Agroecology and peasant agriculture to preserve biodiversity


An article from AVSF, Agronomes & Vétérinaires Sans Frontières

On May 6, 2019, in its report on biodiversity, the IPBES [Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services] alerted us about the short-term threat of extinction of nearly 1 million animal and plant species. Agricultural and livestock farming are partly responsible for this disaster, while agroecology and peasant agriculture represent an urgent alternative to preserve biodiversity.

In 2017, we warned of the worrying erosion of agricultural biodiversity: 75% of edible varieties have disappeared in 100 years (FAO). The bulk of human nutrition is based on only 12 plant species and 14 animal species! In the past 10 years, at least one domestic animal breed has disappeared each month (and its genetic characteristics with it), and 20% of the world’s cattle, goats, swine, equine and poultry breeds are at risk of extinction. At cause: the promotion of a productivist agriculture with high capital investment and synthetic inputs, looking for very high yields in the short term. Agroecology under peasant farming conditions is a solution: it relies on agricultural biodiversity, values ​​it while protecting it, and in doing so contributes to the maintenance of biodiversity as a whole.

Agricultural biodiversity is a part of biodiversity that, through agricultural production, contributes to the food of populations as well as the preservation of ecosystems. It is particularly important for maintaining the productivity and resilience of cropping and farming systems in precarious and vulnerable environments. It is this great diversity of plant species and animal breeds adapted to the local environment that guarantees the survival of many peasants from Africa, Asia or Latin America on their farms and pastures, even in difficult climatic conditions and on fragile soils.

In countries of the southern hemisphere, initiatives have multiplied in recent years to upgrade local species and sustainably preserve agricultural biodiversity. These initiatives, often developed at the family farm level, have highlighted the close relationship between food security and biodiversity.

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(Click here for the original French version.)

Question for this article:

What is the relation between movements for food sovereignty and the global movement for a culture of peace?

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Two projects that preserve agricultural biodiversity

In the north of Haiti, small producers are processing quality cocoa, made from old varieties, criollo and trinitario, typical of the Caribbean. Renowned for their finesse and powerful aromas, these beans are mainly intended for high-end chocolate, like the criollo which represents only 5% of world production, and is therefore a sought-after variety. Although chocolatiers are highly demanding, these beans have so far been poorly valued on the world market. Why ? Because these Haitian beans were not fermented, a primordial step that releases the “precursors” of aromas. AVSF has therefore trained producers of FECCANO farmers’ cooperatives in the fermentation techniques of these ancient varieties. Several fermentation, collection and packaging centers were installed for the producers of the 8 cooperatives. A cocoa that is today highly paid on the organic, fair and quality markets in Europe, for the benefit of both producers and biodiversity: grown in the heart of woodland gardens in association with many shade and fruit trees and other crops , cocoa plays an important role not only in food security, but also in maintaining fertility and biodiversity in general.

Throughout West Africa, peasant farming is characterized by the diversity of livestock breeds that it values. These breeds have exceptional adaptive capacities that have earned their durability, as well as resistance to certain parasitic diseases, such as trypanosomiasis, transmitted by tsetse fly and endemic throughout the region. Nowadays, this sustainability is threatened by the disturbing erosion of the diversity of local breeds, increasingly squeezed by introduced breeds for their higher productivity in milk and meat.

In Senegal, AVSF is supporting breeders’ organizations to improve the value of endemic ruminant livestock (the Ndama breed for example) and to demonstrate its competitiveness both in the markets and for the resilience of populations in the face of climatic or economic shocks. This breed is of small size, with good fecundity. Its speed of growth and its satisfactory qualities confer to it undeniable butchery qualities. This valorization is done through the organization of competitions, exhibitions and fairs specific to these species and races.

Through its numerous projects, AVSF has been working with farmers in the South for 40 years to preserve and reclaim agricultural and animal biodiversity and thus ensure their food security and that of the urban populations they feed.


