Environment

Below the water, there is another planet we seldom think about. As I am writing this, it is established that the water world counts more than 228,000 species, while experts estimate that between 500,000 and 2 million more sea organisms are still unknown. They form an ecosystem that is integrated into ours – many other living creatures depend on marine life, and that includes us, humans.

Desierto Liquido was screened in CCCB in Barcelona

In many countries, fish and seafood are the main sources of protein. Yet the vigor of the fish industry is currently under serious threat. From Fiji to Mauritania, the fishing industry has indeed become a precarious if unfair trade with fishermen experiencing increasingly harder working conditions as they must face competition from monster multinational fishing boats, and take account of the overexploitation of fish stocks.

The issue of marine life preservation and the struggle of small fishermen in Africa and Europe to make ends meet was shown last Tuesday in «Desierto Liquido» (Liquid Desert), a documentary that was screened at the Contemporary Culture Center of Barcelona. Directors Alba Azaola and Daniel Carrasco, both former Greenpeace activists, who, on site, were able to see first-hand the current state of the marine life, offered a clear picture of overfishing, poverty and lack of opportunities that the fishermen in developing countries are faced with and that are causing social unrest, forced immigration and ultimately deaths, not to mention conflicts between small communities and big multinationals.

With this documentary, the directors objective is to spread the word about the situation in the seas. «It is an under covered topic that most people don’t want to think about», said Daniel Carrasco. Having already won 4 prizes in as many movie festivals, they would like their documentary to be screened in as many theatres as possible, and plan to turn it into an educational project. «We have had support from teachers and we are trying to get a partnership with governments. From this documentary we are developing related projects like Blue Hope Tuna (a film about the Bluefin tuna)», he added.

After the screening, a panel which included the directors, as well as Lydia Chaparro, an activist and marine biologist, Gustavo Duch, coordinator of the magazine Soberania Alimentaria and Daouda Dieye, a Senegalese national whose fishing family has been heavily impacted by overfishing. Daouda’s speech indeed added a human touch to the issue – all men in his family are fishermen and face the crisis on a daily basis. «The spend weeks at sea, risking their lives and competing with big fishing boats that operate illegally, while the authorities overlook the situation», he stated. “Many migrants from African origin”, he said, “are actually eco-refugees, fleeing poverty that is caused by the lack of opportunities”.

«Liquid desert» makes a call to fish consumers to be more conscious when choosing what to eat. In some countries, regulations require origin guarantee stamps and seals that show where the fishes come from, and the fishing method used. «There are hundreds of fish types in the sea, but people still buy the same ten or twelve types, which aggravates the problem of endangered species», said Lydia Chaparro. «The power of change is in our hands», she added.

The trailer can be seen here (in Spanish)

Horyou is the Social Network for Social Good that connects, supports and promotes social initiatives, entrepreneurs, and citizens who help the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals to build a more harmonious and inclusive world. In this article, Horyou highlights the challenges of the SDG 14 – Life Below Water.

In 2016, the Paris Agreement came into force. It was a sign of commitment and hope for a greener future. With our planet facing extreme weather conditions and abrupt climate changes, we must act swiftly!

Photo: UNDP

As I am writing this article, 13,000 people are trapped in Zermatt, a famous Swiss ski resort, due to an unusually extreme snowfall, the Niagara Falls, on the border of the US and Canada, are partially iced up, Singapore is flooded and a drought in Central Spain is alarming both the authorities and population. And the list is all but exhaustive. Year after year, we are facing increasingly extreme weather conditions that affect everybody’s lives, rich or poor.

SDG 13 is about Climate Action and it has everything to do with our countries’ commitment to put into practice the Paris Agreement. Turning it into reality requires political will, but also the involvement of the private sector, as well as organizations and citizens. The 143 countries that ratified the Paris Agreement have to join efforts and develop national adaptation plans in response to climate change. Developed countries will have to inject about USD 100 billion per year to help achieve target by 2020. Disaster risk reduction strategies and climate change adaptation programs still need to be implemented in many countries to help prevent dramatic consequences such as human losses, forced migration and hunger.

