Archive for September 9th, 2011

UN Chief Calls For Worldwide Sustainable Development

UN Chief Calls For Worldwide Sustainable Development


Posted 09 September 2011, by Mark Dunphy, Irish Weather Online,



The United Nations (UN) on Thursday called on countries around the world to ensure sustainable development for all, saying it is the agenda for the 21st century.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who finished a four-nation visit to the South Pacific, said countries need to “connect the dots” between issues such as climate change, food insecurity and water scarcity, emphasizing that sustainable development agenda “is the agenda for the 21st century.”

Ban spoke at the University of Sydney in Australia, the last stop on a week-long trip, after visiting the Solomon Islands, Kiribati and New Zealand.

“We must keep working to fight poverty, create decent jobs, and provide a dignified life while preserving the planet that sustains us,” Ban stated. “Above all, that means connecting the dots between challenges such as climate change and water scarcity, energy shortages, global health issues, food insecurity and the empowerment of the world’s women.”

Ban noted that all of these issues are linked, underlining the importance of finding those linkages. Climate change, he noted, is one of the greatest threats to the security, well-being and livelihoods of the peoples of the region.

“Extreme weather events such as increased floods, rains and droughts continue to grow more frequent and intense as climate change accelerates,” he said. “They not only devastate lives, but wipe out infrastructure, institutions, and budgets.”

The Secretary-General also stated that sustainable development such as measures that reduce carbon emissions are vital on their own, noting that they can also inspire progress in global negotiations, creating a virtuous cycle.

“This is a global race to save the planet. But it is also a race to see which countries and economies will forge the path to creating green sustainable jobs,” he said.

At a tree-planting event at the National Arboretum in Canberra, Australia, Ban highlighted the UN Environment Program campaign that aims to have at least one billion trees planted worldwide each year.


Council of Canadians and Rights Action demand shutdown of Goldcorp’s Marlin Mine


Council of Canadians and Rights Action demand shutdown of Goldcorp’s Marlin Mine


Posted 08 September 2011, by Staff, Native American Times,

The Council of Canadians joins Rights Action and the community of San Miguel Ixtahuacan in calling for the immediate closure of Goldcorp’s controversial Marlin Mine in Guatemala.

“Companies like Goldcorp are tarring Canada’s reputation internationally,” says Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow. “The federal government has promoted and supported the expansion of Canadian mining and investor interests around the world, without regard for human rights or environmental impacts. Enough is enough.”

On September 6-7, Barlow traveled with Grahame Russell, of Rights Action, and a group 14 others – including Mayan women from across Guatemala – to visit with Mayan Mam communities and families of San Miguel Ixtahuacan, in western Guatemala, who have been harmed by Goldcorp Inc’s mountain-top removal, open-pit, cyanide leaching gold mine.

The Council of Canadians and Rights Action are demanding:

•  that Goldcorp be compelled to shut down the Marlin Mine and to pay reparations to the local people in Guatemala

• an expert, public and independent commission to be established to carry out a full and impartial investigation into the environmental and health harms, and other human rights violations related to Goldcorp’s Marlin Mine, that will then be publicly reported on.  The commission, based on its findings, should set out a complete reparations, compensation and environment cleansing and restoration plan, and the Canadian government should pay for the full, transparent implementation of this plan.

• that the federal government ensure Canadian mining operations respect the right to free, prior, informed consent (as recognized in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which Canada has signed)

• that the right to water and the precautionary principle take precedence over the profits of mining companies in Canada and abroad.

• that the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board (with its $256 million worth of shares in Goldcorp) call for a closure of the mine.

“Impunity in Guatemala – from the local to the national levels – is a well-documented, devastating phenomenon that dates back generations, and continues today,” says Grahame Russell of Rights Action. “However, the impunity with which Goldcorp operates is not only a Guatemalan phenomenon.  It is profoundly a Canadian phenomenon. The federal government must step in to prevent similar abuses of other Canadian mining companies.”

For the Council of Canadians and Rights Action, based on considerable investigation and documentation and based on the groups’ own investigations, there can be no question that Goldcorp has caused and is causing widespread harms and violations. These harms and violations have been caused directly and indirectly by Goldcorp Inc.’s cyanide leaching, mountain-top removal, open pit gold mine.