Read our background file

(Thank you to Kiki Chauvin, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

Peace through Tourism: Celebrating Her Awards


An article from the International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT)

H.E. Eliza Reid, First Lady of Iceland, was the Guest of Honour at the 4th edition of the Celebrating Her awards on 7th March at ITB Berlin [ Internationale Tourismus-Börse Berlin, the world’s largest tourism trade fair] where five inspiring women were presented awards by H.E. Eliza Reid, Dr. Taleb Rifai – former Secretary General UNWTO and Chairman IIPT International Advisory Board, Rika Jean-Francois – CSR Commissioner for ITB Berlin, Kiran Yadav – VP IIPT India and Ajay Prakash – President IIPT India. The event was conducted by Anita Mendiratta – author, tourism thought leader and Special Advisor to the Secretary General of UNWTO [United Nations World Tourism Organization].


The Celebrating Her award winners for 2019 are:

* H.E. Rania al Mashat – Minister of Tourism for Egypt for Tourism Policy and Leadership

* H.E Elena Kountoura – Minister of Tourism for Greece for Tourism Strategy and Resilience

* Helen Marano – Founder & President, Maranao Perspectives for Building Global Alliances that promote Tourism as a Force for Good

* Mechtild Maurer – General Director, ECPAT Germany for promoting Socially Responsible Tourism & the Prevention of Exploitation of Children

* Jane Madden – Managing Partner, Global Sustainability & Social Impact, FINN Partners for Sustainability and promoting Corporate Social Responsibility

Speaking of the awards, Ajay Prakash – President IIPT India said, ”the Awards are being held on the eve of International Women’s Day but our champions need to be felicitated every day of the year and each one of our award winners today is a champion. Gender equality, which is a critical part of the United Nations SDGs, is intrinsic to IIPT’s global aims and objectives and integral to fostering peace. It is also our intention, through these awards to create a network of powerful women across the world in the tourism sphere who could work with each other and serve as role models and mentors while representing IIPT as our Global Ambassadors of Peace and sustainable development. The IIPT India ‘Celebrating Her’ Awards, has at its heart this principle – the prioritisation of women as champions of the power of global tourism to uplift lives and livelihoods.”

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Question for this article

Do women have a special role to play in the peace movement?

How can tourism promote a culture of peace?

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In her opening address the First Lady of Iceland H.E. Eliza Reid congratulated all the winners, commended IIPT and ITB for their initiative in instituting the Awards and said that today there are considerable energies in the tourism industry to create a more sustainable, peaceful and prosperous industry and thereby help in creating a more sustainable, peaceful and prosperous world.

In his address, Dr. Rifai lauded the consistency and steadfastness of IIPT India in holding the awards every year since, he said, it is abundantly clear that humanity cannot achieve peace, development and sustainability by ignoring half the world’s population. He concluded by saying the awards were a very timely and necessary initiative and that Celebrating Her in essence was Celebrating Us.

Anita Mendiratta introduced the award winners through personal stories and anecdotes and each was invited to give a short acceptance speech.

Dr. Rania al Mashat stated that tourism was not a profession, but a passion. She accepted the award on behalf of “all Egyptian women” and expressed the hope that soon every Egyptian household would have at least one person working in the tourism industry so that the benefits could flow to all citizens.

Elena Kountoura commented on the “driving force of tourism” and its power to generate employment and improve living standards. Greece, she said, had come through many years of economic crisis and was expecting 35 million visitors this year. While thanking IIPT for the award she wryly remarked that the awards seemed to have been organised mostly by men.

Jane Madden said she had always been a champion of women and was grateful to receive an award in recognition of her work. She stated that travel had given her the opportunity to learn about other places and cultures and to educate herself and others.

Mechtild Maurer spoke of the need to sensitise everyone in the industry to the issue of the exploitation of women and children. She spoke of the need to engage with the youth, including in human rights groups, bring them to the issue and to create new leaders.

Helen Marano could not be present to receive her award but sent in a warm and personal video message expressing her happiness at being one of the recipients of a “Celebrating Her” award. She also said that the award would spur her enthusiasm. Dr. Taleb Rifai accepted the award on her behalf.

In his Vote of Thanks, Kiran Yadav – VP IIPT India congratulated all the winners, thanked the partners, especially ITB Berlin and the media partners and a special note of thanks to Anita Mendiratta who had always supported IIPT in every way.

