Sunday, June 24, 2012

Transportation and Rio+20

Transportation policies and principles in Urban Design is the crux of issues concerning Climate Change. Modern cities are built around the use of only one form of transportation - the automobile. Pedestrians, bikes, and public transport, of which combined creates a walkable city, are left on the wayside and those that can afford to are often forced to use a car to make it to work, do shopping, drop off the kids, go to a friends house, etc. Those that can't afford to are forced to take cramped public transportation, breath carcinogenic air, and many times do not make it to work at all. That is why the $175 billion pledge made by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and seven other multilateral development banks (MDBs) towards the improvement of sustainable transportation in developing countries is such an important step made in the recently concluded Rio+20 Summit. I look forward to seeing the changes this commitment will bring to countries around the world, especially the Philippines.

The Rio+20 Summit was a failure by many standards, but this is not to say that all is lost. The significance of Rio+20 is that it has become perfectly clear that leading governments across the globe are not going to do a thing about the environmental crisis. It makes me wonder why they even showed up.

Twenty years after the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro promised an era of aggressive action on biodiversity loss and global warming, the United Nations Rio+20 sustainability summit ended Friday with recriminations and a growing sense that international institutions will play an increasingly diminished role in solving environmental problems. World leaders — with the notable absence of the heads of the U.S., U.K, Germany, and Russia — approved an agreement that lacked specifics, commitments, and measurable targets on how to promote sustainable economic development. Numerous conservationists and officials said that cities, local governments, the private sector, and environmental groups will now have to play the key role in fostering sustainable economic growth, slowing climate change, and preserving biodiversity. “The greening of our economies will have to happen without the blessing of world leaders,” said Lasse Gustavson, executive director of the World Wildlife Fund. Speaking on the final day of the summit, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the U.S. would partner with 400 companies to eliminate deforestation in their supply chains and would provide $20 million in grants for clean energy projects in Africa.

Important as it is that governments cooperate, it is even more important that individuals, businesses, and cities or nations move towards a sustainable future inspite of what is happening with their national governments. Indeed these things are already happening and well on it's way to a movement strengthened by nothing more than the will to do what is right.

Ban Ki-moon: the momentum for change at Rio+20 is irreversible

Cowards at Rio?: organizations decry 'pathetic' agreement

Rio+20 Outcome: The Anthropocene Challenge

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Andry Lim, Natural Farming Advocate

Growing crops and raising livestock without the use of synthetic chemicals is humane, healthy for people, environmentally-friendly, and cost-effective. I would be hard pressed to imagine anything negative about this system of farming, on the contrary it is a viable alternative to conventional farming, which is destroying our natural areas and polluting our waters. Conventional farming is also highly dependent on fossil fuels, which is a major driver of Climate Change. I've heard much about Andry Lim and even spoke to him on the phone before I decided to take his seminar in Natural Farming, which is principally a system of farming called Integrated Farming. Many people have benefited from his expertise and many more will. The next seminar is on July 23-28 in Davao.

Natural Farming Transforms a Formerly Run-Down Farm

Natural Farming with Andry Lim

Another farm I know of which holds seminars in Natural Farming is the Costales Nature Farms.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Natural Farming Training in Davao

Since I arrived two years ago (Wow has it been that long already?) I founded a conservation organization that does work in an area I've come to love. I live by the beach and everyday I witness a spectacular sunset, a flock of egrets flying from their roost at dawn and coming back before the sun sets, bats feeding on fruit trees at night, and every month the evening shadows made by the intense glow of the full moon. Being at the perimeter of a protected natural park I see more wildlife in my garden, and in my house, than anywhere else before. But the real adventure is in hiking up the mountains to see hornbills, snakes, unusual wild plants, fresh water turtles, forest crabs, yes crabs! And many other hidden creatures whose chirps and cries I can only hear and haven't seen. I am, oddly, very comfortable in this rural and wild place. Although, I've always enjoyed spending some time in the wilderness I've never actually thought of living in a remote area. Remote may be too strong to describe where I live. It is rural with almost none of the city conveniences, but it is only a forty minute drive to one very small city and a twenty minute drive to a small town. I love being here so much that I have been under negotiations to purchase a plot of land to finally have a proper farm. After the fiasco a couple of years back, which ended up with a failed farm, I am more confident now that things will turn out better. For one thing, the training for natural farming is now widely available and has been proven to work in many areas of the Philippines. Unlike a couple of years ago when I hired the only person that had the skills needed to establish a natural farm. Unfortunately, he was selfish with that knowledge and only pretended to want to help when in fact he just took the money and didn't deliver his end of the deal. The trainers for natural farming now-a-days have made it their advocacy and is eager to train as many farmers and would-be-farmers. The cost of training itself is quite affordable and the benefits are enormous. But let's not get ahead of ourselves! I will soon be blogging about it all.