3 June 2013


According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), every year 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted. This is equivalent to the same amount produced in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time, 1 in every 7 people go to bed hungry and more than 20,000 children under the age of 5 die daily from hunger. This enormous imbalance in lifestyles has devastating effects on the environment. FAO estimates that a third of global food production is either wasted or lost. If food is wasted, it means that all the resources and inputs used its production are also lost, e.g. It takes about 1,000 litres of water to produce 1 litre of milk and about 16,000 litres goes into a cow’s food to make a hamburger. see FAO website

Global food production occupies 25% of all habitable land and is responsible for 70% of fresh water consumption, 80% of deforestation, and 30% of greenhouse gas emissions. It is the largest single driver of biodiversity loss and land-use change.

The theme of this year’s World Environment Day (June 5th) is Think.Eat.Save.

Some things you can do include selecting foods that have less of an environmental impact, such as organic foods that do not use chemicals in the production process and buy locally so that foods are not flown halfway across the world thereby limiting emissions. http://www.australianfoodsovereigntyalliance.org/

Adapted from the Columban Mission Institute  'Growing a culture of Peace' bulletin.


In a statement to the 23rd meeting of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, Archbishop Tomasi, called for a greater sense of corporate social and environmental responsibility.

The statement was made in the wake of the deaths of 1100 workers in the collapse of a garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The statement echoed concerns expressed by Pope Francis that too often "People are less important than the things that give profit to those who have political, social and economic power” and recalled the 2009 encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI which stressed the necessity "to recognise labour standards as an integral and important part of corporate social responsibility" and that "Freedom of association, the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour, the abolition of child labour and the effective elimination of discrimination in employment and payment must be respected and enforced in all jurisdictions."

The statement also welcomed the endorsement by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2011 of the “Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations Protect, Respect, and Remedy Framework”  and the November 2011 release of “The Corporate Responsibility to Respect Human Rights: An interpretive Guide” by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights as important milestones in developing consensus about the role and responsibility of corporations in society.

It also urged greater transparency so that all stakeholders have the information required to make well-founded judgments about the ways in which human rights are respected and protected, better certifications and international standards to establish clear benchmarks and frameworks for monitoring those who respect human rights and social corporate responsibility and for the establishment, promotion and exchange of good and innovative practices gleaned from a wide variety of actors, in both the public and private sectors, so that a more robust respect for human rights will become a priority for all corporations.

The full statement can be viewed at the website of the Holy See Mission to the UN in Geneva


June 8th is World Oceans Day, the UN-designated day for the global community to celebrate and take action for our shared ocean. This year, the day draws attention to two little-known but all-important issues: global warming and ocean acidification.

Emissions from human activity are changing the Earth’s climate, leading to rising sea levels, and contributing to more frequent and intense extreme weather events that directly threaten every one of us–no matter whether we live along the coast or far inland. Recent public surveys show that ocean acidification is not yet well known but it’s an issue that will become much more prominent, and, fortunately, you can help make a real difference! 

Ways in which you can make a difference include:
Get Green Power.  Use cleaner and healthier alternatives to fossil fuels and advocate for more! Buying green energy for your home is one of the best ways to reduce your carbon emissions. You can find some resources at the Global Energy Network Institute webpage. Commute wisely.  Get out your bike or buy a used one, take public transportation more regularly, try car sharing, seek carpooling partners, or consider telecommuting on the phone or video service such as Skype. Every time you skip the car for one of these alternatives, you help our ocean!
Encourage local government leadership. Get your mayor to commit to helping by signing on to a coalition for the protection of the climate (e.g. Cities for Climate Protection Campaign or Mayors for Climate Protection). Many national governments are failing to take adequate action in a timely fashion, so we can each help at the local level to make the push for a safer, healthier blue planet. Plus, the more we do on the local front, the easier it becomes for national and global action with real “teeth” to make a difference in our lifetimes.

There are hundreds of events being held all over the world, find one near you and celebrate with a purpose this World Oceans Day. You can also go the extra mile and organize an event yourself using ideas and free materials provided at WorldOceansDay.org!


"The traditional thinking has always been that the west is pouring money into Africa through foreign aid and other private-sector flows, without receiving much in return. Our report turns that logic upside down – Africa has been a net creditor to the rest of the world for decades," said Raymond Baker, president of Global Financial Integrity stated recently following the release of a joint report from the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Global Financial Integrity (GFI).

Africa lost up to $1.4tn in illicit financial flows in 1980-2009, far exceeding money coming in over the same period and seriously undermining the continent's development, the report said.

Illicit financial flows involve the transfer of money earned through corruption, bribes, tax evasion, criminal activities and transactions involving contraband goods. Tax evasion and illicit financial flows will be on the agenda of the G8 summit in Northern Ireland next month, chaired by David Cameron, amid increasing impatience in the UK and the US at companies such as Google and Apple as they manipulate the system to their maximum advantage.

But most African countries, with weak tax regimes, are by far the biggest losers. Even the estimates of illicit financial flows – large as they are – are likely to understate the problem as they do not capture money lost through drug trafficking and smuggling. But the huge financial transfers out of Africa – dwarfing money coming into the continent – deprive Africa of resources for development.

"The resource drain from Africa over the last 30 years – almost equivalent to Africa's current GDP – is holding back Africa's lift-off," said Professor Mthuli Ncube, chief economist and vice-president of the AfDB. "The African continent is resource-rich. With good resource husbandry, Africa could be in a position to finance much of its own development."

The report which can be viewed on the Global Financial Integrity (GFI) website urges a range of reforms to address this issue.

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