beyond the short term, one or more of these four background conditions must be better satisfied. Improving the EU&rsquo;s performance significantly in terms of the first three conditions is either impossible, or undesirable, or both. The best chance for the euro is therefore to satisfy far better the fourth condition: solidarity. The EU&rsquo;s 27 welfare states have developed historically along quite distinct paths, reflecting different power relations and public debates. Their structures are very diverse and their generosity &ndash; along many dimensions &ndash; very unequal. Even comparatively minute reforms are highly sensitive politically. It is an illusion to believe that we shall ever have, or indeed that we should ever have, a unified EU-wide mega welfare state analogous to the US. We must think of a far simpler, rougher form of cross-border redistribution, which will not replace the existing national welfare states, but fit beneath them.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Hence, my proposal of a universal euro-dividend organized and funded at the level of the Eurozone or EU as a whole. Such a scheme could not be funded by social security contributions, which should be earmarked for social insurance benefits. Nor could it be funded by a personal income tax, if only because the definition of taxable income is again too diverse among member states and too politically sensitive. One might think of a &lsquo;Tobin tax&rsquo; on financial transactions, or of a carbon tax on CO2 emissions. But this could only finance, under optimistic assumptions, an EUwide euro-dividend of about &euro;10 or &euro;14, respectively. More promising is a reliance on the most Europeanized of all taxes: the Value Added Tax (VAT). For instance, an EU-wide VAT of 20 percent would fund a monthly eurodividend of &euro;200.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Photography courtesy of Rita Scaglia for&nbsp;<em>The Global Journal.</em></p>For All European Politicians 2013-03-27T10:42:11Z<p style="text-align: center;"><img title="Making the European Monetary Union" src="/s3/cache%2Fd4%2Fac%2Fd4acc3988dcfbc0219a1a33560f25a8e.jpg" alt="Making the European Monetary Union" width="350" height="526" /></p> <blockquote> <p>Making the European Monetary Union, Harold James, Harvard University Press,&nbsp;$35.00.</p> </blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;">It is hard to read <em>Making the European Monetary Union</em>. Not because the euro is part of the story, but because the clarity of its insights into the Eurozone&rsquo;s current weakness provide us with a handy, yet sobering, view of the future. Harold James&rsquo; investigation into the roots of the European monetary project transports the reader back to the early stages of the continent&rsquo;s post-war rebirth. Using an array of resources unavailable until now &ndash; notably, material from the European Committee of Central Bank Governors and the Delors Committee &ndash; he sheds light on some critical European political failures.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">From its very establishment, the euro has been divorced from the fiscal activities and realities of its membership. As one of the most creative thinkers behind the currency, Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa, explains, &ldquo;neither the United States Fed nor any other central bank in the world is, like the Eurosystem, confronted with the challenge of not being the expression of a political union.&rdquo;</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">James questions the founders with their &ldquo;<em>cadeau empoisonn&eacute;</em>&rdquo; &ndash; this &ldquo;strange currency&rdquo; is primarily the expression of men and political will. European politicians should learn from the virtuoso intelligence of such a prominent historian, while economists should yield for now as James is at the peak of his powers.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">-JCN</p> <p><a rel="nofollow" href="" target="_blank"></a><em></em></p>Hypochondriac Societies2013-03-27T10:22:43Z<p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="/s3/cache%2F72%2Ffd%2F72fdb3544cc9f504a8f6d21eca765837.jpg" alt="Drugs for Life" width="350" height="529" /></p> <blockquote> <p>Drugs for Life: How Pharmaceutical Companies Define Our Health, Joseph Dumit, Duke University Press,&nbsp;$23.95.</p> </blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;">The average American is prescribed and purchases between nine and 13 prescription-only drugs per year. Overall healthcare expenditures were over $2 trillion in 2011 and are projected to reach one-fifth of the country&rsquo;s GDP by 2020. <em>Drugs For Life</em> reveals the glaring contradiction that exists between economic policies prescribing cuts in healthcare and more effective medication, versus a continual growth in costs.