Carly Visbal, Sustainable Development

I watched the documentary “Born Into Brothels,” which is the story of a group of young children in the red light district of Calcutta, India, who are growing up in brothels that their mothers work at. Zana Briski is a photographer who has been living in the brothels with the women photographing them for a couple years and has started teaching a photography class to their children that she has grown very close to. The documentary shows the hopelessness of these childrens’ situations and the extreme measures one must go to to see change or the chance at a good future. Briski does everything that she can to get all the children into boarding schools, doing all the necessary paper work, passport finding, and doctor check ups for the children because she knows that these children deserve a chance at life.

It was an amazing experience to see the amount of fulfillment these children got from just a photography class they were taking. It provided them so much excitement and enthusiasm for each day. These children are constantly told to take care of chores, run errands, and make money for the family but this is something for just them to invest in themselves a little. It shows how much a camera and one womans time can provide for a child.

These children are among many in India and in the world who are not provided with a good public education. Education to these kids means a future outside of the brothels and outside of the only life they have known.

In the documentary it also showed the devastation that one of the mothers of the children was killed by the pimp that owned her and the family was not going to the police for any type of justice. There is no such thing as justice to these people.

A sustainable development plan for this region starts with an education for the children and then a change in government. These people deserve more.

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Carly Visbal, Sustainable Development

On the UN Foundation website this was written, “According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the business volume that tourism is generating today equals or even surpasses that of oil exports, food products or automobiles.” With how much pressure and emphasis our country puts on the need for oil I was surprised to find out that it actually compares to tourism business. I feel like oil is a natural resource, that we refine to use in our machinery it must have a larger impact on our economy because it is something that could run out some day. I don’t see that tourism will ever die out like a natural resource could.

Anyways, it makes me wonder about tourism and how that really can impact a country for the worst. It may create jobs and pay certain people but as tourists we don’t always know what is harming or helping a community. One of the biggest tourism visits to Cambodia and Thailand is the sex trade industry. This is indefinitely harmful to these girls in the brothels but also for the hope of change in the communities.  We might not all be visiting countries with the same intent of sex trade but what if what we were doing was causing just as much damage? It is like when Krisdof went to the brothels and bought the girls out of slavery and realizing six months later that it was the wrong thing to do when they had gone back to the same brothel. As tourists we come into countries wanting to see the beauty this new place can offer without realizing what is being done to allow us to have this luxury.  What would it look like if we were conscious enough tourists to  research the hotels, the expeditions, and maybe avoid buying goods to take back to family and friends if we don’t know the people who are behind making all of it. To me that would look like smart and sustainable tourism.

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Julia Stumpf – Hillary Clinton’s cook stoves and “The Girl Effect”

So why is Hillary Clinton talking about cook stoves?

Well, yesterday at the Clinton Global Initiative Secretary of State Hillary Clinton introduced the first ever Global Alliance for Clean Cook Stoves. This initiative acknowledges the fact that over 300 million people in most developing countries use cook stoves for cooking or heating purposes. Of those 300 million people, 1.9 million die premature deaths due to unsafe exposure to smoke caused from hazardous cook stoves. The World Health Organization dubs unsafe cook stoves as the fourth greatest threat to health in developing countries alongside malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. To most individuals, including myself, cook stoves aren’t the hottest topic regarding assistance in developing countries nevertheless Hillary Clinton is changing that. Her goal is to have 100 million households using ‘clean’ cook stoves by the year of 2020. ‘Clean’ meaning cook stoves that reduce fuel consumption and exposure to harmful cook stove smoke using solar power and other energy efficient mechanisms. Unique to this initiative is the inclusion of the private sector of U.S. corporate as is the country of Norway and Germany.

So how are cook stoves related to Erasmus?

The major beneficiaries to this global initiative are the people that use cook stoves on a daily basis that is – women and children. As I listened to Secretary Clinton explain the initiative at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, I realized how crosscutting this movement truly is. Directly, women and children’s health will no longer be at high risk if new cook stoves are available. Disease like lunger cancer and heart disease as well as other fatal health risks may be eliminated. There is also a higher level of security for women and children that must fetch the wood, fuel, etc. for these ‘unclean’ cook stoves. Many girls suffer sexual assault, kidnapping and possible trafficking when forced to fetch such supplies. As families invest in a ‘clean’ cook stove, economic opportunity grows since solar power is one of the major sources of energy used to power these stoves. More financial freedom means more opportunities among families including education and hopefully employment for daughters that normally work within the household. After reading Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof, I learned that education is one of the most effective solutions to end female oppression and poverty around the world.

