Fair_trade
Fair trade is the act of fairly compensating workers and working in developing countries in order to create a sustainable business climate.  Fair Trade USA teaches disadvantaged communities to use their own resources to better their situation.  Instead of buying everyday items from big businesses that have already been established, consumers should try buying fair trade items to help local economies in need.

Some 12,000 fair trade-certified products come from 70 different countries and can be found in 100,000 retail locations across the U.S.  Items like coffee, tea, herbs, sugar, apparel, bedding, and tech products are all available through fair trade.  According to research by George Washington University, “farmers and workers around the world have now earned over $175 million in additional income, including $35 million in fair trade development premiums” due to fair trade products.

In fair trade, proceeds go to the social, economic, and environmental development of the country where the product came from.  A network of community activists decides how the funds are used.  Past projects include schools, wells, agricultural education initiatives, and entrepreneur training.

Another benefit of fair trade is that it sets up non-discriminatory, democratic structures in the businesses of local communities.  This prevents corruption and exploitation.  Workplaces must be safe and up to code and any chemicals used must be disposed of in an environmentally responsible manner.  There can be no child labor or discrimination, and workers must have access to collective bargaining.

– Stephanie Lamm

Sources: George Washington University, Fair Trade, Fair Trade USA

three_cups_of_tea_book
No matter what your political leanings may be, these books cannot help but convince readers of the importance of global development. As you read the anecdotes and arguments presented in these books, remember that only 1 percent of the U.S. budget goes to foreign aid – and change begins with you.

1. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson

After traveling and mountain-climbing in the Himalayas, Mortenson launched a mission to bring schools and education to children living in remote regions of central Asia. His moving book outlines the importance of local development projects targeted at education, capacity building and sustainability. Through Mortenson’s activism and writing, the Taliban’s hold has been reduced over previously unprotected and disempowered communities.

2. Partner to the Poor by Dr. Paul Farmer

World-renowned doctor, anthropologist and humanitarian Paul Farmer defines the term “structural violence” and explains its connection to global health in this gripping book. Farmer writes about the structural elements of political and social life that systematically undermine access to healthcare in rural Haitian, Rwandan and Peruvian communities. His arguments on political instability’s effect on population compel readers to see the vast impact of foreign policy and aid.

3. The Practice of International Health by Ananya Roy and Daniel Perlman

This book offers a series of personal accounts from physicians and humanitarians providing healthcare around the world. More so than other anecdotes, these stories provide a detailed picture of the logistical and cultural challenges international development projects face. However, rather than discouraging such projects, “The Practice of International Health” demonstrates how such barriers can be overcome in order to achieve remarkable success.

4. Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

Journalists Kristoff and WuDunn cover a lot of ground in this entertaining and heartbreaking collection of stories. Similar to Mortenson’s work, “Half the Sky” emphasizes the importance of grassroots organizations, illuminating the tireless efforts of individuals in India, China, Afghanistan and Ethiopia on the behalf of women. In the book’s epilogue, Kristoff and WuDunn also provide an extensive list of nonprofits doing amazing work around the world, as well as easy steps for getting involved in female empowerment and global development.

5. Banker to the Poor by Muhammad Yunus

Microfinance has both supporters and critics, but after reading this autobiography by the founder of the Grameen Bank, Muhammad Yunus, readers might find that their opinion has changed. Yunus was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his work in providing small-value loans to women in rural areas in order to promote economic growth among families and villages.

Shelly Grimaldi

Sources: GoodReads, Banker to the Poor
Photo: Wishes 4 Life

land_grabbing_and_hunger
There are approximately 1.02 billion undernourished people in the world today, with hunger and malnutrition as the leading causes of death in the developing world. Yet, despite the overwhelming magnitude of this problem, global hunger can be solved. By addressing the factors behind widespread hunger – poor agricultural systems, poverty, environmental exploitation and economic crises – we can come closer to ending it. Below are just five practical ways to end global hunger.

1. Decrease the production of meat.
The intense rate at which many countries focus on producing meat has taken a serious toll on resources. Nearly 40 percent of the world’s valuable agricultural resources go towards feeding livestock. If the production of meat was reduced, those resources could go toward ending undernourishment instead.
2. Food for Life and the human responsibility. 
Food for Life is an organization committed to putting a stop to world hunger. Based on simple, yet powerful, principles of human spirit, humility and compassion, Food for Life has developed a number of programs that bring both food and education to malnourished countries.
3. Stop land grabbing. 
Wealthy countries without extensive landholdings have started seizing land in underdeveloped countries to use as allotments. This “land grabbing” prevents people living in the region from using that land to grow crops and sustain their communities, further perpetuating hunger and malnutrition in the area.
4. Small-scale farming. 
Family farmers play a vital role in the development of food sustainability. Small farmers are more likely to produce crops rich in nutrients as opposed to conventional agribusiness that grow mostly starchy crops. Organizations such as AGRA, which works towards a green revolution in Africa, focus heavily on small farmers, providing them with education, quality soils and the seeds necessary to build a prosperous farm.
5. Eliminate infant malnutrition. 
Infant malnutrition is rampant in underdeveloped countries that lack the resources and education necessary to nourish healthy children. Educating families and mothers living in these regions on proper feeding techniques and providing them with the right nutrients at every stage of the pregnancy will make a huge difference in alleviating infant malnutrition.
– Chante Owens