Our Horyou community has been fully committed to SDG 13 through either supporting organizations that monitor and promote climate action, or fostering and participating in meaningful debates about that critical topic. Every year, Horyou organizes the Social Innovation and Global Ethics Forum, a global event that frequently addresses the issue of climate change. SIGEF 2016 was one of the most important COP 22side events in Marrakesh. It hosted many organizations, alongside prominent members of civil society and government officials who highlighted their country’s commitment to climate action.

During SIGEF 2017, in Astana, UN officials, international delegations and private sector experts gathered to assess the most important achievements and urge for more. In 2018, SIGEF will take place in Singapore, and Horyou will take the debate to the next level. More information regarding this fifth edition will be provided shortly!

If you wish to support this SDG, you can do so through Horyou. Go to Horyou platform and choose an NGO or project that helps promote climate action in your region or anywhere in the world. You can also show your support by participating in #HoryouLightChallenge! Be the change, be Horyou!

Back in the 1990s, environmental journalism was a brave choice – a relatively new, complicated topic that has only started to engage the global audience, while many broadcasters and newspapers were not yet convinced it was an issue of public interest. Despite all the odds, Mark Kinver decided to pursue the career, and never looked back. The environmental journalist has been working for BBC News for more than 17 years and is always inspired by trees, as much as by people and the mission to report the truth.

Horyou blog is happy to inaugurate the «Changemakers» interview series with Mark Kinver!

Kinver: «People do care about environment»

When and why did you start covering environmental issues?


I started reporting on environmental issues back in the late 1990s. I had always been interested in politics but I became a bit dismayed with the seemingly petty nature of disputes within political parties and within the mechanics of the party political process. I did not want to follow a career in an arena which left me feeling somewhat disenchanted. So I looked around for an issue/topic that I could focus on. The environment had always been a central part of my life. As a youngster, I either spent my time on moorland or beaches, and I loved trees (still do!). I have not looked back since then and have reported on environmental stories all over the world.


In the last few years, environmental issues have been gathering more global attention and making daily headlines. Are you optimistic about the public awareness of these topics?

Yes. People do care about environmental issues. Whether it is about the energy they use, the transport that takes them from A to B, the food they eat, or the plight of threatened species. What environmentally focused organisations and individuals need to remember is that people do care. However, they also care about keeping a roof over their heads and putting food on the table. It may not be the top priority for most people but it is still an issue. Give people facts and they will act. Give people emotion and they will become suspicious.


More often than not, environmental coverage touches on social issues. How to raise the public’s attention to the interconnectivity between the environment and society?

Avoid buzzwords and concepts like interconnectivity and interdependency etc. People just need to become aware of the relationship their have with the land around them. This will take time, and a big question is whether we have enough time left to make us all a sustainable species. I remain hopeful that we will forge a closer relationship with the planet and the means of how it sustains us.


Who inspires you in your work?

People on the front line. Farmers, scientists, business people, etc. They have to face real-world problems on a day-to-day basis, and they have to find the best solution they can. More and more of them are putting environmental considerations centre stage.

What will be your main focus in 2018?


Apart from trees (!) I think food security is going to be an issue we are going to hear more and more about. While there will be a focus on the food supply chains, we will also hear much more about nutrition security – in industrialised economies, experts are concerned that too much sugar and fat is being consumed. This concern will manifest itself in various guises, such as proposed economic instruments, public awareness campaigns and an increase in consumer awareness.

Every time we decide to buy something, from vegetables to cars, we are making a choice that affects a long chain of production. We must make sure that these daily choices are sustainable if we want to build a better future.