Regarding female societal constructions, Erasmus teaches prevention rather than fostering an endless cycle. In my mind I see this initiative as a preventative mechanism that reaches out to girls at an early age rather than acting as a band aid to the cycle of female suppression. I am thrilled that women are making their way to the forefront of international discussion and action, however Hillary Clinton herself admits this is not a one-solution problem. There are many cultural aspects that need to be taken into consideration regarding this huge societal and traditional adjustment among the countries included in the initiative. Clearly, this is only the beginning to a multilayered universal issue that waits to be unfolded.

At the Clinton Global Initiative, international leaders met and discussed the topic of women on the global scale right after they viewed “The Girl Effect”. Check out the clip and then ask yourself whether a girl’s life is worth changing, even if it must start with a cook stove.

http://cleancookstoves.org/

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Supply Chain Research-Rosa Contreras

California is in the process of pushing for two bills called The California Supply Chain Transparency Act of 2010 (SB 657) and The Slave and Sweat Free Code of Conduct for goods sold to the State of California (SB 1231). Under the Transparency act big companies are required to divulge where their products originate from and allow audit’s to survey possible cases of trafficking. The Slave and Sweat Free code would prohibit the state of California from purchasing goods that come from sources that are suspected of using slave labor. Both of these bills are amazing advancements in the fight against human trafficking, but it comes with a lot of opposition. Major businesses do not want to disclose their secret information, although most say that they do not buy from sources that use slave labor. Why might that be? It is obvious that although companies say one thing, the truth is the exact opposite. This bill is proposing a major change for businesses, a change that they are too lazy and greedy to handle. The use of slave labor ensures low prices and higher wages for those in power. Wouldn’t it be a better business practice to ensure customers with free trade products, rather than slave/sweat shop produced merchandise? One would assume yes, but the thing that is really driving the consumers to but things which are made by forced labor is the low price. Whether produced by slave labor or not, consumers will buy what ever is cheapest.With the bad economy people are doing what ever they can to save a buck.

Will it be possible to sustain an economy free from slave labor with out raising prices? It might, but even if the U.S becomes free of slave labor foreign countries all over the world are going to continue producing the same cheap products.

Back in 2009 there was a bill similar to the Slave and Sweat Free Code. Racheal Meddow critiques the corporations opposition to this bill calling them, “child labor-endorsing, pro-slavery freaks”.

(begin at 3:30)

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Supply Chain, Kelsey Silva

Looking around my small little dorm room, I count 6 apple products between my roommate and I. Our Mac laptops guide us through school, our iHomes wake us up for class, and our iPods are good entertainment. I have read an article about the supply chain of the iPhone – supplies from Germany, Korea, the United States, and Taiwan all assembled in China. Reading that the work force is central in China, I immediately think of sweat shops and low wages. But manufacturing in China is getting expensive, and it is the Chinese factories who usually keep prices low among the companies in Apple’s supply chain. Laptops, digital cameras, and smart phones are in danger of losing production because of high costs. China, however, does not receive much profit for its labor; companies providing batteries, technology chips, processors, etc. receives good payment from Apple. But it is the laborer during the process who is putting everything together to construct the technological device so important to our lives.
The laborers in China earn less than a dollar an hour, but China is complaining that labor costs are getting too high. Laborers will be moved to work in the slums of China at more convenience to the supply company. Moving will cut labor wages up yo 30%. I have been taught that even just supplying jobs to poor workers in developing countries can boost the economy, that working in such a global supply chain is an important job that can provide them with money for a long time. Should we acknowledge that, while such poor quality jobs are not respecting human rights in the first place, they were at least given a chance to support themselves? Or is cheap labor just an inhumane form of entrapment, a tricky slavery? We clearly need the workers to assemble the goods that we constantly use in our lives. People in the developed world rely on their technology in all aspects of life, and the workers in China and the companies creating the microchips all depend on technological supply chains (such as Apple) to make a living. What will happen if computers can no longer be constructed? As college students we cannot comprehend such a ridiculous idea. Yet the bigger question is what happens to people who lose their jobs? Without the construction of smart phones or digital cameras, already poor laborers will lose their income. So then, is the argument “at least they have a job” really okay – are low end jobs really a way to “develop a global partnership for development”?
“Smart activism” needs to be remembered when researching supply chains. I know it will not be effective to yell at people to stop buying apple products. Should i give up my ipod and ride the bus surrounded by the noise of strangers? And other electronic, computer chip products – in the U.S., we can organize and better our lives with electronics, but it comes at the expense of the laborers providing us with our goods. How can I be researching how to promote fair trade within supply chains by surfing the internet on my laptop constructed under inhuman conditions that I am working to abolish?

