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Posts Tagged ‘education and training’

Sustainablity is more than just recycling and planting trees

Friday, November 13th, 2009

Just Focus

What is sustainable development?ourworld
Well let’s take a step back and first ask - what is development? It is a pretty difficult term to define because no one really agrees exactly what it is. For many people development simply refers to reducing poverty and improving living condition in poor countries. Others believe that poor countries should pursue the development path that richer countries have followed. For the purposes of this article, lets think about it is as “growth and change that creates a world where more and more people can enjoy a good quality of life and reach their potential”. Sounds pretty good right?!

So then sustainable development would be growth and change that helps us all enjoy a good quality of life, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Even better! I think almost all of us can agree that sustainable development is a good thing. But how do we achieve it? For many of us when we hear the word ‘sustainability’ we think immediately of the natural environment, but sustainability is not just about protecting Mother Earth. A truly sustainable world requires us to look after the people too!  The Just Focus crew like to use the Four Pillars of Sustainability, which are; Environmental responsibility, Economic health, Social equity and Cultural vitality.

Four Pillars of Sustainability

4pillars2This helps us to look at sustainability a bit differently and make connections between happy healthy people and a happy healthy planet.

Over the next few months Just Focus is going to look at each pillar and explore ways each of us can help contribute to creating a sustainable world. In this article we look at a HEALTHY ECONOMY.

To create an economy that is both sustainable and healthy, we need to do things a little differently than we are now. Looking after the environment and our workers has to be held in balance with business development and making a profit. Sounds hard, but we don’t have to choose one over the other. Here are some of the things we could work on…

Energybulb
Energy is a necessity. We use it for heating, cooking, manufacturing, construction and transportation. It’s hard to imagine life without it. But the way we use it needs to change. And fast! We are currently consuming non-renewable resources, such as oil and gas, faster than they can be produced, creating harmful environment effects and creating a global dependency on a resource that will one day run out. We must preserve some non-renewable resources for use in the future and focus on developing renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and hydro power.

Personal Action: We are pretty lucky in New Zealand because 70 % of our power is from renewable sources, but it is still good to try and conserve power. Check out www.climatechange.govt.nz for some games and activities.

Transport
bike-and-busOur transport system help us to move people, food and other goods around cities, countries and the world. But the recent growth in the transport sector is damaging the environment, and many believe it is contributing to climate change The volume of traffic and increased congestion in the big cities also has an economic cost, with loss of work hours and slower delivery services. Transport is an essential part of life, but it is also harmful to the economy and the planet. What do we do!? A good place to start is reducing our dependency on cars. We also need new technology to improve vehicle efficiency and more investment in public transport systems.

Personal Action: Petition your local council to provide incentives for car pooling and using public transport, so more people will be encouraged to do it. You can save money and the planet!

Education and Employment
Without adequate investment in education and training our economy couldn’t grow. Economic prosperity relies on on-to-it people and businesses who provide high quality products and services that others want and are prepared to pay for. Education and training creates skilled workers who are able to meet this need. Helping people improve their skill level and find jobs is also the best way to reduce poverty. To be truly sustainable, work needs to be valued and workers treated fairly and we need regular opportunities to update our skills and knowledge, so that we can adapt to our rapidly changing world.

Personal Action: Make the most of your education and training and never stop learning! Be aware of your rights as a worker www.youthlaw.org.nz

skyscrapers_of_shinjukuBusiness and industry
The business and industry sector has a HUGE role to play in achieving sustainable development around the world. Although many big corporations are accused of causing environmental damage and undermining workers human rights they also have the potential to make a huge contribution, by creating jobs and business opportunities, and using resources more efficiently. Also, by improving their environmental practices, producing less waste, and raising labour standards and valuing their workers, they can set an example to other businesses (try googling ‘Interface Inc’ for an example of a company doing exactly that!).