The Council of Canadians and Rights Action delegation was received by ADISMI (Association for the Integral Development of San Miguel Ixtahuacan), an organization of mining-harmed communities and people, that, since 2004, has been at the forefront of denouncing and resisting the wide range of health and environmental harms and other human rights violations caused directly and indirectly by Goldcorp’s mine.


Emirati woman’s mission is to help save a frozen continent


Emirati woman’s mission is to help save a frozen continent

Dana Al Hammadi says the group was welcomed to the continent by dozens of penguins. Courtesy of Dana Al Hammadi


Posted 08 September 2011, by Rym Ghazal, The National,



ABU DHABI // Antarctica gave Dana Al Hammadi a new lease of life. Now the first Emirati woman to visit the South Pole wants to repay the frozen continent in kind.

Video:UAE National visits Antarctica

UAE National Dana Al Hammadi shares footage from her trip to Antarctica.

Watch this video in full screen here

After returning from her trip in March this year Mrs Al Hammadi, 38, has been travelling across the Gulf as a dedicated voice for the environment, and urging women to take their place in the great adventure that is life.

“I saw with my own eyes the impact of climate change – the way the ice caps were melting, the snow mountains were breaking with thunderous sounds, and changes to the waves and water level,” the Etisalat business development manager and mother of five says.

That experience led to her joining the campaign for the 2041 initiative, founded by the polar explorer and environmental campaigner Robert Swan.

The initiative raises awareness about preserving the Antarctic after the international treaty banning mining and drilling in the south polar region expires in 2041.

Mrs Al Hammadi will meet with government officials to try to convince them to sign the international 2041 treaty and she has set a personal deadline of this December.


“You just wait. The UAE will be the first Arab country to sign this treaty,” she says.

It was Mr Swan’s words, “anyone can go”, during a lecture that gave Mrs Al Hammadi the courage to approach him and become part of the team for the 2041 Expedition.

“I wanted to know the real world and do something different, something that would make my country proud,” she says.

Despite objections from family and friends, but with the full support of her husband Abdul Rahman, and their two sons and three daughters, Mrs Al Hammadi joined four Emirati men on the journey south after three months of intensive training.

They travelled with 66 environmental enthusiasts from around the world as part of the annual expedition.

Their enthusiasm was sorely tested in the first two days of the journey, when they sailed through Drake’s Passage between the southernmost tip of South America and the northern tip of the Antarctic peninsula.


“We all vomited and were sick but in the end it was worth it,” Mrs Al Hammadi says.

That experience was wiped away by one of her favourite parts of the 14-day journey, when the group was welcomed to the continent by a party of dozens of penguins gathered to meet the rubber boat that dropped them off from the mother ship.

“It was as if they came to welcome us,” she says with a smile. “They kept peeking at us, coming closer, curious to see what we were doing.”

Mrs Al Hammadi says that on landing she could not resist grabbing some snow and eating it. “It was so refreshing.”

The team spent 10 days on land and the Muslims among them prayed together on the snow.

Mrs Al Hammadi says she will never forget the moment when she climbed one of the highest peaks in the South Pole, holding the UAE flag and shouting: “I did it! I did it!”

Her inspirational talks of her experiences to women carry the message: “Do the impossible.”

“Don’t waste your life shopping and sitting at home, do something meaningful in your life,” Mrs Al Hammadi says.

It has not fallen on deaf ears. In the coming weeks, she will introduce a Saudi Arabian woman who plans to follow in her footsteps.

“When I interviewed Dana and saw the photos of her trip, I decided I wanted to go,” says Sahar Al Shamrani, 33, an interviewer and producer at the MBC morning show Sabah al Khair Ya Arab.

Through Mrs Al Hammadi’s help, Mrs Al Shamrani was accepted for the same voyage in February.

She will document the journey for the sake of her daughter and for all Saudi women, she says.

In November, Mrs Al Hammadi plans to launch a competition at local universities and colleges. The four Emirati students – two women and two men – who write the best essays on the environment will win a chance to explore Antarctica.