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/06/technology/06iphone.html?pagewanted=2&sq=supply%20chain&st=Search&scp=3

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Arlene Nieto-Sustainable Development

This week, I researched sustainable development and found that many of the articles or websites defined sustainable development differently. On some websites it was defined as anything that would help reduce the effects of damage made on the land to a minimal amount. In an article I read in the New York times, “Sustaining the Forest,Maintaining a Bridge”, the article was about how the board on the Brooklyn Bridge and some controversy on the planks used.  The planks have to be replaced once they wear out, at this point then the city brings in planks out of tropical forests. The city is under fire for this but Manhattan architect   is proposing they growing a patch of tropical trees in the city. This is one way people find sustainable developments to reduce their impact on the land.

The only difference is that in places like Sub-Sahara, South Asia, Latin America they are not worried about issues like a bridge planks. They are worried about hunger,disease, water, and their own environment being destroyed. Sustainable Development takes on another meaning, I found some information on other websites. One of the websites I looked into was globalissues.com, they broke down how sustainable development can break down. First was biodiversity loss, poverty,water,energy,and  secondly was financing of sustainability such as NGO’s and foreign aid. Global Issues touched also on problems that affect sustainability such as  corporate social responsibility,trade, government corruption.

In this initial stage of research I found many topics that relate to sustainable development such as environment, citizenship, and accessibility of things. I think t from learning factors that affect sustainable developments I can now start to grasp an idea of how to help create plans to help people achieve it.

http://www.globalissues.org/issue/367/sustainable-development

http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/24/sustaining-the-forest-maintaining-a-bridge/?scp=13&sq=sustainable%20development&st=cse

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Jessica Kelton- Citizenship and Human Rights Research

What does justice look like? Justice is a prominent theme in my first week of research: what is adequate justice? How can it be achieved? How is justice culturally sensitive and who has the authority to determine it?

I have been reading a series of articles about the current Khmer Rouge trials occurring thirty years after the group’s brutal regime of mass killings and a multitude of atrocities in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. In late July of 2010 the first conviction of a prominent Khmer Rouge figure sentenced Kaing Guek Eav (commonly known as Duch) to 35 years in prison for supervising the torture of murder of more than 14,000 people as the commandant of a central Khmer Rouge prison. The sentenced was reduced to 19 years due to time already served and for a period of illegal military detention.

When I read this I was filled with rage for what I perceived as injustice. I was angry that it had taken thirty years for the first major conviction. I cannot imagine surviving such a horrific regime only to sit with the pain unaddressed for so long. Many leaders have already died, including Pol Pot, and the rest have lived out the majority of their lives and are only facing possible retribution in old age. However, according to Mydans the conviction is progress in that it is the first time a senior government official was held responsible for human rights violations in Cambodia’s modern history. It was also the first time such a trial met international standards. Many survivors were understandably upset about the lenient verdict. Many that testified felt that the outcome victimized them for second time and felt “like a slap in the face” (Mydans: 2). Not only is jail luxurious compared to the gruesome treatment of the survivors under the regime, but also the sentence may allow Duch to walk free one day, an excruciating thought for many Cambodians.

The second article from the sixteenth of September centers on the second case against the four top surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge. The defendants, now frail with old age, deny all guilt and will be tried together. It is unbelievable to me that these individuals can face these charges, time providing numerical statistics of the destruction and suffering caused by the regime they orchestrated, and still deny that they did anything wrong. It is disturbing that Duch only displayed limited remorse but more so that the four more prominent surviving Khmer Rouge leaders express no remorse whatsoever. The upcoming trial will probably be more complex than the first, lacking detailed records and sullied by the current Cambodian government leaders, many of which served as low-level Khmer rouge officials, including the current Prime Minister.  Yes, you read that correctly: the current Cambodian prime minister actually participated in the genocide and murder of thousands of his countrymen! What can justice look like under these circumstances? How can such massive scale of human rights violations possibly be rectified? This is a theme I hope to explore during my research with Citizenship and Human rights.  Although I find these articles frustrating and a demoralizing perception of humanity, I hope to find possible solutions and attain enough strategic knowledge to improve such ‘justice’ systems.