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Joseph Dumit explains how marketers began to redefine the very concept of health in the 1960s, replacing the idea of inherently healthy bodies with the concepts of risk and prevention. In this new paradigm, to be normal is to be insecure. Throughout the book, Dumit unravels the corporate strategies employed by pharmaceutical companies to appropriate research and clinical trials, manipulate facts and norms and expand their market. Despite his challenge to the hijacking of public health by the private sector, the sheer size of the pharmaceutical industry means governments are compelled to let the industry conduct studies at a lower cost. Companies have taken control of research, scientific literature and advertising &ndash; bypassing regulators and healthcare professionals.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">If the purpose of healthcare is no longer to reduce the need for future treatments but instead to increase that need, then the meaning of health and its relationship to business must be reconsidered.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">- AS</p>Driving in the Fog2013-03-27T10:21:33Z<p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" title="The Signal and the Noise " src="/s3/cache%2F48%2F49%2F4849f1914e30b318ea66b51e9350d6a5.jpg" alt="The Signal and the Noise " width="350" height="538" /></p> <blockquote> <p>The Signal and the Noise: The Art and Science of Prediction, Nate Silver, Allen Lane,&nbsp;&pound;25.00.</p> </blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;">In the quest to feed its hunger for knowledge, humanity has made relentless steps towards diminishing its state of ignorance. In <em>The Signal and the Noise</em>, well-known blogger and political pundit Nate Silver shows us the next leap ahead: &ldquo;Big Data.&rdquo; The book&rsquo;s title represents the problem at hand. In an age where the volume of information is expanding exponentially, it is growing harder to understand what is actually happening. The signal is the road we must follow to navigate the fog of noise.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">From the natural sciences to games, Silver shows us how a more quantitative approach based on statistical methodology can be highly productive when trying to predict events in the future. Nonetheless, he also emphasizes how statistics remain a tool in the hands of humans who should know when and how to use them. Taking climate change as an example, Silver demonstrates how many forecasting models have failed to perform correctly because they have not adequately accounted for relevant scientific theories.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The signal to detect in this instance is that theory and forecasting &ldquo;are essentially and intimately related.&rdquo; Hence, in the spirit of George Box&rsquo;s affirmation that &ldquo;all models are wrong, but some are useful,&rdquo; it is important to use theory allied with common sense in order for statistics to provide useful results.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">- RM</p>Heavenly Governance2013-03-27T10:19:25Z<p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" title="A confucian " src="/s3/cache%2Fbd%2F23%2Fbd236558e8772317a40dda41dda8078d.jpg" alt="A confucian " width="350" height="540" /></p> <blockquote> <p>A Confucian Constitutional Order: How China's Ancient Past Can Shape Its Political Future,&nbsp;Jiang Qing, Princeton University Press,&nbsp;$39.50.</p> </blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;">The latest book by prominent Chinese scholar Jiang Qing, <em>A Confucian Constitutional Order</em> is a detailed discussion about the practicality of a Confucian constitutional design in contemporary China. The author proposes a system of government founded on the &ldquo;Confucian Way of the Humane Authority,&rdquo; with three distinct and coexisting forms of political legitimacy: of the earth, of the heaven and of the human. Implicit throughout is a critique of constitutional democracy as a form of government, with Qing suggesting &ldquo;the power of the people&rdquo; cannot be the only source of political legitimacy.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The book is structured explicitly as a dialogue. Jiang leads with detailed descriptions of his vision of a Confucian constitution, describing a tricameral system based on the equilibrium (not equality) of different forms of political legitimacy, an Academy of scholar-officials with a supervising role and a &ldquo;symbolic monarchy&rdquo; of direct decedents of Confucius himself.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The fundamental premise of the work is the argument that the official embrace of Confucianism in China could become an important part of the solution to China&rsquo;s &ldquo;moral and political predicament.&rdquo; Such discussions demonstrate that while much disagreement remains, ideas about a Confucian constitution could certainly serve at least as a good conversation starter about China&rsquo;s political future.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">-MT</p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #ce2232;"><em><br /></em></span></p>