After learning that 95% of Madagascar’s ring-tailed lemurs had disappeared, the Anja Miray community in central Madagascar worked with the UNDP to establish a 30-hectare community-managed forest reserve. With revenue from ecotourism in the reserve, Anja Miray has constructed schools and paid teacher salaries, created aquaculture, fuel wood plantations, and other sustainable agriculture projects to diversify income streams, developed a job training program for community members with disabilities, and maintained a reserve fund for individual and community emergencies. Today, the Anja Community Reserve stands out as a successful model for villages throughout the country, is a vocal advocate for policies that grant communities the right to manage their own land – and is now home to the highest concentration of ring-tailed lemurs in Madagascar. Read more about Anja Miray’s activities onthis archived page from the UNDP websiteand this case study from the Equator Initiative.
In March 2017, the national legislature of El Salvador voted unanimously to ban all metals mining– the first such ban ever enacted on the national level. The ban was implemented in response to grassroots and religious groups across the country forming a coalition to educate the public and policymakers about the hazardous impacts of mining on soil and water health. After “countless marches, protests, petitions, testimonies, reports on the impact of mining, and study trips and delegations”, a corporate legal challenge to a temporary version of the moratorium was tossed out, and the legislative ban in its current form was born. It’s an exciting and uplifting tale, the entirety of which can be read in this article from Ethics & International Affairs: ‘Historic Wins for Democracy and Rights in El Salvador’.Photo byChristopher William Adach(CC BY-SA 2.0)
Ever since 2008, it has been widely reported that Greece is in complete economic collapse. But the Greek economic crisis has also provided the people of Athens with a rare opportunity to step outside of the global economy – to come together to revitalize communities, share resources and re-shape public spaces to serve their own needs, rather than the needs of big business and commerce. Projects include Navarinou, a park run by a neighborhood committee, which maintains a busy schedule of public debates, films, children’s activities and urban gardening workshops, and the Social Cultural Centre of Vyronas, whose charter declares: “We put human needs above commerce and business interests.” To learn more about these projects, read:Athens’ unofficial community initiatives offer hope after government failures. More information and a film on Navarinou can be found here:http://alternation.info/navarinou-park/.
Cook County, in the greater Chicago area, adopted the Good Food Purchasing Program as its policy in June 2018, becoming the third and largest municipality in the USA to do so. The Good Food Purchasing Program provides a framework for municipalities to create food procurement policies that align with the core values of sustainable, equitable food systems: local sourcing, nutrition, environmental sustainability, workers’ rights, and animal welfare. Cook County’s implementation of the program includes policies that favor purchasing food from businesses that employ former inmates and people in low- and middle-income areas, and the resolution also increases access to county land for minority farmers. For more information, read about Cook County Resolution #18-1650, and about the frameworks of the Good Food Purchasing Program.
Farm to Plate is a policy in the US state of Vermont, initiated by the Vermont Legislature in 2009. It tasked the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund with creating a 10-year Farm to Plate Strategic Plan (2011-2020). Project priority areas include: protecting and expanding affordable and environmentally sustainable farmland in agricultural production, improving the viability of local food and farm businesses, increasing local food availability and affordability, increasing consumer demand for local food, and creating as many good jobs as possible in the local food and farm economy. To learn more, visit the Farm to Plate website.Photo by Matt (CC BY-NC 2.0)
In Lincoln County, Oregon, in the northwestern United States, a group of residents formed this organization to help members of their community protect “their fundamental rights, their natural environment, their quality of life, their health and their safety”. It led to Lincoln County working with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) and becoming the first county in the United States to ban aerial pesticide spraying through a vote of the people in 2017. The rights-based law included recognition of the “rights of nature” of their local river, the Siletz. CELDF filed a lawsuit on behalf of the riparian ecosystem. To learn more, visit the LCCR website or read these articles on the initiative from Truthout and Shareable.Photo by Rio Davidson
In 2005, in the face of rapidly increasing land values, urban sprawl, and farmland development pressures, the forward-thinking Mouans-Sartoux town council purchased an old farm estate that was slated for development, and has since designated over 100 hectares of land in the area as protected farmland. The municipality also set a goal that 100% of the food served to children in the region’s three public schools should be local and organic. To help meet this ambitious target, the local council updated their procurement policies to make it easier for small producers in the area to meet school catering needs.But even after changing these policies, the supply of local produce was insufficient to meet the town’s needs. So the town took matters into their own hands by growing their own vegetables on the old estate purchased a few years earlier. In 2010 the town hired its first “municipal farmer,” invested in farming and storage equipment, and officially launched its régie agricole municipale or “municipal farming service.” By 2015 the municipally-run farm produced 85% of the organic vegetables used in local school meals. The program reduces food waste by coordinating school menus with what’s available on the farm, and by processing and storing produce harvested during school holidays. In addition to fresh produce, the municipal farm provides opportunities for children and adults to learn about farming and where their food comes from, including a pedagogical plot which was created specifically for beneficiaries of the local food bank. To learn more, visit the program’s website (in French) or read the relevant entries in these reports from Access to Land and the Transnational Institute.Photo from Wikimedia Commons; CC BY-SA 4.0
The Nilgiris district in India announced a far-ranging ban on plastic products, effective January 2018. The ban encompasses the usual suspects – Styrofoam, polypropylene (i.e. non-woven) bags, and single-use plates and cups, many of which have been banned since 2001 – but it goes the extra mile and also includes plastic gloves, silver foil covers, plastic and foil gift wrap, laminated brown paper, laminated bakery boxes, cling wrap, and plastic water bottles below one liter in volume among the banned items. Plastic waste accumulation has become a huge problem in this hilly and popular tourist destination, and a successful effort to reduce waste here could be exemplary for other regions (like Ladakh) which are struggling with the same problem. Read more about this policy in the Deccan Chronicle and Times of India.