Youth for climate: 130 scientists support the youth climate strike


An article from LCI

APPEAL – 130 scientists working in the field of climate and environment have announced their support for the youth climate strike on Friday (May 24th). Among them Valérie Masson-Delmotte, Robert Vautard, or Jean Jouzel.

On Friday, May 24th, when young people from around the world once again take to the streets to warn about climate change, they will be able to count on the support of 130 scientists who announced their support of the youth climate strike. The movement warns about “the urgency of climate change” and the non-compliance with the commitments, citing the case of France.

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( Click here for the French version of this article.)

Question for this article:

Despite the vested interests of companies and governments, Can we make progress toward sustainable development?

How can we ensure that science contributes to peace and sustainable development?

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“We, scientists in the field of climate and the environment, stand in solidarity with middle school students and students who are mobilized. How can not be worried about the future of the world?” The scientists include climatologists Valérie Masson-Delmotte, Robert Vautard, Jean Jouzel, Gilles Ramstein, the paleoclimatologist Elsa Cortijo and other researchers at the Pierre Simon Laplace Institute (ISPL), research in environmental sciences.

“For nearly 30 years, the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and many scientific studies have sounded the alert on the urgeny of climate change (…), but nothing has changed”, they say. “In our country where the Paris Agreement was signed, which is highly symbolic, the commitments taken are not respected “, they continue .

“We support the mobilization of the younger generations, who will face tomorrow a world made more difficult by today’s inertia,” say the scientists, who say they are “available to provide (their) expertise and their knowledge to this mobilization”. On Thursday, the site listed calls for the strike in more than 2,260 cities in 90 countries , including about a hundred cities in France.

In France, more than 85 associations and unions have joined the call to mobilize this Friday. For employees who can not join the strike, the collective “Citizens for the climate” suggests going to work with an armband to support the strikers or to speaking to the employer about global warming and the decline of biodiversity. More walks or bike rides are planned in 80 cities, mainly in France, although not in Paris.

The best images from school strikes around the world


An article by Jill Russo in Climate Change News

Young people hit the streets on Friday [May 24] in the latest mass demonstration instigated by the Fridays For Future  movement.

With marches in more than 1,400 cities and more than 110 countries, organisers predicted the attendance will surpass 1.4 million they say came to the global action in March.

Social feeds have filled up with images of schoolkids and supporters of all ages demonstrating all around the world.
Send in your best images by tweeting us @climatehome.

Student strikers in the Philippines on Friday (Photo: Twitter/@aghamyouth_pup)

In Germany, young activists hit the streets in the northern town of Kiel… (Photo: Twitter/@KristianBlasel)

In Syria, a student crowd hoisted a banner and did some street clean-up in the border town of Qamislo…(Photo: Twitter/@GreenRojava)

In South Korea, striking students walked the streets in Seoul…(Photo: Twitter/@SylarPark2001)

In New Zealand, a mass of people flooded into a city centre (we’re not sure which one)…(Photo: Twitter/@MikeHudema)

In India, young people showed up to demonstrate in Delhi, banner emblazoned with the Extinction Rebellion symbol…(Photo: Twitter/@Johnpauljos)

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Question for this article:

Are we seeing the dawn of a global youth movement?

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In Italy, climate protesters thronged the streets of Milan… (Photo: Twitter/@FYEG)

and in the German city of Cologne the medieval cathedral was swamped… (Photo: Twitter/@FFF_Koeln)

In Uganda, students prepped placards and posters before the strike…. (Photo: Twitter/@Fridays4FutureU)

In Ireland, a teacher led her class down the street early Friday morning…(Photo: Twitter/@gold_Igold)

In Washington D.C., streets rang with calls for climate action, despite the sitting president’s position…(Photo: Twitter/@ValentinaOssa11)

And in Stockholm, the girl who started it all, Greta Thunberg, is on the march for the 40th week in a row. But she’s not alone anymore…(Photo: Twitter/@GretaThunberg)

(Photo: Twitter/@GretaThunberg)

[Editor’s note: To complete the cycle of actions on all continents, see the following for photos from Chile and Mexico and from Brazil.]

