Tackling the Climate Crisis

Children in Haiti hold up signs urging the international community to take action on climate change.

Pictured: Children in Haiti hold up signs urging the international community to take action on climate change.

Formally released in September of 2014 at the United Nations Climate Summit, Tackling the Challenge of Climate Change: A Near-Term Actionable Mitigation Agenda was commissioned by the Republic of Nauru, Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and written by 30 leading climate and energy experts from around the world.

 

“. . .the path to the global low-carbon transformation needed to tackle the climate crisis is within reach, but requiresdecisive political action from leaders around the world, now. This paper is unabashedly prescriptive on the need for action, but recognizes that there are multiple approaches and models from around the world that can be scaled up and adapted to national circumstances. Cost-effective technologies for a low-carbon economy are being implemented throughout the world, but at nowhere the scale and speed necessary. Emissions continue to rise. With every year of delay, human suffering, biodiversity loss, and the costs of mitigation and adaptation increase. We are running out of time.”

 

PHOTO COURTESY OF 350.ORG for EarthJustice.org.

International Marine Conservation Congress

The International Marine Conservation Congress is the most important international meetings for marine conservation.

Samantha Oester, Society for Conservation BiologyMarine Section president-elect, has studied marine animals and conservation around the globe, as well as freshwater ecology and aquatic microbiology in remote locations. She has also worked in Haiti as a medical volunteer, including after the 2010 earthquake. She has become passionate about helping to reduce poverty and improve public health while also ameliorating habitat for endangered and endemic coastal and marine species.

Research is still in its infancy in Haiti, especially in the Cap-Haïtien region, and Oester’s pilot project is collecting data in the Cap-Haïtien watershed, including marine, freshwater, mangrove and inland riverine wetland data, which will be discussed in her ICCB ECCB 2015 presentation. Working with the Fondation pour la Protection de la Biodiversité Marine, Haiti’s only marine conservation non-governmental organization, Oester’s research will start a large, long-term research and monitoring project in the region to improve life for all in Cap-Haïtien Bay.

Follow Oester on Twitter: @samoester

http://www.dw.com/en/how-poverty-exacerbates-haitis-environmental-problems/av-18502534

Read more . . .

Pollution in Haiti

 

Poverty is exacerbating Haiti’s environment.

Many Haitians rely on the use of organic matter such as wood, manure and food waste for fuel. These materials are burned indoors and produce a large amount of smoke, which results in indoor air pollution. The smoke often contains harmful compounds such as carbon monoxide and certain carcinogens.

Worldwide, indoor air pollution kills 1.5 million people annually, and it has shortened the average life expectancy of Haitians by approximately six years. Even when fires are outdoors, the close and cramped living conditions in Haiti allow smoke to quickly contaminate large areas.

Women and children are at high risk for smoke-related illness because they spend a significant portion of the day cooking and maintaining smoke-filled residences. They often have not been properly informed of the dangers that constant smoke brings to the home.

There are organizations fighting for Haiti’s environment.

In a country plagued by extreme poverty and political instability, Jean Wiener led community efforts to establish the nation’s first Marine Protected Areas by empowering Haitians to see the long-term value in sustainably managing fisheries and mangrove forests.

Wiener’s parents had plans for him to become a doctor and sent him to pursue a medical education in the United States. During his studies, he reconnected with his childhood love for the ocean and ended up with a degree in marine biology instead.

He returned to Haiti in 1989 and began working in the science department at a local school. While Wiener had seen signs of the damaged marine wildlife during his visits home, he now fully realized the serious extent of the toll the ecosystem had taken from unchecked exploitation. He frequently heard stories from local fishermen of how much harder it was to find fish. “We used to be able to fish for a half day and feed our family for two weeks,” they said. “Now we fish for two weeks and feed our family for a half day.”

Determined to restore the marine wildlife of his childhood and bring sustainable economic opportunities for the people of Haiti, Wiener started the Foundation for the Protection of Marine Biodiversity (FoProBiM)in 1992.

Wiener was the recipient of the GoldMan prize in 2015 for his faithful efforts towards protecting Haiti’s environment. 

The Goldman Environmental Prize honors grassroots environmental heroes from the world’s six inhabited continental regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, Islands & Island Nations, North America, and South & Central America. The Prize recognizes individuals for sustained and significant efforts to protect and enhance the natural environment, often at great personal risk. The Goldman Prize views “grassroots” leaders as those involved in local efforts, where positive change is created through community or citizen participation in the issues that affect them. Through recognizing these individual leaders, the Prize seeks to inspire other ordinary people to take extraordinary actions to protect the natural world.

http://www.foprobim.org/

http://www.goldmanprize.org/recipient/jean-wiener/

https://www.usaid.gov/haiti/environment

http://www.unep.org/disastersandconflicts/CountryOperations/Haiti/tabid/104691/Default.aspx

 

Food Co-op Law

Interest in food cooperatives is growing, due both to increased interest in local, natural, and organic foods and to increased awareness of economic vulnerability in many of our communities.

More and more communities want the products, stability, and accountability that a cooperative can offer. The concept has been put in place in Haiti providing those same benefits.  “The Peasant Movement of Papay (MPP), the country’s largest peasant organization with over 60,000 members, unifies small farmers and rural peasants into farm or craft cooperatives, trains community leaders and conducts agroecological studies. According to a post by their international ally, Grassroots International, the MPP has recaptured 10,000 acres (40.5 sq kilometers) of arable land, planted over 20 million trees and created innovative barriers to mudslides such as stonewall terracing.” (Available at https://foodtank.com/news/2013/06/farming-cooperatives-in-haiti-a-chance-to-advance/).