Personal Action: Check out www.stopcorporateabuse.org and join campaigns that challenge irresponsible and dangerous corporate actions around the world

Trade

International trade isn’t new, people began trading silk and spices thousands of years ago, but the volume of world trade today and the rules that control it have increased the impact it has our everyday lives. Trade has lots of positives but it also contributes to rising pollution levels and has reduced biodiversity (that is the number of living species on the planet). On top of this, the gap between the world’s richest and poorest people has widened, partly due to unfair trade rules created by the World Trade Organisation. How we trade and invest around the world is going to have significant impact on the planet’s future. We need trade rules that benefit people AND the planet.

greencertification-logos

Personal Action: Purchase products that are Fair Trade and/or Organic certified, which means that the environment and the workers who made these products are getting a better deal. Go one step further and get involved with an NGO like Oxfam and work towards reforming the World Trade Organisation

Good time for change
We need to make quite a lot of changes if we want to create a healthy sustainable economy.  You may be thinking that this is not really the best time, what with most of the world in an economic recession. But rather than let all the statistics and media hype get us down this could be the perfect time to take stock. Why did this happen? What are we doing wrong? What would be the impact if we continue to do things like this? This is a great time to think about how we could do better! How could we organise the global economy so that as many people as possible benefit and so that we use the world’s resources sustainability? For our sake, and the sake of those to come, this is a question we cannot ignore any longer.

WORLDCHANGING - A user’s guide for the 21’st century

Friday, September 25th, 2009

Edited by Alex Steffen; Forward by Al Gore.

This book is a ground breaking compendium of the most innovative solutions, ideas and inventions emerging today for building a sustainable, livable, prosperous future.

ecohouse_photoSections on Power, Shelter, Business, Community and just Stuff are divided into short, easy to read explanations of a few hundred of the best solutions out there. The guide is put together by a team of people who invite us to join their conversation on the best tools we can use to improve our lives.

You can join our library and get books and DVDs out for Free!

Global Countdown: Take action!

Monday, August 24th, 2009

protestequipment

By William Zhang

2008 has been a year of financial meltdowns, chaotic weather, a global food crisis and of course elections, both here and abroad. But we want to do something about the issues we are facing, so check out our ideas for taking action!

10. Drugs

Take Action:

9. Human Rights

Take Action:

8. Global Food Crisis

Take Action:

7. Healthcare

Take Action:

  • Don’t wait until you’re sick - be proactive and make healthy choices every day. Eat well, exercise and get plenty of sleep.
  • Support The Global Fund www.theglobalfund.org, which works for the prevention and treatment of AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, by buying (RED) products www.joinred.com.

oilfree_photo6. The Oil Crisis

Take Action

  • Leave the car at home whenever possible - walk, bike, catch the bus or take the train.
  • When buying a car, pay attention to its fuel economy rating www.fuelsaver.govt.nz. Not only will it save you money, it’ll also help conserve the world’s finite oil supplies.
  • Read Life after Oil (another Just Write article) about preparing for the peak oil crisis.

5. Global Security

Take Action

  • Stay informed on the latest issues in global security. There’s a lot of hype out there, so if you want to go straight to the source, www.globalsecurity.org is one of the most trusted on the net.
  • Find out more about what you can do from the Global Security Institute, www.gsinstitute.org an organisation promoting security through the elimination of nuclear weapons.

4. Education

Take Action

  • Volunteer as a peer support worker at your school and help a fellow student get more out of their education.
  • Don’t take your education for granted - millions in the developing world aren’t as lucky. Make the most out of your school’s resources like libraries and computer labs…and (the most valuable resource of all) teachers!
  • Find out more about the UN’s Education for All programme and how you can support their goal of meeting the learning needs of all children, youth and adults by 2015.

3. Climate Change

Take Action

  • Go to www.globalcool.org or www.4million.org.nz for loads of ideas on reducing your carbon footprint - from unplugging appliances to setting up community composting projects.
  • Support New Zealand businesses which have proper climate change policies, like Meridian Energy (or if you don’t pay the bills, ask your parents).
  • Put the pressure on businesses and the government to give climate change a higher priority - write letters, use parents’ networks and join lobby or environmental activist groups.

peace_trees2. Violence and Conflict

Take Action

  • Live by the principles of non-violence, followed by Te Whiti and Tohu, Ghandi and Martin Luther King. (Download this resource Parihaka and the gift of non violent resistance for more information.)
  • Help out the victims of violence and crime in New Zealand by donating to or volunteering for the Victim Support service.
  • Check out the Peace Foundation’s new youth website, www.enact.org.nz, to find out how you can be an advocate for peace in your community.