Her strivings for the environment have had the full support of her husband. “I have complete faith in my wife,” Mr Abdul Rahman says.

“She has courage and is determined to make a difference.

“Her journey opened a door of discussions never before discussed inside people’s majlis.”

“This is just the beginning,” says Mrs Al Hammadi, who plans to visit the North Pole next year.

And the adventure has made her even stronger and more assertive, she says.

“If I can do it, anyone can. No excuses.”




Murphy Oil faced with Indigenous women’s blockade on fracking site

Murphy Oil faced with Indigenous women’s blockade on fracking site


Posted 09 September 2011, by , Intercontinental Cry,


A group of women from the Kainai Nation have confronted the US oil company Murphy Oil, at a fracking development site on Kainai lands in Southern Alberta.

Blood Reserve, Alberta, Canada


According to an initial report from the Indigenous Environmental Network, early last night (Sept. 08, 2011) the group of women parked in front of Murphy Oil’s fracking site on the Kainai Nation (Blood) Reserve and vowed not to leave until they are confident that fracking won’t happen.

For background information, see IC’s previous report: Blood Tribe Members Call for Moratorium on Hydro Fracking and visit

IEN Report cross-posted from Climate Connections.

URGENT ALERT! Murphy Oil faced with Indigenous women’s blockade on fracking site.

Early last night, numerous women from the Blood Nation (Alberta, Canada) courageously parked in front of Murphy Oil’s fracking development site vowing not to move until plans of fracking for oil and gas are stopped. The women are part of the Kainai Earth Watch and have been active advocates to stop the fracking due to the major threat to human health, wildlife and livestock and the irreversible damage to the land and water on the Blood Reserve and surrounding areas. They feel this is the only choice left to them to stop the operations as plans for construction begin tomorrow.

In late 2010, Kainaiwa Resources Inc. (KRI) quietly signed off on a deal with the Calgary-based junior mining company Bowood Energy and the U.S. company Murphy Oil. In exchange for the $50 Million, Bowood Energy and Murphy Oil gained a five-year lease to roughly 129, 280 acres, almost half of the Blood’s reserve, for oil and gas exploration.

Since that time local residents of the Blood Nation and surrounding communities have come together to oppose the projects. Members of the KaiNai Earth Watch have partnered with numerous community groups, including the Lethbridge Council of Canadians, to host numerous educational workshops, organize petitions, and meet with government officials. Despite their efforts, nothing has been effective in actually preventing the fracking from going ahead.

Plans of construction on 4 new fracking sites begin TODAY. The women have vowed not to leave until they are confident the fracking won’t go ahead.

Show some Solidarity! **If you are interested in helping to support this action please contact:

Louis Frank 403-795-7945

Mike Brucehead 403-737-2194

For a good backgrounder on the plans for fracking and the concerns with the impacts check out:

Media are encouraged to come on site

**Directions to the site:

Take Hwy #2 South, just after Standoff at the large Blue Co-op at the Blood Nation turn East. Follow the road 5 mins and you can’t miss it.

Profile: Kainai

Learn more about the and other Indigenous Peoples around the world
(Ed Note: Please visit the original site for more content associated with this article.)


Assessing the effectiveness of community-based management strategies for biocultural diversity conservation (COMBIOSERVE)

Assessing the effectiveness of community-based management strategies for biocultural diversity conservation (COMBIOSERVE)