Photo: UNDP

In Bangladesh, thousands of workers face the same daily struggle: sewing for 12 or more hours a day in clandestine factories, making only enough money to survive, while allowing for fast-fashion brands to sell their clothes for affordable prices. In Brazil, farmers use pesticides, putting profits before their workers and consumers health, and killing bees and birds without whom no healthy and natural environment is possible. Do we really want to continue to support a chain of exploitation and environmental damage?

SDG 12 is about sustainable consumption and production – and it has everything to do with our choices and priorities as individuals. However, it also needs the support of governments and international organizations to define norms and policies to ensure we build better business practices.

UNDP has raised the flag of soil, water and air pollution, and exposure to toxic chemicals challenges. Despite the many international agreements, only about half the parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions that regulate disposal of waste, pesticides and organic pollutants have provided the data and information they had agreed to. Consumption and, consequently, waste, have been increasing in the last 15 years, feeding chains like modern slavery and causing health and social problems.

We can do better as a society! Apart from carefully choosing what we buy and where, we should show a preference for regional and seasonal products and brands that are committed to sustainable regulations. We should act like responsible citizens and put pressure on our governments and organizations to implement better policies that are bound to guarantee a fair production.

We can also support organizations that undertake serious work in sustainable agriculture, and subscribe to eco-conscious and fair trade conduct. On our Horyou platform, one of the most active organizations is Food and Agriculture Initiatives for Development (FAID NGO), which is committed to biodiversity and healthy agriculture, and aims to reach Zero Hunger in Benin, Africa. In Europe, Terre et Humanisme, a French NGO, also promotes agro-ecology to provide food autonomy to vulnerable communities and educate the public on safe and natural consumption.

If you wish to support this SDG, you can do so through Horyou. Go to Horyou platform and choose an NGO or project that helps promote sustainable consumption and production in your region or anywhere in the world. You can also show your support by participating in #HoryouLightChallenge! Be the change, be Horyou!

Horyou community is pleased to share an account of its major actions and events in 2017 while it is bracing for more in 2018!

Opening ceremony SIGEF 2017

The clock is ticking and it’s only a few hours before New Year’s Eve and our community is full of joy and excitement, both for the things it has fulfilled during the year that has just elapsed than for the ones it has got in store for 2018. We’ve lived so many things together, we’ve grown and learned from each other, we’ve made new friends and became stronger while welcoming new members and organizations! So, now is the time to remember and the time to look ahead!

Our ever-growing community is our first reason to rejoice! We have now broken the glass ceiling of 250,000 users and 1,500 organizations and attained a full global presence. Horyou is growing stronger in Asia, with a more effective presence in Japan, Philippines, Singapore and India. Yonathan Parienti, Horyou founder and CEO, has spent several months travelling through the region to share our community’s message of social good and to officially launch Spotlight, our global digital social currency for economic inclusion. This was achieved during the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, in India to highlight the fact that «Horyou values were more than welcome and that Spotlight can make a difference for many projects, organizations and change makers, in Asia and all over the world», as he put it.

Horyou at the GES!

It is in that context of expanding our community and extending our activities in Asia that SIGEF, the Social Innovation and Global Ethics Forum, was organized by Horyou in Astana, Kazakhstan, during the EXPO 2017. A landmark really! Through its several panels, SIGEF fostered the debate on some of the most crucial subjects of interest of our time, including smart cities, future energy and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Horyou also led an international and diverse delegation through EXPO 2017, focusing on the importance of clean and efficient energy globally.

And on the 18th of December, Horyou has launched the #HoryouLightChallenge, which aims to call everyone to join efforts in view of a swift and effective implementation of the SDGs. The concept of the challenge is to use social media to spread positivity, as well as social good actions and projects, and create a buzz around the many ways we can act to help the SDGs come true. The challenge is still on; click here to know more about it and have a chance to win an all-inclusive trip to SIGEF 2018 in Singapore next September.

Join the #HoryouLightChallenge!