1. The Economy

Take Action

  • Take money out of the equation. Bartering was the original form of trade, dating back to the Ancient Egyptians. Independence from money means that bartering systems prosper in difficult economic conditions. Try it for yourself, set up a class bartering system, or register with www.justfortheloveofit.org and share your time and skills with your whole community.
  • If you, or your parents, are forced to cut down on donations to charity, consider replacing them with a contribution of your time with volunteer work. Try www.volunteer.org.nz or www.volunteernow.org.nz for current opportunities in your community.
  • Anchor down. Don’t spend beyond your means - maxed out credit cards are not the best idea in an economic downturn. But most importantly, think positive! The news may be full of gloomy stories about job cuts and lost savings, but don’t let that get to your head. Remember that “after the storm, the sun shines its brightest”.

This article was originally published in Tearaway Magazine.


Global countdown: Global meltdown?!

Monday, August 24th, 2009

By William Zhang

The year of 2008 was one of financial meltdowns, chaotic weather, a global food crisis, and of course, elections both here and abroad. If you get depressed easily, you might want to stop here. If you want to keep up and get ahead with the issues that will affect us most through 2009 though, read on. This is my Top 10 countdown for the issues of 2008 and 2009.

Just to show you I am not a complete pessimist the Top 10 list is followed by the actions you can take on each issue.

10. Drugs

Drugs continue to be a global problem. Annually the US alone spends $35 billion on its ‘War on Drugs’. 2009 will mark a century of international cooperation on drug control. In 1909 leaders from around the world met in Shanghai to discuss the drug problem of the time - the Chinese opium epidemic. In Aotearoa New Zealand, 2008 has been the Year of the Drug Bust. The aptly named Operation Viper saw the New Zealand Police make almost a hundred arrests, following numerous drug busts throughout September. The following month, a $28 million shipment of pseudoephedrine (a component of P), was intercepted by Customs - and that’s only the third largest drug bust in New Zealand history!

9. Human Rights

human_rights_chinaFor human rights campaigners around the world many milestones were made in 2008, such as the signing of an international treaty which bans the use of cluster bombs after years of campaigning by peace and disarmament groups. We also witnessed the spectacle (and sport) of the Beijing Olympics, which was accompanied by protests over China’s human rights record, raising some much needed awareness and generating media coverage around the world. 10 December 2008 marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a chance to celebrate achievements and focus on the upcoming challenges for 2009 and beyond.

8. Global Food Crisis

Millions of people in some of the world’s poorest nations face starvation in 2009 and beyond, due to skyrocketing crop prices and food shortages. Last year, over 25 000 farmers committed suicide in India alone, disillusioned by the debts they had been driven into by grain shortages and soaring costs. 2008 was the International Year of the Potato, but while the world celebrates the virtues of this staple food, the issue of hunger in developing countries remains as significant as ever.

7. Healthcare

global-healthcare1Globally over a billion people are still living without access to basic healthcare, with huge numbers dying from preventable diseases, such as tuberculosis and malaria. Locally too, the healthcare system was stretched to its limit in 2008, with red - and even purple - alerts flying everywhere, indicating shortages of hospital bed space. And let’s not forget the many overworked doctors and nurses around the country. 2009 may see further challenges, with many governments struggling to maintain expenditure on healthcare given the global economic slowdown and falls in GDP.

6. The Oil Crisis

In July, the price of petrol was thrust above $2 a litre, reaching new all time highs. While the price may have come down significantly since then, once economic growth takes off again when the world emerges from the economic slump, petrol prices are likely to soar once more - look out for new highs by 2010. In the long-term future, the peak oil crisis is coming. We’ll start to experience oilcost-photoa decline in the availability of cheap and easily accessible oil sources, with some predictions picking petrol prices to surpass $10 a litre within a decade. (And to think we were complaining when it hit $1 a litre back in April 2000!)

5. Global Security

Both Iran and North Korea are carefully nurturing their nuclear programmes going into 2009. In the case of Iran, retaliatory action from other countries, such as the US or Israel, threatens to throw the Middle East into further turmoil. The picture looks a little brighter for North Korea though, with agreements made to dismantle their central nuclear complex in return for financial aid from the US. Meanwhile, terrorism continues to remain a risk to global security as we head into 2009, with the prospect of biological weaponry being used against civilian targets a very real threat according to US National Intelligence Agency.