Posted 08 September 2011, by Staff, BioInfoBank Library (BioInfoBank Institute),

Address: Gregor Mendel Strasse   WIEN
Funding: Project costs: 2 270 000 € (1 900 000 € funded by FP7)
Contract type: Research for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs)
FP7 reference number: 282899
Duration: 2012-01-15 – 2015-01-14
Status: Accepted (updated: 2011-08-26)
Research area: ENV.2011.4.2.3-1 Community based management of environmental challenges ( )
Disciplines: Management
The COMBIOSERVE consortium aims to identify the conditions and principles of successful community-based conservation in selected locations in Mexico, Brazil and Bolivia, working in partnership with local Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and indigenous communities. Many Latin American and Caribbean rural and indigenous communities have historically developed strategies to regulate land use and conserve biodiversity whilst enhancing livelihoods and reducing conflicts. This has occurred while new panaceas for conservation and development, such as ecotourism, payments for environmental services, and biodiversity derivatives, have emerged and impacted community dynamics in ways that require urgent analysis. Our analysis will rely on the assessment of past and present trajectories and future scenarios of environmental change; an examination of individual and collective dependence on natural resources and ecosystem services, and analysis of peoples capacity to adapt and be resilient to multiple stressors. We will also assess the cultural traditions, knowledge systems, and institutional arrangements that have allowed communities to devise collective conservation strategies, address social tensions, and resolve resource conflicts. The development of a co-enquiry/advocacy approach will provide significant benefits to local communities and CSOs. The project outcomes will strengthen community conservation and management of natural resources through the design and provision of locally-owned methods and data, and will provide the theoretical and empirical foundations for scaling-up in similar communities and environments. We will scientifically address the opportunities and challenges of biocultural diversity conservation and its role in the resilience of socio-ecological systems, and produce documents for policy and civil society audiences at European and international levels, using varied communication platforms and strategies.

Partner institutions:

Name Running projects Country
1 Brazil
1 Bolivia, plurinational state of
1 Mexico
1 Mexico
1 Mexico
1 United kingdom
1 Bolivia, plurinational state of
1 Brazil
54 Spain
98 Netherlands




Integration of indigenous and biocultural practices into academia, training and development


Integration of indigenous and biocultural practices  into academia, training  and development

Session 34 for the 13th Congress of the International Society of Ethnobiology



Posted 08 September 2011, by Staff,  13th Congress of the International Society of Ethnobiology,



(Ed Note: Please visit the Selected Session Proposals page for a complete listing of sessions)


Objectives of the session: The objective of this session is to develop options for co-­ ‐learning between indigenous and traditional knowledge  olders and communities and academia.

• To share experiences on attempting to reconcile these development needs, scientific interest and local priorities

• To recognize local peoples’ potential role as para-­‐biologists and their “indigenous wisdom”, conservation institutions

• To share an innovative model of institute model for co-­‐learning process between indigenous knowledge holders and academia from Uganda in health, food and agriculture and social science field

• To identify pathways of establishing centres of excellence for mutual academia – community co learning and co-­‐research

• To develop theoretical and methodological paradigms within which to understand the specific characteristics of co-­‐learning of formal educated (academia) and traditional educated indigenous knowledge holders.


DOWNLOAD  the Integration of indigenous and biocultural practices  into academia, training  and development session description in .pdf format




Conversation: Kieran Suckling


Conversation: Kieran Suckling


Posted “Autumn 2011” (September), by Jason Mark, Earth Island Journal (Earth Island Institute),



Kieran Suckling doesn’t suffer fools gladly. As the founding director of the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity(CBD), Suckling is often invited to represent the environmentalist position on cable news shows, national radio programs, and at public debates. Employing a combination of acerbic wit, lighting intelligence, and red-hot passion, Suckling usually flattens his adversaries from the logging, mining, and fossil fuel industries. He’s a rhetorical pugilist who knows that it takes muscle to win arguments in today’s shout-fest public discourse.

Suckling’s street-fighting skills are a major asset for the green movement – until he turns them on putative allies. Suckling has boasted that CBD is “like fire and wolves and Apaches to big environmental groups.” Not surprisingly, that attitude has made some greens uncomfortable. It has also made CBD one of the most successful environmental outfits around, a group with a string of victories protecting wilderness. “Uncompromising” is a word that comes to mind.

Suckling, a former Earth First! member, contests that label, and says his group has no problem cutting deals. But he also warns that there’s no use in talking to adversaries unless you’re negotiating from a position of strength, a political truism that, he says, green groups forget too often: “You’ve got to be willing to negotiate hard and ruffle feathers,” he says.

The line is classic Suckling – unvarnished, ballsy, and, I think it’s fair to say, right.

—Jason Mark

As a former member of Earth First!, it’s not surprising that I’ve heard you complain about the “professionalization of the environmental movement.” Yet you’re also the founder of a multimillion-dollar organization. So what do you mean exactly by that concern?