 

Looking ahead, there is a lot more to come, all of which will be shared with you in the next few weeks. But one thing that you should be already saving the date is SIGEF 2018 will be held in Singapore, one of the most innovative and fast-growing cities in the world. Stay tuned.

Happy New Year!

Une organisation active sur notre plate-forme Horyou, l’ONG FAID – Food and Agriculture Initiatives for Development – travaille sur les projets agro-écologiques au Bénin dans l’espoir de promouvoir le dévéloppement durable en stimulant une agriculture équitable et une alimentation saine. Nous avons interviewé Vianio Kougblénou, secrétaire executif de l’ONG, qui nous a inspirés avec ses idées et projets pour l’environnement et l’éducation!

ONG Faid au Benin

Pouvez-vous nous raconter en quelques mots votre histoire et vos projets ?

Tout est parti d’un amour partagé entre personnes venant d’horizons divers pour une agriculture et une alimentation plus «saines et équitables», au regard des conséquences sanitaires graves et grandissantes de la production conventionnelle et des pertes et gaspillages alimentaires notoires, cause majeure de la famine. De Juin 2017 à ce jour, nous avons appuyé la création de trois jardins solaires et communautaires ; sensibilisé les élèves à ce que doit être l’agriculture à l’ère du changement climatique ; fait la production agro-écologique de semences de légumes menacées et en avons fait don aux écoles et aux maraîchers ; fait de la transformation de produits pour éviter leur gaspillage (fruit à pain, curcuma, tomates, farine de maïs sans amidon, jus de fruits bio…).

Quels sont les objectifs les plus importants de votre organisation ?

L’ONG FAID a pour mission principale la valorisation des filières agricoles et animales en passant par leur organisation, production et transformation en vue d’assurer la sécurité alimentaire et de lutter efficacement contre les pertes et gaspillages, source d’extrême pauvreté. Nous voulons encadrer les producteurs et les sensibiliser à la gestion optimale des ressources pour une agriculture et une alimentation «saines et équitables» ; motiver et piloter des initiatives, projets et activités axés sur la réduction des pertes et gaspillages alimentaires ; offrir une assistance nutritionnelle aux orphelins, aux handicapés et aux personnes fragilisées ; assainir l’environnement et valoriser la filière agricole et animale.

L’ONG FAID a le soutien et un partenariat avec Slow Food International

Quels sont vos projets pour 2018 ?

A l’ONG FAID, préserver de façon soutenable la biodiversité est notre passion! Pour relever ce défi majeur, en 2018, nous comptons développer et vulgariser l’agri-technologie «GléSika», une innovation qui permet de résoudre le problème de gestion optimale d’eau du côté de la pépinière. Autre projet, “One School = One agro-ecological Garden”, projet d’Éducation à l’Environnement et au Développement Durable (EEDD) lancé en 2017 avec le soutien financier de Slow Food International, suivi de dons de kits de démarrage ou de renforcement de jardins scolaire ou pédagogiques. Il y a aussi le projet-programme «Jardins des Pêches», visant à faire de Cotonou une ville durable en matière de productions végétales et animales. Démarré en phase pilote en 2017, nous y faisons déjà de la production organique de lapins et de volailles locales et de la production de semences des espèces végétales menacées.

Projet Jardin des Pêches

Voulez-vous laisser un message pour notre communauté Horyou ?

Les obstacles à la préservation de l’environnement sont institutionnels, financiers et politiques, et l’on sait comment les lever : il s’agit de développer et de promouvoir un partenariat mondial (Nord-Sud) pour la gestion de projets climato-compatibles. La transition écologique est avant tout une question d’attitude, une question spirituelle. Le Climat devra être considéré comme un bien commun, et gérer en tant que tel. “Ensemble œuvrons donc pour une production plus juste, plus sobre et plus respectueuse des écosystèmes”.

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Below the water, there is another planet we seldom think about. As I am writing this, it is established that the water world counts...