Spain: A group of professors creates ‘Manifesto for the Survival of the Planet’


An article in El Adelantado (translation by CPNN)

A group of professors from Campus Maria Zambrano of the University of Valladolid in Segovia have written the ‘Declaration for the Survival of the Planet’ in which they commit themselves to “coherently defend policies of ecological and social sustainability”. Its objective is to promote social debate and citizen awareness to “avoid the progressive deterioration of the planet”.

The professor Agustín García Matilla is one of the first signatories. / N. LL.

The promoters and first signatories of the manifesto, among which is the professor of Communication of the University of Valladolid, Agustín García Matilla, do not seek the support of the institutions, but the greatest number of adhesions by individual professors and professionals of the world of science, culture and communication. Considering the upcoming elections, the professors want to remind all political parties of issues that transcend any electoral contest and that present dilemmas that affect the survival of the planet, “says García Matilla.

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(Click here for the original Spanish article.)

Question for this article:

How can we ensure that science contributes to peace and sustainable development?

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Problems and challenges

“Global warming, the economic imbalances that increase inequality and excessive profit; the migratory crises that are caused by wars; hunger and misery, caused by them; the hijacking of politics by leaders who have forgotten their public service obligation; the use of religions as instruments for the annulment of autonomous and critical thinking and, at times, used for the promotion of fanaticism; the lack of equality between men and women, these are just some of the problems that have contributed to the present crisis. We have arrived at a decisive moment to avoid an irreversible deterioration of the planet, “says the manifesto.

The creators of the manifesto demand a political approach “for people” conceived as “service to the common good” and presided over by “a humanism that makes the culture of peace the main aspiration of those who inhabit this world”. In addition, the first seven signatories – Marta Laguna, Mari Cruz Alvarado, Rocío Collado, Susana de Andrés, Alfonso Gutiérrez, Luis Torrego and Agustín García Matilla – demand the fulfillment of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as a starting point for a universal political consensus.

“The Planet’s survival depends upon education, science and culture, and hence we must act now to help mobilize the whole of Humanity”. This is the phrase that begins the manifesto. Its creators seek a majority support and a common voice to guarantee the same opportunities for men and women, identical opportunities for people with different abilities; as well as decent salaries and decent pensions.

The Pact

The manifesto concludes:”We appeal to all the governments and politicians of the world to commit to the signing of a Pact for the Survival of the Planet. Changes must be carried out without delay, interrupting the cycles of accelerated destruction, putting an end tos speeches of fear and the justification of the escalation of arms. Nonviolence, the culture of peace and the aspiration to a Universal Justice, are the demands that need to be put forward from education, science and culture.”

Brazil’s indigenous tribes protest Bolsonaro assimilation plan


An article from Thomson Reuters (reprinted by permission)

Thousands of people representing the more than 300 tribes native to Brazil marched to government offices in Brasilia on Friday [April 26] to protest the policies of right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro that threaten their reservation lands.

Indigenous people attend a protest to defend indigenous land and cultural rights that they say are threatened by the right-wing government of Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, in Brasilia, Brazil, April 26, 2019. REUTERS/Adriano Machado

Wearing body paint and headdresses made with the colorful feathers of Amazon birds, they brandished bows and arrows and beat drums while chanting resistance songs. The march comes at the end of a three-day rally in the Brazilian capital called the Free Land Encampment.

“Our families are in danger, our children are under threat, our people are being attacked. In the name of what they call economic progress they want to kill our people,” said David Karai Popygua, an ethnic Guarani Mbya from the state of Sao Paulo.

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Question for this article

Indigenous peoples, Are they the true guardians of nature?

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Bolsonaro, a former army captain turned politician, was elected in October with the support of Brazil’s farm sector that has pushed for access to more land and fewer environmental controls. They also want him to ease gun possession laws.
One of his first measures on taking office on Jan. 1 was to dismantle the indigenous affairs agency FUNAI, handing reservation demarcation decisions to the Agriculture Ministry that is controlled by farming interests.

“It is an embarrassment for our country to have a government that does not understand the struggle of indigenous peoples and has no knowledge at all of the indigenous population,” said Daran, a Tupi Guarani chieftain.

Brazil has more than 850,000 indigenous people that make up less than 1 percent of its population. They live on reservations that make up about 13 percent of the country’s territory.