Sources: The Guardian, Food for Life, Living Green Magazine
Photo: Greenpeace

Location_of_Syria_Map_Importance
The conflict that has ravaged Syria since March 15, 2011 has had worldwide ramifications. The civil war started as a response to the Arab Spring, government corruption, and the abuse of human rights. The government responded to this uprising with lethal force, and as of June 2013 the death toll has been suspected to surpass 100,000 casualties. By late April 2013, President Bashar al-Assad began launching full-scale military operations upon city enclosures, officially opening the country for civil war. The Middle Eastern country’s conflict could potentially rock the entire world, and for one seriously misunderstood fact: the location of the country.

The location of Syria holds significance not because of the country’s resources, but of the countries located around it. The Middle East is the oil production giant of the world, and is a sensitive spot for intervention. The location of Syria brings out legitimate reasons to be wary of intervention, as the civil war must be contained at all costs. The addition of a foreign power may allow the war to spill over into neighboring countries, inciting a deadly Middle Eastern war that would be devastating.

Not only is Syria close to the Middle Eastern oil titans, but the continent of Africa lays not far away. Africa is one of the most vulnerable places on earth, one rocked by poverty, hunger, and disease. The feeble economies of the poverty-stricken Africa could not take the outcome of a war spilling into its borders. Containing the war to the country of Syria is a precaution that must be taken carefully. If the conflict somehow spreads to Africa, the continent and its emerging countries will face the fallout of a war they had no stake in.

The majority of citizens in the United States do not support military intervention in Syria. Citizens do not want another drawn-out affair like the wars of the previous Bush administration. Whether military intervention is agreed upon or not, the effects of the decision upon Syria could be monumental. The civil war has reached a deadly number, as evidenced by the 100,000 casualties already listed. This number could exponentially increase, regardless of intervention. If the United States does intervene, it could potentially lose control of the situation, or allow the other Middle Eastern to beef up their weaponry with Western troops in such cl0se proximity. But by leaving the conflict to fester on its own, the United States takes any convincing power out of its hands. Not having a say in which way the conflict heads could be as potentially dangerous as being directly involved. By not intervening, the neighboring countries and poverty-racked Africa could be left in the fray.

The Syrian situation has become one of great interest. Understanding the location of the country, and what ramifications the location could have, is crucial to fully comprehending the condition. Not only will the war have complications upon the Syrian government, the neighboring countries and Africa could become involved. Stay tuned, because the land is hot with anger and strife, and only time will tell where these emotions will take the warring country.

– Zachary Wright

Sources: dailyprincetonian, Maps of World
Photo: Al Hdhod

Green_Cross_International_20th_Anniversary
According to the World Bank, by the year 2050 the planet’s GDP will reach $200 trillion a year. The world’s population will also pass 10 billion, and we will need three earths to provide the resources necessary to sustain our current way of life.

Since its founding in 1993 by former Soviety leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Green Cross International has been working to define a sustainable and secure world future, seeking solutions through dialogue, mediation and cooperation.

By analyzing and responding to combined challenges of poverty, security, and environmental degradation, Green Cross International hopes to “help ensure a just, sustainable and secure future for all by fostering a value shift and cultivating a new sense of global interdependence and shared responsibility in humanity’s relationship with nature.”

In Green Cross’s 20-Year Report, Gorbachev notes that “the burning issues of climate change, the water crisis, the situation in the Middle East, and the overall state of the global security system, we can see that we clearly need to intensify our efforts.”

Green Cross is particularly concerned with environmental and sustainability issues, and has recently begun making forays into China. They have launched a task force on climate change and is developing a road map in the hopes of resolving the situation of dimishing resources.

Businesses in the U.S. and Europe have begun implementing energy-saving policies, while the layperson can participate by thinking more closely about how we live, how we consume, and how we can live differently. Even slight symbolic changes, such as unplugging unused appliances and avoiding drinking bottled water, can make a significant difference when enough people participate.

– Michael DeZubiria

Sources: South China Morning Post, Green Cross International