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:: Fairtrade works!

What are the effects of Fairtrade on rural development in the producing countries of the South? Which are the decisive factors for an ideal influence? On the occasion of its 20th anniversary, TransFair e.V. Germany and Max Havelaar Switzerland commissioned a study that assesses the effects of Fairtrade in several product ranges on three continents. “The latest results show that Fairtrade creates an improved income and contributes to poverty reduction in rural areas,” said Dieter Overath, General Manager of TransFair.

:: An Open Letter to President Obama

Dear President Obama:

Good luck on your journeys overseas this week, and congratulations on decisively winning your second term as our president! The first time you won four years ago, most of us couldn't contain our joy and found ourselves literally in tears over your victory.

:: Additional Investments in Family Planning Would Save Developing Countries More Than $11 Billion a Year

Access to family planning is an essential human right that unlocks unprecedented rewards for economic development, says new UNFPA report. 222 million women in developing countries have an unmet need for family planning. Additional $4.1 billion in funding is needed to address current needs and those of the growing youth population.

:: Sustainability - A cultural history

Important books have been written on sustainability and sustainable development. But none like this: it’s on the cultural history of the term. By Udo E. Simonis

:: International team of researchers finds a link between cold European winters and solar activity

Studies of Germany's largest river reveal a correlation between periods of low activity of the sun and regional cooling. Scientists have long suspected that the Sun's 11-year cycle influences climate of certain regions on Earth. Yet records of average, seasonal temperatures do not date back far enough to confirm any patterns. Now, armed with a unique proxy, an international team of researchers show that unusually cold winters in Central Europe are related to low solar activity - when sunspot numbers are minimal. The freezing of Germany's largest river, the Rhine, is the key.

:: Food Price Volatility a Growing Concern, World Bank Stands Ready to Respond

"We cannot allow short-term food-price spikes to have damaging long-term consequences for the world's most poor and vulnerable”  – World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim | Given the exceptional drought in the US, current crop conditions in other grain producing regions, and the resulting increase in international food prices, the World Bank today expressed concern for the impacts of this volatility on the world's poor, who are highly vulnerable to increases in food prices.

:: Global CO2 emissions continue to increase in 2011, with per capita emissions in China reaching European levels

Global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) – the main cause of global warming – increased by 3% last year, reaching an all-time high of 34 billion tonnes in 2011. In China, the world’s most populous country, average emissions of CO2 increased by 9% to 7.2 tonnes per capita. China is now within the range of 6 to 19 tonnes per capita emissions of the major industrialised countries. In the European Union, CO2 emissions dropped by 3% to 7.5 tonnes per capita. The United States remain one of the largest emitters of CO2, with 17.3 tonnes per capita, despite a decline due to the recession in 2008-2009, high oil prices and an increased share of natural gas. These are the main findings of the annual report ‘Trends in global CO2 emissions’, released today by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL).

:: Japan's Strategic Energy Plan under Review after 2011 Nuclear Disaster

The Japanese government launched a review of its energy policies after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, which was caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011. I am engaged in the review process representing JFS and the Institute for Studies in Happiness, Economy and Society. In this article, I would like to provide some background on the current situation and the future outlook of the review.

:: World meets goal of boosting access to clean water but lags on better sanitation – UN

The goal of reducing by half the number of people without access to safe drinking water has been achieved, well ahead of the 2015 deadline for reaching the globally agreed development targets aimed at ridding the world of extreme poverty, hunger and preventable diseases, the United Nations said.

:: Cities are failing children, UNICEF warns

Urbanization leaves hundreds of millions of children in cities and towns excluded from vital services, UNICEF warns in The State of the World’s Children 2012: Children in an Urban World. Greater urbanization is inevitable. In a few years, the report says, the majority of children will grow up in towns or cities rather than in rural areas. Children born in cities already account for 60 per cent of the increase in urban population.

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