Bolsonaro has said that is too much land for so few people and has vowed to review some reservation borders. He says they live poorly and wants to assimilate them by allowing large-scale farming and commercial mining on reservations.

The government did not immediately comment on the protests.

The country’s Supreme Court on Thursday denied an injunction sought by the Brazilian Socialist Party to stop the transfer of indigenous land decisions to the agriculture ministry. Hundreds of tribal people protested outside the building.

Sonia Guajajara, national coordinator of Brazil’s Association of Indigenous Peoples, told Reuters that land invasions and other attacks on tribes by illegal miners and loggers had increased since Bolsonaro took office.

“They say that they have been authorized to occupy indigenous land,” she said. “We are here to oppose mining, hydroelectric and agribusiness companies that destroy tribal communities and Mother Nature.”

“We have resisted for five centuries and we are not going to surrender in four years. We will continue fighting,” she said.

Meet the Trailblazing Maasai Women Protecting Amboseli’s Wildlife

. . . WOMEN’S EQUALITY . . .

An article by Erin Powell from International Fund for Animal Welfare

Surrounding Kenya’s Amboseli National Park lies nearly 150,000 acres of community lands shared by both people and wildlife. The Olgulului-Ololarashi Group Ranch (OOGR) is within the country’s richest area of biodiversity, making it particularly vulnerable to threats including poaching, human-wildlife conflict, and wildlife trafficking.

Now, a team of eight young Maasai women is at the forefront of championing the protection and safety of the region’s wildlife, while simultaneously helping to bridge the gender gap in conservation. Around the world, women are often less involved than men in the conservation and management of protected areas.

Team Lioness is one of Kenya’s first all-female ranger units. They join the Olgulului Community Wildlife Rangers (OCWR) who protect wildlife across six bases and one mobile unit in OOGR through IFAW’s tenBoma, an innovative wildlife security initiative.

“In the larger Amboseli region, out of almost 300 wildlife rangers, to my knowledge there was only one woman,” says Lt. Col. Faye Cuevas, IFAW Senior Vice President. “The need was apparent.”

Assessed through an intensive leadership and peer-review process by a panel of tenBoma representatives and the OCWR Director of Security, the women of team Lioness were selected based on their academic achievements and physical strength, as well as their demonstration of trustworthiness, discipline, and integrity.

“As the first women joining the OCWR Rangers, each of the team Lioness recruits brings a new perspective and a different experience with wildlife than her male counterparts,” says Cuevas. “They are important voices in protecting wildlife and reconnecting communities to the benefits of sharing land with the magnificent big cats and other wildlife that call OOGR home.”

The recruits range in age from 19 to 26 years old, and all are the first women in the history of their families to secure employment. For many, the opportunity to join team Lioness has been life-changing — on average, Maasai girls typically leave school around the age of 10. Even among Maasai women who achieve a higher education, many lack opportunities to seek jobs or financial independence.

“It’s very rare that Maasai women achieve a secondary education,” says Cuevas. “But all of team Lioness have the equivalent of a US high school education, and none of them have had a paying job before this. It’s breaking barriers.”

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Questions for this article

Prospects for progress in women’s equality, what are the short and long term prospects?

Indigenous peoples, Are they the true guardians of nature?

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Positioned on the Kenya-Tanzania border, OOGR is an expansive area of traditional Maasai community lands and it almost completely encompasses Amboseli National Park. Within Amboseli’s ecosystem, OOGR alone is home to 90% of habitats and corridors for migratory wildlife, including the park’s 2,000 elephants. Forming a horseshoe around Amboseli, it is an essential passage for elephant migration — every elephant that leaves the national park travels through this area, whether on a southern or northern migration route.

“Because we’re conserving our environment, animals are here,” says Loise, a team Lioness ranger. “Through wild animals, there is foreign exchange. As a ranger, now I know I have to teach other women about it. I would like to help others in our community and be a good example. I’m working and happy about that.”

Other wildlife such as giraffes, lions, leopards, cheetahs, baboons, zebra, buffalo, and vervet monkeys also call OOGR and Amboseli home. Due to Amboseli’s proximity to a porous border with Tanzania, coupled with the scale of threats like poaching, retaliatory killings, and the trafficking of wildlife and animal parts, all wildlife in this area is in potential danger. Team Lioness and the OCWR Rangers form the first line of defense for protecting and securing wildlife in these vast community lands.