Human Rights Watch attempts to initiate some form of justice in the Congo, where mineral wealth has created violent conflict, generating multitudes of internally displaced people and human rights violations against civilians inadvertently in the middle of the fighting. On their website Human Rights Watch provides not only a thorough research paper about the plight of internally displaced people in the Congo, but also a video documenting their experience in the country. A prominent travesty in the Congo is the systematic rape of women used as a tool by both the government troops and rebel militias. Human Rights Watch (HRW) argues that the first step towards justice is detailed, in-the-field research to document exactly what happened and who was involved. This practice gives the victims a voice and legitimizes their suffering. Human Rights Watch additionally uses the information to shame influential individuals to act. The video made me realize the type of power non-governmental organizations can posses and how it can be utilized. Human Rights Watch has significant soft power, meaning an intellectual and moral influence rather then control demanded through military force. Their reputation for reliable research and as a prominent, earnest organization in the fight against human rights violations provides Human Rights Watch with moral authority it can use to influence the action of political groups. As explained in the video no country, group or individual, even rebel militia groups, wants to be labeled as a major perpetrator of human rights violations. HRW was able to persuade the president of the Congo to publically denounce rape as an unacceptable atrocity against women. Although this public speech will not end all rape, the most powerful and successful man in the nation condemning the act does shift the perception of the rape for government troops, specifically in its legitimacy as a military right and its relation to masculinity. HRW proves the importance of solid research as the first step for smart activism that can initiate change in a peaceful way. Overall this initial research has taught me the importance of ideology and public perception in the process of justice. A second theme is the necessity of legitimizing and recognizing the suffering of victims for individual healing and national change.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gkvDgd_ZwL0x_nwAEl-0V3V4iURAD9I8VAKG1

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/03/world/asia/03sochua.html?scp=1&sq=from%20california%20to%20cambodia,%20fighting%20for%20women&st=cse

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/27/world/asia/27cambodia.html?scp=1&sq=anger%20in%20cambodia%20over%20khmer%20rouge%20sentace&st=cse

http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2010/09/14/always-run-0

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Economic Development and Environmental sustainability: Overview-Chris Waldref

Economic development and environmental sustainability are not contradictory terms. In fact, environmental sustainability is a crucial element in long term economic growth. This introductory chapter to Economic Development and Environmental sustainability: New policy options explains some of the dynamics of economics and environmental resource use.

Economic growth at the expense of environmental sustainability yield explosive growth rates for a short time, then, once the resources are depleted, growth stagnates. Environmental sustainability at the expense of economic growth yield slow, stagnated growth, then a scramble to grow, followed by economic explosion, use of resources, then stagnation. This situation is what many developing countries find themselves in. The solution, though seemingly elementary, is anything but. As discussed in the essay, there are many economic, cultural, personal, and political considerations to take into account. How then can the two seemingly opposite values be reconciled? López and Toman make some observations concerning what work needs to be done before the Goldielocks state can be achieved.

The first is key in fitting the two together; put adequate values on environmental services. This is necessary in incorporating natural resources into a value based economic model. López and Toman suggest that the one-to-one relationship between man-made and natural services is misguided. In practical applications, it turns out that natural resources have more unaccounted value than similar man-made services.
The second key is sufficient-supply of “Non-environmental Public Goods”. That is the resource allocation towards services such as primary and secondary education, energy access for population use, and water and land conservation. Studies continue to find strong correlations between levels of these public goods and sound environmental policy.
In essence some sort of value needs to be put on the environmental resources of nation in order for them to have proper accounting and the legal and economic incentive to protect their resources.
Some questions that this essay brings up are: What are ways that resources can be valued? Can international trade foster environmental sustainability? If so, how? What research can be done concerning the effectiveness of subsidies and incentives that promote the environment? What, if any, are the keys to turn on the greater world population to realize the importance of environmental issues and their relationships to social justice?