4. Education

Millions of children worldwide don’t even have access to the most basic forms of education. Over a billion people will enter 2009 unable to even read a book or sign their name. In 2009 progress will be made towards addressing this issue, with US$ 4.5billion pledged to support Education For All, a UN programme with the goal of meeting the learning needs of all children, youth and adults by 2015. In Aotearoa New Zealand, over 20% of students leave secondary school without any formal qualifications. While the solution to this is debated, the merits of NCEA continue to draw harsh criticism for not being challenging enough; with over 10% of New Zealand schools opting to offer Cambridge or IB instead - the list is growing steadily going into 2009.

cyclonenargis3. Climate Change

The Aotearoa New Zealand winter was full of extremes, with the coolest May since 1992, followed by higher than average temperatures in June and July, and of course the ‘weather bombs’ of August. Globally, Australia was hit by record droughts in early 2008, and South-East Asia was hit by record storms later in the year. This trend may turn out to be a title page for what’s to come in future years, with many scientists claiming climate change is responsible for this extreme weather and that things are likely to get worse. But its not just weather we have to worry about. A recent report found that the impact on ecosystems of climate change is already very severe, with falls in krill population caused by rising sea temperatures even being attributed to cannibalism among polar bears in the Arctic - nasty!

2. Violence and Conflict

According to the 2008 Global Peace Index, a system used to rank countries by their levels of conflict, Iraq is the least peaceful country, with the most internal conflict. Most of this can be attributed to US-led occupation of the region, with much of the violence being targeted at coalition forces. Meanwhile, Iceland took out the top spot as the most peaceful country. Aotearoa New Zealand was ranked fourth most peaceful, down two places from last year. 2008 saw violent crime in New Zealand rise, despite the overall crime rate going down. What seemed to be an endless string of senseless murders throughout the year left the country shaken and demanding action. Yet, this violence may be a dramatic symptom of deeper social issues, such as poverty, education and unemployment. If so, such issues will have to be addressed in 2009 before the issue of violent crime can be tackled successfully.

1. The Economy

tillCrises in the financial markets have dominated the news, election campaigns, and conversation since September. Aotearoa New Zealand is in a gloomy recession going into 2009, and many economists believe that the world’s going to join us soon. The underlying issues to the economic crisis are yet to be untangled though, so 2009 is looking to be a year which will be financially difficult for people throughout the world, including many New Zealanders. Sure, could have lower interest rates, but troublesome things may also be ahead - job cuts for example. This issue is also likely to have spill-over effects into several other areas. For instance, the climate change issue will likely take a back seat in the face of economic uncertainty. Likewise, those in poverty will be hit especially hard, as the willingness of governments and individuals to contribute financial aid and support may diminish.

2009 is going to be a rollercoaster of a year
The year of 2008 may have looked pretty gloomy, but there is still hope for the future. The United States has a new President and New Zealand has a new government. Will 2009 see Obama’s vision of “change we can believe in”, or the new government’s promise for a “brighter future” realised? Let’s hope so.


TAKE ACTION

William has lots of ideas for ways to take action Check them out here.

This article was originally published in Tearaway Magazine.


Global Poverty Project

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

gpp-logo

www.globalpovertyproject.com

Who are they?

A UN-backed movement to end global extreme poverty has reached New Zealand, and those involved are determined to break the apathy they see present in the country’s global conscience.

The Global Poverty Project (GPP) is the brainchild of Australians Simon Moss and Hugh Evans (former Australian of the Year); a team who were also behind the MAKEPOVERTYHISTORY campaign last year in Australia.

Instead of gathering aid, the project is aiming to educate and inspire people to make achieving the Millennium Development Goalsa reality by delivering engaging presentations. The GPP presentations, staged around the world, are expected to culminate in a documentary-style film of the movement, narrated by Australian actor Hugh Jackman.

How can I get involved?
There are GPP committees in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin, but you can create your own too!

Go to the GPP website to become a Global Poverty Project Advocate. Advocates can:

  • organise and promote events
  • form groups, including giving groups, and invite friends to join
  • network with other advocates
  • lead the grassroots movement to end poverty, starting in their local area, place of work, study or worship!