“We’re encouraging the community to take care of the animals, because in our community if a lion gets in a boma or in our village, [the community] gets it out of the village and they go to kill it. So we’re encouraging them [to see the] importance of animals and to understand,” says Sharon of team Lioness.

Team Lioness will undergo initial training with the OCWR Rangers, followed by a 21-day basic ranger training course that integrates them into the six bases throughout OOGR. In addition to supporting wildlife security operations throughout the region, a large part of team Lioness’ mission will be engaging with Maasai women and maintaining community buy-in for conservation through school visits and fostering community involvement.

“For me, to be a part of team Lioness, it shows that women have an opportunity,” says Purity, a team Lioness ranger. “I’m gaining skills and knowledge on how to conserve and protect wild animals. I will go back to my community and tell them the importance [of conservation] and show them through my experience. You kill that lion, you kill your future.”

The presence of team Lioness has created a demand in some Maasai communities for more female leadership in conservation initiatives and calls for additional female rangers.

“News of team Lioness is really catching on in the Maasai community,” Cuevas says. “A Maasai woman elder from outside OOGR attended one of the recent community meetings and said, ‘I challenge us as a Maasai people that for every four rangers we hire, one of them is a woman.’ It’s really incredible. Getting the word out means we can continue to leverage tenBoma to enable rangers to act predictively to prevent harm to both wildlife and the communities that share land in the expansive OOGR.”

(Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

Photo essay: Climate Change Protests Sweep Europe


A survey by CPNN

Here are some of the photos distributed on the Internet from the climate change protests that are sweeping Europe.

Climate change activists block the road junction at Oxford Circus in central London on April 19. PHOTO: AFP

Climate change activists demonstrate during the Extinction Rebellion protest, at Canary Wharf DLR station in London, Britain April 17, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

A small number of Extinction Rebellion demonstrators at attempt to cause disruption at Heathrow Airport on April 19
. Credit: ITV News

Environmental activists block the entrance of the French bank Societe Generale headquarters during a “civil disobedience action” to urge world leaders to act against climate change, in La Defense near Paris, France, April 19, 2019. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

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Question for this article:

Are we seeing the dawn of a global youth movement?

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Environmental activists block the entrance to the headquarters of French oil giant Total during a “civil disobedience action” to urge world leaders to act against climate change, in La Defense near Paris, France, April 19, 2019. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Thousands join Greta Thunberg April 19 in Rome ‘Fridays for Future’ rally. Photo: picture-alliance/zumapress/C.Fabiano

Fridays for Future climate change protest, Rome, Italy – 19 Apr 2019. Shutterstock Photo

Climate change activists participate in a funeral march during the Extinction Rebellion protest in Vienna, Austria April 19, 2019. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

In this Vuzekofest round table on April 9-22, the students decided to draw up a resolution on the development of ecology in Belarusian universities. Photo from Minsk branch of the Russian Economics University G.V.Plekhanov

Russia: Ecofest, festival for green universities and eco-friendly lifestyle


Text translated from Open School

VUZEKOFEST is an annual inter-university festival dedicated to promoting the concept of “green universities” and eco-friendly lifestyle. The festival began in 2015 as a student initiative at Moscos State University, and in three years it has grown into a large-scale educational project with hundreds of events at universities and an audience of about 20 thousand people .

Video about Ecofest in Russian sent to CPNN by Anastasia Okorochkova

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Question for this article:

Are we seeing the dawn of a global youth movement?

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The need to adapt the Sustainable Development Goals for the successful implementation of national projects is the main theme of the fifth annual youth festival in the field of ecology and sustainable development, VuzEkoFest-2019, which will be held across the country from April 15 to 22 with the support of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation.

Annually in April, universities in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other cities of Russia hold dozens of activities in order to introduce green infrastructure and promote an eco-friendly lifestyle. A series of round tables is planned at the participating universities, which will culminate in the key event “VUZEKOFest-2019”. This includes the round table “Adaptation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the implementation of national projects: the potential of universities” with the support of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation. The participation of government representatives, Russian and foreign companies interested in sustainable development, scientists, analysts and experts is expected.

