Tag Archives: Latin America

From the IAASTD, Scientific and Policy Vocabulary of What I Want to Do

18 May

Findings: IAASTD Summary for Decision Makers of the Global Report

16. Innovative institutional arrangements are essential to the successful design and adoption of ecologically and socially sustainable agricultural systems.
Sustainable agricultural production is more likely when legal frameworks and forms of association provide secure access to credit, markets, land and water for individuals and communities with modest resources. Creating market-based opportunities for processing and commercializing agricultural products that ensure a fair share of value addition for smallscale producers and rural laborers is critical to meeting development and sustainability goals.

17. Opening national agricultural markets to international competition can offer economic benefits, but can lead to long term negative effects on poverty alleviation, food security and the environment without
basic national institutions and infrastructure being in place.

20. Both public and private sectors can help advance development and sustainability goals.
Increased investments in AKST, particularly if complemented by supporting investments in rural development (for example, infrastructure, telecommunications and processing facilities) can have high economic rates of return and reduce poverty. AKST investments also generate environmental, social, health, and cultural impacts.

22. Achieving sustainability and development goals will involve creating space for diverse voices and perspectives and a multiplicity of scientifically well-founded options, through, for example, the inclusion of social scientists in policy and practice of AKST helps direct and focus public and private research, extension and education on such goals.
Some interpretations have been privileged over others and have helped push formal AKST along certain pathways, to the neglect of other scientifically sound options. Some of the by-passed options originate in traditional knowledge or civil society experience and may be better able to contribute to poverty reduction, social inclusion, equity and generate multifunctional outcomes.


Change to the masses

12 Jan

Social systems are very interesting to me.

When we look at society, ecosystems, or our planet on a systems scale, it appears to be resilient, stable. In general, large systems are averse to change, and we’re happy to assume things to be constant. But every so often, catastrophic transformations take place in a very quick time period. Ecosystem collapse builds on itself, and suddenly total species live in a world completely foreign to them. Coral reefs may be going through a mass extinction from climate change within the next few months, as algae are suddenly multiplying thousandfold in the warmer water. If these “rainforests of the ocean” are coming to terms with large tipping points in their lives, what does that mean for the human environment 4 degrees warmer?

I believe that social systems are the same way. If you consider it, the bloom of algae happens once conditions exist for them to prosper. It’s not complex, it’s really simple. The old status quo (old-world economic systems) rely on the same nutrients (resource surplus) being there, and cannot backtrack nor adjust to new realities. The discipline now faces hard issues like backwards-incorporating ecological realities, social equality, or generational risk. While the bottom-liners turn a blind eye, these are the issues we must deal with! And that means the rules of the game have to change. Cultures don’t cut back on their own: As in the barrier reef, new conditions bring organisms to either adapt to the new conditions and multiply, or die with this global crisis, and good riddance. *Obama’s election means that overall this evolution will be positive.*

Socio-economic change: each person responding to new opportunities in a predictable way brings about systemic, evolutionary-level change.

Now I’m not saying that losing a reef is a good thing, it’s actually quite terrible to see things go and hurts a lot of people. But the example can be a good model for the one thing that can spread like bacteria: human word-of-mouth. Once a new reality emerges, there’s surprisingly little holding the former winners in place. What does this mean? Now will be the time when people question the validity of long-standing military-industrial-government rule, and now we finally have choice in what lives and dies. Even a small preference, shared over dinner/conversation/the web can become a huge impact. During a recession, climate meltdown, internet revolution and world political change following Obama’s inauguration, my bet is on the peasants to make out alive. The silent masses will have a say in the new world order.

For small farmers, why submit to the hierarchy traditionally imposed on you if you can become a natural farmer and change your family, your country and homeland? The answer is often that they haven’t had the choice. If a few leading industries can now make it possible for everyone to be a part of a new worldview, the system will follow. Enough people on the supply side freeing their houses can create a new (free) equilibrium that is more peaceful, sustainable and just.

Change to the masses: it’s coming in more ways than you think.

-Eddie Miller

In Defense of the Word

17 Dec

Eduardo Galeano, 1978
translation by Bobbye Ortiz.
–excerpts from my mind through his–

In defense of the word.
“One writes out of a need to communicate and to commune with others, to denounce that which gives pain and to share that which gives happiness. One writes against one’s solitude and against the solitude of others. One assumes that literature transmits knowledge and affects the behavior and language of those who reaad… One writes, in reality, for the people whose luck or misfortune one identifies with– the hungry, the sleepless, the rebels, and the wretched of this earth— and the majority of them are all illiterate.
Our own fate as Latin American writers is linked to the need for profound social transformations. To narrate is to give oneself: it seems obvious that literature, as an effort to communicate fully, will continue to be blocked… so long as misery and illiteracy exist, and so long as the possessors of power continute to carry on with impunity their policy of collective imbecilization through… the mass media.

How far can we go? Whom can we reach?
…To awaken consciousness, to reveal identity.

Can a literature serve a better function in these times?
Our effectiveness depends on our capacity to be audacious and astute, clear and appalling. I would hope that we can create a language more fearless and beautiful than that used by conformist writers to greet the twilight.

In Latin America a literature is taking shape and gaining strength, a literature that does not propose to bury our dead, but immortalize them; that refuses to stir the ashes of society but rather attempts to light the fire… perhaps it may help to preserve for the generations to come… ‘the true name of all things.’ In an incarcerated society, free literature can exist as both denunciation and hope.”

Original book, it lights my fire: The Open Veins of Latin America

Real lyrics, in hip hop form: K’Naan 2008 (try “If Rap Gets Jealous”)