Get Creative! Make a statement about poverty with whatever skills you have.  Upload a video, song, artwork, poetry etc, and the best ones will be featured on the GPP website.

For more info, check out the website above, or watch this trailer:

Escape to hope

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

By Josh Wright


overcoming_photo1It’s difficult to perceive lifestyles that are different from the relatively privileged ones that many New Zealanders live. Although not perfect, the rights of children are strongly enforced in our country and this helps towards creating a safe and supportive society for us to grow up in.

This is not true in many parts of the world. Every day, across the globe, 250 million children (73 million under the age of 10!) go to work. These child labourers commonly work 12-18 hour days, for little money and are often forced to work in dangerous environments. They are likely to receive very little or no education. These children may work to contribute to the family income. Some children are used as debt bondage and work in order to pay off their parent’s loan. Others are orphans who lost parents to HIV/AIDS.

In India, although there is governmental policy which makes employing children under the age of 14 illegal, loop holes exist (or the law is just ignored) and there are an estimated 30-50 million child labourers through out the country.

One of those children was ten-year-old Lavanya, who was sent by her parents to serve as a maid and errand-runner to a family who lived eight hours drive away from her hometown. Her parents gave away their daughter in exchange for $132.00 US dollars a year. Lavanya was beaten by her employers and for two years was made to work from 6am to 9pm.

Talk about overcoming adversity! Lavanya decided this couldn’t go on and used tips given secretly to her by house guests to buy a train ticket and escape to the Indian city of Nellore. Here she encountered a worker for Kalaiselvi Karunalaya Social Welfare Society, an organisation that works with runaway street kids. Lavanya was supported to return to her hometown and family and is no longer working, but instead, she is receiving proper schooling.

Lavanya has hope for the future again.

YWCA of Aotearoa-New Zealand (YWCA and Y-Dub)

Friday, February 20th, 2009


www.ywca.org.nz

What do they do?
The YWCA of Aotearoa-New Zealand work to empower women, especially young women, to reach their potential. They acknowledge their Christian and women’s heritage and commit themselves to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and to addressing all forms of oppression so that women together may attain social and economic justice.

How can I get involved?

There are nine YWCA Local Associations around Aotearoa-New Zealand, each offering valuable programmes and community services.

Check out the local association web sites here to discover what they are doing in your community.


YMCA

Friday, February 20th, 2009


www.ymca.org.nz

What do they do?
The New Zealand YMCA is a community organisation, based on Christian principles, which aims to enable individuals and families to develop physically, mentally and spiritually and enjoy a healthy quality of life.

How can I get involved?

YMCA is represented all around NZ, and they run a variety of programmes depending on the needs of that particular community. One programme that is currently run in many YMCA centres is ‘Raise up and Represent’.

The aim of Raise Up is to support youth in being physically fit, to encourage personal ownership and leadership, and to foster a sense of pride and respect for themselves, and the communities in which they live. YMCA are often searching for student leaders to help plan and implement Environmentally focused youth initiatives and activities for youth in their community. Contact your nearest YMCA for more info.

World Vision

Friday, February 20th, 2009


www.worldvision.co.nz

What do they do?
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organisation dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome extreme poverty and injustice. World Vision New Zealand currently supports more than 70 projects in more than 25 countries.

How can I get involved?

  • Sponsoring a Child
  • Getting involved in a Charity Challenge (biking round Cambodia or climbing Mt Kilamanjaro are a few examples)
  • Volunteer to help run World Vision programmes in NZ
  • Participating in/running a 40-hour Famine
  • Donating directly
  • Getting involved in World Vision advocacy campaigns
  • Joining/starting a World Vision group at your school or university

VSA (Volunteer Service Abroad)

Friday, February 20th, 2009


www.vsa.org.nz

What do they do?
VSA recruits and sends skilled New Zealanders to work as volunteers with communities in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific.

How can I get involved?
Volunteer overseas! VSA has formed an alliance with Students Partnerships Worldwide (SPW) and is recruiting now for 18-28 year olds looking for a 9-11 month experience in Africa. You will go through a training programme, where you’ll learn new and fun ways of teaching messages about health and the environment. Then you will be posted to a community with local volunteers, where you will be supported by SPW to work on one of three key themes: health (and in particular HIV/AIDS education), the environment, or community development.