It’s not so much the size or wealth of an organization. What it’s really about is this switch that happened in the mid-late 1990s where people came into the movement…. Well let’s put it this way: Prior to the late ’90s or so, a lot of people came into the movement who had their college degrees in anything you can imagine, but not necessarily anything directly having to do with the environment. And they got involved in the movement because they had to: because the forest outside their town was being logged, because the river that they lived near was being dammed. And they got in environmentalism because of the passion to save a place, or to save a species, not because they ever thought it was going to be their career. And then, in part because of the success of the environmental movement, because of the success of ecological education, we’re now churning out many, many people with natural resource degrees of various kinds. So they begin their adult life with the idea that they’re going to have a job in the environment, rather than coming to it sideways. I think that there tends to be a very different level of experience and a very different level of passion that comes in there – and a much greater willingness to compromise generally. So I think the movement is stronger and more vibrant, more successful, when it has a higher percentage of people who come into the movement sideways because they were driven to do so, not because they decided they’re going to have a career in the environment when they’re 18.

Aren’t there are still people who are coming in sideways? Think of the Tim DeChristophers of the world.

Yeah, well he’s a perfect example, an excellent example. It’s not that it’s not happening. It’s just I think the balance has shifted a little more toward professionalism. There’s good aspects of that as well. I’ve found that generally the most passionate, the most creative people – if you look around at all the people who started environmental groups, who head up environmental groups, who run major campaigns – very few of those people have a college degree related to the environment. It also, I think, brings in a much broader worldview, which is really helpful.

Politics 101 says, “unite your friends and divide your enemies.” Yet CBD sometimes ruffles feathers among allies. Do you ever worry that you’re alienating allies?

No, I don’t. Originally all of our campaigns are done in a coalition setting. At this very moment we’re working in 30 different coalitions, whether it’s dealing with pesticide spraying, lead bullets, protection of wolves, or the EPA regulating greenhouse gases. And that’s just a small sample. All of our work is done in a coalition setting. It’s true that we very often shore up the left-most position in these coalitions, and we’re very often the group most willing to criticize Democrats. I think that one of the weak points of the environmental movement is it has become so strongly associated with the Democratic Party that it doesn’t have the level of independence it needs to pressure the Democratic Party. Whereas [CBD], we’re truly nonpartisan. It’s not because we have some naïve concept of nonpartisanship. It’s that the Democratic Party is not adequately looking after the needs of nature, and therefore it’s counterproductive to completely ally with them. We obviously have a stronger relationship with the Democratic Party, but we feel like the movement is most effective, most powerful, when it is able to step back from the Democratic Party and apply pressure to it. Very often the movement doesn’t do that. It’s so close to the party that it’s not able to apply political pressure.

Where do you think that compromise makes sense? What is your policy about when you bend?

Here’s a thing a lot of people don’t realize: The great majority of [our] legal victories have come through settlement agreements and have not come through court orders. So we negotiate all the time. And in fact I feel like negotiation is one of the center’s strongest suits, so we’re not at all against negotiation. One of the reasons we’ve had so many victories over time is we always negotiate from the position of strength. So, for example, if you’re trying to stop logging in a forest, you don’t go into a negotiating posture before you’ve shut down logging somewhere, because you have no position of strength. Our strategy is to develop a strong position through using law, science, and legislation that puts us in the position of being able to negotiate strong, long-term agreements. But you’ve got to go at the negotiations from a position of strength and you’ve got to have a bright line, know when to walk away and not be afraid to walk away. And you’ve got to be willing to negotiate hard and ruffle feathers. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen.

You mean within the environmental movement?

Yeah, I think too often the movement enters negotiations before it has built up any strength or capital. It starts from the position of weakness and then it lacks a bright line, so it gets talked continually downward because it doesn’t know when the line is crossed and when it’s time to walk away from the table. For example, the collaborative and consensus groups we’ve seen being developed around forest management issues – many of those are just not set up from a position of environmental strength and consequently don’t result in a strong position when the day is over.