The goal of VUZEKOFEST is the formation of a community of young leaders and the spreading of an understanding of the concept of sustainable development, according to which the social, environmental and economic spheres should be developed in a balanced way.

To find out more about the festival program, see

The kids got it right: Climate Change, pollution and the system


An article by Silvia Swinden for Pressenza

Somehow for years vested interests had managed to keep a split between the two most damaging effects of burning fossil fuels: climate change leading to disaster in particular to the poorest areas of the planet and the millions of deaths and illnesses caused by pollution, also being the less well off the most affected. Failing to see them together was a way to weaken the arguments against the radical change in the production of energy necessary for our survival.

We had published in Pressenza (Failing to connect the fossil fuel dots of climate change and health ) a well researched paper from the Lancet referring to this combination, but the split remained both in the media and in most grassroots movements.

This is no longer the case. Yesterday’s schools strike carried the complete message. In the words of Greta Thunberg, “This movement had to happen, we didn’t have a choice. Last year’s UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s special report on global warming  could not have been clearer about the extreme dangers of going beyond 1.5C of global warming. To have any chance of avoiding that extreme danger emissions must drop rapidly – so that by the time we will be in our mid- and late-20s we are living in a transformed world.

“The students who are striking in cities, towns and villages around the world are uniting behind the science. We are only asking that our leaders to do the same.

“If those in power today don’t act, it will be our generation who will live through their failure. Those who are under 20 now could be around to see 2080, and face the prospect of a world that has warmed by up to 4C. The effects of such warming would be utterly devastating. Rivers would flood, storms would wreak havoc on coastal communities and coral reefs would be eliminated. Melting polar ice caps would lead to dramatically higher sea levels, flooding coastal areas. Places on Earth will become uninhabitable.

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Question for this article:

Are we seeing the dawn of a global youth movement?

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“Scientists have also shown us that burning fossil fuels is “the world’s most significant threat to children’s health”. Nine out of every 10 children around the world are breathing dangerous air. Our lives are being compromised before we are born. Toxic particles from exhaust fumes pass through the lungs of pregnant women and accumulate in the placenta. The risk of premature birth, low birth weight and cognitive dysfunction this causes is a public health catastrophe. Pollution from diesel vehicles is stunting the growth of our lungs, leaving us damaged for life. Toxic air from burning fossil fuels is choking not only our lungs but our hopes and dreams.

“And the worst effects of climate change are disproportionately felt by our most vulnerable communities. This is not just about cutting down emissions, but about equity – the system we have right now is failing us, working only for the rich few. The luxury so few of us enjoy in the global north is based on the suffering of people in the global south.”

In fact  The Guardian  reports that “The number of early deaths caused by air pollution is double previous estimates, according to research, meaning toxic air is killing more people than tobacco smoking.

“The scientists used new data to estimate that nearly 800,000 people die prematurely each year in Europe because of dirty air, and that each life is cut short by an average of more than two years. The health damage caused by air pollution in Europe is higher than the global average. Its dense population and poor air results in exposure that is among the highest in the world.

“The new research, published in the European Heart Journal, indicates that while air pollution hits the lungs first, its impact via the bloodstream on heart disease and strokes is responsible for twice as many deaths as respiratory diseases.”

The placards from the 100+ participating countries could not be clearer, children know the system is playing with their lives and they are inviting the adults to join in. In Silo’s 2004 words “Yes, it is worthwhile that this Message and that this Universal Humanism gain strength. It is worthwhile for young people to swell the ranks of this Moral Force as a variant of History… so that this current becomes unstoppable and its murmur heard in all the languages of the Earth. Then the new generations will begin to teach the adults with new affection and new understanding.”

In a world poisoned by cruelty and contradictions, the compassion and solidarity from the youngsters that reject this dehumanised system open the future for everyone, if we listen to them and choose to act now, not guided by the misinformation from the powerful but by listening carefully to the subtle call in the depths of our consciousness for compassion and coherence between our thoughts, feelings and actions. Then the violence will begin to retreat and our true human history will flourish.

(Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article.)