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Ethan Markham – Supply Chain

While studying the global supply chain, some people cannot (or at least will not) understand, “why companies allow the use of forced labor and sweatshops in the production of their products.” The answer is the oldest and simplest in the book: they make more money. In a world where, “creating global partnerships” is incorporated into the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, and one target of one goal is the expansion of high-speed communication technologies to the farthest corners of the planet, we must accept the fact that capitalism will soon become the world’s most powerful religion (if it hasn’t already).

Therefore I see two main solutions when fighting to eradicate slave, child and underpaid labor. The first would be to stamp out corruption and enhance the moral standards and respect in the justice systems in developing countries so that local authorities can take this matter into their own hands. Unfortunately I see this as unreasonable, teetering on the brink of impossible, at least to meet the 2015 goal. This involves eliminating greed from the human psyche and revamping entire corrupt governments, which as sub-Saharan African has shown is no small task. The second more reasonable solution is for the global community to think of and put into action, consumption habits that allow companies to keep making money without the use of forced labor. Yes, it’s a big pill to swallow, but do you see any other way?

Like the universal epiphanies of Albert Einstein and the soaring might of Giant Redwoods, big changes start as seeds and grow out of grass roots. Ultimately the changes we want to see will start with each individual working together as a whole. One of a growing number of ways that the global community can work together to combat unfair labor is with the use of Free2Work.org. This website soon available in the palm of your hand allows individual consumers to see grades for individual products regarding their supply chains. An ‘F’ for products by inhumane means or an ‘A’ for fully free-trade products. This allows the consumer to make educated purchases thus allowing them to boycott amoral companies. Another technology that we in the “developed” world will soon see the expansion of is Glovico.com. This website/non-profit connects you to a language teacher in another country, another hemisphere even. Using skype this global education system cuts out any middle man and brings student and teacher together with the use of high speed internet (direct high speed connection with MDG 8). Profits go to the teachers and students get a useful service. As we enter the age of skype and high speed, free, global, face-to-face communication the opportunity flood gates open for a new wave of free-trade services going between the developed and developing world.

We must keep a close watch on this evolving technology though. Those of us who work at the grass roots, who will eventually germinate the seeds of change, have to keep innovations like this from going the route of big business. But with tools such as these in their infancy now is the time to brainstorm. The greatest ideas once started out being bounced around a room. Now we can bounce ideas around chat rooms or blogs. How could technology like this be used to better the developing world? To bring the abolitionists, free-trade enthusiast and average every day Joes face to face with those they want to help by bringing the profit straight to them? Education? Virtual Classrooms? Instant medical support? Communication between farmer and market? The list goes on. Because remember, it all comes down to the dollar signs whether we like it or not; money may not buy happiness but it can go a long way to securing freedom.
For more information on the websites mentioned and the use of technology take a look at these:

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Teresa Cariño- Supply Chain Initial Research

I rarely hear about workers in sweatshops actually standing up for their rights and making enough noise to warrant a news article. However, workers in Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Cambodia are demanding for pay raises after worker in China had done. Typically, when I hear about sweatshops, I get the sense that the workers are vulnerable and helpless and need people like me to go in and stand up for them. This article, “Neighbors take cue from China Labor Unrest”, shows me that workers are demanding better but the companies aren’t listening but if I put pressure on the western companies to be socially responsible and their laborers keep demanding then hopefully there will be pay increases since the workers can barely get by on what they are paid now.

(http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/14/business/global/14garment.html?scp=5&sq=sweatshop&st=cse)

I learned in my government class, senior year in high school, that the media can act as watchdogs for politics. It can also serve as watchdogs for social injustices. Many times, the media is often taken for granted with all the popular culture shows and “news” stories that appear. But the media can shed light on an issue and bring it into the homes of people who otherwise wouldn’t know about social injustices. Dutch and Belgium media outlets are now taking an interest in the conditions of an Indian textile factory that provides the cloth for the clothing companies C&A and H&M.

The media tries to sell the audience (us) what it thinks the audience wants. If we were to demand more media interest in social justice topics, I think that the media would give us just that. The media is a wonderful tool to get a message across to so many people.

(http://somo.nl/news-en/dutch-media-focuses-on-abuses-in-the-indian-textile-sector/)

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