Over the last couple years CBD, along with WildEarth Guardians, has been at the front a “bioblitz” to get the US Fish and Wildlife Service to list many more plants and animals on the endangered species list. The Fish and Wildlife Service recently reached a settlement with WildEarth Guardians to list a certain amount of species. You all opposed it. Why?

This is actually a good example of one of the things I was talking about. In the final years of the Clinton administration, the Secretary of Interior really slowed down the listing of species for political reasons, and it virtually stopped during the Bush years. So through the filing of strategic litigation, we were able to convince the Department of Interior that it was at great risk of having the court specify its entire workload for many years. And that potentiality put us in a strong negotiating position to go in and work out a long-term deal with them. So we began those negotiations, while the Guardians came into them later. They lacked a bottom line, so when negotiations got to a point where we were just not willing to accept what Interior wanted to put on the table, we walked from the deal knowing that we still had our position of strength and that Interior was going to have to come back to us. They didn’t really have a choice.

Because the court will order it?

Yeah, all the court cases are still active. The administration’s legal position is very vulnerable. They know that we’re not going to walk away and give up this mission, so if we walk out of that room, Interior knows it’s still facing all the same threats and vulnerabilities it had when we came into the room. So it’s got to come back. But Guardians was lacking that sort of clear strategy and identification of a bright line of what’s needed, so they ended up striking a bad deal, a weak deal. It doesn’t cover all of the species that need to be covered, it’s largely unenforceable, it allows Interior to walk away whenever it wants from the deal, and it’s too limiting on what Guardians itself is able to do in the future of endangered species conservation. So we went to the court, told the court, “Don’t approve the deal, it’s not good enough.” The court said, “Go back and try to renegotiate this.” And so we got sent back to the negotiation table, which is how we were going to end up always, and now we’re working out a new deal with the Department of Interior, which we just finalized.

A lot of your petitions for listings have referred to the dislocations from climate change. But as Eric Wagner wrote in our last issue, events may have passed by the Endangered Species Act as it was conceived in the early 1970s. Do you think the Endangered Species Act is up to the task of confronting climate change?

Well, I thought Wagner’s piece was pretty dumb, frankly. It kind of missed the boat on the whole thing. Did Wagner bother to interview anyone who had ever used the Endangered Species Act? He interviewed all people who did not actually litigate the Endangered Species Act. Very odd strategy for an article about the Endangered Species Act.

The environmental movement starts from the position of weakness and then it lacks a bright line, so it doesn’t know when it’s time to walk away from the table.

… There’s two points about the value of the Endangered Species Act in climate change. The first is a broad one that is really important – which is that every major environmental issue in this country has always been solved by a web of multiple laws and policies coming together to solve the problem. For example, overhunting was a very big issue in the US. We didn’t solve that by coming up with one national hunting law. We have several federal laws regulating hunting and importation of animals, and then we got multiple state laws governing them, and those all come together to create the solution. And today, hunting is not a major threat to endangered species anymore in America. Or take pesticides. We don’t have one law that says, here’s what you can do with pesticides. We’ve got many laws that deal with it at different levels, from the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, FIFRA, various state laws, and these all come together. If you go down the line – mining, logging, overfishing, whatever it is – there’s no silver bullet. You always have a repertory of laws coming together. So the critique that Wagner has, which I’ve seen elsewhere, is that the Endangered Species Act all by itself can’t stop climate change. Well no shit, dummy. Who ever said it would? It’s a ridiculous argument. It’s a total straw man argument. Turns out nobody believes or asserts the position that Wagner has effectively refuted. So what was the point of that, exactly?

So with climate change, for example, the center is working on the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the National Forest Management Act, and a whole bunch of lesser-known laws. The Endangered Species Act is one piece in the puzzle, and nobody has any expectation that it will all-by-itself solve climate change. That’s actually the major flaw of that article. It just misses the actual way that environmental issues are dealt with by acts and agencies in this country, and consequently it builds up a straw man and then knocks it down.

Then secondly, in terms of what Fish and Wildlife can do under climate change, it already is doing some of the things that Wagner says are impossible. For example, it already is looking at greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and its impact on endangered species at far distances. Turns out the agency is capable of doing it, actually is doing it, and Wagner is just apparently ignorant that it’s actually already happening.

