Mid-week summary #1: 16th November PDF Print E-mail
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In brief
Written by Albert Norström   
Wednesday, 16 November 2011 22:30


We try to keep you updated on the latest and most important issues and developments on sustainability science and resilience. However, there is so much happening out there that it is impossible to report on everything in individual posts. So I decided to start a weekly post (imaginatively called "Mid-week summary" that summarizes the reports, links, studies that we just haven't had the time to focus on in individual posts.

1. The WTO has sidelined the worlds poor. Aurelie Walker has a hard-hitting post at the Guardians "Poverty Matters" blog that argues that the World Trade Organization is again failing the worlds poor - 10 years after promising to firmly place development at the centre of its agenda.

"Ten years ago, a new World Trade Organisation that put developing country needs at the centre of the international trade negotiation agenda was proposed. The Ministerial Declaration adopted at the start of the Doha Development Round of trade negotiations, on 14 November 2001, was a promising response to the anti-globalisation riots of the 1990s. But the WTO membership has failed to deliver the promised pro-development changes. Finding "development" in the Doha Development Round today is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Developing countries have been completely sidelined by the economic and political interests of global powers."

2. Adding fish makes rice farming more sustainable. A recent paper in PNAS by Xie et al, "Ecological mechanisms underlying the sustainability of the agricultural heritage rice–fish coculture system", shows how a traditional farming technique that cultivates rice and fish side-by-side could help small farmers earn more money from their crops and reduce the impact on the environment. When fish were introduced into flooded paddy fields, farmers were able to grow the same amount of grain as in conventional rice monocultures — but with more than two-thirds less pesticide and a quarter less fertiliser. This study really points to the importance of social-ecological memory - i.e. the social or collective memory in relation to management practices that sustains ecosystem services and human wellbeing - and how to retain such practices and spread them in rapidly modernizing societies.

3. The "Transition Companion is out. The Transition Network's role is to inspire, encourage, connect, support and train communities as they self-organise around the transition model, creating initiatives that rebuild resilience and reduce CO2 emissions. A new book from one of the founders of the Transition Network, Rob Hopkins, is out - "The Transition Companion: making your community more resilient in uncertain times. From Rob Hopkins blog

"This book is called a ‘Companion’ because that is exactly what it is intended to be. It is a move away from ‘The 12 Steps of Transition’ that has underpinned the work of Transition initiatives up to this point, towards a more holistic, more appropriate model."

4. The Commonwealth meets around resilience. Recently the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting was held in Perth, and a theme for the meeting was "Building global resilience, building national resilience". In the final communique the member states, among other things:

"…committed to advocate urgent action at Rio+20 to assist developing states to build resilience through sustainable development, in particular by taking steps to transition towards green growth trajectories and to strengthen institutional frameworks for achieving this transition. Rio+20 should deliver an outcome which allows progress to be measured in a meaningful way. The value of natural resources should be given due consideration in economic decision-making"

The VOICE, the University of Melbourne online newsletter, ran a nice piece on this.



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