Cooperatives are businesses owned by their members.

Joel Dahlgren of Black Dog Co-op Law encourages prospective members to incorporate themselves for a “shield” and to learn the relevant laws applicable in their state.

Dahlgren showcases four basic structures available to retail food cooperatives, the choice of which is generally driven by tax, financing, governance and corporate name considerations.

Dahlgren’s table below illustrates these considerations and compares four business structures.

 

 

Sources:

Joel Dahlgren, Legal Primer For Formation of Consumer-Owned Food Cooperatives, available at http://www.foodcoopinitiative.coop/sites/default/files/LegalPrimer.pdf.

(With contributions from Thane Joyal, Bill Gessner, Marilyn Scholl and Stuart Reid)

Publication was made possible through the financial support of Cooperative Development Services, CDS Consulting Co-op and Food Co-op Initiative; with additional funding provided by the USDA Rural Cooperative Development Grant program, through a grant provided to Cooperative Development Services.

 

See Also Black Dog Co-op Law, http://joeldahlgren.blogspot.com/.

How Can Haiti Really Commit to Battle Climate Change?

Haiti is strategically positioned to attract innovative energy and infrastructure projects that are in keeping with its commitment to battle climate change. We saw that commitment formalized last week when Haiti signed unto the historic United Nations (UN) Paris Climate Agreement with 174 other nations. The aims of the Agreement  is described in Article 2 of the same:

“(a) Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change;

(b) Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production;

(c) Making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.”

Last year, Haiti submitted (well ahead of the international climate agreement reached then) its new climate action plan to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in the form of a Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC).

Haiti’s lack of extensive infrastructure is an opportunity to build a system of roads, bridges, public transportation, and utilities that keep with its stated goals in its INDC. We hope that these unprecedented moves by Haiti and the international community translate into an innovation hub for the type of large scale projects that change the everyday lives of Haitian citizens.

Lovely Bonhomme Headshot-LG

 

Lovely is a first-year student at CUNY School of Law, which graduates public interest attorneys with the motto of practicing “law in the service of human needs”. She is a first generation American of Haitian descent. She has a particular interest in corporate law with a focus on infrastructure and energy projects in emerging markets and developing countries. More broadly, she hopes to contribute to the areas of international rule of law and human rights. 

Garden of Eden

 

 

“Community, school and employer-sponsored gardens play an important role in improving health and reducing obesity.  Gardens increase access to fresh vegetables, provide opportunities for physical activity, teach both adults and children about the origins of their food, and promote healthier eating behaviors.  As gardening opportunities increase, advocates must often address legal and policy issues that affect the development and maintenance of gardens.  These issues include access to water, composting efforts, land use planning and zoning considerations, liability issues, and the organizational structure of the gardens.

Haiti has it own community garden.

Daniel Tillias, co-founded SAKALA in 2002 with 9 other young people in an effort to promote peace, reconciliation, tolerance and truth for a new Haiti.

The Community Centre for Peace Alternatives (Kreyol acronym is SAKALA) leads the Garden of Hope. The produce from the garden is used by the locals and the rest is sold at market.

Mr. Tillias worked as a law trainee in one of the most prominent law firms in Haiti (that represented the victims of the 1991 coup in Haiti) and attended a University of Pittsburg legal exchange program.  Daniel left law school amidst violent uprisings in Cite Soleil, to focus on building his organization.  He created a program to promote peacebuilding and to benefit the less fortunate, especially children and youth. While a director at Pax Christi Ayiti, Daniel introduced sports as a means of peacebuilding, through the SAKALA youth empowerment program, which now incorporates athletics, agronomy, and educational activities for 250 youth from different neighborhoods in Cite Soleil.  Daniel is a well-respected community leader and the recipient of several awards for his peace efforts.

Read an interview of Mr. Tillias at augustadwyer.com

Photo: http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/08/world/americas/urban-oasis-offers-hope-haiti/

 

Convention and Statute on the Régime of Navigable Waterways of International Concern

In 1921- Haiti was a signing state to the Convention and Statute on the Régime of Navigable Waterways of International Concern.

Multilateral treaties (such as this one) formerly deposited with the Secretary-General of the League of Nations, by virtue of General Assembly resolution 24 (I) of 12 February 1946, and of a League of Nations Assembly resolution of 18 April 1946 (League of Nations, Official Journal, Special Supplement No. 194, p. 57) were transferred, upon dissolution of the League of Nations, to the custody of the United Nations.

http://www.internationalwaterlaw.org/documents/intldocs/barcelona_conv.html

 

International Environmental Law

“International environmental law is an ever-changing, constantly expanding, and intriguing topic for international legal research.

When decisions and collaborations occur between nations across international boundaries and treaties or agreements are made to cooperate for environmental concerns, disputes inevitably transpire because of trade implications for the respective nations, safety concerns and cleanliness of environmental resources among shared borders, or problems with enforcement mechanisms for liability under agreements or treaty provisions relating to the environment.

The vastness of this area of international law includes the environmental sub-issues of :

(1)population,

(2)biodiversity,

(3)global climate change,

(4)ozone depletion,

(5)preserving the Antarctic regions,

(6)movement of toxic and hazardous substances,

(7)land or vessel-based pollution,

(8)dumping,

(9)conservation of marine living resources,

(10)trans-boundary air and water pollution,

(11)desertification, and

(12) nuclear damage, among others. ”

http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/International_Environmental_Legal_Research.html