… The point here being: there’s lots of actions that the Fish and Wildlife Service can and already is taking under the Endangered Species Act to help species survive global warming. It’s just sort of silly to say it’s not happening. It’s sillier to say it can’t happen. And it’s just foolish not to see how the Endangered Species Act operates in a greater context of many laws and policies all bearing down on this issue from various angles. That’s where your solution comes from – is from that whole web of activity.

Well, I guess we’ll use that as a detailed letter to the editor in our next issue.


Jason Mark is the editor of Earth Island Journal.



Market Forces: Creating Jobs through Public Investment in Local and Regional Food Systems

Market Forces: Creating Jobs through Public Investment in Local and Regional Food Systems

Report Details Economic Benefits of Farmers Markets and Other Local Food Outlets


Posted 27  July 2011, by Staff,  Union of Concerned Scientists,


Download: Market Forces Executive Summary | Market Forces: Full Report


As farmers market shoppers have long known, buying food directly from the people who grew it is a great way to add freshness and flavor to your table and more fruits and vegetables to your diet.But locally grown food is not only good for your taste buds—it creates jobs, keeps money in local economies, promotes community development, and can reduce the environmental and public health costs of the food we eat.

To maximize these benefits, we need new policies aimed at helping local and regional food systems thrive and expand, according to Market Forces, a new UCS report that reviews recent research on these systems and their economic effects. The report recommends the following policy changes:

  • Increase funding for programs that support local and regional food systems.
  • Raise the level of research on the impacts of local and regional food systems.
  • Restructure the safety net and ensure credit accessibility for local food system farmers.
  • Foster local capacity to help implement local and regional food system plans.
  • Support the realization of farmers market certification standards.

A Fast-Growing Alternative

USDA map of U.S. farmers markets (Click for full-size version)


Local and regional food systems have expanded dramatically in recent years. There were more than 20 farmers markets in 2011 for each one that existed in 1970, and the number of community-supported agriculture (CSA) operations has grown in a few decades to over 4,000, according to one estimate highlighted in the report.

Other kinds of local and regional food systems experiencing rapid growth include farm-to-school and other institutional direct marketing operations; food hubs, which coordinate the marketing of locally grown food from farmers to wholesale and retail customers; and farm-based outlets such as roadside stands and U-pick operations.

Nourishing Regional Economies

Modest public support for up to 500 farmers markets each year could create as many as 13,500 jobs over a five-year period.

As they grow, local and regional food systems create jobs and raise incomes in the areas they serve, keeping customers’ food dollars active in the local economy as farmers increase spending on inputs and equipment to meet growing demand.

Local food outlets can also become catalysts for economic development in their immediate surroundings: people who shop at farmers markets are likely to patronize neighboring businesses as well.

The benefits can be substantial: according to the report, modest public support for up to 500 farmers markets each year could create as many as 13,500 jobs over a five-year period.

Changing Buying (and Eating) Habits

The growth of local and regional food systems not only directly benefits local economies; it also promotes healthier eating habits. People who shop at farmers markets tend to come home with more fruits and vegetables in their shopping bags. Expansion of local food systems could ultimately help reduce health care costs from obesity and other health problems linked to a diet dominated by processed foods.

Food sold through direct marketing channels tends to be relatively less processed, which can result in significant energy savings—so expansion of local and regional food systems can also reduce the environmental cost of U.S. agriculture.

Challenges and Solutions

Expansion of local and regional food systems faces multiple challenges: geographical and seasonal constraints, logistical and marketing issues, and policies geared toward commodity crop producers rather than farmers who sell a variety of crops to a local or regional market.

To address these challenges, Congress, the USDA, and state and local governments need to revise their policies and funding priorities with the goal of promoting local and regional food systems, so that more communities can enjoy the abundant benefits they offer.

Help build support for local food

There are two critical ways you can advocate for local food initiatives: First, urge Congress to support farmers markets and other food programs that benefit local farmers, consumers, and economies in the next farm bill. Then, help local food programs advocate for themselves — take this flyer (pdf) to farmers at your local market or to your Community Supported Agriculture manager today.